If you feel like you’ve watched nearly everything on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu by now, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Netflix’s viewership was already on the rise prior to COVID-19-related shutdowns, and by March, streaming was up by nearly 12% across major platforms like Disney+ and Amazon Prime.
That means a considerable amount of people are probably broadening the scope of what kind of television they watch; no longer are 22-minute sitcoms and high-budget action shows all anyone is streaming. And – perhaps in line with the summer’s trend towards local and outdoor travel – – more and more people are starting to watch adventure and survival shows once considered obscure. That includes The History Channel’s “Alone” (streaming on Netflix,) Amazon Prime’s “World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji,” and The Discovery Channels’ infamous “Naked and Afraid” (streaming on Hulu.) Many of these shows have developed a devoted fan base, spawning dozens of message boards and articles related to the show’s destinations, challenges and supposed authenticity.
But for many viewers, the destinations in these shows are the real highlights. Whether it’s the unforgiving and undeveloped terrain of Vancouver Island or stunning tropical landscapes across Fiji, these shows provide a chance to see a side of the world the average viewer may have never seen before. And since most people are likely not traveling in 2020, now’s a great time to save some extra cash and plan a bucket list trip for 2021 (or beyond.)
If you’re hooked on one of the many outdoor survival shows available to stream, read on for suggestions on the best trips to take inspired by your favorite adventure reality show.
Love “World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji?” Set sail on a drua in 2021
If you’ve been lured into “World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji” by the promise of relentless challenges and extreme mental, physical, and emotional turmoil as competitors cross 671 kilometers of Fiji’s terrain, you’re not alone – it’s been one of Amazon’s most talked-about shows since it’s premiere on Aug. 14. On the show, 66 teams, armed with maps and supplies, attempt to finish the race across the island. There are no breaks in the race; competitors will fall behind if they choose to oversleep or pause the journey for a day.
Even non-extreme adventure racers will realize something in the first minute of watching the show: Fiji is gorgeous. And in episode one, viewers are treated to views of jungle landscapes, small villages, and stunning shots of racers paddling traditional wooden vessels across wide and winding rivers.
Fortunately for travelers, it’s easy to recreate the experience of rowing a traditional drua boat – and better still, you can have GPS navigation and a cell phone while you do it, which is more than competitors on the show are permitted. The double-hulled drua boats were used to carry royalty, conduct diplomatic and defensive missions and aid in long-distance sea travel. Druas may not have originated in Fiji, but they’re now closely associated with Fijian culture.
If you want to travel like a Fijian diplomat – or like a World’s Toughest Race athlete – book your 2021 vacation to Nadi, on Fiji’s northwestern coast. Here, you can participate in The Drua Experience, which sets said from Vuda Marina. You can take an all-day sail to the nearby islands during which you can learn to sail a drua, or you can opt for a sunset sail and let the crew do the work. The on-board team is knowledgable about druas and their history, so be sure to lean on them if you’d like to know more about the beautiful boats.
Can’t make it out to Nadi? If you’re in the Suva, the capital, you can see the last remaining original drua in the Fiji Museum.
Obsessed with “Alone?” See the sights of Vancouver Island in 2021
If you’re the kind of person who thinks survival-style reality shows are staged, you might be pleasantly surprised by “Alone,” The History Channel’s sleeper hit. In the show, contestants compete to see who can stay alone in the wilderness the longest – and that’s the entire premise. There are no competitions, checkpoints or tasks they have to accomplish (aside from staying alive.) Except for the occasional medical check, the contestants are alone, responsible for their own shelter, food, health and warmth. The winners of the various seasons lasted between 56 and 87 days before they learned from the approaching medical teams that all other contestants had disqualified themselves by radioing to leave. Though the show films in a few different parts of the world, Canada’s Vancouver Island is the most frequently used location.
While the show may make Vancouver Island seem inhospitable, it’s anything but – the island has a relatively mild climate and is very tourist-friendly, with plenty of lodging options, restaurants and tour companies.
To recreate your own slightly more comfortable version of “Alone,” plan to visit in the fall, when you can get a taste for the chilly weather that can send contestants packing their bags. Stay in a resort with rustic lodging tucked into the woods, like the cabins at Brown’s Bay Resort. Many of them are beachfront, so you’ll have the same views “Alone” contestants do. However, unlike the contestants in season 1 (set on the northern part of Vancouver Island,) your diet will be more than just scavenged limpets and slugs. Campbell River is home to amazing seafood as well as other traditional hearty meat dishes.
While here, you can have many of the same experiences as “Alone” contestants – though in a slightly safer manner, of course. Recreation options include grizzly bear photography tours, salmon fishing and snowshoeing through the mountains.
While here, you can have may of the same experiences as Alone contestants – though in a more controlled manner, of course. Recreation options include grizzly bear photography tours, salmon fishing or snowshoeing through the mountains.
Love “Naked and Afraid?” Book an off-the-grid Hawaii or Costa Rica trip in 2021
The Discovery Channel’s “Naked and Afraid” loosely takes inspiration from the story of Adam and Eve, dropping a pair of male and female strangers together in a remote location. The strangers then have to make their way to a designated pickup point. As you can likely guess from the title, the twist is obvious: the couples are naked, though one of the first tasks most participants attempt is fashioning some cover from leaves and twigs, or at least a pair of shoes.
If you have a desire to be randomly dropped somewhere in the world sans clothing, you may want to consider just applying for the show. Otherwise, decide which aspect of the trip you like best, and go from there.
If you’re drawn to the idea of frolicking in the buff in a tropical paradise, consider a trip to Hawaii’s Hangin’ Loose Inn, on the Big Island. The clothing-optional retreat and botanical garden has a laid-back vibe and is a member of the American Association for Nude Recreation. The inn isn’t on the beach (though it’s close) so you don’t need to worry about being seen by anyone who isn’t a guest. There’s plenty to do nearby to make you feel as though you’re in an episode of “Naked and Afraid,” including nude beaches and nearby hikes to waterfalls and through Volcanoes National Park (which does require clothing, of course.)
If it’s more of a jungle experience you’re after, plan a trip to Costa Rica in 2021, which was the setting of an episode in season 1. Travelers have been attracted to Costa Rica’s diverse, dense jungle for centuries; in fact, Ponce de Leon was convinced Costa Rica was the location of the fabled Fountain of Youth. While you’re in the country, you can look for the Fountain of Youth near Arenal Volcano, home to several hot springs. Consider a waterfall and canyoneering tour with Desafio Adventure Co. to have a similar experience to “Naked and Afraid” contestants (though you’ll probably want a swimsuit.) For something somewhat akin to a “Naked and Afraid” experience, book a room at the entirely off-the-grid Rancho Margot Eco-Lodge. While the jungle bungalows with hammocks are a good deal more comfortable than where the average “Naked and Afraid” contestant sleeps, you’ll still be sleeping in the middle of the jungle (albeit with a multi-story pool, riverfront yoga studio, and organic restaurant.)