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The Key Differences Between Extreme Sports vs Adventure Sports 

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

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. 

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 how extreme sports differ from adventure sports including some examples which may inspire you to give some a go yourself.

 

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 involve:

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

 

Extreme Sports vs Adventure Sports? What is the difference?

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

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).

 

6 Adventure Sports You Can Try in Australia (and world-wide!)

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 are 6 of the best adventure sports in Australia.

 

1. Skydiving 

Skydiving has to be one of the most popular adventure activities 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 sports enthusiast. Here’s an insight into my experience skydiving in Australia.


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.

If you decide that Skydiving is something that you’d love to take further, you can learn and train to become a solo jumper (jumping on your own).

You can learn more about skydiving here.

Related:

 

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

In Australia, the main location where you can go bungee jumping is in Cairns. However, for those interested in bungee jumping overseas, there are a TON of locations you can do it.

For example, New Zealand is the bungy jumping capital. This is also where bungy jumping was first offered commercially.

Related:

 

Generally, bungee jumping takes place off high structures such as bridges, canyons, cranes, or natural cliff faces. 

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. 

3. Plane Aerobatics 

Plane aerobatics is an adventure sport that involves flying in a light aircraft at high speeds and performing acrobatic manoeuvres like barrel rolls and loop the loops. 

Plane aerobatics allow 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.

So far, this has been one of my favourite adventure sport experiences. 

You can watch my aerobatics experience video below:

Related:

 

Plane Aerobatics could be a great adventure sport for you to try if you love old warcraft planes, G-force vibes and extreme heights.

I’d also suggest that you don’t have a weak stomach…

The great thing about aerobatics is that it’s another adventure sport that you can try all over the world, and it does not require any past experience or training to do it.

If you find that you love it so much that you want to become an aerobatics pilot yourself, there are aerobatics pilot schools that you can go to to train and study.

Learn more about plane aerobatics here.

 

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 riverway.

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.

If you’d like to learn more about white water rafting, click here. 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.


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 skillful 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 that teach you how to 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 for those who want to do it with a safe, trusted and reputable company.

Scuba diving has truly 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!


 

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 bungy 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.

Related:

 

 

8 Extreme Sports in Australia for the extreme adrenaline junkie!

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 sports adventure, we have included a list of some of the most common and best extreme and adventure 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 opportunities to try abseiling for the first time. You can learn how to abseil on smaller cliff faces or buildings. 

That way you can work towards descents of over 400 feet. 

 

2. Base Jumping

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

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

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

  • proximity to buildings
  • 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, and is by far one of the most adrenaline intense activities on this list. 

 

3. Wingsuiting

Wingsuiting or wingsuit flying, is a similar extreme sport to base jumping and skydiving.
The key difference that makes it unique 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. 

Australian Extreme Sports - Wing Suiting

4. Free Climbing 

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.

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

This is one of the most physically demanding extreme mountaineering sports available in Australia. 

 

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. 

Absolutely insane!!

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. 

Solo climbing 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 sport will engage in daring downhill races along mountain roads and can reach speeds of 40km per hour! 

This is a great extreme sport for snowboarding lovers that live in a region of Australia with no snow.

 

7. Downhill Longboarding 

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. 

Mountain longboarding - Extreme Sports in Australia

If you’d like to gain insight into a list of extreme sports (from intense to insane), this is a great article. 

 

In Summary:

So there you have it…

We hope that this article has helped to highlight the key differences between extreme sports vs adventure sports.

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.  

 

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Hey guys, I’m Ash & welcome to Adventure Travel Pro!

As a seasoned traveller, I share knowledge, advice and inspo for newbie solo travellers and thrill seekers.

Let’s get your adrenaline pumping. Click here to get start your journey!

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