Magical, awe-inspiring and mysterious are all words to describe these places that glow in the dark.
Halong Bay, Vietnam Travellers to this UNESCO World Heritage Site are known to take midnight swims to see the black water illuminate their bodies, watch a cresting wave of light, or see their footprints glowing in the sand.
Toyama Bay, Japan While most bioluminescence is created by dinoflagellates, another sea creature illuminates this inlet: the firefly squid. These tiny creatures emit a deep blue light that is at its peak during spawning season from March to June each year.
Vaadhoo Island, Maldives Here the dinoflagellate population creates a sparkling spectacle that has earned it the name “sea of stars.” The mesmerizing shining water looks like a mirror that reflects the flickering stars above.
Laguna Grande, Fajardo, Puerto Rico Laguna Grande is a tourist hotspot. The plankton in this region put on quite the show and when first spotted by Spanish sailors in the 17th century, they believed it was the devil causing the glow.
Puerto Mosquito, Vieques, Puerto Rico This lagoon was once the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world with very high concentrations of plankton. Last year, it stopped putting on a show and it is being studied and monitored back to health.
Iguacu Falls. (Photo Credit: Dmitry V. Petrenko/Shutterstock)
At 490 feet wide and nearly 3000 feet long, Iguaçu Falls is filled with falls of every size and intensity, most notably Devil’s Throat, where water drops from a height of 270 feet. With the highest flow of water on record, Iguaçu easily topples its equally famous sisters, Victoria and Niagara Falls. Ample viewing opportunities are available: Argentina offers close-up action shots with walkways that lead visitors into the action—feeling the power of the water is unforgettable. Brazil features all-encompassing panoramas and sweeping vistas of the falls’ network, allowing you to appreciate their sheer size.
Galapagos Islands,off the coast of Ecuador. (Photo credit: sunsinger/Shutterstock)
A utopian universe of 19 volcanic islands comprises the Galápagos archipelago, roughly 1,000 kilometers off the coast of Ecuador, in the Pacific Ocean. Watch your step on islands Isabela and Fernandina, where endemic marine iguanas are protected and thriving, each reaching up to five and a half feet long. Swim with sea lions, sharks, and giant turtles—all playful and curious, having never faced threats from humans.
Rock Islands Southern Lagoon
Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, Republic of Palau. (Photo Credit: howamo/Shutterstock)
The term “picturesque” must have been coined with Palau in mind. The 200-kilometer chain of islands forms the archipelago, geographically part of Micronesia. Out of eight islands and 250 islets, Palau’s limestone Rock Islands jut out as if positioned on pedestals. Erosion has transformed them into towering umbrella shapes, bases fringed by fronds, reefs, coral walls, caves, and planes and ships—remnants of World War II. With pristine waters, visibility reaches almost 200 feet below the surface. Inhabited for over 4,000 years, the islands are home to ancient burial grounds and drawings.
Halong Bay, Vietnam. (Photo Credit: John Bill/Shutterstock)
This iconic group of evolving stone islands casts different shapes and colors, depending on the light and time of day, onto the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The oldest is 280 million years old. Around half of the 2,000-odd limestone and schist islands are named after the shapes they project, such as Hon Rong (“Dragon Islet”). Halong Bay comprises the southwest islands, where eagles soar around forested peaks. Natural grottoes and caves punctuate the intricate and elaborate mesh of islands.
Precariously perched atop pinnacles of sandstone, 1300 feet high, Meteora’s six Greek Orthodox monasteries tower over the city of Kalambaka in central Greece. They’re centuries old—dating to the 9th century—from a time when Byzantine hermit monks, who lived in Meteora’s caves, were forced to move to safety at these heights.
Borobudur Temple Compounds
Borobudur Temple Compounds, East Java, Indonesia. (Photo Credit: Luciano Mortula/Shutterstock).
Mysticism shrouds dawn in Borobudur. Giant faded pink bell structures cap a giant stupa, representing the micro cosmos, and shimmer through a misty golden sunrise. It’s an ethereal scene that radiates ancient spirituality. The world’s largest Buddhist monument, dated to the 9th century, can be found here. One million tourists pour into Borobudur’s grounds annually to marvel at the balustrades, relief panels, and Buddha statues. The stonework features an interlocking design—an architectural feat for its time.
Cinque Terre, Italy. (Photo Credit: Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock).
Serrated mountains host olive groves and lush terraced vineyards, nestling five vivid villages that are carved into the coastline. Each is crammed with a distinctive ambiance, connected by wildflowers and butterflies, steeples, and a confectionary of colorful buildings. The cliffs of Cinque Terre seemingly slip into the sea—a protected marine area. Villages are reached solely by train, through a series of tunnels along sheer cliffs.
New Stonehenge visitor centre set to open.
The English Heritage chief executive, Simon Thurley, says Stonehenge has now got “the exhibition and the museum that it deserves”, as part of the ongoing £27m project to improve facilities at the site.