Where to Do 9 Popular Bucket List Items on a Budget


Many people have a list of things that they would love to experience before they get old. Unfortunately, lots of popular bucket list ideas also cost a bucket of money to take part in.

If you do manage to find a bargain, there tends to be a catch. For instance, there are plenty of places where you can bungee jump, scuba dive, or sky-dive for really cheap, but the scenery leaves a lot to be desired. Most people are probably not thinking of bungee jumping in a parking lot when they put it on their bucket list. That's why I've compiled this list of some of the best places to try out nine of the most popular bucket list activities on a budget.

1. Bungee jumping: Monteverde Extremo Park, Costa Rica

Monteverde in Costa Rica is in one of the most picturesque regions in Central America, boasting a huge expanse of virgin cloud forest and an extremely diverse selection of wildlife. Thanks to the stunning natural beauty of the surrounding jungle, a bungee jump in Monteverde Extremo Park provides more than just the thrill of falling through the air attached to a rubber band. A breathtakingly scenic jump from the platform, which is suspended by wires 450 feet over the lush green rain forest, will cost you $73. You can find cheaper jumps in other parts of the world, but not many with this kind of view.

2. Scuba diving: Koh Tao, Thailand

Scuba diving isn't just about the actual activity. A good dive hinges on the underwater landscapes and visibility, so where you do it is equally important. Thailand has many well priced hot spots, but the island of Koh Tao is particularly well known for its diverse marine life and colorful coral reefs. A "fun dive" with a PADI certified divemaster here can cost as little as $30, including equipment.

When I was there last, I purchased a 10-dive package for just $200, making each dive just $20! In my experience, the average cost of a dive around the world is $40, so $20 is a great deal.

3. Run a major marathon: London, England

Obviously it costs absolutely nothing to lace up your running shoes and pound the sidewalk for 26.2 miles. But part of the magic of doing a marathon is running a world famous course with huge crowds and an inspiring atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the Abbott World Marathon Majors, a group of six of the largest marathons in the world, is getting more expensive. The New York Marathon now costs an astronomical $295. The London Marathon is priced at just over $104 for an overseas entry, which works out as the cheapest of all the majors.

4. See the Northern Lights: Fairbanks, Alaska

Many people make trips to Scandinavia in an attempt to get a glimpse of the greatest natural light show on earth, the ethereal Aurora Borealis. But Fairbanks, Alaska is easier for most Americans to get to, and is a reliable locale for seeing the northern lights in winter. Both Alaska Airlines and Delta offer direct flights from Seattle to Fairbanks. After the price of a night's accommodation (three-star hotels start at around $80), you can witness them for absolutely nothing. (See also: Why Timing Is Everything When Saving Money On Travel)

5. Spot a killer whale: Vancouver Island, Canada

Though it's possible to see whales in various locations around the world, the waters near Vancouver Island in Canada are among the most dependable for sighting the king of them all, the orca. That's because a killer whale sanctuary nearby is home to around 200 orcas. Seeing one of these 30-foot-long majestic creatures breach the misty waters of the Johnstone Strait, between northern Vancouver Island and the mainland, is an experience of a lifetime. Around $80 will pay for a half-day whale watching tour where you may also spot humpbacks, porpoises, and dolphins.

6. Eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant: Singapore

The Michelin star system is the world renowned standard for consistently high quality food cooked by the best chefs in the world. While a meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant will often set you back hundreds of dollars, it's not necessary to spend that much. You can eat for a bargain $3 at Liao Fan Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle in Singapore. (See also: The World's Most Affordable Michelin Starred Restaurants)

7. Swim with great white sharks: Gansbaai, South Africa

Coming face to face with the ocean's most fearsome predator is the stuff of nightmares for most of us, but some adrenaline junkies take a different view. There are numerous varieties of shark, but cage diving with great whites is the ultimate in underwater adventure.

Though you can see great whites in other locations, the waters off Gansbaai, South Africa are often said to be the best location in the world to do it. That's because there's a population of more than 60,000 seals here, providing a constant source of food. Not only will you see sharks up close from the cage, but you may see them leap clean out of the water attempting to catch their prey.

Gansbaai is one of the cheaper locales for shark-diving, too. Just $119 will pay for an exhilarating expedition of a lifetime. That's a bargain, considering you could pay $775 for a day trip to the Farallon Islands in California, or $3,000 plus for the necessary five to six day expedition to Isla Guadalupe in Mexico.

8. Own an island: Canada

Everyone dreams of owning their own private island that they can escape to whenever they want, but few people realize that it could be a more realistic proposition than they imagine. Surprisingly, Canada has many islands on the market that come in way cheaper than the average sales price of a new house in the U.S.

9. Raft a Class V rapid: Kaituna River, New Zealand

Not all white water rafting is created equal, and while you may find cheaper deals for tamer runs, for the ultimate thrill you need to take on a Class V rapid. Where better to do this than the home of adventure sports: New Zealand.

Throw yourself in at the deep end by attempting the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world, located on the Kaituna river, which is in the Bay of Plenty region on New Zealand's North Island. At 23 feet high it's certainly no joke, but at about $76, the price will definitely leave you smiling.

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