There are few natural attractions as aptly named as the Great Blue Hole — a gigantic circle of deep blue water plunging into the Caribbean Sea. Located in the Lighthouse Reef, just off the coast of Belize, the Great Blue Hole is believed to be the largest underwater sinkhole in the world and has fast become a bucket list favorite for adventurous scuba divers. But you don’t have to dive into the deep to experience the magnitude of the UNESCO-listed wonder— for the most incredible views soar over the Great Blue Hole in a helicopter and enjoy a dazzling aerial view.
No TV, no problem – the Koro Sun Resort and Rainforest Spa is all about passing time naturally in its otherworldly paradise of lush rainforest and crystal-clear sea. With luxe floating bungalows encircling a private azure lagoon (perfect for kayaking) and a swim-up bar (perfect for sundown cocktails), your escape into all things perfectly tropical awaits.
When you visit Jamaica Inn, you’re getting front-row seats (or well, lounge chairs) to one of Jamaica’s premier private beaches, Ocho Rios. The Traveler’s Choice-winning hotel offers complimentary beach activities like kayaking, sunfish sailing and snorkeling – and back on shore, its doting beach staff is more than happy to hand-deliver rum punch(es!) right to your spot in the sand.
Sure, you can go horseback riding, kayaking or swimming with whales (yes, whales) at the Kingdom of Tonga’s Sandy Beach Resort. But you can also just grab a book from the resort library, stretch out on the pristine sandy beach, and lose yourself to the sights and sounds of this Southern Pacific paradise.
Aurora borealis, Kiruna, Sweden
This surreal spectacle is one of the most coveted bucket list experiences out there. The mesmerising display appears when charged particles, which flow from the sun at 1.4 million km/h, hit the Earth’s magnetic field at the planet’s poles. The effect of these curtains of light is heightened by solar storms. There’s never been a better time to view the mysterious aurora borealis – the current period of solar maximum activity is at its height – so hunt them out between November and March in northern Scandinavia, Alaska, Canada and even Scotland.
Plateau de Valensole, Alpes de Haute-Provence, France
Paris might be for lovers, but one of France’s most romantic sights is the rolling plains of Provence blushing purple in summer. Lavender from the fields of the Plateau de Valensole is made into lavender oil, honey, soap and scented sachets. The fragrant fields usually bloom in July.
Strokkur geyser, Iceland
At the seam between two tectonic plates, Iceland is one of the world’s most geologically active regions, a huge draw for travellers with a thirst for adventure. In such an unpredictable landscape, the Strokkur geyser manages to remain surprisingly punctual: it erupts every four to eight minutes, blasting water up to 40m into the air. The word ‘geyser’ itself comes from the Icelandic, ‘ geysa ’, which means ‘to gush’.
The Wave, Coyote Buttes, Arizona–Utah, USA
This sandstone marvel on the Arizona-Utah border is a coveted sight, not only for its remarkable shape but also the painstaking hike to reach it. The undulating pattern originates in the laying down of sediment under long-gone seas, and the wearing down of rock by the elements.