Here are 16 more unusual and spell bounding destinations. They’re so unlike anywhere else in the world they feel like they should be accompanied by alien lifeforms. ICYMI, here are the first 15 unique and amazing places sure to earn spots on your bucket list.
Deadvlei – Namibia
This unreal destination was contributed by Martha from May Cause Wanderlust.
Deadvlei is a remote spot in the vast Namib Desert, which is in one of least populated countries in the world. It is the remains of a dried-up marsh. All that is left now is cracked white clay on the ground and black twisted trees, which have been dried by the sun. Surrounding the white pan are towering red sand dunes, including Big Daddy, the second highest dune in the Namib.
The contrast of colors is what makes Deadvlei so other-worldly – that and the eerie phantoms of trees, which appear stuck in a strange dance amongst the sand dunes. Its surreal landscape has made Deadvlei the location for several films and music videos, including The Cell and The Fall.
To get there, you need to get to Namibia, in southern Africa, then drive for hours to get to the Namib-Nakluft National Park. Once you have access to the park, there’s more driving along the stunning Tsauchab corridor: the path of a dried-up ephemeral river, lined by huge snaking sand dunes. You’ll come to a car park where you must change vehicles to a shuttle bus to get over the sand to Sossusvlei. From there, it’s a 45-60 minute walk to Deadvlei.
It is hard to get to, but worth the effort for anyone who loves dramatic, other-worldly landscapes.
You can visit all year-round, but don’t forget to bring plenty of water with you, especially if travelling with kids, as the sun can get very hot during the day.
Rio Tinto – Spain
Contributed by Linn Haglund of Brainy Backpackers.
One truly interesting place to explore, where you definitely feel like you’re on another planet, is the red river of Rio Tinto in southern Spain. The unique river flows past the village of Riotinto and is one of the most underrated day trips from Seville.
The village is an old mining village and the red-orange color of the river comes from the high level of ferric iron in the water. There is an extremely low level of oxygen in the water and a high level of acids which makes it hostile for most organisms to live in and NASA has found similarities to Mars in the soil in and around the river.
You can visit the river all year round and it is easily accessible from the road if you are on an Andalucia road trip.
But more interesting, especially if you travel with kids, might be to take the old mining train from Riotinto village that passes the river and gives you the opportunity to stop and have a look at it and take pictures. You will learn about the river, the mining industry, and visit mining pits. A day excursion at Rio Tinto is a fun and interesting experience for the whole family – and definitely gives you an idea about how it can look on Mars!
Antelope Canyon – Arizona, USA
Suggested by Catherine of Postcard Narrative.
Can you spot the antelope in the image that gave this famous slot canyon its name?
If you want to feel immersed in a place unlike any other, meander through the narrow passages of a slot canyon. You’ll find awe admiring the formations which appear to shape shift with each step you take.
Antelope Canyon is outside Page, Arizona and is located on a Native American reservation. The tribe does a phenomenal job offering educational and well organized tours throughout the day. It is important to book in advance, especially if you want the noon photography tour to get the famous beam of light coming down into the canyon.
While the tours sell out, the guides intentionally space out the groups so that everyone can get the people-less photo they want.
Vasquez Rocks – California, USA
Submitted by Bernadette of Explorer Chick.
For an otherworldly experience right in Southern California, head to the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park. The park is known for its rock formations which have been the setting for many Hollywood films and TV shows.
The rock formations resemble the ridged backs of wild boars. It is unique to the area because of its proximity to the San Andreas fault line that has pushed the ground upward through the years. The ground is rocky and doesn’t have much soil making it look like alien terrain.
Star Trek, the TV series and movies, were filmed at Vasquez Rocks and fans of the cult favorite have even chosen the site as a wedding venue. It has been the site of hundreds of films, TV shows, and music videos, the latest being BTS’ “On”.
Within the park is part of the Pacific Crest Trail, which spans the West Coast from Washington to the tip of California. The trail is best known for the book Wild and the movie starring Reese Witherspoon.
It is best to visit and do a hike anytime except summer. The park is in a desert so the heat would be too much to bear. Kids can easily tackle the hiking trails as they are mostly flat. Hikers should bring water to make sure they stay hydrated.
Waimea Canyon – Hawaii, USA
Recommended by Nikki of She Saves She Travels.
This unique landscape is nestled on the small island of Kauai, Hawaii. Rugged cliffs make way to deep valleys and with lush vegetation, the island is one of the most beautiful and unique places you’ll ever see.
The NaPali Coast is one of the most famous coastlines on earth. Known for its colorful peaks that drop to the ocean below, creating a beautifully dramatic coastline. But just on the other side of this coast, in the heart of the island, is the Waimea Canyon. It’s known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific because of its massive, majestic cliffs and deep valley below. Seeing the Waimea Canyon is one of the top things to do in Kauai, Hawaii.
The Waimea Canyon is best seen in the summer months when the island is most dry. Because of the elevation, rain is common and clouds fill the canyon so avoiding the wet season is best. Staying in nearby Poipu provides a great spot for beaching and other family-friendly activities the remainder of the trip.
A drive from Waimea town to Koke’e State Park will provide many lookouts for the Waimea Canyon. Drive further to reach the Kalalau Lookout to see the NaPali Coast.
When traveling with kids to the Waimea Canyon, be sure to stay on designated walkways. The canyon is steep so staying clear of the ledges is utmost importance.
Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach – Iceland
This bucket list destination is a favorite of Catherine’s, from Postcard Narrative.
On the south coast of Iceland, you’ll find a black sand beach littered with the world’s largest diamonds. The chunks of ice glisten on the beach where they washed ashore after breaking off nearby icebergs in Glacier Lagoon.
Listen for the thunderous crashes and watch the transfixing sight as massive pieces of ice fall from their iceberg into to the water. Floating to the surface, it gently sways until it finds its resting spot. Then utter stillness.
This is a can’t miss if you have 4 Days in Iceland or more.
Milford Sound – South Island, New Zealand
This bucket list place was contributed by Delilah of Our Travel Mix.
New Zealand itself can feel like it’s on another planet, but Milford Sound along the South Island’s rugged west coast is certainly one of the most beautiful places to visit in New Zealand.
Getting to Milford Sound can be a bit of a mission. If you’re already in Queenstown then it’s a scenic 5-hour drive with plenty of great stops along the way. Otherwise, you’ll want to make your way to Queenstown first.
Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted with a stunning fjord, where towering mountains line a gorgeous inlet. The views here are so breathtaking it can be easy to forget you’re still on Earth.
There’s only one place you can stay here, Milford Sound Lodge, so we recommend spending a night or two here while you explore the region.
The most popular activity in Milford Sound is a scenic cruise through the fiord. Unsurprisingly, this takes you on a tour through the area and offers some of the best views of Milford Sound. If you’re visiting with kids, multi-day hikes are likely off the agenda, but a scenic cruise is a must-do.
In addition to the scenic cruise, our favorite activities revolve around hiking and enjoying the outdoors. The Lake Marian hike is one of the best hikes in New Zealand and takes just 3-4 hours return, while the Routeburn, Kepler and Milford Great Walks are all epic, multi-day hikes in the region.
Wadi Rum – Jordan
One of the worlds most amazing places in the world, submitted by Jen from Dabbling in Jet Lag.
Wadi Rum is one of the most remarkable deserts in the world. So, if you looking for a destination that will stun you, then touring Wadi Rum is one of the best things to do in Jordan. This natural wonder stretches across the southern border, covering an impressive 720 square-kilometers. Not only that but its landscape resembles something from another planet. It’s even nicknamed ‘The Valley of the Moon’!
Here, you’ll find sun-scorched limestone mountains that jut from a sea of deep red sand. And, while Wadi Rum is void of any natural water source, it was once home to the Nabataean peoples. The history of which can be found in caves hidden through the desert. From petroglyphs to ancient ruins, it’s an impressive collection, to say the least.
There are several ways to visit Wadi Rum, the most common being an overnight jeep tour. You’ll spend the day exploring the red sands, and, at night, you’ll share a home-cooked meal with a local family. If, however, you’re looking for something more challenging, you can trek across the desert on foot or with a camel.
In general, Wadi Rum is a year-round destination, but don’t underestimate this arid wilderness. The days are blisteringly hot, and temperatures fall below freezing at night. But no matter the adventure you seek, it’s a place that will captivate your senses and take you on a journey through time.
Whitehaven Beach – Eastern Australia
This beautiful corner of the world was contributed by Victoria at Guide Your Travel.
Whitehaven Beach is one of the most famous places in all of Australia and is often considered one of the best beaches on the east coast. The sand here is an almost blinding white and has a high silica content. The beach is located on one of the Whitsunday Islands lying just off the coast of Airlie Beach. It’s only accessible via a boat tour, but luckily there are a lot to choose from. Some of the more affordable ones start at $70 per person but they go up well past $200.
Most of the Whitsunday Islands are uninhabited and make up a nature reserve. Whitehaven Beach is a popular attraction so come early in the morning to avoid the crowds. However, the trip is definitely worth it. The water is shallow and perfect for swimming; especially with kids. You won’t have to worry about waves as the ocean is very calm. Most tours also include a few snorkeling stops nearby and you might even be lucky enough to spot sea turtles. This area of Australia is known for its beautiful underwater life with colorful reefs and beautiful rare fish species. A visit will be unforgettable!
Volcanoes National Park – Hawaii, USA
Submitted by Candice of CS Ginger.
One of the best places in the United States to feel like you’re on another planet is in Volcanoes National Park. Volcanoes National Park is on the Big Island of Hawaii and is full of dramatic barren volcanic landscapes. Lava flows from the Kilauea and Mauna Loa eruptions have created volcanic layers that you can see in the park today.
The best time to visit Volcanoes National Park is during the dry months in Hawaii. This runs from June through September. Average highs during this time are 77F to 81F. Visiting during this time will give you the best chance of sunny skies and good weather.
Volcanoes National Park is a great place to visit because it is one of the most diverse landscapes in the world. It is home to active volcanoes and is a great learning opportunity. The area holds great geological significance, especially when the volcanoes are active. It is home to Kilauea and Mauna Loa, two of the world’s most active volcanoes.
A great place to start your day in Volcanoes National Park is at the Visitor Center. Here you can pick up the Junior Ranger Booklet which is a great learning opportunity for kids and explore the exhibits. There are lots of exhibits about the volcanoes as well as the animals and ecosystems in the park.
From there, you can explore Crater Rim Drive and the Chain of Craters Road.
Rainbow Mountain & Red Valley – Peru
Megan of Packing Up The Pieces recommends Rainbow Mountain as one of the the most beautiful places in the world.
South of Cusco Peru, high in the Andes Mountains lies the mighty Vinicunca Mountain, or the incredible Rainbow Mountain. Gazing upon this mountain of seven colors surrounded by glacial peaked mountains is an otherworldly experience.
The primary viewpoint is found at an altitude of 5,036 meters (16,522 ft), so proper acclimation is essential. While most visitors appreciate Rainbow Mountain, few tackle the nearby trail to Red Valley. In less than one hour, arrive at the viewpoint and feel as if you’ve been transported to Mars.
It’s best to visit Rainbow Mountain and Red Valley during Peru’s dry season from May to November. However, at this altitude the weather can change in an instant and it’s possible to experience every season in an hour. To tackle this high altitude hike, dress in layers, pack a rain jacket, have a sturdy pair of hiking boots, and bring plenty of water. Acclimate in Cusco for a few day before hiking to Rainbow Mountain and carry coca leaves or tea to help with altitude sickness, or more commonly known as soroche in Peru.
The most convenient way to reach Rainbow Mountain is with an organized tour from Cusco. Even with a tour, it is inevitable to hike close to two hours to reach the viewpoint. Adventurous travelers can add a stop at Rainbow Mountain and Red Valley on the intrepid Ausangate trek.
Sarakiniko Beach – Milos, Greece
This unreal destination was contributed by Haley of HaleyBlackall.com
The greyish-white landscape dropping into the deep azure waters of the Aegean make Sarakiniko Beach on the Island of Milos seem like you are on another planet. Soft undulating layers of volcanic rock have dubbed Sarakiniko as the moon or lunar beach of Greece, and rightfully so. Walking amongst the unique landscape makes you feel like walking on the moon.
As one of Milos’s most popular attractions, it is a frequently visited place in the summer months of July and August. But, visiting this famous site during late May, June, September and early October gives you the same experience but with a lot fewer crowds. Bright sunny days and warm weather are still abundant.
If you plan on bringing kids to Sarakiniko Beach, make sure to equip them with sunblock, sunhat and ensure they watch their step. The white ashy powder that sits on the top of the landscape can get all over your clothes and hands but luckily is pretty easy to shake off.
As a note, you do have to be cautious of the Meltemi winds, a severe dry wind that affects most of the Aegean Sea, as it can ruin a day at Sarakiniko Beach and make it downright dangerous to dip into the waters. Otherwise, this unique lunar landscape is a highlight of any trip to the island of Milos.
Devil’s Marbleyard – Virginia, USA
Suggested by Erin Gifford of Go Hike Virginia
Imagine navigating a massive eight-acre field of gigantic boulders, many the size of full-size cars. You must use your hands, arms, elbows, knees and feet to reach the top. This is Devil’s Marbleyard in Natural Bridge Station, Virginia.
A two-mile hike (one-way) along the Belfast Trail in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests leads to this massive rock slide. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before, certainly not on this planet. It’s a rock scramble for the ages and one that attracts visitors from far and near to deftly navigate this field of boulders.
You may feel as though you’re playing a chess match as you contemplate your next moves across this gigantic rock field. You’ll weigh the pros and cons of various routes to the top. Children may simply try to get to the top as quickly as they can, less inclined to invest in a strategy to reach the final boulder on this epic hike.
Pay a visit to Devil’s Marbleyard when the weather is mild. As in not too hot (you’re in full sun) and not too cold (the rocks get very cold). Also, do not go if it’s raining or snowing since the boulders can get slippery and dangerous. Wear proper footwear, too (that goes for children, as well). No flip-flops or sandals that could lead to twisted ankles on the scramble.
Goblin Valley State Park – Utah, USA
Melissa from Navigation Junkie recommends Goblin Valley State Park as one of the most amazing places to visit with kids.
Sitting in the remote desert of Green River, Utah, Goblin Valley State Park is a park that will make you feel like you are on an out of this world Martian planet. The towering rock formations, known as hoodoos, are a sight to behold! They are often compared to looking like goblins, which is where the name Goblin Valley State Park comes from. The Park is located an hour and a half outside of Moab and just an hour from Capitol Reef State Park.
The hoodoos in the park are pillars made of Entrada Sandstone. The sandstone is believed to have been deposited in the Jurassic Period and has undergone thousands of years of erosion to form them into the oddly shaped formations you see today.
One of the great things about Goblin Valley State Park is you are free to climb on, under, and through the hoodoo formations, making it the perfect spot for visiting with kids (or just fun-loving adults!). Inside the park you can enjoy exploring the hoodoos, go for a hike along the cliffs to get views of the hoodoo filled valley from above, and stay overnight for a night of camping and stargazing.
The best time to visit Goblin Valley State Park is during the Fall or Spring months. Goblin Valley is a desert, so it becomes very hot and dry in the summer months. The Fall and Spring months will bring cooler weather, which is much needed for all the running around involved in a visit to Goblin Valley.
Giant’s Causeway – Northern Ireland, UK
Suggested by Troy of Postcard Narrative.
Who deserves credit for the astonishing rock formations of Giant Causeway; geological formation or Celtic giants? Let the kids decide on your visit to this natural wonder.
Giant’s Causeway is an ideal destination for families to explore in Northern Ireland. Pull on some rain boots and let the kids splash through tide pools and hop from one hexagonal rock pillar to the next. Make sure you have a spare set of clothes in the car for after your adventure.
Tell your kids the story of the the Irish legend of Finn McCool. The storybooks say Finn threw massive rocks into the sea to build himself a ’causeway’ to reach a second giant who had threatened him. This giant’s name was Benandonner and the moment Finn saw his enormity he quickly ran home to his wife who cleverly disguised him as a baby. Not long after, Benandonner came knocking, seeking to fight Finn. Mrs. McCool calmly answered and said Finn wasn’t home. Benandonner took one look at the baby and fled never to return, thinking that if his baby was that large, Finn must be massive!
Challenge the kids to find the rock formation shaped like Finn’s boot!
There are four free hiking trails through the park, varying in difficulty. Their trailhead is just behind the visitor’s center. If you wish to park onsite, use the facilities, or try the audio tour, there is an entrance fee for these amenities.
Eisriesenwelt – Werfen, Austria
Highly recommended as an amazing place to visit by Catherine of Postcard Narrative.
Translating to “World of Ice Giants,” Eisriesenwelt remains one of the most mesmerizing and amazing places in the world. It holds the title as the world’s largest ice cave and it’s mouth is a spectacular 20 meters wide! If you’re visiting Salzburg this is a must see day trip, less than an hour outside the city.
Tours are offered May through October. They are about 75 minutes long and led by lantern light only.