The Key Differences Between Extreme Sports vs Adventure Sports 

People have been pursuing extreme and adventure sports since the beginning of civilisation.

…Probably as a fun and exhilarating way to get the heart racing and adrenaline pumping.

From the gladiatorial battles of ancient Rome, to the thousands of skydiving and bungee enthusiasts you see today, you can participate in high thrill sports anywhere in the world.

One of the most common confusions that people have though is distinguishing between extreme sports vs adventure sports. After all, what is an extreme sport?

Personally, I thought the two sports categories were the same thing – with one name slightly fancier than the other, However, I have since learned that there are differences, even though the lines are commonly blurred. 

In this article, I will help to:

  • Explain what extreme sports are
  • Explain how extreme sports differ from adventure sports
  • Share a list of adventure and extreme sports as examples 

Hopefully by the end of this article, you will feel more knowledgable about extreme sports and inspired to give at least one adventure sport a go.


What are Extreme Sports?

Extreme Sports are any activities that involve a high degree of risk and require great physical expertise or specialist skills to master.

Most extreme sports are usually done outdoors and involve:

  • lighting speeds
  • significant heights
  • a high level of physical exertion, and sometimes…
  • the need for highly specialised gear.

Extreme sports are often considered some of the hardest sporting activities in the world and require a lot of dedication to master. However, the adrenaline rush and sense of accomplishment associated with such sports is often immeasurable. 

I will break down and provide a list of popular extreme outdoor sports later in this article.


Extreme Sports vs Adventure Sports

On first appearance, you could say that an adventure sport is very similar to an extreme sport with the main distinguishable difference being that most adventure sports can be done without the need for significant training or expertise.

Extreme sports typically require years and years of specialist training and dedication to master. 

Whereas, most adventure sports can be enjoyed by beginners, as long as they are under the supervision of a trained guide and have clear safety protocols. 

For example, skydiving (adventure sport) vs base jumping (extreme sport).


A List of Adventure Sports You Can Try in Australia (& Overseas)

Given Australia’s diversity in its people and landscapes, there are many different adventure sports on offer that you can try when exploring this beautiful nation. 

Here is a list of the 6 best adventure sports to try in Australia.


1. Skydiving 

Skydiving is an extremely popular adventure sport that can be done all over the world, including in Australia.

From the stunning scenery of the white-sandy beaches to the lush vineyards of Australia’s wine regions, there are many places to skydive in Australia. 

Skydiving involves leaping from an aircraft and free-falling at high altitudes and then releasing a parachute at a certain height to begin a controlled descent. 

Skydiving is truly the bread and butter of any adventure sport enthusiast and the great thing about this adventure sport is that you can attempt it as a beginner by doing a tandem jump with a skydiving trainer. And despite what people make out, it’s not as dangerous as many assume. 

For an example of tandem skydiving, you can check out my video below – Skydiving in Torquay!

You can read more about skydiving in Australia here and below.


In Australia, there are many places that you can go to enjoy skydiving – we’re definitely spoiled for choice.

If you’re ready to take the leap of faith and try this incredible adventure sport, I have listed some great options to check out below.

No matter which one you pick, I am sure that you will have the experience of a lifetime.


2. Bungee Jumping 

Bungee Jumping, also spelt as Bungy Jumping, involves a person leaping from a great height to experience a short free fall before being retracted by an elastic cord. 

The cord is usually attached to the individual’s feet, however there are some sites which allow you to jump in a body harness. 

If you love adrenaline, this adventure sport is definitely up there as one of the most daring experiences one can do!

Generally, bungee jumping takes place off high structures such as bridges, canyons, cranes, or natural cliff faces. But in Australia, the main location where you can go bungee jumping is in Cairns.

Or if you’re interested in bungee jumping overseas, there are a TON of locations you can do it. For example, New Zealand, which is the bungee jumping capital. This is also where bungee jumping was first offered commercially to the community.


Given its accessibility to people from all walks of life, bungee jumping is often a “bucket list” endeavour, especially for those seeking a solid adrenaline rush from an extreme leap of faith. 

Trust me, it won’t disappoint. 

If you’re ready to give this daring adventure sport a go, these are some great options to check out:

3. Plane Aerobatics 

Plane aerobatics is another type of adventure sport, but it involves flying in a light aircraft at high speeds and performing acrobatic manoeuvres like barrel rolls and loop the loops. 

Plane aerobatics allows participants to experience extreme g-force pressures and can be performed in a single aircraft or as part of a group in an air show. This has definitely been one of my favourite adventure sport experiences. 

This is a great adventure sport for those who love old warcraft planes, G-force vibes and extreme heights. And those who don’t have a weak stomach…. 

The great thing about aerobatics is that it can be tried all over the world, and it does not require any past experience or training to do it.

If you do find that you love it so much, you can even become an aerobatics pilot yourself by attending one of the various aerobatics pilot schools around Australia/ the globe. 


Get a sneak peak into this exhilarating experience below (and my embarrassing shrieks and giggles):


4. White Water Rafting 

White water rafting involves using an inflatable raft to navigate a river or waterway with turbulent water (white waters).

It is open to all levels of adventure sport enthusiast, with the difficulty of the experience depending on the level of hazards on the river way. This is great because beginners can start with more relaxing rapids and advanced rafters are free to tackle and ride the more daunting and extreme rapids.

We also have a list of some of the best white water river runs in Australia here. 

Adventure Sports - White Water Rafting 

5. Scuba Diving 

Scuba diving is a form of underwater diving that involves exploring submerged ecosystems by using compressed oxygen in a scuba tank to breathe.

Divers get to explore some of the most undisturbed and beautiful coastal environments in the world. This is particularly beautiful in Australia given easy access to the Great Barrier Reef from Queensland.

You can check out some great scuba diving activities below:

When comparing extreme sports to adventure sports, it’s important keep in mind that there are some overlaps, with many adventure sports fitting into both categories. Scuba diving is a classic example of this. 

On the one hand, there are scuba diving options for beginners, but on the other, there are very extreme dive sites that only specialised dive masters can complete. For example, wreck or cave diving. 

This allows beginners to enjoy diving within a safe and controlled environment and advanced divers to explore more complex and skilful dives such as deep-sea dives and wreck exploration dives. 

Similar to white water rafting, dive sites are categorised based on the risks, hazards and diver experience required. 

Related Articles:

Extreme Sports vs. Adventure Sports | Scuba Diving

PADI Open-water Course

No matter your experience, there are many places you can go to learn how to scuba dive. 

To start, most dive centres require that you complete at least a 3-4 day PADI Open Water Course.

The PADI beginner’s course is something that I highly recommend to anyone wanting to learn how to dive. Especially those who want to do it with a safe, trusted and reputable company.

Scuba diving has transformed my life, allowing me to experience a whole new world just below the surface. An experience which some will never ever get to experience. 

My advice…Take the plunge!

If you’d like to get some inspiration and learn more about where you can learn to scuba dive, I have included some popular options below:


6. Hot Air Ballooning 

Hot Air ballooning is the oldest form of manned flight in human history.

It’s a fantastic adventure sport that allows you to experience incredible views and reach thrilling heights. 

It’s a very smooth experience, so unlike bungee jumping, it’s a great option for those who don’t consider themselves “adrenaline junkies” or want to do something that has low impact on the body.

If you’re new to hot air ballooning, you can do numerous serene and stunning flights all over Australia, as well as globally around the world.


Top things to do in the Barossa Valley - Hot Air Ballooning


A List of Extreme Sports in Australia (for extreme adrenaline junkies!)

In Australia, there are hundreds of extreme and adventure sports that you can enjoy. This can make it difficult to decide which one you’d like to tempt yourself with first. 

To help you enjoy your next adventure, here is a list of popular extreme sport examples, so you can clearly understand the difference between adventure vs extreme sports in Australia. 


1. Abseiling

Abseiling, also known as rappelling, involves the use of ropes, pulleys, and a harness system to descend down a vertical cliff face. 

This by far one of the most popular extreme mountaineering sports!

If you haven’t done abseiling before, there are some great opportunities to try abseiling as a beginner, allowing you to learn how to abseil on smaller cliff faces or buildings, gradually working up to descents to 400 feet. 

In Australia, there are many places to go abseiling. All you need is some stunning scenery, cliff faces and an experienced guide willing to show you the way.

Here are some great experiences around Australia that you can check out:


2. Base Jumping

When looking at extreme sports vs adventure sports, I can confidently say that base jumping comes under the “extreme sport” umbrella.

It takes a truly unique dare devil to take the plunge with this one. I don’t even think I would be game trying this…

Base jumping typically involves jumping from a fixed object such as a building or cliff face and free falling at rapid speeds towards the ground. Once the base jumper reaches a certain height from the ground, they deploy a parachute to perform a controlled descent.  

Base jumping is considered an extreme outdoor sport due to the high risks associated with it including:

  • Close proximity to buildings
  • Unexpected wind gusts and 
  • The limited fall time before allowing for a parachute to be deployed

Compared to skydiving, base jumping is a hundred times more dangerous and prone to fatality with an estimated 1 death per 500-1000 jumps.

Base jumping can also be combined with another extreme sport, wingsuiting, which is by far one of the most adrenaline intense activities on this list. 


3. Wingsuiting

Wingsuiting or wingsuit flying, is a similar extreme outdoor sport to base jumping and skydiving.

The key difference between wingsuiting and base jumping is that jumpers wear a special suit that increases the surface area around the human body. This enables them to have greater lift and float for longer in the sky. 

Wingsuiting is not a sport for beginners. It takes many years to even be allowed to try it.

I looked into this for myself, after seeing an awesome video of wingsuiting on Instagram.

According to Skydive Ramblers and the Australian Parachute Federation skydivers must have completed a minimum of 500 free fall skydives, or have made a minimum of 200 free fall skydives within the past 18 months.

They must also receive one-on-one instruction from an experienced and qualified wingsuit trainer (who possesses an authority and/or recognised instructor status from a wingsuit manufacturer).

As you can see, there’s a lot of steps you need to go through to become a wingsuiter.  If you’re up for the challenge, you can learn more about it here.

Australian Extreme Sports - Wing Suiting


4. Free Climbing 

Free climbing is a form of rock climbing that involves climbing a steep rock face using solely one’s body strength, a rope and a safety clip to prevent major falls. It is a popular extreme outdoor sport. 

Free climbers move from hand hold to hand hold in either a vertical or horizontal direction along a cliff face.

This would have to be one of the most physically demanding extreme mountaineering sports available in Australia. 

The best way to get into free climbing, is to start first with standard rock climbing or sport climbing, and to build your experience and confidence from there. You can learn more about rock climbing in Australia here.

Given, for the average person, free climbing is very daunting and near-impossible to start out with (without some degree of experience), I’d suggest trying traditional rock climbing first to see if you like it.

Here are some great options in Australia to check out below.

5. Solo Climbing 

Solo climbing is one of the most hardcore and difficult extreme mountaineering sports to master. It is much like free climbing, yet they do not use any safety gear. 

My god…. I can already feel my stomach churning. 

I love an adrenaline rush, but I don’t think I could EVER do this. EVER!!

Climbers use nothing but fantastic grip strength and a fearless determination to succeed. Therefore it requires a lot of training and is one of the most hardcore extreme sports out there. 

The Extreme Sport of Solo Climbing


6. Mountain Boarding 

Mountain-boarding is a type of long-distance skateboarding that involves using a specialised off-road dirt board.

Participants of this extreme outdoor sport will engage in daring downhill races along mountain roads and can reach speeds of 40km per hour! 

Mountain boarding tends to be a perfect extreme sport for snowboard lovers to try, especially if they love in regions of Australia that have little to no snow.


7. Downhill Long-boarding 

Similar to mountain boarding, this type of skating uses specialised longboards to allow riders to race downhill as fast as possible, whilst still maintaining great board control. 

Riders use specialised gloves for fast turns as well as “breaking”.

The sport is one of the fastest skateboarding sports in the world with some of the top riders having reached speeds of 140km per hour. 

If you’re a speed junkie and love skateboarding then this could be the perfect extreme sport for you. 

You can learn more about downhill long-boarding here.

Mountain longboarding - Extreme Sports in Australia


In Summary:

Extreme Sports vs Adventure Sports | What’s the difference?

As mentioned above, the key difference between extreme sports vs adventure sports is that an extreme sport usually requires greater expertise, training and years of dedication to master.

Whereas an adventure sport can usually be enjoyed with little to no prior experience under the supervision of a trained professional with clearly communicated safety protocols. 

No matter which sport you hope to experience, you can feel confident that you’ll have a vast range of options to get your adrenaline fix in Australia.

And who knows, stepping outside of your comfort zone to give one of these a go, could result in some of the best memories you could have ever imagined!!

For more tips on adventure sports and activities, click here.  You can also view a complete list of extreme sports (from intense to insane), here.

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