For thrill seekers of any age, parachute-jumping from a plane involves a period of dazzling free-fall. Newcomers are paired in ‘tandem’ with an instructor who has hundreds of jumps under their belt already. In 2017, a Second World War survivor named Bryson William Verdun Hayes completed a 15,000 ft jump and felt “absolutely over the moon”. He was 101 years old.
Record an album
It’s never too late to become a recorded musician, with one famous example being Angela Álvarez. She spent a lifetime writing songs and putting on shows for her family, but it wasn’t until she turned 90 years old that she gave her first ever concert, which took place at Hollywood’s Avalon club. With the help of her grandson, she then recorded an album. At 95 years old, she won a Latin Grammy for Best New Artist in 2022.
Climb Mount Everest
Mountaineering is one of the most thrilling activities you can take up – and it isn’t limited by age. A retired lawyer named Arthur Muir (pictured) only started mountaineering when he was 68 years old, and at the age of 75, he became the oldest American citizen to climb Mount Everest. The current record-holder for the oldest person to ascend Mount Everest is Yuichiro Miura, an 80-year-old climber from Japan.
Write a book
Anyone can become a writer, and it’s never too late to publish your memoirs or fictional concoctions. Lorna Page was 93 years old when she published her first ever book, A Dangerous Weakness. It is a whodunnit mystery that unfolds in the mountains of Switzerland. The book made it onto bestseller lists and she used the proceeds to buy a much bigger house, that she shares with two ladies who were unhappy in their care home accommodation.
Ride a motorbike
While motorbikes may not be for everyone, their fanatics don’t fit into any box. Chester Zawalik from Wisconsin is the world’s oldest Harley-Davidson rider at 101 years old. Though Zawalik has been travelling by motorbike since he was 16, you don’t need a lifetime of experience to take up this activity. “I know people that decided to start riding motorbikes at the grand old age of 65, and the only regret they’ve got is leaving it so late,” one biker has noted.
For some thrill-seekers of advanced age, breaking their own records becomes an obsession. Among the world’s oldest active scuba divers was Ray Woolley, a Second World War veteran who broke his own record in three consecutive years. On his 96th birthday, he went diving off the coast of Cyprus and reached a 42m depth for 48 minutes to examine a shipwreck and marine wildlife.
Catch the waves
Surfing and bodyboarding are famed for their health benefits and laid-back community, and they have a great deal to offer for adventurous people of all ages. In 2021, 92-year-old Nancy Meherne of Scarborough Beach, New Zealand spoke to the press about her love of catching the waves. She uses a foam board that dates to the 70s, and enjoys riding in on her belly. “You wait until you see a big wave and then you come in on that,” she has said. “I love just speeding in. You’re moving so quickly, it’s really good.”
Learn to fly
If you want to take up recreational flying, there’s no maximum age to start. “If you’re just a passionate hobbyist who wants to enjoy traveling during retirement, there are no restrictions as to how old you can be to fly – all you’ll need to do is pass the required medical exam to show that you can competently control a plane,” one company advises. What’s more, you’re never too old to pass on your own wisdom and training. Robina Asti (pictured) gained the record for being the world’s oldest flight instructor, when she took a student to the skies in 2020 at the age of 99.
Graduate from university
There’s no age limit on education – or on finishing what you once started. The oldest person to graduate from the University of South California was 96-year-old Alfonso Gonzales. He first joined the USC’s Zoology programme in 1947 and was too busy working to attend graduation. Decades later, his niece attempted to collect his diploma for him, but discovered he was one credit short of graduating. So he returned to college and completed the degree in his 90s, and said he would celebrate after graduation with a siesta.
Go to the North or South Pole
One celebrity set the bar very high for record-seekers. Retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin became the oldest person to visit the South Pole when he was 86 years old. Tourist groups can catch a flight to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, meaning that this bucket-list activity is easier than ever before. Since Buzz Aldrin also visited the North Pole in 1998, he is the oldest person to have visited both the North and South Poles.