The world is full of natural surreal and breathtaking sights. From stunning waterfalls, colourful rock formations and wondrous caves, these are 44 Natural Phenomenon you absolutely must see before you die. So many places to see, so little time!
1. Bioluminescent Waves
These beaches may look like the stars have fallen, but the light is actually generated by bioluminescent phytoplankton. When they’re washed ashore by the tides, their chemical energy becomes light energy creating this breathtaking natural phenomenon. The most famous location to see this is on the Sea of Stars Beach on the Raa Atoll in the Maldives.
Where to see: the Maldives, Thailand, Puerto Rico and Japan
2. Fingal’s Cave
This amazing sea cave full of basalt columns is located on the uninhabited island of Staffa. The columns form hexagonal pillars that create a walkway so visitors can explore the cave. It was the source of many ancient Irish and Scottish Celtic legends. The cave has been a popular tourist destination since Victorian times and has inspired many artists.
Where to see: the island of Staffa, Inner Hebrides of Scotland
Also Read: 44 Of The Most Beautiful Places In The UK
3. Darvaza Gas Crater
Often called the ‘Door-to-Hell,’ this gaseous crater is located in the arid Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan. It was set on fire by geologists in 1971 to prevent the spread of its methane gas, and it has been burning ever since.
Where to see: the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan
4. The Sardine Run
Between May and July, billions of sardines swim north across the Agulhas Bank along the east coast of South Africa. Their massive numbers create an amazing sight and is one of the world’s most spectacular marine events.
Where to see: the east coast of South Africa
5. Grand Canyon
This steep-sided canyon was carved by the Colorado River in Arizona over millennia. It is over 400 kilometres long and almost 2,000 kilometres deep. The canyon and its caves are full of Native American settlements. It is the only one of these seven natural wonders that have been inhabited for centuries.
Where to see: Arizona, USA
6. Avenue of the Baobabs
The road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in Madagascar is lined with majestic baobab trees. Known as the “Avenue of the Baobabs,” these ancient trees were once part of a rich forest. They are best seen at sunset or at sunrise when the colours of the trunks change and create spectacular long shadows on the ground.
Where to see: the road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region of Madagascar
7. Red Crab Migration
Every year between October and November an estimated 43 million of the Christmas Island red crabs rush across the land. While they usually live in forests, they migrate to the coast to breed and lay their eggs in the ocean. This natural phenomenon can last at least a week before the adult crabs return to the forests.
Where to see: Christmas Island, Australia
8. Rainbow Hills of China
In the northern foothills of China are a series of picturesque mountains in Zhangye National Geopark. The vibrant rainbow coloured hills look like they were painted over. The extraordinary colourful layers are created by deposits of sandstone and other minerals created over 24 million years.
Where to see: the Zhangye National Geopark in China
9. Salar de Uyuni
The mirror-like salt flats of Salar de Uyuni in are actually prehistoric lakes that went dry, leaving behind the bright-white salt landscape we see today. Covering over 4,000 square miles, they are especially incredible in the wet season when the flats turn into an amazingly reflective lake. The stunning flats were used as the salt planet Crait in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Where to see: Bolivia
10. Caño Cristales River
The “Crystal Channel” river in the Serrania de la Macarena National Park is also known as the river of five colours. Between the months of June and November, the river comes alive with yellow, blue, green, red and black. This is due to the presence of macarenia clavigera, a river weed.
Where to see: the Serrania de la Macarena National Park in Colombia
11. Forest of Knives
On the western coast of Madagascar lie the needle-shaped limestone forest of knives, known as Tsingy de Bemaraha. Apart from the iconic sharp rocky outgrowths known as tsingy (or, “where one cannot walk barefoot”), the area is also home to a diverse wildlife
Where to see: Madagascar
12. Tunnel of Love
A section of industrial railway running through the small western town of Klevan in Ukraine is surrounded by green leafy arches. It is a popular spot for couples to take walks, leading to it being called the “Tunnel of Love” (or Tunel Kokhannya).
Where to see: the railway between Klevan and Orzhiv in Ukraine
13. Waitomo Glow Caves
The Glowworm Grotto of the Waitomo Caves is a surreal sight. The cave is naturally illuminated by thousands of glow-worms that create a starry scene on the ceilings and walls. These caves in New Zealand are also full of adventure activities.
Where to see: the Waitomo Caves in New Zealand
14. Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon in Arizona is full of spectacular curving passageways formed by eroded sandstone on Navajo land. There are two separate areas that you can visit, the Upper Canyon (or the Crack) and the Lower Canyon (also called the Corkscrew).
Where to see: east of Page, Arizona in the USA
15. The Cave of Crystals
Almost 980 feet underneath the Chihuahua Desert in Naica, Mexico is a series of caves filled with massive crystals. The giant selenite crystals of the main cave are some of the largest natural crystals ever found on Earth. It remains largely unexplored due to the severe atmospheric conditions. Unfortuley this cave is presently closed to the public.
Where to see: the Chihuahua Desert in Naica, Mexico
16. Vatnajökull Ice Caves
The Vatnajökull Glacier covers over 8100 square kilometres and is the largest glacier in Europe. Underneath it is a series of breathtaking seasonal subterranean crystal blue ice caves that are created by subterranean rivers melting each spring. However they can be dangerous, so be sure to use a guide.
Where to see: Vatnajökull Region, Iceland
17. Dark Hedges
Bregagh Road in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is popularly known as the Dark Hedges thanks to its fantasy-like avenue of beech trees. They were planted in the 18th century by the Stuart family. Fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones may also recognise it as the show’s “Kings Road”.
Where to see: County Antrim, Northern Ireland
18. Victoria Falls
Roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls (at 350 feet), Victoria Falls possesses the world’s largest sheet of falling water. It is formed by the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
19. The Eye of the Sahara
This gigantic structure (also known as the “Richat Structure”) is located in the Sahara Desert in Mauritania. Scientists believe that it is the eroded remains of a giant rock. The coloured rings are visible from space, and it was in fact astronauts who saw that structure as it is otherwise difficult to see.
Where to see: the Sahara Desert in Mauritania
20. Plitvice Lakes
The interconnected lakes and waterfalls at Plitvice in Croatia are arranged in cascades of distinctive colours, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The Plitvice Lakes National Park is also the perfect place for adventure enthusiasts to go kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and rafting.
Where to see: the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
Also Read: Croatia
21. Chocolate Hills
These unusual geological limestone mounds are scattered throughout the island of Bohol in the Philippines. There are almost 1,300 nearly symmetrical mounds, but geologists are still unsure of how they were formed. Normally covered in green grass, they turn chocolatey brown during the dry season.
Where to see: Bohol Island, the Philippines
22. The Great Geysir
Located in the Haukadalur valley in southern Iceland, this geyser spouts boiling water up to 70 meters into the air every few minutes. The Great Geysir was among the first known to modern Europeans. It even gave its name to the very word geyser and has been active for almost 10,000 years.
Where to see: the Haukadalur valley in Iceland
23. Flammable Ice Bubbles
Trapped underneath the surface of Lake Abraham lie frozen bubbles of methane that are highly flammable. They are formed by organic matter the collects at the bottom of the lake and decomposed, releasing the gar which collects and freezes in winter creating this natural phenomenon.
Where to see: Lake Abraham, Alberta, Canada
24. Fairy Circles
The grasslands of Namibia are home to a mysterious natural phenomenon. In the arid grasslands of the Namib desert, barren patches of land (called Fairy Circles) are created amidst the vegetation. These circles are said to have been created by sand termites, or by scarce resources.
Where to see: the Namib desert, Namibia
25. Spherical Boulders
These strange spherical rocks (the Moeraki Boulders) look like giant turtle shells. They lie on Koekohe Beach in New Zealand. According to Maori legend, they are the petrified baskets but were actually created by coastal erosion.
Where to see: Koekohe Beach in New Zealand
26. Blue Lava Volcano
The Kawah Ijen volcano on the island of Java spews unusual radiant electric-blue “lava”. While this may look like it comes from the volcanic lava (molten rock), the bright colour comes from the combustion of sulphuric gases with the lava at high temperatures. There is so much sulphur that it flows down the rock face making it look like the lava itself is blue.
Where to see: the Ijen volcano in Java, Indonesia
27. Turquoise Ice
The water in Lake Baikal in Russia is so clear that when it freezes during the winter, it appears to be bright turquoise in colour. The transparent ice shards appear this way due to the reflection of light. Lake Baikal is the oldest, and the largest freshwater lake in the world, holding about 20% of the Earth’s freshwater.
Where to see: Lake Baikal, Russia
28. The Great Blue Hole
Off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean Sea is a massive hole. Filled with underwater caves, it was created over 15,000 years ago. Its crystal clear waters are filled with a diverse range of marine life. This large submarine sinkhole is well over 300m across and over 400 feet deep and attracts scuba divers from all over the world.
Where to see: the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Belize
29. Giant’s Causeway
On the north-eastern coast of Ireland are over40,000 massive interlocking hexagonal shaped black basalt columns known as the Giant’s Causeway. It was formed 50 to 60 million years ago by an ancient volcanic eruption in the region.
Where to see: north-eastern coast of Northern Ireland
30. Sailing Stones
In this geological natural phenomenon, rocks move across the valley floor with no human or animal intervention. It occurs due to the melting of ice that makes the stones slide across long distances due to decreased friction, inscribing long tracks along the valley floor.
Where to see: The Racetrack dry lake in Death Valley, USA
31. Lake Natron and the Stone Flamingos
This salt lake in Tanzania is fed by mineral-rich hot springs created by a nearby volcano. It can reach temperatures of 60°C and has such high levels of alkalinity that it is almost deserted except for hardy fish and microbes that make the waters look bright red. The lack of predators also means that it is one of the largest breeding of lesser flamingos. Surprisingly, the birds that die in the lake become so covered in chemicals that they look like they’ve turned to stone.
Where to see: Lake Natron, in Tanzania
32. Snow Trees
At the Riisitunturi National Park in Finnish Lapland, each winter the snow covers everything in a layer of hard frost (known as tykky in Finnish). This transforms all the trees in the region into a series of stunning snow sculptures that look a bit like towers of foam or whipped cream.
Where to see: Riisitunturi National Park in Posio, southern Lapland, Finland
33. Rainbow Eucalyptus
The rainbow eucalyptus (or rainbow gum) is found in some regions of South East Asia. These trees shed patches of their outer bark at different times, and darken to various shades of green, blue, purple, maroon, and orange tones. The colours deepen as the peeled bark ages and loses chlorophyll.
Where to see: the forests of the Philippines and Indonesia
34. Snow Chimneys
Mount Erebus on Antarctica’s Ross Island is the southernmost active volcano on Earth. The sides of the volcano are full of ice caves and vents. Its ice fumaroles, or snow chimneys, are created when volcanic gases rise through these caves and escape through these vents, and ice towers are formed around them.
Where to see: Ross Island, Antarctica
35. Dragon Blood Trees
These unusual umbrella-like tees (dracaena cinnabari) are often called dragon blood trees. They produce a red-coloured sap (known as dragon’s blood) that gives it its name.
Where to see: Yemen
36. Spotted Lake
Canada’s Spotted Lake is known for having the highest quantities of magnesium sulfate, calcium and sodium sulphate in the world. When the waters evaporate in the summer, these mineral deposits lead to large colourful spots being left behind.
Where to see: Osoyoos, Canada
37. Rainbow Mountain
The spectacular and vibrant Rainbow Mountain in Peru (also known as Vinicunca), is located near another of the country’s top attractions, Machu Picchu. Its colours are the result of layers of mineral deposits. The Rainbow Mountain’s trail lies at 17,060 feet high, almost as high as the Everest Base Camp.
Where to see: Cusco, Peru
Also Read: Top Things To See In Cusco, Peru
38. Fairy Chimneys
The Cappadocia region of Turkey is home to these strange conical spires that were created over millions of years by rain and wind eroding the volcanic layers of ash and basalt in Love Valley. They are best viewed from the town of Göreme. Over the years, many of these “fairy chimneys” have been hollowed out to create dwellings
Where to see: Cappadocia, Turkey
39. Lake Hillier
Located on Middle Island, off the coast of Western Australia, Lake Hiller is famous for its unusual pink colour. The pink colour is a result of the bacteria in the water and can also be seen in Lake Retba, Senegal. The saline lake lies just next to the Pacific Ocean, creating a truly striking contrast when seen from above.
Where to see: Middle Island, off the coast of Western Australia
40. Grand Prismatic Spring
The bright rainbow colours of the Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone’s largest hot spring, are the result of microbes and bacteria interacting with high temperatures. The also make the water as acidic as the liquid in a car battery.
Where to see: Yellowstone National Park, United States
41. The Crooked Forest
This forest (Krzywy Las in Polish) in a small corner of western Poland is filled with hundreds of oddly-shaped pine trees. The trees in this strange woodland, near the town of Gryfino, were planted in the 1930s. No one really knows what made the trees curve the way they do, but most think humans have something to do with it.
Where to see: outside Nowe Czarnowo near the town of Gryfino, West Pomerania, Poland
42. Iguazu Falls
Nearly 300 feet tall and more than 1.5 miles wide, the Iguazu falls form the boundary between Argentina and Brazil. There are over 270 falls in total, the tallest of which is called ‘Devil’s Throat’. There were used in Marvel’s Black Panther as Warrior Falls in the fictional African country of Wakanda.
Where to see: between Argentina and Brazil
Also Read: Fictional
43. The Great Barrier Reef
Located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, this is the largest coral reef system in the world. It has over 2,900 individual reefs and stretches for over 2,300 kilometres. It is the biggest single structure made by living organisms, and can even be seen from outer space. However it is under threat of coral bleaching, so make sure to visit responsibly.
Where to see: off the coast of Queensland, Australia
44. Wulingyuan Rocky Forests
This scenic destination in China’s Hunan province is known for its 3,000 quartzite sandstone pillars. In ancient times it was considered remote and inaccessible. It is now a popular tourist spot, and the pillars are said to be similar to the floating mountains of Pandora in the film Avatar.
Where to see: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in the Hunan Province, China
How many of these breathtaking sights have you seen?