Those with a more adventurous streak will know that beyond the sun, sea and sand of a typical holiday, there is a collection of surreal and mysterious landscapes that are waiting to be discovered. Prepare for your jaws to drop as we’ve gathered twelve of the world’s most surreal travel destinations, all of which you should be adding to your bucket list.
Giants Causeway, Ireland
Found in Ireland and nestled next to the Atlantic Ocean, the Giant’s Causeway is an area comprising around 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, which form a honeycomb-like pattern as a result of an ancient volcanic eruption. The Giants Causeway is steeped in myth and legend some say that it was carved from the coast by a mighty giant, Finn McCool, who left behind an ancient home full of folklore.
Hvitserkur, North Iceland
What was once the plug of a volcano, basalt salt now stacks 15m high in North-West Iceland, just off the coast of Hvitserkur. Some believe that the formation looks like a dragon drinking from the water, whilst others suggest it looks more like an elephant or a rhino. Whatever you see it as, the story behind the stack is a tall one; Icelandic legend has it that the rock was a troll who forgot to retreat from the light, and was turned to stone during sunrise.
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes is one of Croatia’s most popular tourist attractions and was granted UNESCO World Heritage in 1979. All of its beauty lies within the sixteen lakes that are interconnected by a series of waterfalls, set deep in woodland that is populated by bears, wolves, rare bird species and more. Explore the lakes on foot on one of the many pathways that snake around its edges and get lost in this watery wonderland.
Frozen Waves, Antarctica
These wave-like shapes are in actual fact the result of glaciation, rather than actual waves that have frozen upon contact with the Antarctic cold. Over time, elements have slowly eroded the ice, giving way to the frozen formations.
Glen Brittle, Scotland
A popular place with mountain bikers and hikers, Glen Brittle is a large glen found in the south of Isle of Skye, Scotland. Running along the River Brittle, the glen is overlooked by Cullen, the largest mountain on Skye. Numerous rivers run down the mountains and into the glen, with the Fairy Pools perhaps the best known, thanks to its popularity amongst walkers.
Lake Hillier, Australia
An area that lies between the Pacific Ocean and Western Australia is home to the extraordinary bubble-gum pink lagoon known as Lake Hillier.
No one knows why the lake is pink but scientists speculate that its hue may be the result of bacteria that lives in the salt crusts. Whatever its causes, the contrast between the pink of the lake and the blue of the ocean is impossibly striking.
Image Credit: Lake Hillier
Zhangye Danxia Landform, China
Known as the ‘eye candy of Zhangye’, the Zhangye Danxia Landform is a masterpiece of unbelievable colour. Formed by erosion of red sandstone, combined with long-term dessert conditions including freeze-thaw peeling, wind and water erosions have shaped the landform into giving the flowing valley its present appearance.
The Great Blue Hole in Belize
Sitting just off the coast of Belize, the Great Blue Hole is a large underwater sinkhole that is circular in shape and is the largest natural formation of its kind. Here you can see a myriad species of marine life, including spectacular coral formations that attract recreational divers who want to dive in the crystal clear waters.
Antelope Canyon in Arizona, United States
The Navajos refereed to this slot canyon as ‘the place where water runs through rocks’, and with the walls bathed in hues of pink, brown, orange and violet, the effect is both fascinating and surreal.
Glowworm Caves in Waitomo, New Zealand
The glow worm, Arachnocampa luminosa, is unique to New Zealand and no place boasts a population as heavy as that in the Waitomo Caves. Thousands of these glow worms line the walls of the cave for as far as the eye can see, illuminating the caves to create an otherworldly experience.
Image Credit: Spellbound Glowworm and Cave Tour
Emerald Lake, BC, Canada
The most admired location in Yoho National Park, Emerald Lake is visually quite stunning, combining a green glacial lake that is surrounded by mountains and a dense forest. Many opt to hike around this turquoise lake but that isn’t the only way to see the sights, as canoe and rowboat rentals are also available. Swimming also comes highly recommended, though the water is cold and definitely not for the faint hearted.
Red beach, Panjin, China
Despite what the name may lead you to believe, Red Beach is unlike any other beach you have ever encountered, as red seaweed covers the entire Liaohe Dalta. The Sueda seaweed grows during April or May and stays green until summer, however when autumn comes, the landscape changes from orange, to pink and finally to flaming red.