10 Undiscovered Wonders of the World

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We’ve all dreamed of the “Wonders of the World” since we were kids. We’re not here to discredit or make light of astounding places like the Taj Mahal or sights like The Great Wall, but why not venture to some places off the beaten path? In the nooks and crannies of our beautiful planet, made by both man and Mother Earth, we can find some of the more underrated wonders of the world; sights that will make your jaw drop just as low and your heartbeat just as fast as the wonders you’ve dreamt about since childhood. Add these (mostly) undiscovered wonders to your bucket list!

Swing in the Sea

Gili Islands, Indonesia

Photo by Dennis Kelly

This first is admittedly a bit of a tourist attraction. Down along the beach near the Ombak and Pandawa resorts you’ll find eight or so swings lined up in a few feet of water. You may have to wait in a short queue, but it’ll be worth it for the perfect photo-op. While you’re here, take advantage of this part of the island. It is much quieter than the eastern harbor area. Aside from capturing the perfect Instagram, meet friendly locals and snorkel in the beautiful calm water. 

The Wisteria Tunnel

Kitakyushu City, Japan

Photo by Binary CSE

Travel just five hours from Tokyo (via a high-speed train of course) to Kawachi Fuji Gardens. Here you’ll find this pastel rainbow tunnel that looks like it popped right out of a fairytale. This site is made up of 20 different species of wisteria; 150 plants in total! Visit in late April/early May (or more specifically during Golden Week, April 21 – May 6). Be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time too!

Swim in the Heart of the Coral Triangle

Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Photo by Buzz

The Coral Triangle is called the “Amazon of the Oceans” for good reason, and the Raja Ampat Islands are located right in the middle of it. Made up of roughly 1000 islands just off the coast of Sorong in eastern Indonesia, it is a paradise for marine wildlife enthusiasts and divers. In addition to the beautiful white-sand beaches and the vast expanse of jungle, the surrounding seas are luminous and full of marine life that’s waiting to be explored. These islands have a reputation for being one of the best places in the world for professional diving and underwater photography but are less known to those looking for a killer snorkel adventure. Think Great Barrier Reef but less crowded and better preserved.

Road Trip North Coast 500

Scotland, United Kingdom

Photo by Alamy

The best way to really get a feel for a region is by driving through it. North Coast 500 is not only a jaw-dropping, beautiful route but is your path to a number of incredible and authentic Scottish experiences; from fresh seafood and artisan distilleries to historic golf courses, castles, and deserted beaches. Before you embark on this great adventure into the North (cue Game of Thrones theme), do yourself a favor and prepare. Familiarize yourself with road etiquette across the pond (driving on the left can be more stressful than you initially think) and map out where you can find gas and accommodations in advance.

The Venice of the Pacific

Nan Madol, Micronesia (Pohnpei)

Photo by Alamy

The Smithsonian calls Nan Madol “the city built on coral reefs” and others have called it “the Venice of the Pacific.” Nan Madol is not yet on the world heritage list, though this ancient city of impressive ruins was abandoned centuries ago and is an architectural mystery. Construction here of these artificial islets is estimated to have started around the 8th and 9th century AD. The megalithic structures were built closer to the 12th or 13th century, around the same time as the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Find a guide who can lead you through the jungle streets and recount the tales of Nan Madol.

Pamukkale Pools

Denizli, Turkey

Photo by eses2016

You’ve probably heard of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon or Budapest’s bathhouses, but what about these valley side pools in southwest Turkey? The travertine formations were built up over a thousand years from limestone deposited by the mixture of hot springs and the infrastructure ruins that made up the city of Hierapolis. This phenomenon translates to “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, and travelers can bathe in the mineral-rich waters that remain around 96 degrees Fahrenheit. You can reach the village of Pamukkale by car or bus. Avoid the crowds by spending the night there and beating the rush first thing in the morning. You can also visit during winter, when colder temperatures and snow keep tourists away.

Hike the Cathedral Gorge

Kimberley, Australia

Photo by David Busch

You know the Grand Canyon, but have you heard of the incredible wonder that is the Cathedral Gorge in Kimberley, Australia? The Gorge is a huge amphitheater with gorgeous red rocks and fascinating acoustics, made by Mother Earth herself. If you get there early in the season, there is a pool of water in the center and beautiful shrubbery dangling from the walls. It is part of the Bungle Bungles in Purnululu National Park, which features many trails to hike and sights to see. The hike to Cathedral Gorge is an easy one compared to many of the others. 

The Church of the Transfiguration

Kizhi, Russia

Photo by Alexxx Malev

This architectural wonder was miraculously built without using ONE nail! Kizhi Pogost is a 300-year-old Russian church famous for its extraordinary structure. Well known as the Church of Transfiguration, these buildings were built with what you could call the real-life version of Lincoln Logs during the 17th to 18th century. The structures are covered in glorious domes that have helped preserve it over the years. The church along with other buildings are part of the Museum on Kizhi Island in the Republic of Karelia. It is open to the public, but the church only holds services during the summer (it’s not heated inside). 

Palitana Temples

Bhavnagar, India

Photo by gujarattourist

Sure, the Taj Mahal is a world-renowned palace, but the Palitana Temples practically make up an entire city in Bhavnagar. These architectural masterpieces are known for being the largest cluster of Jain temples in the world and were built over a period of 900 years starting in the 11th century. There are 863 Jain temples in total from the base to the peak of the Shatrunjaya Hill where the Palitana temples sit. There are 3950 steps over 2.5 kilometers up the Shatrunjaya Hills. You can access the temples by road, rail, or air from big cities like Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Explore the Black Forest

Germany

Photo by Joaomc12

The Black Forest in Germany, also known as the Schwarzwald, is a dark canopy of evergreens expanding along the Swiss-German border. The spooky forest inspired the settings for fairytales like Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood from the Brothers Grimm. While exploring these woods you’ll find yourself no more than a twenty-minute walk or 5-minute bike ride from many charming countryside towns. In the northern section near the university city, Freiburg, make sure you check out the Gothic architecture and vineyards. And don’t miss Triburg, the cuckoo clock capital!

Cover Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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