By Myranda Bolstad
The world is an incredible place, full of marvelous places to discover. Some are so incredible, you’ll barely believe your own eyes when you encounter them. If you’re in search of sights to astonish and awe, here are some of the world’s wonders you’ll have to see to believe:
Fly Geyser (Nevada, United States)
From State Route 34 in Nevada, you can be amazed by the Fly Geyser. Formed as a result of water heated by geothermal energy rising up through cracks in a well drilled in the 1900s, this may be one of the state’s coolest sites. Mineral deposits from the water have created this groovy-looking rock formation, and the algae that thrives on the wet, hot conditions can be credited for the array of rainbow colors on the stone. While the Fly Geyser is located on private lands, if you are interested in a closer look, arrangements for an exclusive tour can be made with the owners for a fee.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (Hunan Province, China)
The diversity of the landscape in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park offers a visual smorgasbord for all visitors. From the high peaks of the quartzite-sandstone formations in the morning mist to the majestic flora and fauna, it’s an otherworldly experience stepping into it. For some of the most enthralling scenery, you won’t want to miss the Golden Whip Stream with water crystal clear enough to see every flit of the tails of the fish that swim it. If this landscape looks familiar, it’s because it was used as the prototype for the Hallelujah Mountains in James Cameron’s movie Avatar.
Marble Caves of Chile Chico (Puerto Río Tranquilo, Chile)
The cathedral-like structures formed in these Chilean caves are a little off the beaten track, but well worth the journey to see in person. Thousands of years of waves have carved out the solid marble of the peninsula, leaving immense smooth walls reflecting the cerulean shades of the water. A true feast for the eyes, the intersections of light and water are sure to leave you feeling humble.
Playa Del Amor, or Hidden Beach (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico)
Formed perhaps by test bombing in the Marieta Islands (an archipelago), this beach is tucked away in a crater on a lush, green island. Hidden from the outside, it can only be accessed from a cavernous water tunnel entrance that gives way to this secret spot. The cerulean waters of the Pacific rushing in and the soft sand lends it an air of romance that makes it a perfect spot for lovers to retreat.
The Lost Kingdom of Cleopatra (Alexandria, Egypt)
Beneath the waves of the shores of Alexandria lies the royal quarters that once belonged to Cleopatra. A few centuries after her reign, an earthquake and tsunami caused the island of Antirhodos to sink, to be rediscovered in the late 1990s. Though the well-preserved pieces were excavated to tour museums around the world, divers can still explore the remaining structure and artifacts, making for a memorable experience of ancient history.
Midway Ice Castles (Utah, United States)
One of several man-made structures that are part of the Magical Ice Castles Wonderland, the Midway, Utah location remains one of the most beautiful to take in. The massive castle is constructed only of ice, and the Midway’s design has been patterned after the well-known geological features of Utah. Using water and icicles to build the palatial structure, it glitters blue during the day, and is lit in multiple colors at night by LED lights in the ice itself, making for an enchanting stroll no matter when you go. Fun fact: a lot of newlyweds have their wedding shoot here, the Ice Caste certainly looks like a scene from ‘Disney’s Frozen’.
Waitomo Glow Worm Caves (Waitomo, New Zealand)
Enjoy the glow of a starry sky any time of the day in the Glow Worm Caves in Waitomo, New Zealand. The Arachnocampa luminosa that light up the walls of the cave are a species of glow worm exclusive to New Zealand, and the boat journey through the caves is a magical one. A guided tour through the limestone caves will take you through three different levels before ending in the Glowworm Grotto, lit only by the glimmering of these amazing insects.
Zhangye Danxia Landform (Gansu, China)
This range of mountains in technicolor look like something from an artist’s dream, but these multihued formations that make up the Zhangye Danxia Landform are a natural phenomenon. Weathered by time, the sandstone has oxidized in the different colors that interplay over the range. By any light, they are a vision you have to see to believe.
Vaadhoo Island’s Glowing Beach (The Maldives)
Strolling in the night sky amongst the constellations might not yet be possible, but you can certainly come close in Vaadhoo Island’s incredible Glowing Beach, also known as the Sea of Stars. This rare phenomenon is a result of the bioluminescent phytoplankton that glows like the stars above at night. The contrast of sparkling waves on the soft sand is a truly stellar sight to behold.
The Great Dismal Swamp (North Carolina and Virginia, United States)
Believed to have been named by British colonists in the 1700s, this vast, densely-forested wetland is home to many species of plants and animals. This geological wonder’s harsh conditions, such as the muddy water, heat, and dangerous wildlife that inhabits it, also made this an important part of American history. Runaway slaves are known to have hid away to live in freedom in the swamp. Perhaps more daunting than dismal, a visit to this swamp is extremely interesting and well worth your while.
The Blue Forest (Belgium)
No matter the season, stepping into the Blue Forest – or Hallerbos – in Belgium is like crossing into Fairyland. Only 12 miles (20 kilometers) south of Brussels, it is especially enchanting in the spring, however, when the bluebells bloom, it creates a blue carpet of sweet-smelling blossoms. We recommended visiting during the morning to experience the gentle light through the trees, and on a weekday if you prefer a quieter stroll.
Crooked Forest (near Gryfino, Poland)
The pine trees of the Crooked Forest number around 400, each bending sharply north just above the ground, then curving up at a 90-degree angle back toward the sky. Many have speculated as to this eerie growth, but the reason for the trees’ shape remains a mystery. Whether a man-made or a result of some natural occurrence when they were planted circa 1930 may never be known for sure, but this haunting forest is a must see.
Yellowstone Caldera, or Yellowstone Supervolcano (Yellowstone National Park, United States)
Many have heard of the famous geyser, Old Faithful, in the Yellowstone National Park. However, it is the supervolcano whose last eruption hundreds of thousands of years ago still powers the hot springs, fumaroles, geysers, and mud pots, that may be the park’s true draw. The reserve of magma beneath is not done churning, and the volcano is still active. The bacteria and thermophiles growing around the mineral pools also make for the striking hues in the park that beg to be photographed.