1YoT: Most Beautiful Nature Destinations

Traveling around the world, you see a lot of beautiful destinations. This is especially true if you go really far north (we went as far as Canada and Northern Ireland), really far south (we went as far as New Zealand’s southern island), to mountain ranges (we visited the Cascades, Rockies, Black Hills, Appalachians, Swiss Alps, Julian Alps, Carpathians, Himalayas, Annamites, Southern Alps, and probably more we don’t even know of), national parks (we visited 24 national parks, way too many to list here), and the tropics. So, without further ado, here are the most beautiful nature destinations from our trip:

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The California Coast / Redwood National Park, USA

We’ve driven California’s coast a lot, so we skipped a good portion of it on our trip. But we’d never been to California’s north coast, so once we passed Davis, back to the coast we went. We were mainly interested in Glass Beach and the Redwoods; Glass Beach was disappointing (there’s almost no glass anymore) but the coast along Redwood National Park was as beautiful as anything we’d ever seen.

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Cascade Range, USA

We visited Mt Mazama, Mt Hood, the Columbia Gorge, Mt Rainier, and Mt Baker on our journey through the Pacific Northwest, traveling through three national parks (Crater Lake, Mt Rainier, and North Cascades) to do so. Every single one of these destinations was gorgeous, and our experiences were even better: camping and exploring, driving and hiking everywhere. This is definitely one of our favorite places in the US.

FYI: the above photograph is our pick for most beautiful photograph from our trip.

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Glacier National Park, USA

We always heard how beautiful Montana was, but even so, we were blown away by this place. The lakes at glacier were the most beautiful lakes we’ve ever seen, and traversing the Rockies over the Going-to-the-Sun Road was unreal. And in addition to all that, we saw a bear here!

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Yellowstone National Park, USA

Yellowstone was so different from anywhere we’d ever been. We’d never seen geysers, mud pots, or fumaroles before, and the hot springs we’d visited did not look like they do here. Most notably were the colors, which were so vibrant and beautiful, unlike anything we’d ever seen. Add to this the rock and travertine formations, and the whole thing felt so weird, like when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Finally, we saw so much wildlife here, most notably a fox and ~500 buffalo, including one only a few feet from our car!

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Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway was so surreal, like if we would have sailed to the end of our view we would have fallen off the world. Everything here was so unique and beautiful, calm and gentile. It brought us an inner peace, and felt like the most distant place in the world.

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Wharariki Beach, New Zealand’s southern island

We went to this beach mainly because we were in the area and it was called out on Google Maps. So you can imagine our surprise to find one of the most spectacular beaches we’ve ever seen. It was huge and gorgeous and almost completely empty, no one here but us, one or two other people, and some seals. All this despite being a super iconic beach, for Windows’s desktop background beach photos are from here!

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The Southern Alps, New Zealand’s southern island

First we traversed Arthur’s Pass, west-to-east though one of the Southern Alps northern-most gaps. Then we drove south, almost the entire length of the Alps. These routes were so amazing, every destination seemingly more beautiful than the one before it. We can only imagine how it must be at the end (Fiordland National Park), but unfortunately we ran out of time and didn’t make it that far.

FYI: the prettiest part in the Southern Alps we visited was Hokitika Gorge.

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Daintree National Park, Australia

Here we are at another national park, this one billed as where the rainforest meets the reef. The beaches here were so beautiful (although no swimming: the water is filled with crocodiles and jellyfish), as was the wildlife. We didn’t see many animals here but we saw lots of plants, and also found a fruit farm/ice cream shop and a freshwater spring that was safe to swim in; both were cool and refreshing and we enjoyed them immensely.

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The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Great Barrier reef is incredible, colorful and enormous and filled with sea life, at least it is where it isn’t dying (we saw lots of dying parts). We’re really glad we got to visit this place before it gets worse, maybe even being gone for good.

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Bali, Indonesia

Bali is another destination that almost completely lives up to the hype. Specifically, the rice paddies, coastlines, and temples were amazing, as were the beaches on the smaller islands that surround mainland Bali. Unfortunately, Bali’s beaches were not great; they were covered in trash and very dirty. But we knew this in advance, so we stayed on a neighboring island where this was not the case, and we had a great stay!

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Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

It was really interesting how many karsts (eroded limestone landscapes) we saw around the world, but Ha Long Bay was definitely the best. Especially since we experienced it on a two-night cruise, one where we got to experience it in all its glory. This place was so beautiful, it was like we were in another world.

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The Andaman Coast, Thailand

The Andaman Coast is one of the most hyped tourist destinations in the world, and it totally lives up to it! Inna said the scuba diving here was the best she’s ever done: she saw manta rays, sting rays, moray eels, sea turtles, jellyfish, and tons of fish, including entire schools that she swam through. I didn’t dive but did some spectacular snorkeling and also visited a white-sand beach island that was unlike anywhere I’ve ever been.

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The Julian Alps / Lake Bled / Triglav National Park, Slovenia

Is it cheating that this one includes a castle and church? If it is we don’t care, because this place was so gorgeous, like straight out of a fairy tale. The water was like glass, the forest lush and vibrant, and the mountains towering like giants, doing a great job keeping civilization at bay. This was especially true in Triglav, where things were so quiet and secluded that sometimes we felt like there was nothing and no one but us for miles.

Honorable Mentions: the Grand Tetons, Niagara Falls, the coast near Mont Saint-Michel, the Swiss Alps, Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry, Kawakawa Bay, Paradise Cave.

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