From swimming with dolphins to skydiving: what we want to do most before we die

Click to follow

Think again if you feared that Britain had become a nation obsessed with celebrity, money and football.

Asked what we would like to do above all else before we die, most of us want to dive into the oceans or take to the skies.

Swimming with dolphins emerged as the number one dream activity in a BBC poll of 20,000 people. Three other water-related activities - scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, whale watching and diving with sharks - were placed second, fourth and fifth in a list compiled for50 Things To Do Before You Die, which will be screened next week on BBC1. The other favourite "last wishes" involved air travel. Flying Concorde to New York was ranked third in the poll (the supersonic airliner is retiring next month), with skydiving, hot air balloon flying and a flight in a fighter jet all in the top 10.

What was perhaps surprising about the list was that respondents opted for physical challenges rather than attending events that involved their favourite musical heroes, film stars or football teams.

Jannine Waddell, the show's executive producer, said: "We didn't get many that wanted to be pop stars. People went for experiences rather than for dreams. There were lots of watery things and lots of nature."

Religion failed to make the top 50, with "giving my life to Jesus" ranking in the sixties.

Animals, by contrast, featured heavily in the list, with people wanting to see wild elephants (22), mountain gorillas (44), tigers (45), orang-utans (49) and polar bears (50).

Adventurous rail travel was also popular, with the Rocky Mountaineer (18), the Orient Express (21) and the Trans- Siberian Railway (33) being the train journeys people most wanted to experience.

Some of the dreams were expensive (space travel was ranked 28th) and some were activities that others take for granted (ride a motorbike on the open road was placed 24).

The BBC conducted a similar exercise last year called 50 Places to See Before You Die, a list that was topped by the Grand Canyon. But in the latest poll a helicopter flight over the canyon was ranked only 20th in the experiences of a lifetime. Disney World in Florida was the third most popular place to see before you die, but managed only 47th place in the list of things to do.

The BBC is now planning a series on the 50 best things to eat before you die.


1. Swim with dolphins

2. Scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef

3. Fly Concorde to New York

4. Go whale-watching

5. Dive with sharks

6. Skydiving

7. Fly in a hot air balloon

8. Fly in a fighter jet

9. Go on safari

10. See the Northern Lights

11. Walk the Inca trail to Machupicchu

12. Climb Sydney harbour bridge

13. Escape to a paradise island

14. Drive a Formula 1 car

15. Go white-water rafting

16. Walk the Great Wall of China

17. Go bungee-jumping

18. Ride the Rocky Mountaineer train

19. Drive along Route 66

20. Fly a helicopter over the Grand Canyon

21. Take the Orient express from Venice to London

22. See elephants in the wild

23. Explore Antarctica

24. Ride a motorbike on the open road

25. Go cowboy ranching

26. Climb Mount Everest

27. Wonder at a waterfall

28. Travel into space

29. Explore the Galapagos islands

30. Trek through a rainforest

31. Gallop a horse along a beach

32. Ride a camel to the Pyramids in Egypt

33. Take the Trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Vladivostok

34. Catch sunset over Uluru

35. Go wing-walking

36. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

37. Fly over a volcano

38. Drive a husky sled

39. Hike up a glacier

40. Ride a rollercoaster

41. Fish for a blue marlin

42. Go paragliding

43. Play a round of golf at Augusta, Georgia

44. Watch mountain gorillas

45. See tigers in the wild

46. Do the Swiss Cresta Run

47. Visit Walt Disney World, Florida

48. Gamble in Las Vegas

49. See orang-utans in Borneo

50. Go polar bear watching