There are a handful of iconic outings that make it on to most intrepid travellers’ bucket lists – a flight up over the Grand Canyon, a trip to the Taj Mahal or safari across the African plains. There are, however a number of lesser-known must visit destinations that are no less spectacular, but definitely less familiar.
Prepare to explore ten of the world’s hidden treasures, chosen by Globehunters (in no particular order, because you really should try and visit all of them).
The Pinnacles, Western Australia
Make your way out into the windy desert-scape of the Namburg National Park and there, amongst the lonely dunes, rise weird and wonderful limestone pillars. These breathtaking natural rock formations range from under a foot to over three feet tall and are made from lime-rich sand, created by seashells when this area was once covered by water.
Nearest airport: Perth.
Best time to go: Between August and October, as the weather’s milder and the wild flowers begin to bloom.
The Hot Springs at Rotorua, New Zealand
The Rotorua district sits in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand’s North Island and is home to seventeen lakes. The area is popular for its waterskiing, swimming and fishing, but seasoned travellers, in the know, head there to experience its geothermal wonderland, in particular Orakei Korako or ‘The Hidden Valley’ which boasts one of the most impressive thermal pools in the world.
Nearest airport: Rotorua has an airport but many visitors make the 228 Km journey by car from Auckland.
Best time to go: From December to April. June, July and August can be rainy.
Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa
Stretching for over 1000 km across the eastern part of South Africa’s Great Escarpment, the breathtakingly beautiful Drakensberg Mountains are formed by four separate valleys, each one spectacularly different in character. The area is also home to Tugela Falls, the world’s second highest waterfall, located in the Royal Natal National Park.
Nearest airport: Durben. From there, car hire is the best way to get around.
Best time to go: Anytime is good, but the optimum time for trekkers is from about mid-March until mid-June or September/October when the weather is guaranteed.
Blue Cave, Croatia
Visit the remote limestone island of Bisevo off the cost of Croatia to discover the spectacular Blue Cave. Between 11 am and noon, rays of sunshine transform this sea cave into a magical blue grotto. You can visit by boat, or even better, take an underwater swim to catch the glimmering silver and pink rocks at their best. An absolute must-visit destination for aspiring mermaids.
Nearest airport: Split.
Best time to go: Summertime. Get there at 10am to see the cave at its best.
The Ruins of Volubils, Morocco
Built by the Phoenicians over 2000 years ago and now a World Heritage site, this stunning landscape of carved stone columns and arches lies at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, in a valley filled with olive and almond trees. A jewel in the crown of Morocco’s ancient Roman ruins, it’s also home to a beautiful collection of mosaics.
Nearest Airport: Rabat. From there the site is a two-hour drive.
Best time to go: Any time of year is good, but plan your trip in the early morning or late afternoon when the temperature is less scorching.
Kakslauttanen Hotel, Finland
A trip to see the Northern Lights may already be on your bucket list, but how about viewing them from the comfort of your very own glass-topped igloo? There’s nothing cold and stark about these beautifully designed pods, nestling in amongst the trees. A truly unique place to catch the greatest light show on earth.
Nearest airport: Ivalo is a short 30-minute shuttle bus ride away from the resort.
Best time to go: Visit between late August and late April for the best chance of seeing Aurora Borealis.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Maldives
Serious Cullinary connoisseurs should make it their life’s mission to visit the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island’s unique underwater restaurant – the only one of its kind in the world. Seated five metres below sea level, you can dine on a mouth-watering feast of European cuisine while tropical fish glide past. Just don’t let the sharks and stingrays put you off your starter…
Nearest airport: From Male airport you’ll need to hop on a seaplane to make the 30-minute journey to Rangali Island.
Best time to go: If you want avoid the rain, the best time to visit is between October and April, January being peak season.
Zhangye Danxia Landform, China
This bizarre, beautiful, otherworldly landscape of red, orange and yellow rocky peaks and hills is like no other. It’s almost as if an artist has thrown layer upon layer of paint over this truly unique corner of Gansu Province. The unusual colouration is created by rich red sandstone and mineral deposits dating back over 24 million years. See it to believe it.
Nearest airport: From Beijing, take an internal flight to Jiayuguan and complete your journey to Zhangye by bus.
Best time to go: Between June and September, when the weather is comfortable and the combination of strong sun and a little rain brings out the colours.
Tunnel of Love, Kelvan, Ukraine
Situated near the town of Klevan there lies a three km stretch of private railway that’s encased by an ethereal tunnel of trees. A train runs daily to deliver wood to the nearby factory, but the rest of the timethis magical walkway is a destination for star-struck lovers. Legend has it that lovers who are sincere can make a wish here and it will come true.
Nearest airport: From Kiev, die-hard romantics can make the 350 km journey to Klevan by express train.
Best time to go: In late spring when the tunnel is at it’s most lush and verdant.
Whitehaven Beach, Australia
Whitsunday Island’s Whitehaven beach is seven km stretch of pristine white sand – so soft and white because it’s actually 89% pure silica. Situated on the largest of the 74 Whitsunday islands, it’s gently lapped by azure waves and was recently named best beach in the South Pacific. Get there now before the rest of the world discovers its natural beauty.
Nearest airport: Fly to Hamilton Island then take a scenic helicopter ride to Whitehaven to soak up the scenery.