Twenty of the world's top athletes and explorers share their wildest dream trips—a dazzling list of never attempted feats daunting to even these world-class competitors. For the rest of us, consider their must-do adventures—and start planning. —Kate Siber

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Photo: Scuba diver under frozen waters in Antarctica
A diver explores frozen underwater waterfalls formed by glacier meltwater off the coast of Antarctica.

Photograph by Norbert Wu, Minden Pictures II/Getty Images

Enric Sala

Marine Ecologist and Diver

Most divers gravitate to tropical waters teeming with corals, colorful reef fish, and sharks. Not Enric Sala. The marine ecologist and seasoned diver daydreams of something a little more remote. “I dream of diving in two places where I have not been yet,” he says. “One is Antarctica, because of its crystal clear waters and amazing fauna, in addition to the ice cathedrals. The other is the Arctic, where I'd like to see the northernmost kelp forests.”

Diving in polar regions comes with its dangers, like utterly frigid waters and the possibility of getting trapped under the ice, but Sala is lured by the promise of Antarctica’s wild creatures, like giant crustaceans, and astounding underwater visibility. “It’s like flying,” he says. As for the Arctic, he doesn’t know what to expect, which is a large part of the draw. “It’s a poorly known ecosystem, so it’s pure exploration.”

Next: See Enric Sala's Must-Do Trip: Dive Cocos Island, Costa Rica

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Explorer Bio

Photo: Portrait of explorer Enric Sala
Enric Sala

Marine Ecologist and Diver

Marine ecologist Enric Sala has dived in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Sea of Cortez, and off remote Pacific Islands is search of the world’s most pristine and most degraded reefs. The National Geographic explorer’s dozens of studies have informed the creation of several marine reserves, including the U.S. Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument and the Seamounts Marine Management Area in Costa Rica.