It would come as no surprise if you’ve added seeing natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef or Mount Everest to your bucket list. Don’t get me wrong, those are obviously amazing places to want to visit. But what about the natural wonders that don’t make the esteemed Seven Natural Wonders of the World list? Well, they’re pretty incredible too. Here are five lesser known natural wonders to add to the bucket list!
The Great Blue Hole, Belize
Jacques Yves Cousteau dubbed the Great Blue Hole as one of the top ten scuba diving sites in the world. The hole is a large submarine sinkhole off the coast of Belize that formed during several episodes of quaternary glaciation (or for those of us who aren’t scientists, some crazy stuff that happened during ice ages). This natural wonder has been hundreds of thousands of years in the making and the long process has been more than worth it. At 125 meters deep, the hole contains multiple submerged caves that make for excellent scuba explorations. There are a few species that inhabit the Great Blue hole, including midnight parrot fish and Caribbean reef sharks, a shyer shark than most. Many resorts offer full day trips out to the gorgeous spot with diving opportunities available. If you’re still not sold, the Discovery Channel has declared it as one of the 10 most amazing places on Earth!
Zion National Park, Utah
Located in Springdale, Utah, the Zion National Park is truly one of the USA’s most beautiful treasures. The park has a variety of habitats that make for a diverse and wide array of unusual plants and animals- last tally held the numbers at 289 species of bird, 75 mammal and 32 reptile. The park’s incredible landscape is made up of formations representing 150 million years of Mesozoic sedimentation (lots and lots of bits of dirt and rock building up over the years). One of the most popular features of the park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep. The canyon makes for some great hiking. Trails range from 30 minutes roundtrip to 4 hours roundtrip. A highly praised trail is The Narrows. If you don’t feel like getting the required permit to hike from the top-down, take the trail from the bottom up. A large percentage of the trail cuts through the Virgin River, which means you will be getting wet, but you won’t want to miss out on the grottos, natural springs and hanging gardens that it has to offer.
The Sea of Stars, Vaadhoo Island
The Sea of Stars is a can’t miss for anyone seeking a truly magical experience. Vaadhoo Island, a part of the Maldive Islands located in the Indian Sea, is famous for this otherworldly occurrence. All around the island at night, the waves lapping the shore appear to be glowing with stars. These “stars” are really a type of phytoplankton known as dinoflagellates that are able to generate a marine bioluminescence. Think about those weird glowing squiggly things that the creepy man in James and the Giant Peach gets James to eat. But shrink them down to a microscopic size so that you’re not getting the heebie jeebies. Scientists still aren’t quite sure why these amazing tiny guys are able to do what they do, but what we do know is that it’s breathtakingly gorgeous.
The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
For those of you seeking that “I’m on the edge of the world” feeling, look no further than the stunning Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland. Rising to 120 meters above the Atlantic Ocean, the cliffs offer incredible views that are hard to match. From your perch on the cliffs you’ll be able to see the Aran Islands in Galway Bay and the Maumturks and Twelve Pins mountain ranges. An estimated 30,000 birds inhabit the cliffs, including the adorable Atlantic Puffin. In addition to the natural sightseeing, the Cliffs of Moher have a great visitor center built into the hillside approaching the natural wonder. The impressive Cliffs have popped up multiple times in pop culture. If they’re cool enough to be featured in The Princess Bride and Harry Potter, they’re definitely cool enough to make it onto your bucket list.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
A truly surreal experience awaits you in the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat formed by the transformations of several prehistoric lakes. The ginormous salt desert located near the crest of the Andes Mountains offers an incredible feast for the eyes. The salt acts as a giant mirror and reflects the sky, creating a dreamlike world around you. For the best experience, go during the rainy season. The flats are a major breeding ground for several species of pink flamingo, but mostly void of other wildlife. Three day tours are offered of the area and in addition to the flats, you’ll have the chance to visit some of the lagoons and lakes located near the reflecting desert.
Sorry Everest, you’re pretty fantastic, but you’ve got some stiff competition. Break out that bucket list and add some of these awesome natural wonders to it! Tell us about the natural wonders you’d like to check out in the comments below!