Advertisement

Earth’s greatest hits

Earth’s greatest hits
Getty Images (2)

Mother Nature sure knows how to make a statement. The planet is dotted with all sorts of gorgeous creations, from cascading waterfalls to towering volcanoes to otherworldly salt flats you won’t believe are real, and all of these natural wonders of the world tell the story of a particular destination. Of course, people travel far and wide just to get a glimpse of the most famous landscapes and the equally stunning but lesser-known natural wonders, and for good reason. Whether you’re interested in diving the Great Barrier Reef, hiking the Grand Canyon, admiring the northern lights, or just taking a tour from your couch and daydreaming about your bucket list, you’ll definitely be inspired by these natural wonders of the world.

Poás Volcano, Costa Rica

Poás Volcano, Costa Rica
Getty Images

One of the most visited volcanoes in Costa Rica is also one of the oldest – it actually helped form the Central Valley. Sitting more than 2707 metres above sea level, Poás Volcano has been active for hundreds of years, though its last major eruption was in 1910. Visitors can still get up close and personal with it at the national park where it’s located (with a reservation, that is). If you’re lucky enough to get a view of the crater, it can be breathtaking; however, views may be obstructed by clouds due to fickle and unpredictable weather conditions, which change by the hour. Dress warm and bring an umbrella, as precipitation is common at the top of the mountain.

The volcano is about an hour’s drive from the centre of San José. But you’ll definitely want to build some extra time into your schedule so you can sample fresh strawberries at the fruit stands along the way or go on a tour at Doka Estate to learn how coffee is made.

Mount Otemanu, Bora Bora

Mount Otemanu, Bora Bora
Getty Images

Bora Bora was first made popular during World War II, when soldiers were stationed on the island. Mount Otemanu is the island’s main attraction, and it has an interesting history. “During World War II, the American soldiers used the cave to check the horizon to see if any enemies were coming,” says Marania Teuru, a representative for Tahiti Tourisme. Years later, it was rumoured that women went inside the caves to give birth because giving birth on the island was not permitted. The massive mountain, which stands 727 metres above the lagoon of Bora Bora, is now the perfect backdrop for dreamy Tahitian sunsets. A few of the luxury resorts offer great views of the mountain, including the St. Regis Bora Bora and the Conrad Bora Bora Nui, which have become hot spots for honeymooners.

Discover 13 islands that will disappear in the next 80 years.

Marble Chapels, Patagonia

Marble Chapels, Patagonia
Getty Images

The Capillas de Mármol, or Marble Chapels, are an absolute must when visiting Patagonia. The stunning caves are located in the middle of General Carrera Lake, which makes them accessible only by boat. One of the more remote natural wonders on this list, the iridescent Marble Chapels are actually layers of calcium carbonate formations resulting from 6,000 years of wind and water slapping the rocks. The colours and arches formed inside the cave are truly breathtaking, and even amateur photographers will have a field day here. The best time to visit is in the austral summer, from December to March, when the intensity of the blue waters is intensified by the sun.

Here are 20 of the most beautiful sea caves in the world.

Yosemite National Park, USA

Yosemite National Park, USA
Getty Images

One of California’s crown jewels, Yosemite National Park is an outdoor playground for nature enthusiasts. The protected park is approximately 3108 square kilometres, and it features towering sequoias, dramatic waterfalls, beautiful mountain ranges and sheer granite towers. In addition to Half Dome and El Capitan, Yosemite is also home to Yosemite Falls, one of the world’s tallest waterfalls at 739 metres. May or June is the best time to see the waterfalls; September is also a great month to visit because of pleasant weather and fewer crowds.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Getty Images

One of the world’s greatest spectacles also happens to be one of the most vulnerable. Whether you choose to view this global treasure from a helicopter or go scuba diving to enjoy close encounters with more than 1,500 species of tropical fish, it’s hard not to notice the direct impact of climate change. Warmer temperatures have led to significant amounts of coral bleaching, and farming pollution has caused starfish to feed off the precious coral. If the damage continues on the same trajectory, more than 90 percent of the living coral will erode within the next decade.

Add this natural wonder of the world to your bucket list before it’s too late, along with these other breathtaking places that might soon disappear.

Advertisement

Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
Getty Images

Maui is world-famous for its magnificent beaches, fresh cuisine and burnt-orange sunsets, but it’s also home to some of the most beautiful landscapes. The top of the dormant volcano at Haleakala National Park is one of the most epic spots to watch the sun rise. At just over 3048 metres above sea level and spanning 12,140-plus hectares of land, Haleakala offers plenty of scenic vistas, sparkling waterfalls (near the park’s coastal section), and endangered species sightings such as the nēnē, the state bird. An important note if you want to hike to the crater at sunrise: You have to make a reservation up to seven days in advance. There is also a $30 fee to park your car, but it’s valid for three days, in case one visit just wasn’t enough.

Grand Canyon, USA

Grand Canyon, USA
Getty Images

Arizona has no shortage of majestic mountains and sweeping vistas, but the Grand Canyon is hands down one of the most diverse geological wonders in the state. The visual grandeur of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and natural wonder of the world is characterised by several horizontal layers of rock formations that are nearly two billion years old. Visitors have several options to experience the beauty here: Adventure seekers can enjoy an aerial view from a helicopter ride through the canyons or go whitewater rafting down the Colourado River (not for the faint of heart). For an easy hiking trail, head to the north rim to avoid large crowds and check out the Cape Royal Trail. It’s a flat, well-paved trail that’s popular during sunrise and sunset.

Here are 10 awe-inspiring UNESCO world heritage sites everyone needs to visit.

Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia, Turkey
Getty Images

You may have seen the captivating photos of colourful hot air balloons against a magical landscape of rugged cliffs, valleys and minaret-like towers carved into the rocks. It’s hard to believe this place is real, but it is and it’s in Turkey! The Anatolia region of Cappadocia is filled with rich history and culture, including the 40 identified underground cities that lie below the surface and the Göreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited sites in Cappadocia. For a good vantage point overlooking the landscape of this natural wonder, check out Uçhisar Castle – or drift during sunrise in one of the hot air balloons.

Blue Grotto, Malta

Blue Grotto, Malta
Getty Images

Malta is a magnificent Mediterranean island between Sicily and the North African coast. The island is known for year-round warm weather, ancient cities, dazzling beaches, and, of course, the Blue Grotto: a series of caves that form high arches along the southern coast of the island. On a clear day, you can see the fluorescent colours reflected on the cave, a phenomenon caused by the underwater flora. Try to book a boat tour early in the morning when the sea is calm, the sun is bright, and there are fewer crowds.

Enjoy these 23 breathtaking photos of caves around the world.

Never miss a deal again - sign up now!

Connect with us: