1. Joshua Tree National Park, California
Divided into two distinct desert systems, the Mojave and the Colorado, this national park is a one of a kind nature's wonder. The two arid ecosystems are of profound contrasting appearance. The key to their differences is elevation. Considered "low desert," compared to the loftier, wetter, and more vegetated Mojave "high desert," the Colorado seems sparse and forbidding.
Many newcomers among the 1.3 million visitors who pass through each year are surprised by the abrupt transition between the two ecosystems.
2. Takinoue Park, Japan
The vibrantly colored hillside of Takinoue Park is the highlight of the spring season. The flower field covers about 100,000 square meters of the hillside and draws quite the crowd every year. The best time to see the flowers is from mid May through the beginning of June. Today, Takinoue Park is famous for its beautiful shibazakura but its history dates back to the early 1900s. The park’s iconic flower-covered hill was created when a number of youth group volunteers planted 1000 plants.
3. Khao Phing Kan, aka: “James Bond Island”, in Thailand
Khao Phing Kan is a pair of islands on the west coast of Thailand, in the Phang Nga Bay, Strait of Malacca. About 40 metres (130 ft) from its shores lies a 20-metre (66 ft) tall islet Ko Tapu.The island is a part of the Ao Phang Nga National Park. Since 1974, when it was featured in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun, it is popularly called the James Bond Island.
4. Lake Menindee, New South Wales Australia
Barren trees lining the beautiful turquoise lake of Menindee and streaks of fierce lightning cutting through the skies is a one of a kind wonder to watch. The spectacular backdrops make it a serene yet powerful sight that truly touches the soul in all aspects.
5. Inspiration Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, United States
The viewpoint at Inspiration Point consists of three levels that provide varied spectacular perspectives of the main amphitheater. From here, visitors look toward the Silent City (near Sunset Point) with its many rows of seemingly frozen hoodoos set against the backdrop of Boat Mesa. All who look out from this point are bound to be inspired, considering the intricacies of the hoodoos and their formation through the erosion of the Claron Formation.
6. Glowworm Caves, Waitomo, New Zealand
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves, located just outside the main Waitomo township on the North Island of New Zealand, is a famous attraction because of a sizeable population of glowworms that live in the caves. Glowworms or Arachnocampa luminosa are tiny, bioluminescent creatures that produce a blue-green light and are found exclusively in New Zealand.
World renowned and a magnet for both local and overseas visitors, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves occupy a high placing in the New Zealand vacation wish-list. More than 30 million years ago, the legend of Waitomo began with the creation of limestone at the bottom of the ocean. Now these limestone formations stand as one of New Zealand's most inspiring natural wonders and a must-see destination.
7. Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar
Along a dirt-road some fifteen kilometres north of Morondava, a cluster of baobab trees to the right and left of the roadside form an avenue of proud giants known as Baobab Avenue. The location is a landmark of the region and a symbol of Madagascar and one of the most photographed spots in the country. The baobab tree is the national tree of Madagascar. Due to its unusual shape, the baobab is sometimes said to be a tree with roots pointing to the sky. According to ancient Arabic mythology, it was the devil who pulled the tree out of the earth and re-planted it upside down. The fruits of the baobab are highly nutritious, containing more vitamin C than oranges. The fruit pulp can be eaten directly or mixed with various meals and drinks.
8. Abisko in Sweden
The Aurora Sky Station in Abisko is one of the best spots in the world for seeing the Northern Lights. Get a chair lift up to the station and learn about how the Aurora Borealis observations are made with the radio receivers and cameras. Gourmet Northern Lights? Yes. You can book a gourmet Nordic cuisine dinner to be eaten under the Northern Lights. Dinner under the beautiful northern lights....Sounds heavenly!
9. Tulip Fields, Netherlands
Netherlands is world-famous for their tulip fields. Every year from March to May the Dutch countryside transforms into a sea of color. According to Nat Geo, the first tulip was planted in Dutch soil in 1593, and it has become a national symbol ever since.
10. Antelope Canyon, Arizona, United States
Approximately 15 minutes east of Page, Arizona is the entrance to one of the most exciting slot canyons in the Southwest United States. Over the years, Lower Antelope Canyon has become a favorite gathering place for photographers, tourists, and visitors from around the world.
This incredible canyon has been created over many thousands of years by the relentless forces of water and wind, slowly carving and sculpting the sandstone into forms, textures, and shapes which we observe today. The views in Lower Antelope Canyon change constantly as the sun moves across the sky, filtering lights softly across the stone walls. These ever-moving sun angles bounce light back and forth across the narrow canyon's walls, creating a dazzling display of color, light, and shadow.
11. Postojna cave, Slovenia
A fantastic web of tunnels, passages, galleries and halls, the astonishing diversity of Karst features as well as easy access are certainly the main reasons for such popularity of the cave and a large number of visitors, which has already reached 35 million in 200 years. Postojna Cave is the best-known cave in the world. It is also the greatest tourist attraction in Slovenia and one of the world's largest karst monuments. 21 km of passages, galleries and magnificent halls offer a unique experience of the underground world. The Postojna cave is definitely one of the most diverse cave systems in the world.
12. Ice caves, Austria
The World of Ice Giants brings you into the largest ice caves in the world. One of the true wonders on earth, the caves are a wondrous underground world of natural ice sculptures and formations. Discover a world of natural beauty. During spring, melt water seeps through the cracks in the rock and when it reaches the still cold and frozen lower areas of the caves it freezes and turns slowly into the wonderful ice formations visible inside the caves.
13. Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia
3,800 sq miles of salt flat spread out across Bolivia's remote southwest. Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world, an endless sheet of hexagonal tiles (created by the crystalline nature of the salt), dotted with pyramids of salt. During the wet season, the salt desert is transformed into a enormous salt lake, albeit one that is only six to twenty inches deep, traversable by both boat and truck. During this time, the shallow salt lake perfectly mirrors the sky, creating bizarre illusions of infinity. In the middle of this seemingly infinite salty lake is a hotel built entirely out of—naturally—salt.
14. Ijen, Indonesia
Ijen volcano in East Java contains the world's largest acidic volcanic crater lake, called Kawah Ijen, famous for its turquoise color. The active crater measuring 950x600 m is known for its rich sulphur deposits which are being quarried. The volcano is one of several active stratovolcanoes constructed over the 20 km wide Ijen caldera, the largest caldera in Java. Eruptions from Ijen are very hazardous because of the risk of the lake draining to form catastrophic lahars.
15. Abraham Lake; Alberta, Canada
The artificial lake in a tranquil surroundings becomes a spectacular site during winter. The temperatures may fall below -30 degrees Celsius here, thus making this big lake freeze. However, it is not the ice only, that makes it amazing. The unique circles are frozen bubbles of flammable methane gas, coming from the depth – a result of bacterias decomposing organic material. This creates the unusual phenomena, which looks so incredible in winter.
16. Lava lake in Erta Ale, Ethiopia
Located in the Danakil Depression (or Afar Depression) in the Afar Region of northeastern Ethiopia, Erta Ale is one of the driest, lowest, and hottest places on Earth. Temperatures during the year range from 77 degrees Fahrenheit to 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The area is beset by drought, bereft of trees, and has little in the way of roads.
Known by the Afar as the "smoking mountain" and "the gateway to hell,"
Erta Ale is a 2,011-foot-high constantly active basaltic shield volcano. It is one of only a handful of continuously active volcanos in the world, and a member of an even more exclusive group: volcanos with lava lakes.
17. The swing at the “End of the World” in Baños, Ecuador
At the edge of Ecuador sits a rickety tree house (casa del árbol) overlooking an active volcano in the near distance. With it comes a swing with no harnesses, inviting only the bravest of risk-takers to experience a killer view.
18. Sol de Mañana, Bolivia
Sol de Mañana is a geothermal area located over 15,000 ft. high where you can explore a field of geyser-like shafts, bubbling mud lakes, and steaming sulfur springs. If not for the clear blue sky above, you’d swear it was something torn from the pages of science fiction.
19. Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.
The park has been elected as the 5th most beautiful place in the world by the National Geographic.Visiting the park is recommended between late December and late February, during the southern summer. Not only is the weather more hospitable, but daylight hours are very long given the extreme southern latitude.
20. The Hidden Beaches of Kapaa, Hawaii
As the name implies this beach is in the heart of the east side town of Kapa'a. The beach park has plenty of easy beach access and parking areas right off the highway in Kapaa. This white sand beach is good for strolling or biking. You can catch the bike and pedestrian path from here. When the surf is calm some swim at this beach but it's not recommended. Locals can be seem in the water with children when water is calm. An offshore reef breaks the surf and wind chop creating a usually quiet lagoon. However in winter months, this beach is subject to large eastern swells, and strong currents out of the channel.
21. Karijini National Park, Australia
Be humbled by nature in Karijini National Park, in Western Australia’s Pilbara, where the earth has been cleaved and carved over two billion years. Discover the spectacular chasms, marbled rock tunnels, cool rock pools and sparkling waterfalls. Beneath the bright blue Pilbara skies, the craggy red landscape shelters abundant native vegetation, animals and birds. Camp here beneath the vast outback sky or enjoy back-to-nature luxury in an eco-retreat.
22. Fairy Circles, Namibia
Mysterious bare circles in the sand dot the landscape along the edge of the Namibian Desert stretching from the north-western Cape into southern Angola. These bare patches have been named “fairy circles.” The circles, which support little flora, are an integral part of the distinctive landscape of NamibRand Nature Reserve. Dune valleys and grassy plains are often speckled with fairy circles, making NamibRand the ideal place to view these unique phenomena. While numerous scientists have researched these circles, no one has yet been able to ultimately determine their cause or purpose. Various theories of their origin have been suggested, including euphorbia poisoning, animal dust baths, meteor showers, termites and underground gas vents.
23. Barrientos Island, Antarctica
When most think of Antarctica, polar bears and wintry blue and white images–certainly not green landmasses–likely come to mind. In all actuality, though, the South Pole is endowed with several non-ice landmasses and lacks any Coca-Cola swigging bears of any kind (you should come here for the penguins). Above is the otherworldly terrain of Barrientos Island, an ice-free part of the Shetland Islands, which was first visited by early 19th century sealers.