The 10 Most Beautiful Places on Earth
Few things compare to the beauty of nature, and the earth is home to countless enchanting, serene and beautiful places. You surely have your own favorites, whether they are larger-scale locations or as simple as the rock garden you created in your backyard or the tree-lined street you grew up on.
Below are our choices for the top-ten most beautiful on a larger scale (and admittedly we haven't been everywhere!) ... be sure to share YOUR choice for the most beautiful physical place on earth at the end of this article!
1. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Carved by millions of years of water and wind, the Grand Canyon is an awe-inspiring 5,000-feet deep, 277 miles long and 18 miles wide. Probably the United State's most well-known national park, the Grand Canyon is home to plateaus, hills, gorges, trails and the Colorado River, all set in one of the most impressive backdrops imaginable.
Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
If your jaw doesn't drop when you first witness the Grand Canyon, it likely won't drop anywhere.
2. Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
Located in south Kauai, Hawaii, Poipu Beach is a collection of beaches with golden sand and gentle surf, perfect for swimming, snorkeling and relaxing. Depending on where you are, you can experience water only inches deep (Baby Beach), incredible snorkeling with tropical fish, Hawaiian Monk Seals, and further up the coast Spouting Horn, a spout of seawater forced 50 feet into the air by a lava tube.
3. Ninh Van Bay, Nha Trang, Vietnam
Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam
This bay, overlooking the South China Sea, is still relatively untouched and very private. Its beach is accessible only by boat, and the bay is known for its coral reefs, white sand, rock formations, streams and scenic mountains in the background.
4. Arches National Park, Utah
Home to the most natural arches in the world, Arches draws visitors to its stunning balanced rocks, fins and pinnacles, sandstone arches and other rock formations, located in a "high desert," 4,085 to 5,653 feet above sea level.
Blue Mountain Peak, Jamaica
5. Blue Mountain Peak, Jamaica
The highest point in Jamaica at 7,402 feet, from which you can see much of the island, as well as Cuba and Haiti. The mountains are surrounded by a mist, giving them their blue hue, and are home to vast numbers of butterflies, birds and flowering plants. They're also located in the heart of Jamaica's coffee country, which grows the world-famous Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee.
6. Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), Tanzania
Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), Tanzania
Covering some 8,300 square kilometers, the NCA is a unique blend of wildlife, natural landscapes and archaeological sites. It has volcanoes and rifts, a crack in the earth's crust that can result in steep cliffs, over 20,000 large animals, and the volcanic Ngorongoro crater, 7,264 feet above sea level.
7. Mount Fuji, Japan
Japan's highest mountain, at 3,776 meters, is a favorite place to watch the sunrise, so it's not uncommon for hikers to climb all through the night and early morning to reach the summit in time. As its near-perfect shape suggests, Mount Fuji is actually a dormant volcano (it last erupted in 1708) that is regarded as a sacred mountain.
8. The Florida Keys and U.S. 1
Traveling down U.S. 1 from Key Largo to Key West, you are surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. The stunning views of the water, with nothing to obstruct the view (the highest point is 18 feet above sea level), lends the surreal feeling of walking on water and the humbling experience of just how big and powerful the oceans are.
El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto Rico
9. Napa Valley, California
This California wine country offers breathtaking views of expansive vineyards, rolling hills, and green, lush countryside -- some of the most serene settings in the United States.
10. El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto Rico
Located in eastern Puerto Rico, El Yunque is a mountainous, semi-tropical rainforest with many rivers, waterfalls, pools and streams that provide a sanctuary for wildlife, including the Puerto Rican Parrot, lizards, crabs and tree frogs, and plant life like giant ferns, orchids and bromeliads.
Now it's Your Turn ...
Select answers will be published in the forthcoming issue of the SixWise.com e-newsletter!*
The 5 Great National Parks Almost No One Knows About
How to Travel Abroad Safely: Six Important Tips You Need to Know in an Emergency
Grand Canyon National Park
Gentlemen's Quarterly, "The 25 Sexiest Places on the Planet." April 2006, pp. 208-215
Arches National Park