The Earth is a huge and wondrous place. Across the four oceans and seven continents of this amazing planet, there are countless scenes of indescribable beauty; more than any one person could hope to see in their lifetime, and so much more than could be fit into just one list – even if that list went all the way to 10,000!
But that shouldn’t stop us from sharing a few of them, now should it?
So for this list, I have searched for the most unique and breathtaking places around the world – at least one from every continent – to bring you the 10 most beautiful natural wonders of the world:
10. Sequoia National Park, California
The mighty sequoia, and it’s close cousin the coastal redwood, is unique to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California and grows nowhere else in the world. These towering trees can grow more than 300 feet tall (90 meters) and more than 50 feet (16 meters) in diameter. They are the world’s largest trees, and the oldest. They are known to live up to 3,500 years – which means that there could be trees alive today that were alive when Rome was built. The most famous specimen, known as “General Sherman,” holds the record for being the largest living thing on Earth!
9. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
The Salar de Uyuni is located in Bolivia, in South America near the Andes mountain range. It is the largest salt flat on Earth, with a surface area of 4,086 square miles (10,582 kilometers). It is a breeding ground for many species of pink flamingos, and during the rainy season the entire landscape is covered in several inches of water – creating the impression that you are walking on the surface of a giant mirror that stretches as far as the eye can see.
8. Sea of Stars at Vaadhoo Island, Maldives
Vaadhoo Island is a part of the Republic of the Maldives, an island chain in the Indian ocean. It is home to a peculiar kind of marine life known as phytoplanktons, a tiny plant-like organism which glows in the dark. At night, these bioluminescent beings light up the waters and wash up onto the beach in beautiful, swirling patterns – the ultimate in romantic mood lighting. The locals call it “the sea of stars.”
7. Mt. Erebus, Antarctica
Mt. Erebus is a place where opposite extremes collide. Located on Ross Island in Antarctica, it is the southernmost active volcano in the world. There you can observe a standing lake of molten lava surrounded on all sides by frozen tundra. Heat from the volcano has formed vast cave complexes beneath the surface, where the constant melting and refreezing of the ice creates stunning crystaline sculptures. The hot air finds it’s way to the surface through ventilation tubes, where huge towers of ice are formed by the emerging water vapor.
6. Victoria Falls, Africa
Located in southern Africa, at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is formed as the mighty Zambezi river pours it’s entire volume into a great gorge 360 feet (110 meters) wide and 354 feet (108 meters) deep. It was given it’s name by Scottish explorer David Livingstone, the first westerner to lay eyes on the falls. The locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the smoke that thunders.”
5. The Rainbow Hills of Zhangye Danxia, China
In northern China, near the small town Zhangye there is geological wonder that few people have ever heard of: the Zhangye Danxia National Geographic Park. Layers of sandstone and other minerals, accumulated over millions of years, have been heaved up by the action of tectonic plates, forming a landscape of rolling hills with stripes or bands of many colors… it truly looks like a scene from a fairy tale, or some sci-fi alien world.
4. Northern Lights
Aurora borealis, or the northern lights, is a spectacular display of light and color in the night sky caused by charged particles from the Earth’s magnetic field colliding with the upper atmosphere. It is only visible between November – March, in a northern band of latitude known as the “auroral zone.” It is perhaps the best reason for any traveler to brave the frigid conditions of winter in the far north! The best places to view this natural light show are Greenland, Iceland, and northern Scandinavia. There is a similar phenomena on the south pole, known as aurora australis.
3. Crystal Cave, Mexico
Located in the region of Chihuahua, Mexico, a thousand feet below the surface of the Earth, lies a real life cave of wonders known as Cueva de los Cristales, which is filled with giant gypsum crystals, some measuring 40 feet (12 meters) in length and weighing up to 55 tons. Discovered during the drilling of the Naica mining complex, this subterranean cavern stays at a sweltering 136°F (58°C), and it takes industrial grade water pumps to keep it from flooding. The crystals deteriorate in open air, so scientists are studying and documenting them as quickly as possible, before they dissolve forever.
2. Grand Canyon, Arizona
Located in the southwest United States, the Grand Canyon is truly one of the natural wonders of the world. Carved out over aeons of time by the Colorado River, the canyon is 277 (446 km) miles long, and in places as much as 18 miles (29 km) wide and more than a mile deep (1.8 km). It was revered by the Native Americans of the region, and it continues to inspire awe and reverence in all who see it.
1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Located off the coast of Queensland, Australia is the world’s largest coral reef system, and the single largest thing ever constructed by any living organism on the planet. It is even visible from space! It is one of the most unique and diverse ecosystems anywhere on Earth, home to a dizzying number of tropical species, many of them endangered. More than two million people are drawn there from around the world to witness the vibrant colors and other-worldly beauty of this underwater paradise.