The seven natural wonders of the world have had their moment in the spotlight. It’s time to introduce six of the most dreamlike places that our diverse and awe-inspiring world has to offer. From stone waterfalls to blue cities, this list of unbelievable places in the world that actually exist will have you booking your next adventure in no time, but where will you choose to visit first?
1. Lake Hillier, Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago, Western Australia
Lake Hillier was discovered in 1802 by the British Navigator and Cartographer, Mathew Flinders. In his log he described the lake as “a small lake of rose colour”. Where “small” is debatable with it being 37 acres, “rose” is spot on and suitably romantic for a discovery of this nature. There have been many debates about what gives the lake it’s pink hue, but it’s likely to do with the microorganisms that make it their home, surviving despite extremely high levels of salt in the water – up to as much as 35%.
Where Lake Hillier is safe to swim in, it is now a protected nature reserve and surrounded by pristine but dense wilderness. The best way to see the lake is from the air, from where visitors can take in the stark contrast of the lake’s bubble-gum colouring against the unadulterated blue of the Indian Ocean.
- Book an Island Cruise that will allow you to get up close and personal with Lake Hillier on foot through Esperance Island Cruises and explore the surrounding islands and abundant wildlife of the Recherce Achipelago.
- Lake Hillier isn’t the only pink lake in Australia, let alone the world! As well as Lake Spencer, also in Western Australia, there is another on the coast of Senegal called Lake Retba that is frequently used to harvest salt by local villagers.
2. Penguins at the equator in the Galapagos Islands
The first things people conjure up when asked to think about penguins is 38-degree heat, barren deserts and tropical forests, right? No? Well, against all the odds, that’s the home The Galapagos penguins have made for themselves, the only species of penguin (of which there are 17) that live north of the equator. The penguins arrived from the freezing waters of the south via the cold water Humbold Current. Over millions of years they have adapted to the warmer climes of the Galapagos and survive by staying in the cool waters by day and coming onto land for the cooler evenings.
The Galapagos penguins are far smaller than their larger Antarctic cousins, measuring in at a mere 19 inches and weighing a very slight 5.5 pounds. In fact, they are the third smallest penguin in the world which means they can hide themselves into small nooks and crannies to escape the intense sun. Interestingly, they also pant like dogs to release heat by evaporation from the throat… delightful!
So, if you’re looking for sun, sea and penguins, The Galapagos Islands are the islands for you!
- It’s possible to snorkel with the penguins and catch a glimpse of their underwater world. As a bonus you’ll also be able to see parrot fish and other true tropical fish species.
- If you’re planning a visit, popular penguin sites include Punta Vicente Roca, Bartolome, Chinese Hat, Floreana and Punta Espinoza.
3. The Petrified Waterfall of Oaxaca, Mexico
Located around 90 minutes from Oaxaca City by car, at first look this dazzling natural wonder looks like a frozen waterfall. However, when you look a bit closer, you’ll see it’s made of glimmering stone, or more accurately, hardened mineral deposits. Where there once was a waterfall here, over the centuries the water combined with the minerals and calcified. An era of time truly caught in permanence.
- Where the Petrified Waterfall itself isn’t made of water, bring your swimming costumes nonetheless. Right at the edge of the cliff (not great for vertigo sufferers) you’ll find two mineral pools that contain magnesium, sulphur and calcium carbonate. These mineral pools range from 21 – 24 Degrees Celsius, making them the perfect temperature to wallow in whilst soaking up the breath-taking views.
4. The Blue City of Chefchaouen, Morocco
Nicknamed the “Blue Pearl of Morocco” this city is straight out of a child’s imagination. Chefchaouen was founded in 1471 by the Jews and Moors fleeing Spain and is located high up in the Rif mountains. There are lots of differing stories that claim to answer why the city ended up blue; some say the Jews who fled Hitler during the Second World War painted it; others say it’s to keep the mosquitoes away, whilst the rest claim it was to mimic the vibrant blue of the sea.
Regardless of the reason, the results are quite breath-taking and unlike anywhere else on earth. Blue being the colour of calm, this city is quiet and relaxed, a perfect haven for those looking to escape the hubbub of Morocco’s bigger, more bustling metropolises.
- Remember to pack clothes that will pop against the pastel blue backdrop. It’s truly an instagrammer’s paradise.
- As well as wondering the narrow blue streets, the city is surrounded by a dazzling landscape, a perfect place to go hiking and a fun way to earn that tagine.
5. The Wave, Arizona Desert, USA
The Wave is a stunning red sandstone formation found along the Utah/Arizona border in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. Made up of two troughs formed by water erosion from the Jurassic Age – one is 62 feet wide and 118 feet long and the second is seven feet wide and 52 feet long – it’s a dreamlike place that will surely unlock your imagination.
Due to the popularity of the site the Bureau of Land Management has limited foot traffic to just 20 people per day, which means its stiff competition to get a pass, but well worth the effort! The hike is a 5.2-mile round trip and is considered a moderate trail, so you don’t have to be an accomplished hiker to enjoy The Wave, all you need is a map and basic navigation skills.
There are two ways to get a permit:
- Register in the advanced online lottery here ($5, non-refundable if you don’t get a place)
- In-person lottery at the Visitors Centre in Kanab, Utah ($7)
- The best time for photographs is during midday and mid-afternoon as there are fewer shadows obscuring the flowing linear patterns.
- If you’re lucky enough to arrive just after a rainfall, you’ll find The Wave in an even more dreamlike state. Little puddles team with tadpoles and fairy shrimp (yes, fair shrimp) and the water also acts as a mirror that reflects the wave-like forms, enhancing the ethereality.
6. Wisteria Tunnel, Kawachi Fuji Gardens, Japan
The Kawachi Fuji Gardens is home to around 150 Wisteria plants made up of 20 different species. The dazzling pastel colours range from white, blue, purple, violet-blue and pink which make the gardens akin to walking into a pixy’s paradise. The garden’s main attractions are the two tunnels that are lined throughout with fluffy, cloud-like Wisteria – one is 80 metres long and the other 110 metres long.
The best time to visit is late April to mid-May, during bloom entry is only permitted to those with a pre-paid ticket, then on arrival visitors are asked to pay a further 500 – 1000 JPY depending on the condition of the bloom. Tickets can be booked here.
- Try and time your visit around Golden Week, between April 21st and May 6th, to experience the best the blooms have the offer.
About the author:
I’m Freya, a freelance writer and consumer PR consultant. Having worked in the travel industry for three years I enjoy writing about all the wonderful things our world has to offer in the hope of inspiring other travellers. Based in London, my hobbies include writing, reading, films, walking, eating, shopping and of course travelling. Check out my website, www.freyabugeja.co.uk or follow me on Twitter and Instagram using the handle @fb_comms.