For the experienced rider, an overseas motorcycle tour is something to do at least once in your lifetime. I started vacation touring about thirty years ago, first in the US and then around the world. I’m hooked on the experience, and I’ve still got places I want to see from the seat of a motorcycle. And as an LGBTQ person, I constantly monitor potential destinations to make sure they are safe and reasonable places to travel. Here’s my list:
- The Alps: France, Switzerland, & Italy
- South Africa, Namibia & Botswana
- New Zealand
- Italy: Amalfi Coast
- Italy: Tuscany, Sardinia & Corsica
- Portugal & Spain
- Northern Thailand, Cambodia & Laos
France, Switzerland, and Italy. Most adventurers visit the Alps for their superb winter sports. However, being there when the snow isn’t is like going to a totally different destination, even more so if you’re touring by motorcycle. The main attraction for me? The all-in-one thrills served up by the Alps’ epic mountain passes. Take an exhilarating, technical ride, combine it with scenery ranging from spectacular peaks to pristine lakes and throw in a cozy cafe at the summit. Bonus for castles (so many castles) and welcoming accommodations in intimate hotels that cater to the rider. Then put it all on repeat, and you can see why this trip made my list. And lucky you! This is our first Dive N Ride Adventures motorcycle trip currently scheduled for 2022. Join us from September 11th thru 25th, 2022!
My first trip to South Africa left me wanting to come back … on a motorcycle. One of those rare places on our planet that hasn’t been over traveled, this destination offers a unique opportunity to experience both sophisticated infrastructure and frontier in an envious climate. Your African adventure will include a mind-blowing diversity in terrain–mountains, bush plains, and tropical forests as well as exotic flora and fauna. After all, South Africa’s Kruger National Park is where the big five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and water buffalo) make their home. One place of special interest to me is the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana. This inland river delta in the Kalahari River basin, a UNESCO Heritage Site is known for its infinite grassy plains and seasonal flooding, creating a rich habitat for both water and land-based animals. I also found myself drawn to South Africa’s history as a colonized country that gained independence, and the legacy of Nelson Mandela. There are a couple of museums on my list of potential side trips, for example, the Apartheid Museum (Johannesburg) and the Stellenbosch Univerity Botanical Garden in historic Stellenbosch. Did I mention they have a wine country? Yeah. Going here!
By the way, we are hoping to put together a trip to visit these destinations in 2023. If you’re interested send me an email at email@example.com.
Islands have always had a special appeal for me because I can indulge my love of land and sea all in one place. And island geography gives rise to unique plants and animals, something I’m always keen to see. New Zealand is home to a host of land- and marine creatures that you won’t find anywhere else. You can even tour predator-free islands as a side trip. No surprise that there are a couple of islands (and an island continent) on my list.
New Zealand has something for everyone and for every season–and every sports enthusiast. Do you want to hike, cave, or explore a canyon? New Zealand is home to the nine Great Walks, two of which are located in Fiordland National Park. There are even caves that glow, thanks to a species of glowworms that only exist here. If you want to trade your wheels for a watercraft, kayaking and rafting venues are And don’t worry, if what you want to do is relax after a day on your bike, it’s an art here, everything from hot springs to a world-famous wine country.
One more reason New Zealand made the list. I saw my first Haka performed before a rugby match (Google New Zealand All Blacks rugby team haka if you’ve never seen it), and ever since I’ve been fascinated by Maori culture. This island nation has made an effort to preserve and honor the Maori culture, and I’m here for it.
Another island and this one is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the continental US. With cities often described as living museums due to long periods of political isolation, this largest of the Caribbean islands is a place of unparalleled beauty and culture. From pristine white sand beaches and turquoise water warm enough for year-round swimming, to mountain waterfalls and secret caves, Cuba is a feast for the senses. Along with a world-renowned reputation for excellence in dance and music, Cuban cuisine–a blend of African, Spanish, and other Caribbean cuisines is not to be missed. Offering all of this and a doable road infrastructure (I have read reports of bodacious potholes) as well makes Cuba a destination I plan to visit sooner versus later. As of the date this blog was written, Cuba still has travel restrictions, which I am monitoring.
Yup, one more island, this one also a continent. Once again, I like the fact that once I’m there, I’ve got my pick of coastal or inland venues. With cool stuff to see everywhere, it’s going to take me more than one trip to see everything that intrigues me about Australia.
In terms of terrain, Australia is fairly flat with some highlands, including the Great Dividing Range which is on the east coast. Because the interior, often called the “outback” doesn’t get a lot of rain, there’s desert. And where you have desert (or grassy plains), you have kangaroos. You know me and critters; that alone was enough to put Australia on the list. That, and watching the water swirl the other way in the toilet. Seriously, it does (see Coriolis effect).
The southwest coast of Victoria boasts a world-famous scenic ocean drive, the cliff-hugging Great Ocean Road, where tree fern forests and eucalyptus groves border the amazing ocean views. Nearby New South Wales, there’s the scenic Macquarie Pass, an eight-kilometer (roughly five miles) stretch of the Illawarra Highway. Another technical ride (plenty of twists and hairpins), there’s no shortage of cool stuff to see and do. Ocean views, waterfalls, the Illawarra flame trees as well as bushwalking and birdwatching.
Italy: Amalfi Coast
You’ve seen Italy’s Amalfi Coast in a hundred movies, and you can’t mistake it for anywhere else on earth. Razor-sharp mountains plunge to the sparkling sea, with picturesque seaside towns hugging the cliffs all the way down to the occasional grotto (or beach), all the buildings new and old done in colors that compliment the earth, the sea, the sky. Add about 30 miles (48 kilometers) twisty roads and a few hairpin turns at the ocean’s edge and you’ve got a destination tailor-made for motorcycling tours. Steeped in Neapolitan culture and history, this is old Italy at its finest. You can visit trendy Positano or Amalfi for people-watching, celeb sightings or gallery hopping. Or visit one of the Amalfi coast’s “heroic” wine-making areas, so named because for some of these terraced vineyards, the only way to get to them is on foot. For me, it’s the chance to catch a scenery + history mash-up, like the Grotto dello Smeraldo–the Emerald Cave. Not far from Vesuvius in the village of Conca dei Marini, you can take an elevator to this marine cave with water so clear it’s possible to see to the bottom. One place I’ve earmarked for a day trip is Herculaneum. Destroyed in the same eruption that wiped out Pompeii, this site is similar but more intact. And I might play chef-for-a-day and take a pizza cooking class in the Sorrento hills.
Italy: Tuscany, Sardinia & Corsica
This is one trip I’ve already done, and I definitely plan to ride this scenic countryside full of steep grades, hairpin turns, and switchbacks again. Central Italy, including Tuscany, is Italy’s premier wine country where the location and weather favor the region’s key grape, the Sangiovese. In Sardinia, I discovered cork oaks, after riding past entire groves of trees with their lower bark stripped off. An ancient material, cork is an art medium used by local artisans to make every object imaginable. Find yourself in Corsica and the culture shifts. An amalgam of French & Italian culture, heavy on the French influence, Corsica is a place to get the best of both worlds in some interesting combinations.
More on this destination can be found in another post where I’ll write about my trip–and why I plan to go back.
Portugal & Spain
One of the top places in the world for LGBTQ people to travel, Portugal (and Spain) do their locations as the western-most countries in Europe proud. Portugal in particular is a stellar example of how good a diverse historic and cultural legacy can be. Sporting everything from Roman aqueducts to Moroccan palaces and European castles, it’s a feast for the eyes both on and off a motorcycle. Both Portugal and Spain have unrivaled weather, and of course, good weather favors good food and wine. You’ll find both in abundance. The nightlife in the cities ranges from the hip (casino gambling with Broadway-type shows but done in the nude) to historic (the Fado tradition). Port wine was born there, in Porto, which you can visit! A friend of mine who visited reported she’d had the best beef, best coffee, best profiteroles, and eyes on the best looking men she’d ever seen in her life. Something for everyone, I’d say.
Northern Thailand, Cambodia & Laos
While it’s hard to put into words exactly why, traveling in Asia is just plain fascinating. At first glance, it seems so different from what we’re used to in the west, but experiencing Asia first hand, the commonality we share as humans on the planet becomes transparent. One area I’m keen to visit is northern Thailand, the mountainous region where Thailand meets Myanmar and Laos. This area, known as the Golden Triangle is also known for providing a breathtaking and off-the-beaten-track backdrop for touring. A trip to this destination could start in Chiang Mai, known for its cooler climate and many ancient temples. Heading into the mountains, I’d be looking for charming remote villages in the midst of a rice field. Or maybe a tea and coffee plantation. I know for sure no matter what I discovered, it would be in the company of northern Thailand’s mountain rivers and waterfalls and tropical landscape.
An adventure in Romania is still on my list, but with the flag, “not quite yet.” Why? I think it would be an excellent place to tour, but the current political situation doesn’t lend itself to being LGBTQ-friendly, at least for now. If you are an LGBTQ person and you travel, it’s worth spending the time to do the research, like I do, to understand what is going on. The Maldives are a great example: it’s an amazing destination where it is illegal to consume alcohol–and being LGBTQ is punishable by 100 lashes (you read that right) or eight years in prison.
Back to Romania. When the politics shift, I’d really love to see this country. Like South Africa, it’s not yet over traveled. It has some of the most famous forests in the world, like Hoia Baciu in Transylvania, and a couple of roads known for their amazing mountain views and hairpin turns, the Transalpina, and Transfagarason roads. Since they are only a day’s ride from each other, I’d like to do them both. And while I’m at it, take in a salt mine or a medieval fortress or two!
That’s my list! I’m sure you have other places you want to ride. If you’d like to share them, feel free to email me at Lisa@divenrideadventures.com. Rubber side down!