If you’re looking for a place where you’ll be inspired, where you’ll see some of the most beautiful sights in your lifetime, these 10 travel destinations around the world are perfect to add to your bucket lists. Not only are these natural wonders absolutely stunning, but this mix of known and lesser-known trips will take you to unique spots of unspoiled beauty. Here are the world’s most gorgeous natural wonders you must visit:
Pink Lakes, Mexico
The pink lakes, or Las Coloradas, in Mexico are the hidden gems of the country, a magical wonder of color. These cotton-candy pink lakes, filled with salt, are home to protected wetlands rich in wildlife – flamingos, sea turtles, crocodiles, birds, and more. It’s near the Gulf of Mexico, a jewel that will blow you away, as its colors and landscape are some of the most pristine on the planet.
You might be wondering what makes the lakes pink. Well, the pink hue comes from red-colored algae, plankton, and brine shrimp, as these organisms become more concentrated, more pink, once the salt begins to evaporate. Flamingos, in a similar way, are pink because they consume these same organisms. Cool, huh? Travel to Mexico to see this gorgeous stretch of the world!
The Pantanal is Brazil’s best kept secret. Through wetlands and wildlife, it’s found within the heart of South America and is the world’s largest tropical wetland, 20 times larger than the famous Everglades in Florida. This incredible natural wonder covers over 70,000 square miles (an area the size of Washington State), a bucket list destination that will take more than a couple days to explore.
Part national park and part UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pantanal is often overshadowed by the Amazon Rainforest. However, it quietly boasts the highest concentration of wildlife on the entire continent. It’s truly a beautiful, diverse ecosystem with so much life pulsing through its veins. Some of Pantanal’s wildlife includes giant anteaters, piranhas, howler and capuchin monkeys, jaguars, and green anacondas, the world’s largest snakes. This is a truly epic bucket list trip.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
A man-made lake, the Blue Lagoon in Iceland is one of the many wonders of the world. The lake gets its water from 2,000 meters below the surface, where freshwater and seawater mix at high temperatures. The water features three ingredients – silica, algae, and other minerals and gets its brilliant blue from silica and its reflection of the sunlight. It’s an ideal travel destination and one of the best spa days ever!
Speaking of spa days, the Blue Lagoon Spa is in a lava field in Grindavík, Iceland along the Reykjanes Peninsula. It contains 9 million liters of water, which recycles itself every 40 hours. The water temperature ranges between 37°C and 40°C (98-104°F) – perfect for that relaxing soak after a stressful week. Travel to Iceland to experience this wonder.
Wai-o-Tapu, New Zealand
Wai-o-Tapu, one of New Zealand’s most stunning natural wonders, is a magical place of stunning geothermal activity. Because of its geothermal conditions, the terrain has many hot springs known for their extravagant displays of color, like Lady Knox Geyser, Champagne Pool, and other travel favorites. Wai-o-Tapu is not only a protected scenic reserve, but a truly spectacular New Zealand treasure.
To get here, there are several bus routes you can choose. If you’re coming from either Matamata, Tauranga, or Whakatane, the trip will last about an hour. Either way, I promise you that this bucket-list destination will be unforgettable in every way. Travel to New Zealand for a trip of a lifetime!
Jiuzhaigou Valley, China
Jiuzhaigou Valley in China is a masterpiece of nature. Within Jiuzhai Valley National Park in Jiuzhaigou County, the valley is a fairytale of blue lakes, cascading waterfalls, vast forests, snow-covered mountains, and a natural beauty that’s unparalleled. As one of our top bucket list travel destinations, Jiuzhaigou Valley is a dream world and has over 2,000 species of flora and fauna. One of the natural wonders of the world that is a must-see for all travel lovers.
Other travel favorites of the valley include the Panda Lake Waterfall, which has the longest drop in the park and freezes to a crystal world in the winter season, the giant Pearl Beach, the Arrow Bamboo Lake (a favorite spot of pandas), and Swan Lake. Travel to China for your next vacation to see this extraordinary display of color.
Bryce Canyon, United States
There’s no other place in the world like Bryce Canyon National Park in the United States. A forest of stone, Bryce Canyon has the largest collection of hoodoos, which are crimson-colored columns and pinnacles of weathered rock. Between moonlit, guided hiking, lovely photography opportunities, camping, telescope stargazing, and experiencing the region at large, Bryce Canyon in Utah has something special for everyone.
The national park has stunning overlooks at Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point, all of which offer extraordinary panoramic views of the park. The prime viewing times are around sunrise and sunset, where you’ll be able to capture the sun rising over tree-lines, gently highlighting the edges of rock. A glorious travel experience indeed.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Japan
The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Japan is one of the most photographed sights in Kyoto. No picture can quite capture that sensation of standing centerstage of this sprawling bamboo grove. This landscape is extremely unique – it’s truly like walking into another dimension. The bamboo grove is open from dusk until dawn, and remains open to visitors for most of the year.
To get to the bamboo grove, you can access it directly from the main street of Arashiyama, a little to the north of the entrance to Tenryu-ji Temple, but it’s best paired with a visit to the temple (exit the north gate, take a left, and you’ll be in the grove in no time) first before you enter the grove. This way, you’ll get a more holistic experience of the area. We wish we could go right now! Travel to Kyoto to see this lesser-known, bucket list destination.
Caño Cristales, Colombia
Caño Cristales in Colombia, an explosion of natural color, is known as both the “river that ran away from paradise” and the “river of five colors,” and it could easily be called the most beautiful river in the world. From September through November, the Caño Cristales blossoms into vibrant colors, when a species of plant called Macarenia clavigera turns a brilliant red. This red offsets colors of yellow, green, and blue, creating the stunning mosaic.
Caño Cristales is located in a remote, isolated area not easily accessible by road. So, you can fly into the nearby town of La Macarena. From there, it’s a short trip into “Serrania de la Macarena,” the national park in which Caño Cristales is located. Once you get here, you’ll be surrounded by a living rainbow. Among the natural wonders, this one truly stands out.
Puerto Princesa Underground River, Philippines
The Puerto Princesa Underground River is found in the stunning Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, an 8-kilometer long natural wonder of the world. As a fun fact, it’s the world’s longest navigable underground river (under the St. Paul Mountain Range) and is home to an array of wildlife – giant spiders, crabs, fish, bats, and snakes.
You’ll be paddling through the dark in a small boat, passing through cavernous cathedrals, with only the guide’s headlamp shining the way. It’s an experience like no other, as you’re sailing across shaded waters in Puerto Princesa. Complete tours will take you across two and a half miles, but you’re allowed to travel further to explore the rest of the underground river. As natural wonders go, this one is is unforgettable.
Dead Vlei, Namibia
Our final bucket list travel destination is Dead Vlei in Namibia, a white clay pan inside the Namib-Naukluft Park. The landscape is characterized by dark, dead camel thorn trees, a place where it was once filled with water, only until climate conditions changed, thus turning the region into sand dunes. These trees are estimated to be about 900 years old, and have been able to stay intact because of the dry climate.
The Dead Vlei is a paradise for travel photographers. The contrast of the landscape between the black trees and bleached-white pan floor, and the rusty-red dunes and blue sky make for incredibly unique images. The site is a bit of a distance from the parking lot so make sure to bring water and snacks. Travel to Namibia for an experience that will amaze you beyond belief.
Happy travels adding these natural wonders – worthy additions to your bucket lists!