Shannon O'Brien Travel Itineraries

The best destinations

Photo of Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand
Photo of Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

Most Surreal Attractions in the World

1. Antelope Canyon, Arizona, United States

Photo of Antelope Canyon

Walk difficulty: Easy

Best time to visit: late March-early Aug

Cost: $

  • Navajo Upper Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in the American Southwest, on Navajo land east of Lechee
  • The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tsé bighánílíní, which means 'the place where water runs through the (Slot Canyon) rocks'
  • Lower Antelope Canyon is Hazdistazí, or 'spiral rock arches'
  • They are accessible by Navajo guided tour only

2. Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States

Photo of Yellowstone National Park

Walk difficulty: Easy

Best time to visit: late April-May, Sept-early Oct

Cost: $

  • Largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world, after Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand and Boiling Lake in Dominica
  • Grand Prismatic Spring was noted by geologists working in 1871, and named by them for its striking coloration
  • Its colors match most of those seen in the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue

3. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Australia

Photo of Whitsunday Island

Best time to visit: Sept

Cost: $$

  • Beach known for its crystal white silica sands and turquoise colored waters
  • It is on an island only accessible by boat, seaplane, and helicopter from Airlie Beach, as well as Hamilton Island

4. Fly Ranch Geyser, Nevada, United States

Photo of Fly Ranch Geyser

Best time to visit: April-May, Oct-Nov

Cost: $

  • Fly Geyser, also known as Fly Ranch Geyser, is a small geothermal geyser located on private land in Washoe County
  • The geyser is located near the edge of Fly Reservoir in the Hualapai Geothermal Flats and is approximately 5 feet (1.5 m) high

5. Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

Photo of Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Best time to visit: Jan-April, Nov-Dec

Cost: $

  • Cave at Waitomo on the North Island, known for its population of a glowworm species found exclusively in New Zealand
  • The attraction has a modern visitor centre at the entrance, and there are organized tours that include a boat ride under the glowworms

6. Aogashima Island, Japan

Photo of Aogashima Island

Best time to visit: March-May, Sept-Nov

Cost: $

  • Volcanic island to the south of Japan in northernmost Micronesia
  • It is the most isolated inhabited island of the Izus, which are politically and administratively part of Japan but geographically not part of the Japanese archipelago
  • The island's area is 8.75 km2 (3.38 sq mi) and, as of 2014, its population is 170
  • Aogashima is also within the boundaries of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park
  • Still considered an active volcano by the Japan Meteorological Agency, the last eruption of Aogashima was during a four-year period from 1781–1785

Featured in The Best of Japan

7. Meteora, Greece

Photo of Meteora

Walk difficulty: Moderate

Best time to visit: April-May, Sept-Oct

Cost: $

  • Rock formation in Thessaly, Greece, hosting one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, second in importance only to Mount Athos
  • The six (of an original twenty-four) monasteries are built on immense natural pillars and hill-like rounded boulders that dominate the local area
  • Between the 13th and 14th centuries, the twenty-four monasteries were established atop the rocks

Featured in The Best of Greece

8. Giant's Gate and Causeway Coast Circular, Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Photo of Giant's Causeway

Walk difficulty: Easy

Best time to visit: June-Aug

Cost: $

  • Area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption
  • The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea
  • Most of the columns are hexagonal, although some have four, five, seven, or eight sides

9. Hallerbos, Belgium

Photo of Halle

Walk difficulty: Moderate

Best time to visit: March-May, Sept-Oct

Cost: $

  • Forest mostly situated in the municipality of Halle, known in the region for its bluebell carpet which covers the forest floor for a few weeks each spring

Featured in The Best of Belgium

10. The Wave, Arizona, United States

Photo of The Wave

Walk difficulty: Moderate

Best time to visit: Jan-May, Sept-Dec

Cost: $

  • Sandstone rock formation located in Arizona, near its northern border with Utah
  • The formation is well-known among hikers and photographers for its colorful, undulating forms
  • Due to the fragile nature of the formation and the large number of people wishing to visit it, a daily lottery system is used to dispense permits

11. Prada Marfa, Texas, United States

Photo of Marfa

Best time to visit: March-May, Sept-Nov

Cost: $

  • Permanent sculptural art installation located along U.S. Route 90, northwest of Marfa
  • The installation, in the form of a freestanding building, specifically a Prada storefront, was inaugurated in 2005

Featured in The Best of Texas

12. Sassi di Matera, Italy

Photo of Matera

Best time to visit: May, Sept

Cost: $

  • Two districts of the Italian city of Matera, Basilicata, well-known for their ancient cave dwellings inhabited since the Paleolithic period

Featured in The Best of Italy

Photo of Bryce Canyon National Park

Best time to visit: May-Sept

Cost: $

  • Park whose major feature is Bryce Canyon, which despite its name, is not a canyon, but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters
  • Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks