The Grand Canyon is a spectacular destination beyond compare. Located within Grand Canyon National Park in the state of Arizona in the United States, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, 18 miles (29 km) wide, and over 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) deep. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and Wonder of the Natural World was carved by the Colorado River over an estimated 17 million years. Now, it tells two billion years of geological history through the layers exposed on its walls. Visitors to the Grand Canyon can enjoy the view from a popular viewpoint on the South Rim. Rafting the Colorado River, or descending the walls of the canyon by hiking or horseback-riding are also popular activities. Helicopter tours of the Grand Canyon are also available for tourist willing to splurge. The closest international airports to the Grand Canyon are in Las Vegas, Nevada; and Phoenix, Arizona. From there, visitors can reach the park by car.
Landmannalaugar is a region in southern Iceland that is home to strange and beautiful geological formations. The multicolored rhyolite mountains in particular are breathtaking to behold. Visitors to this area enjoy hiking, horseback riding, and hot springs. Popular hikes include a trip up the peak of Bláhnúkur, a walk through the ice caves of Hrafntinnusker, or an extended multi-day hike along the Laugavegurinn trail. Tourists can visit Landmannalaugar between June and late September. Accommodations are sparse, consisting of only an austere mountain lodge that has room for 78 people total. Landmannalaugar can be accessed by car or by daily bus service from Iceland’s capital Reykjavik.
Monument Valley is a an area know for its impressively formed sandstone buttes. The region is part of the Colorado Plateau, located in the Navajo Nation on the border between the states of Arizona and Utah in the American Southwest. Encompassing much of the area surrounding Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Monument Valley is an important part of Native American heritage. For a $5 fee, visitors to Monument Valley can take a 2-3 hour scenic drive over a 17 mile (27 km) dirt road, which is open from 6:00am-8:30pm from May to September, and 8:00am-4:30pm from October to April. Other visitors may chose to enjoy a multi-hour or overnight horseback ride to some of the more spectacular views and sites. If you’re interested in a unique view of Monument Valley you can even take a hot air balloon ride over the area. Visitors who are arriving via car can only access the park via Highway 163. There are two hotels near Monument Valley, and the nearest town of Kayenta, Arizona, is about 20 miles (32 km) away. Monument Valley is part of a greater network of attractions called the Grand Circle which also includes Grand Canyon National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Zion Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, and Arches National Park.
The sunny South shore of the island of Kauai (known as the “Garden Isle”) in the tropical state of Hawaii in the United States is home to Poipu Beach. Poipu Beach is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top 10 beaches due to its pristine white sands, swaying palm trees, and sparkling blue waters. The activities to be enjoyed in the area are seemingly endless and include kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, surfing, mountain biking, deep-sea fishing, horseback riding and ATV tours. There are also two 18-hole golf courses. The classic beach is popular for weddings and honeymoons. There is a large variety of accommodation in the area, including the exceptional Villas at Poipu Kai. The Villas at Poipu Kai is a new boutique condominium resort with 3-4 bedroom poolside villas, 2-4 bedroom garden villas, and a stunning private home on the villas property.
On the Havasupai Indian Reservation within Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona you will find the gorgeous Havasu Falls. The picture perfect falls features a blue-green pool below which is excellent for swimming. Havasu Falls is fairly difficult to reach by foot, requiring a drive to Hualapai Hilltop and then a 16 km (10 mile) hike to the Falls via the tiny village of Supai which is 3 km (2 miles) from the falls. For those not up to the long hike, a helicopter ride to Supai can be had, followed up by a horseback ride to the falls. Visitors can camp near the falls, and the village of Supai has one lodge and one cafe. Otherwise the best options for accommodation can be found 177 km (110 miles) away in the town of Seligman. The area also features four other waterfalls: Navajo Falls, Supai Falls, Mooney Falls, and Beaver Falls.
If an expansive white sand beach is what you’re looking for, Noordhoek Beach near Cape Town, South Africa can’t be beat. Only 35km (22 miles) from the center of Cape Town, Noordhoek beach is ideal for walkers and those seeking a horseback ride on the beach. There are also two excellent surf spots off the beach called the Hoek and Dunes. On the southern end of the beach you can find a century old wrecked steamship named the “Kakapo.” The beach is fairly isolated and lacks development so swimmers and surfers should use caution in the water. There are a couple restaurants near the beach, but for accommodation your best bet will be in Cape Town proper. A gorgeous view of the beach can be had from the top of nearby Chapman’s Peak.
Skiers, snowboarders, hikers, and wildlife lovers should not miss this incredible Canadian destination: Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. This glacial lake is located near the Trans-Canada Highway and the tiny town of Lake Louise. The Eastern shore of the lake is home to the large luxury resort hotel Chateau Lake Louise. Accommodation for the budget-minded traveler can be found in Lake Louise town only 3km (2 miles) away. Other activities to be enjoyed at the lake and surrounding area include mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, dog sledding, snowshoeing and more.
On the border of China and North Korea, in a caldera at the top of Baekdu Mountain, you will find Heaven Lake. The caldera was created when the volcanic mountain erupted in 969 CE. Visitors to the lake can enjoy stunning walks, hiking, and horse rides along the mountain paths. Canvas yurts are the most common accommodation for tourists, but there are also more upmarket hotels. The semi-nomadic Kazakh people inhabit the area seasonally. Staying in traditional Kazakh yurts and using their guided horseback tours help them earn the income that they live on for the rest of the year. It can get quite cold in the area, so warm clothes are suggested.