20 Magical Winter Destinations That You Need To See
Winter in northern Europe tends to be a little too dark, wet and cold… We just want to escape it and live happily ever after in the summer. But what if we told you there are actually great places to be during this time? What if we told you some places look straight out of a fairy tale under the snow?
Here at Travel Den we believe many places are overlooked as merely summer destinations. In fact, with a touch of frost glistening in the low winter sun, the enchanting silence of padding through the white blanketed roads, looking out over glassy iced lakes; all of these and more can make escaping to a winter wonderland a magical idea. So make yourself an eggnog, pull up a blanket and take a look at our picks for the most spellbinding places to be this winter…
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
The chocolate box pretty Bavarian town of Rothenburg undergoes an annual transformation into the quintessential snowy winter wonderland. Since the beginning of the 15th century the medieval Old Town has been home to ‘Reiterlesmarkt’, a special Christmas market lined with authentic Bavarian stalls. Shoppers can wander along the narrow, winding streets around the beautiful Town Hall filling their baskets with everything from delicious traditional cookies and pastries, handmade crafts, candles, local chocolates, Christmas decorations and souvenirs.
Don’t miss Rothenburg historical town hall, built in the 13th century, the Old Town Walls, a gatehouse built in the 1500s and the famous Plönlein, the most instagrammable spot in the city. Spending more time here? It’s worth visiting the imposing Klingentor tower, constructed between 1395 and 1400.
To learn more about the picturesque old town, visit the Rothenburg museum, housed in a former Dominican convent. Established in 1936, the museum details life in the convent, which was dissolved in the 16th-century, including a look at the historic living quarters. You’ll find here a well-preserved 13th-century kitchen, artifacts showcasing the town’s Jewish heritage, and a display of European weaponry, from the Stone Age to the 19th century.
Arriving in Tallinn is like stepping into a Disney movie; fairytale turrets rise up from the old medieval stone town, carts rattle over the cobblestones and blankets of snow cushion the grandiose merchant houses and barns which line the antiquated lanes.
Tallinn is an eternally enchanting town yet during the long winter months it takes on a whole new level of magic as the turrets glisten in snow and the Christmas market lures you in with offers of steaming bowls of homemade soup and warming glasses of Glögg.
Why not also hop on a sled and fly along snowy trails led by a friendly team of huskies or ice skate on the glassy iced lake in Tallin? Afterwards you can look forward to warming up again with a traditional sauna….you can always leave the ice swimming to the locals!
Richmond Park, UK
King Henry VIII may have lopped off a few heads but we in London do have something to thank him for; the prevalence of beautiful large parks such as Richmond Park, which happened to be one of his favourites as he used it as a hunting ground.
Many like Richmond Park are also filled with an abundance of wild deer, you often see them leaping and galloping through the woodland or grazing by the roadside. It is one of those places where you really do feel like you’ve been transported to the quaint English countryside during the Middle Ages.
As the snow begins to fall here you will see a plethora of people on sleds, snowball fights, as well as the avid hikers who enjoy a brisk walk through the 2500 acres of the park and then a cosy traditionally English lunch in a nearby Richmond pub.
Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany
Appearing on a peak above the picturesque village of Hohenschwangau in southwest Bavaria, stands the enchanting Schloss Neuschwanstein, which formed the inspiration behind the Disney Sleeping Beauty castle.
The rather extravagant King Ludwig II planned this statuesque fairytale home himself, albeit with the help of a stage designer rather than an architect. King Ludwig dreamt of this castle as being not only a grand stately home for himself and his myriad of possessions, but as a giant stage on which to recreate the world of Germanic mythology, inspired by the operatic works of his close friend Richard Wagner. The most fantastical room of all is the Sangersaal, bedecked with grand gilded chandeliers and ornate frescoes on the walls depicting scenes from the opera Tannhauser.
If you visit Schloss Neuschwanstein during the winter months it is even more strikingly beautiful as the surrounding forest is dusted in snow. We suggest hiring a car so you can also visit the nearby medieval town of Hohenschwangau which is also home to a castle, King Ludwig II’s family home to be precise, so you too can follow in the footsteps of this flamboyant gentleman. Then tuck into a traditional Kaiserschmarnn (a scrambled pancake served with sweet apple puree) and a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
Welcome to the picture-perfect Unesco listed lakeside town of Ohrid, popular in the summer for swimming and sunbathing, yet enchanting in the winter for walking and musing. Pad along the blanketed cobblestones breathing in the cool air scented with pine leaves, incense from the Byzantine churches and the sweet scent of oven-baked bureks.
The lake Ohrid is one of the oldest in the world, and its beauty is at its peak during winter, when its desert and mysterious; in winter, the ancient Ottoman houses on the shore of the lake disappear in the morning mist and the wooden boats scattered around the lake look like ghosts on the shore. It’s so quiet and beautiful that you feel like staying here for hours.
Take an early walk along the idyllic waterfront as the morning mist wraps around the traditional Ottoman homes that flank the icy shores of Lake Ohrid, before exploring the narrow cobbled lanes and finding a cosy nook to enjoy a hearty Macedonian breakfast and strong coffee.
In the winter months Brasov is transformed into a winter wonderland with layers of fresh snow blanketing the rooftops of pastel-coloured houses around the square. There’s a relaxed, romantic feel as you meander through Brasov’s narrow cobblestone streets passing charming 13th-century buildings.
As you take in the abundance of history this city has to offer you will be transported back in time. Up above on the snowcapped hills overlooking the medieval square lies Poiana Brasov, a small skiing destination that draws the crowds during ski season.
Brasov is one of Romania’s most visited destinations and for good reason; it’s situated in an ideal Transylvanian location, making it an ideal base for exploring the region. Venture to the nearby Carpathian mountains or visit Bran Castle to explore the myth and intrigue of the legend that is Dracula.
Lake Tahoe, California
Lake Tahoe is eternally beautiful yet its stunning landscape enters another dimension come the winter. If you are an avid ski bunny then feel free to head straight for one of over a dozen ski resorts, or perhaps try snowshoeing or ice-skating.
For those less keen on skiing there is plenty on offer to entertain all age groups; take a dip in one of the many hot springs looking out over a beautiful vista, try a long nature hike with a spot of bird watching, go on a stargazing trip or enjoy Tahoe’s vibrant night life scene. Lake Tahoe gets an incredible average of 125 inches of snow a year, so you could always just make a snowman.
The Best view of lake Tahoe, is perhaps from the top of the Heavenly Gondola Ride, with its 9,123 feet high observation Deck. Don’t miss taking a stunning walk in the Emerald Bay State Park, a gorgeous park surrounded by forested hillsides of glacier-carved granite. At the center of the striking blue water, you can admire a small islet. If you like architecture, definitely stop by the Scandinavian castle, Vikingsholm.
On the southwest coast of Iceland you will find the picturesque Gullfoss waterfall in the canyon of the Hvítá river, which leads to Langjökull, one of the largest glaciers in Iceland.
When Gullfoss partially freezes over in the winter it takes on a majestic beauty that leaves you breathless.
The freezing waters turn incredible shades of turquoise and blue which contrast vividly with the bright white snowcapped rocks. Come here to witness the rarity of untouched natural beauty and let it move you.
Harbin City, China
Midway isn’t the only city to celebrate winter with icy themed celebrations. Harbin, the chilly Chinese city celebrates the winter season with a magnificent Ice & Snow Festival, which sees an avalanche (no pun intended) of visitors every year to see the magnificent ice sculptures created by teams of artists.
Visitors can wander through, up or over, these epic structures which are often record breaking in size and become even more enchanting at night when they are lit up in a surreal kaleidoscope of colours.
Once you have had your fill of clambering over icy monuments you may want to try a spot of dog sledding or ice skating under the traditional Chinese lanterns.
The quaint town of Midway located just west of Heber City is a fabulous place to be in the winter season.
Many people visit to see the huge collection of ice castles built annually by teams of artists; climb in and explore the winding tunnels and turrets of these intricate structures.
There is also skiing, horse-drawn sledding and even scuba diving to keep you entertained. Yes, scuba diving! Thanks to the geothermal caldera which provides pleasant bath-like waters even in the depths of winter.
The stunning landscape of Abisko is home to many reindeer and other Nordic wildlife. Known as the ‘Swedish Lapland’ this beautiful wilderness is home to a national park, and best of all, clear sightings of the aurora borealis. But will you hear the Northern Lights singing as so many claim they do?
Spend your days experiencing traditional Swedish life including dog sledding, ice fishing, and traditional downhill skiing using cross-country skis. Perhaps you’ll even be lucky enough to spend time with the Sámi people and get to meet some local reindeer.
Uludağ, previously revered as the ancient Mysian Olympus is now a modern day winter wonderland. Forming the highest mountain peak of northwestern Turkey, one of its main attractions is the Olympos Teleferik, a cable car ride that offers a breathtaking vista of the mountain and ocean beyond.
The panoramic windows allow visitors a 360-degree view of the land below. Come here for skiing as well as a myriad of other winter sports or simply sip your coffee admiring the view amongst Turkey’s jet set.
Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
Located in the Los Glaciares National Park, the Perito Moreno glacier is three miles wide and has a depth of approximately 558 feet. If you’d like to get a closer look at the vivid cerulean ice pack then head to the northern end of Perito Moreno, where there is a glacier cave that visitors can either explore by foot or by boat.
The most pleasant time to visit the glacier is from November to March, temperatures are more mild during these months and on a sunny afternoon you’re more likely to hear the deep thunderous sound of cracking ice, due to the fact that Perito Moreno Glacier is actually one of the few advancing glaciers in the world, so as the size increases, the front of the glacier gains large cracks and crevasses that eventually cave off creating an exciting natural show.
Visiting at this time of year also means that you will be treated to the sight of an abundance of beautiful alpine flowers flanking the glacier.
The enchanting Kirkjufell mountain looks truly beautiful under a blanket of winter snow. Magically shaped it appears to have stepped straight out of a fairytale. Landscape photographers flock here to photograph this majestic mountain, particularly as its often seen at night with the mystical Northern Lights as a backdrop.
Also worth a visit is nearby Grundarfjörður, a small picturesque town with a population of only 900 people.
Jigokudani Monkey Park, Japan
The Jigokudani Monkey Park located within the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, gets heavy snowfall for about four months each year. The local snow monkeys are wise enough to know that this area also has an abundance of hot springs where they can kick back and relax as they warm up.
Locals and visitors alike come to see the playful monkeys enjoying their afternoon dip and also check out the steam vents which shoot hot steam into the air.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
No doubt you will recognise this famous scene which adorns many a jigsaw puzzle and is a favourite of landscape photographers the world over. The stunning Lake Bled can be found in the Julian Alps region of northwestern Slovenia.
Bled Island is the beautiful gem in the centre of this picturesque lake. Many people think that the tower on the island belongs to a fairytale Slovenian castle, yet it actually belongs to a Baroque church dating back to 1465. This church is very special to the local Slovenians who also tell the story that a temple devoted to the ancient Slavic goddess Živa once stood in the place of the present church.
During the winter months Lake Bled becomes truly magical as the lake turns a frosty blue and the forest clad mountains encircling the lake become snowcapped and shimmering in the low winter sun. Admire the view from a lakeside cafe as you sip coffee and enjoy a local delicacy – the delicious Bled cake.
The vast wilderness of the islands of Svalbard have fascinated travellers for a long time. Teeming with wildlife, arctic nature, and old mining towns are all found on the archipelago which have a haunting and eerie beauty distinctly their own.
Not only is it a prime location to catch the aurora borealis, but the region also experiences something called the Polar Night, which occurs between November and January. During a Polar Night the sun never rises and the lightest the sky becomes is a bright blue twilight. This optimises your chances of spotting the aurora borealis and perhaps you’ll also spot the polar bears that inhabit this area.
Whitefish, Montana, USA
The exciting and energetic mountain town of Whitefish, right on the doorstep of Glacier National Park, comes into its own during the winter months. Enjoy the fantastic skiing, after all it has been named one of the “Top 25 Ski Towns in the World” by National Geographic.
Off piste make your way downtown where you will find restaurants serving a great variety of cuisine, local breweries, quaint shops and galleries with that small town charm.
If traversing across snowy abysses on a single track railway bridge doesn’t completely terrify you then you may be tempted by this.
The Langwieser Viaduct transports a train that looks rather like the Polar Express which takes you through breathtaking alpine landscape to get you from one side of Switzerland to the other. Photo opportunities galore and certainly one train journey you’ll never forget.
The picturesque village of Engelberg located in the Uri Alps was originally built around a medieval monastery. Indeed Engelberg Abbey still functions today and remains at the heart of the community, hosting recitals in the evenings.
Engelberg makes for a fantastic central base to explore nearby Mount Titlis, a foreboding 3,200-metre peak perfect for high-speed downhill skiing. Make your way to the summit to take the opportunity of walking through a glacier and crossing the highest suspension bridge in Europe.
Our travel guide to the Maldives
The essential guide to the best places to visit in this stunning, tropical paradise.
The Maldives is famous for its beauty, but did you know that it’s also the lowest country in the world, with no point rising naturally above 6 feet on any of its 1,192 islands? With crystal waters, sparkling white sands and an abundance of mangroves and palm trees, it’s the ideal tropical getaway, whether you’re holidaying with the kids, honeymooning, or travelling with friends.
Surrounded by coral reefs and rich with marine life, this tranquil paradise is made up of 26 atolls made up of islands - and almost every hotel in the country occupies its own!
When choosing where to go in the Maldives, you’ll want to think about what type of holiday you’re looking for, whether you’re prioritising privacy, want a romantic setting, or would like lots of fun family activities. Almost everything can be enjoyed here, whatever your budget and taste, from museums to beach dining experiences, through to one of a kind scuba diving experiences with dolphins!
With so much choice on offer, planning your Maldivian trip can get confusing, so we’ve picked out a plethora of locations to suit every kind of vacation from bustling to the more secluded. Read on to find out more about the marvellous Maldives, and discover our top recommendations for where to stay and what to do…
North Male Atoll - the No 1 Maldivian destination
North Male or Northern Kaafu is the main atoll in the Maldives, so if you’re after a place with plenty to offer, this destination must be high on your list. Renowned for having the brightest coral reefs in the Maldives, it has world-class diving and water sports - and if you check out the eastern part of the atoll, you’ll find some first class surfing locations too.
North Male has eye-catching white sands, lush plants, and clear, warm seas, along with the widest possible selection of accommodation and entertainment. There’s something for every budget here, from value-for-money guest houses, to 5 star all-inclusive hotels, and luxurious adults only resorts.
The capital city of Male is located in the southern corner of the atoll, as is Velana, the main international airport - staying in North Male is super convenient, as most resorts can reach the airport quickly and cheaply by speedboat!
Best for: Activities, nightlife, amenities and convenience. There’s something for everyone here but if you’re wanting total isolation, you might want to go further afield.
Distance from Velana airport: Approximately 30 miles, though some islands are nearer or further away. The airport is reachable by a 10 minute speedboat ride from the capital city.
North Male Atoll Resorts and Hotels
Best for luxury:
If you’re looking to indulge you’ll love the Baros Maldives, as this 5 star resort offers fine dining, private beaches, a spa, house reef snorkelling, diving and more.
Best for couples:
Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa is an adults only resort that offers 4 star service and all-inclusive packages. The resort is known for its a la carte dining and outstanding dive centre and is extremely popular with honeymooning couples.
Best for surfing and diving:
EM Beach Maldives - located in Himmafushi, the renowned surfing and diving spot, this guesthouse is perfect for surfers as you’ll find waves of every size. Here you’ll enjoy 4 star service at highly affordable prices, with airport transportation and a concierge, plus you’ll have a great base from which to walk the island’s surf break.
Best for families:
Bandos Island Resort and Spa is superb for families, as it has a children’s club, playground, and even a full time babysitter! With 4 star service, house reef snorkelling, diving, and all inclusive packages, plus 2 kid’s pools, it’s the ideal place to stay if you need to keep both adults and little ones amused.
Season Paradise, located in the stunning island of Thulusdhoo, has an infinity swimming pool, spa, on-site gym, and restaurant. This award winning 4-star hotel offers you a true taste of luxury at some of the best prices in the whole of the Maldives.
North Male Activities
Visit Banana Reef, a protected marine area and famous diving spot, where you can dive or snorkel with barracudas, snappers, and manta rays, or check out idyllic Bikini Beach on Thulusdhoo Island.
Pay a visit to the National Museum, then check out stunning Sultan Park, where you can relax surrounded by the lush tropical vegetation. After that, why not spend a lazy afternoon browsing one of Male’s many local market’s before popping into one of many restaurants to round out your day to perfection?
South Male Atoll - Relaxation and Exploration
South Male Atoll is the second most popular atoll in the Maldives and it’s home to roughly 30 islands. As it’s split off from the capital Male and the airport by the Vaadhoo Kandu channel it offers more privacy, while still giving you an easy connection.
This atoll has a superb selection of places to stay, play, and relax accommodation, at lower prices than can typically be found on, North Male. South Male boasts beautiful clean beaches, turquoise lagoons, and soft sands - and a huge choice of watersports activities, so you can snorkel, swim and dive.
Best for: Value, relaxation, water sports, and more privacy than the main atoll but with easy connection to the airport.
Distance from Velana airport: 15.5 miles, making most islands just a 25-45 minute speedboat ride away.
South Male Resorts and Hotels
Best for snorkelling and budget travel:
Biyadhoo Island Resort is great for travellers on a budget, with a 3 star rating, in house chef, snorkelling at one of the most acclaimed house reefs in the Maldives, diving, and beachfront views.
Best for couples and watersports:
The Anantara Veli Maldives resort and spa is an adults only location with a 5 star rating, open air cinema, 7 restaurants, and many water sports activities, including surfing, deep-sea fishing and sailing.
Best for families:
The 5 star Hard Rock Hotel has available private terraces with direct beach access and a selection of great restaurants, so you can feed the entire family. Here you can snorkel, dive, kayak, sail and windsurf, or take a relaxing swim in the spacious outdoor pool - and there’s a kid’s club so you can take a break while the children play.
South Male Atoll Activities
Check out Gulhi beach, dubbed the most beautiful in the Maldives, and sunbathe in relative privacy, or, if you’re after some underwater life, book a half day trip to Maafushi Island to go snorkelling and dolphin watching, then enjoy an all inclusive picnic lunch.
For an extra special romantic meal, visit one of the many beach restaurants for an al fresco meal as the sun sets, or visit Arena Water Sports and embark on a boat tour, or try your hand at paragliding or water skiing.
Addu (Seenu) Atoll - The ideal romantic getaway
This romantic heart shaped island was made for couples looking to get away from it all, and as the southernmost atoll in the Maldives, it’s perfect for those wanting an authentic taste of island life. This Atoll is small - around 18 kilometres wide and 15 kilometres long, with just 4 inhabited islands, and 20 smaller deserted ones.
Home to Gan International airport, and the capital city, Hithadhoo, and globally acclaimed for its exciting wreck dives, it’s rich in history and marine life, with large coral colonies and an abundance of rays, sharks, and turtles that can be sighted year round.
The perfect blend of privacy and activities, there’s plenty to see and do - sightsee the remnants of an English frontier attempt, taste the local dining at a cafe, or go diving in the blue ocean and spot giant manta rays with wingspans of up to 5 metres!
Best for: Romance, privacy, adventure, watersports, and scenic views.
Distance from Velana airport: It’s 1 hour 10 minutes by plane to the main airport, but only 7 miles to Gan International Airport so you’ll be better off booking a direct flight there if you can. If you fly into Gan, most places on Addu Atoll are reachable in 14 mins by speedboat or car.
Addu Atoll Resorts and Hotels
Best for families:
The Equator Village resort is framed by sparkling seas and pure white sands and offers affordable all-inclusive packages. With an outdoor swimming pool, ocean front rooms, water sports, and private tennis court and beach area, it’s 4 star rated and is the ideal pick, if you want to stay entertained in style.
Best for a romantic holiday:
Located in the heart of Addu City, and within 5 minutes of Gan International Airport, Clove Beach is a gorgeous 3 star guest house with stylish rooms and the chance to scuba at over 30 dive sites. Book a romantic sunset boat ride, check into the on-site spa for a massage, or rent a bicycle and explore together, for a memorable trip that neither of you will forget.
Best for value and watersports:
Enjoy private beaches, outdoor bbqs, scuba diving, island hopping trips and snorkelling at Wave Sound 3S, a sleek 3 star, 7 room hotel, nestled amongwhite sands. With great prices and airy rooms with views of the crystal oceans, this affordable piece of paradise is a superb destination for an activity packed adventure.
Addu Atoll Activities:
Addu Atoll offers some of the best places to go diving with manta rays in the Maldives but while you’re here, why not go on an exciting sunken ship dive too, as The British Loyalty Wreck is just a 25 minute boat ride away, between the islands of Maradhoo and Hithadhoo.
The prime areas for snorkelling are the Kandihera, Koattey, and Hulhumeedhoo reefs and bicycles are widely available for hire, so you can discover this atoll at your leisure. For a truly unique experience, hire a speedboat to take you to a deserted island, where you can explore, then enjoy a meal on one of the neighbouring islands.
Baa Atoll - Isolation and world-class biodiversity
Baa Atoll is home to mangroves, coral reefs and the biggest population of manta rays in the world and this stunning area has so much biodiversity it’s been designated a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. Its sparkling waters host some of the largest reefs in the Indian Ocean and if you go scuba diving, then as well as rays, you’ll see many colourful reef fishes, sea turtles, and even a whale shark or two!
Stay here and you’ll enjoy almost total isolation, while still being able to reach Male airport in just 30 minutes by seaplane. Visit the Unesco Bioreserve, or hit Hanifaru Bar between June- November and snorkel with hundreds of manta rays as they feed on plankton, for a once in a lifetime experience.
Best for: Isolation, marine life, watersports and unique experiences.
Distance from Velana airport: 30 minutes by domestic flight, then a 5 minute speedboat transfer.
Baa Atoll Resorts
Best for couples and luxury lovers:
Vakkaru Maldives is a 5 star deluxe resort in a luxurious tropical hideaway, set in a location with no other island in view. Enjoy uninterrupted views of white sands blending into turquoise lagoons, go diving at the in-house reef, and dine at the stunning restaurant Isoletta, with trees that grow through the tables. Take a romantic candlelit dinner by the pool for the ultimate in intimate luxury - and don’t forget to check out the overwater spa with glass floor, where you can see parrotfish swim below.
Best for families:
With a children’s playground, outdoor pool and private beach area, onsite watersports and a spa, the Atholhu Residence in Fedendhoo is great for both adults and children alike. Located just 100 yards from Fehendhoo Bikini Beach, this charming eco-friendly property has a 4 star rating and offers a variety of bookable day trips that the whole family will enjoy.
Best for watersports:
With beachfront villas, and a watersports centre that offers snorkelling, diving, sailing, and more, plus a private beach, spa, and an outdoor gym, Finolhu is a 5 star resort that’s ideal for lovers of ocean action. Over half of the villas have their own pool, and there’s a choice of 3 top rated restaurants, while the kids club, art centre, and outdoor play area will ensure little ones are happy.
Best for budget travel:
With a variety of purse-friendly diving and snorkelling packages, the 3 star rated Violet Inn boasts beautiful views of Hanifaru bay, sleek looking rooms, and an in-house restaurant.. It’s the perfect place to stay if you want adventure, as the hotel offers multiple day trips that you can pick from, including turtle watching, island hopping, and snorkelling with sharks!
Baa Atoll Activities
While you’re in Baa Atoll you must visit the marine protected area at Hanifaru bay, a UNESCO protected sanctuary where you can swim and snorkel with manta rays and sharks To extend your underwater adventure, why not take a submarine tour, so you can stay submerged for longer?
Take time to relax in the beautiful Devarana Spa in Mudhdhoo, book a 3 day yacht trip around the islands of Baa Atoll, or enjoy a magical sunset dinner cruise aboard, where you can enjoy a 4 course meal and gaze at the twinkling night sky.
We’ve all made our fair share of mistakes at work, as well as in our personal lives, but sometimes the cost of human error is a little hard to recoup from - at least in terms of finances.
From the typo that came with an $80 million bill, to the $15 billion train order that didn’t fit, or the winning lottery ticket that was nearly lost forever, we’ve uncovered the all time most spendy slip-ups. The next time you make a mistake with your digits and enter the wrong number, or toss something out, only to wish you hadn’t afterwards, be grateful that unlike our big-budget entries, you weren’t left with an exorbitant bill.
Whether it’s straightforward business mistakes, like selling off shares at the wrong time, or rudimentary design flaws that are unfortunately overlooked, read on as we reveal the top 15 most expensive mistakes that have ever been made…
1. French railway company ordered the wrong trains
When French train operator SNCF ordered 2,000 new trains, the company didn’t think they’d be making a costly error that would leave bosses feeling red faced - to the tune of over 50 million Euros!
The mistake was spotted when it was realised the purchased trains were too wide for most of France’s regional station platforms - but by then the chance had passed for the rail operator to get a refund. To add insult to injury, construction work to widen the station platforms had to be added to the cost of this already high-priced blooper, so the new trains could fit through.
So just how did this extravagant error occur? The problem was one of simple miscommunication - the national rail operator RFF had given the wrong proportions to the regional train company, and because the two weren’t working in tandem, no one realised the mistake until it was too late. Ministers blamed France’s “absurd rail system” but whatever the reason for the original blunder, with a blooper this pricey, we hope they have a process in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
2. A multi-million-pound bill for fixing the Walkie-Talkie skyscraper
Since its initial construction the Walkie Talkie building in Fenchurch Street, London has been no stranger to controversy, with many people complaining that the unusually heavy top “stuck out like a sore thumb” and didn’t fit in with the rest of the London landscape.
In 2015, the Walkie Talkie even won the Carbuncle Cup, an award given to the worst building in London, but though the landmark only received complaints about its design at first - there were more serious problems to come.
It was discovered that the sun reflected off of the glass facade of the building sometimes known as the Sky Garden, which was melting cars and blistering paint on storefronts. The temperature was purported to be so high, you could cook an egg on the pavement below!
What’s more, the building’s shape caused a wind tunnel effect at the bottom, with gusts so strong they caused people and shopping trolleys to be blown over. To fix the errors, developers had to foot a multi-million pound bill, but while that sounds high, we’re sure they’ll be getting at least some of their money back - as the building’s market rental rate is an eye-watering £63 a square foot!
3. A typo on plane tickets
Next time you feel embarrassed about making a typo, be grateful that at least it didn’t cost you over $7 million dollars in cash, like the now defunct airline Alitalia. In 2006, Italy’s then largest airline advertised long haul flights in business class from Toronto to Cyprus at a too good to be true cost of just $39!
As you might expect, travellers rushed to book their seats on the ultra-cheap flights but it turned out someone at the company had made a listing error - as the journey was supposed to cost $3900. The company immediately tried to refund the cost of the cheap tickets, but were faced by a slew of complaints, so, to try and save face, they had to let customers fly who’d already booked.
As a result of their PR efforts, they wound up out of pocket to the tune of $7.2 million dollars, and while we don’t think this doozy necessarily contributed to the company’s 2021 closure, it’s still a lot of money to lose because of a couple of missed off zeros.
4. A code error destroyed a NASA rocket
Typos have caused cringeworthy expensive mistakes on more than one occasion - and one of the most memorable was back in 1962, with the launch of the Mariner 1, a NASA rocket. After years of investment - and jousting with the USSR over who could claim the title of victor of the then Space Race, NASA hoped the rocket launch would reposition the USA as the world leaders in space.
NASA bosses decided that Mariner 1 would carry out a flyby survey of Venus that would set an amazing new landmark for space travel - and there had been years of research, calculations, and checks performed to prepare for the flight. However, no one was quite prepared for what happened next - 5 minutes after its launch Mariner 1 exploded, and $80 million of the US Government’s money promptly went up in smoke!
When NASA chiefs investigated what had caused the problem, we bet they wanted to kick themselves - the omission of a single hyphen embedded deep in Mariner 1’s code, which was transcribed by hand, was found to be the reason the rocket didn’t complete its course.
5. Publishers turned down Harry Potter
$1.15 billion (in novel sales)
There has to be at least 12 publishers out there that are kicking themselves over the phenomenal success of the Harry Potter franchise, as back when author JK. Rowling was still searching for a publisher for the series, she didn’t get lucky until her 13th try!
The story of the boy who went to wizarding school, now loved by millions, has made J.K $1.15 billion in novel sales, and over $700 million in film rights - but it all started back in 1990 with a single idea the author had on a train. According to Rowling’s agent at the time though, the first book in the series - Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone - was turned down by nearly every major publishing house in the UK over a period of 12 months.
Reasons given ranged from the story’s length to the location the book was set in, as it was thought a children’s boarding school might be a setting that was too exclusive to most readers. J.K. finally struck lucky, with Bloomsbury agreeing to take the work on, and the rest, as they say is history. Since the Philosopher’s Stone was released, the Potter franchise has raked in extraordinary sums for Rowling’s publishers Bloomsbury- and we bet they are extremely glad the book got turned down so many times.
6. Yahoo sold Alibaba
$80 billion (pre-tax)
Yahoo sold half its stake in Chinese mega-ecommerce site Alibaba back in 2012, but investors at the company probably regretted this decision when Alibaba went public on the stock exchange with a record breaking IPO, two years later. The 2012 deal that valued Yahoo’s shares at just $13, might have seemed great at the time, but just 24 months later Alibaba shares were valued at $68 each - while now they’re worth over $181.
Yahoo had initially invested $1 billion into Alibaba in 2005 and had received a 30% stake in the company, but external pressure from investors to liquidate the company’s Asian assets forced then CEO Scott Thompson to sell. Thompson may have only been Yahoo’s CEO for 180 days, but the ramifications of his dubious 2012 decision rippled on for much longer, culminating with Yahoo deciding in 2019 to sell the rest of their stake in the Chinese firm.
This time around, Yahoo execs didn’t have to hide behind their hands, as they made a respectable net return of $40 billion for their investors, though if the company had hung on to its original 30% stake, the return would have been $80 billion!
7. Half a Billion in Bitcoin, Lost in the Dump
If you’ve ever tossed anything away, then regretted it, you can probably empathise with James Howell, though we’re wagering you didn’t lose $280 million, like the Wales native did when he threw out his old hard drive.
After purchasing 7,500 bitcoins in 2009 for next to nothing compared to their subsequent price, Howell dismantled his computer and left the hard drive in a drawer when he spilled a drink on his machine. Three years later, when he was packing up to move house, he discovered the drive - and forgetting the bitcoins were on it, promptly chucked it away in the bin.
When he realised that the price of bitcoins was shooting through the stratosphere and were now valued at an exorbitant $1000 for a single bitcoin, Howell remembered the coins. Checking his backup files proved fruitless, so he approached the owner of the landfill site that his hard drive would have been transported to, hoping to discover it there. We’re sorry to report that Howell was disappointed once again though, as the manager at the site told him that because the drive could be buried 5ft deep - it would be nearly impossible to find.
8. Blockbuster could have bought Netflix
$168.97 billion (Netflix worth 2022)
Fallen video giant Blockbuster used to reign supreme in the 80’s and 90’s but though the chain tried to stay relevant once the 00’s hit, they eventually wound up shutting their doors. The movie maestro had a 13 year rule as the kingpin of the video industry - until Netflix launched in 1998. The new kid on the block initially had an aim to improve the home movie rental market with one simple idea - to offer films up to customers by post.
After a few years struggling to boost its subscriber rate, by offering free trials and deep discounts to entice potential customers, Netflix managed to get enough subscribers so that they were in a position to sell the company, so they made an offer to their rivals - Blockbuster. As at the time, Netflix was still losing more money than it was making, the deal didn’t look too attractive to the still dominant video franchise - so Blockbuster declined the chance to buy the company at the now-bargain price of $50 million.
Since Netflix was last valued at around $168.97 billion, we think former executives at Blockbuster might have come to regret their decision, as the streaming service has now become the main way people consume movies at home. We’re happy to hear there is still one last Blockbuster standing though, in Bend, Oregon, US, and it’s even featuring in a documentary about the video giant’s defiant last stand - which will appear on Netflix, of course!
9. The fallen Wall Street trader
If you’ve ever gambled on a risky investment portfolio which has blown up in your face, you’ll know how one minute the markets can look as if they are going in your favour, only to sweep the rug out from under you at the last moment. But while some people might dabble with a few $1000 here and there, they don’t usually find themselves out of pocket by $6.2 billion, which is what happened to former trader Bruno Iskil, aka the “London Whale”.
Nicknamed “Voldemort” because of his aggressive enthusiasm for big, risky trades, Iskil was ironically part of a team tasked with protecting JP Morgan from risk - but it all went wrong in 2012 when a renegade bet he made imploded. Whenever JP Morgan made a big investment bet, Iskil’s job was to insure it in case it went wrong - a practice commonly known as hedging. But Iskil decided to go rogue, and instead of following the usual hedging process, he decided to place bets on complex investment securities - hoping to make the bank enormous profits.
Unfortunately, the bold bet didn’t go his -or JP Morgan’s way - and the bank wound up losing $6.2 billion. Iskil obviously ignored the most basic rule of gambling - discipline - but to be fair, apparently he wasn’t totally to blame, as his superiors have admitted that others were involved too and that managers should have stopped the trades from happening.
10. New Coke flavour
When big-budget products flop, they often flop big time, and this has never been truer than for Coca Cola when they tried to reinvent the wheel. In 1985, the brand decided to get the jump on their rivals Pepsi, with the release of New Coke, a drink that had been created to taste sweeter than the original - much like Pepsi does.
The launch was not a success, as fans of Coke were so unhappy, they demanded Coke bring back their original formula. Just 79 days after the launch of New Coke, and after $34 million of losses, executives from Coca Cola announced a return to the old formula, which would be called Coca Cola Classic until 2009. New Coke must have had some fans though, as it was manufactured and sold under the name Coke until 1992, when it was rebranded to Coke II, before being discontinued in 2002.
The story is perhaps a cautionary tale that proves the old adage “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” although New Coke did make a limited 500,000 can run comeback in 2019, and even made an appearance in the Netflix hit show, Stranger Things. This time around, the drink received a friendlier reception, with customers rushing to order cans online. Perhaps that’s not too surprising though, since today Coca Cola’s biggest market share comes from the company’s non-classic products, like Cherry or Diet Coke.
11. A winning lottery ticket tossed in the bin
Next time you check your lottery numbers you might want to think twice before you discard what appears to be a losing ticket, or you could find yourself in a similar situation to the lottery winner who very nearly missed out.
When Fred Higgins ran his ticket through the checking machine at his local newsagents and the machine didn’t indicate he’d won, the shopkeeper decided it was a loser and tore it in half. A second later, the machine emitted a winning beep, along with a ticket asking Higgins to call Camelot.
After checking the numbers at home with his wife Lesley, Higgins thought he’d won £5.8 million, only to be shocked when he discovered he’d actually netted the cool sum of £58 million! The story didn’t end there though, as Camelot executives still had to decide whether they could honour torn up tickets - so Higgins and his wife had to wait for an agonising fortnight until they were told they could claim their prize!
12. The third founder of Apple sold his share early on
Imagine finding out that you’d sold shares in one of the most successful companies ever - after they made their fortune and you might be able to spare some sympathy for Ronald Wayne, the man who lost out big on Apple. After founding the Apple Computer Company in 1976 with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniack, who he’d met at Atari, Wayne owned a 10% stake in what was to become one of the biggest brands in the world.
But once he’d spent a mere 12 days as a founder, he decided to pull out, and sold his entire take to Wozniack for a paltry $800! The problem was, Apple was a young company - both Jobs and Wozniack were in their early 20’s and inexperienced, whereas Wayne had a house with a mortgage, along with other assets.
To prevent Apple’s debts falling on his shoulders he made the decision to back away from the brand - but his choice proved to be an unfortunate one, as today his stake would be worth $300 billion. We bet Wayne wishes he had a crystal ball back then, as if he’d stayed on as a stakeholder, he’d never have had to worry about his financial security ever again - in fact his $300 billion worth would have made him one of the richest men in the world!
13. A new-build in Shanghai collapsed
When you’re overseeing large construction projects, it’s prudent to follow some ground rules, such as not undergoing underground excavation without properly supporting the building you’re working on. When the unoccupied 13 story Lotus Riverside building collapsed in China’s Minhang district in 2009, homeowners who’d invested in the complex were stunned, not least because apartments had been sold at a pricey $2,100 per square metre.
At first nobody knew what caused the 629-strong apartment structure to collapse, but an investigation soon revealed that improper construction methods were to blame and the real estate company’s assets were frozen. The collapse, which caused 130 residents to be evacuated from their homes, came after several days of heavy rain, which investigators said caused a shift in the soil structure. When the builders went to dig an underground car park, they piled mud up to 10 metres high on the other side, which created so much pressure the foundations of the complex were weakened.
Another huge contributing factor was that the construction team had not created any scaffolding to support the car park walls that they’d been digging - and we have to say that sounds like a pretty major step to miss out on!
14. Superman’s moustache
$25million (on reshoots)
When Avengers director Joss Wheedon created his 2017 theatrical cut of Justice League, he probably wasn’t banking on getting so many complaints from furious fans about Superman’s moustache. The problem was, Wheedon had had to film The Tudor’s star Henry Cavill while he was under contract from Paramount, and part of the deal was a clause that prevented Cavil shaving off his facial hair. Superman notoriously doesn’t have a moustache, so after spending $25 million on reshoots, there was no choice but to remove Cavill’s by digital means.
Unfortunately CGI removal didn’t go too well and resulted in an overly fake effect, which cinema goers weren’t happy about. Luckily, Cavil had filmed scenes for Justice League before he’d been under contract to Paramount, minus his moustache - and when original director Zak Synder was handed back the reins to the film, he used this and discarded Wheedon’s footage.
When Synder’s director’s cut was released in 2021, the result was a flawless upper lip for Superman - and a legion of once-again happy fans. We’re guessing Wheedon found out the hard way that if you mess with a superhero’s moustache, it may well become your very own Kryptonite!
15. The collapse of the Seongsu Bridge
$2 million to rebuild (plus compensation)
When Seongsu Bridge collapsed in 1994 in Seoul, the accident shook many Koreans to the core, as the bridge was a symbol of the new urban society that had been created in the city since 1979.
The incident occurred at 7:38 AM in the morning, on October 21st, when the fifth and sixth leg of the bridge collapsed and slid into the Han River. 32 people became casualties of the accident, while at least 17 others were injured, but worse was to come - an investigation into the construction of the Seongsu Bridge would discover that the collapse could have been preventable.
The beams, corner work, and welding were all found to have been severely neglected, and over the years there had been a huge increase in traffic - that the bridge wasn’t designed to support. The night before the accident, some people had even reported that the road on the bridge had cracks - but sadly officials failed to respond. Had they done so, the outcome may have been very different, but as it turns out, they had to pay out compensation to the injured parties to the tune of $185,000.
Since a new bridge has now been constructed on the site at a cost of $2 million, we do hope lessons have now been learned, so a similar event like this doesn’t occur once more.
Hotel of Doom: The Place That Never Hosted a Single Guest
As buildings go, the Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea is pretty impressive - it stands at a mighty 1080ft and its 105 storeys dominate the city’s skyline. Yet even though the pyramid-shaped hotel is North Korea’s tallest building, it’s never hosted a single guest.
So just what did go wrong with the Ryugyong? And why has construction never been completed since its inception in 1987?
After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, North Korea was plunged into an economic crisis, as it had depended on the Bloc for trade - and work on the Ryugyong Hotel was halted. Since then, progress has been sporadic, though in 2008, an Egyptian company restarted construction on the hotel.
Although the hotel has never hosted any guests, the building itself has still been put to some use - currently it hosts a nightly propaganda light show which projects political slogans and symbols onto 100,000 LCD screens on its surface.
Political propaganda and the Ryugyong apparently go hand in hand, as the building frequently features as a background for arts troupes and artists who incorporate political messages into their performances. It’s also been used as a centrepiece for celebrations, like the spectacular Mayday fireworks that wreathed the entire building.
You might be forgiven for wondering why North Korea even needed a hotel, considering their famous aversion to visitors, but though Ryugyong has never admitted any guests, there are actually open hotels in the capital Pyongyang.
When the Ryugyong Hotel was originally conceived, plans were awe-inspiring, at the apex where three, 328 ft sections join together and a truncated 40 metre cone sits atop, there were supposed to be eight storeys featuring revolving restaurants.
For years though, the hotel was nothing more than a mere concrete shell, which didn’t even have any windows until 2011 - and to this day the building still has no electricity. It was originally due to open in 1992, to mark Kim II Sung’s 80th birthday, and if it had opened on schedule, back then it would have taken the title of the world’s tallest hotel. Another grand opening ceremony to mark the centenary of Kim II Sung’s birth was planned for 2012, but it was postponed, and to date, the hotel has still never opened its doors.
At one time, the Ryugyong Hotel was thought to be the tallest unoccupied building in the whole world, but that title was swiped by the similarly still unfinished Goldin Finance 177, in Tianjin, China.
As for the name, Ryugyong, it means capital of willows, which is one of the historical names for Pyongyang. The hotel’s awe-inspiring pyramid structure dominates the capital, so this ancient association seems appropriate, as the building has become synonymous with the city itself.
It’s no wonder construction on the Ryugyong hotel is taking so long though - to finish off the project it would take 5% of North Korea’s annual GDP, as the country only produces $40 billion a year!
Even when it does open, given the country’s authoritarian approach, we’re not sure we’ll be booking a room, though we still hope they get around to completing construction, as it does seem a waste for such a majestic building to sit totally unoccupied.
If you’re not a huge fan of rollercoasters, you might want to give Eshima Ohashi Bridge a big miss - it’s said to be the steepest in the world, and it has nauseatingly sharp slopes on both of its sides.
Nicknamed the Rollercoaster Bridge, it was constructed with such impressive gradients so that it could allow large ships to easily pass underneath - but when you see it, you might think it was meant to be a ride at a fairground instead. As well as its rollercoaster moniker, it’s also been dubbed the Bridge to the Sky, a fitting name, as it does seem as if it’s ascending to the heavens.
The dual lane, concrete structure is Japan’s largest rigid frame bridge - and the third largest in the entire world. Its broad, robust design is 11.4 metres wide, while its length spans just over a mile, reaching across Lake Nakaumi to connect up the cities of Matsue and Sakaiminato.
When you first see vehicles driving up or down its slopes, they look as if they might go sliding off its steep gradients, which are a panic-inducing 5.1 % on its Tottori side, and a blood-curdling 6.1% on the Shimane side. On its steepest incline, that equates to drivers ascending or descending about 6 feet for every 100 feet travelled!
Despite its terrifying appearance, Eshima Ohashi bridge is apparently pretty safe, as since its completion in 2004, there have been virtually zero recorded serious accidents. Although the slope appears as if cars could just slip right off of it, in reality, drivers gradually ascend and descend, so it’s easier than it looks for them to get used to the sharp gradients.
The bridge was built on the original site of an old drawbridge, which slowed down traffic considerably, as every time a ship passed under, drivers would have to wait for up to 8 minutes. On top of that, the flow of traffic would be interrupted near-constantly, sometimes as much as every 10 minutes - and so, Eshima Ohashi was born.
Over the years, Japan’s scariest bridge has picked up its fair share of fans, as visitors from all over the world now come to see it, and some even dare to experience driving on it for themselves. As it has a cycle lane, tourists can also cycle or walk to the middle of the bridge, to enjoy stunning views of Lake Nakaumi, and the panoramas from the middle of the bridge have become so infamous, free telescopes and binoculars are now provided for tourists.
The bridge is such a celebrity, it even starred in its own tv commercial, for the Daihatsu Motor Co in Japan, with the company’s Tanto minivan tackling its perilous slopes, to prove the vehicle’s durability.
Despite its surprising track record for safety, many experienced drivers do suffer anxiety attacks when preparing to navigate Eshima Ohashi’s sharp inclines, which due to their design, look much steeper than they are. Apparently, once you get on the bridge, it’s nowhere near as scary as it seems, but though we’d love to see it for ourselves, we think we’ll give driving on it a swerve.
Ilha da Queimada Grande: the island to avoid at all costs
Some places in the world are far more terrifying than any horror movie location, and often nature can spring more fear-inducing surprises than any show’s producers might dream up. A lot of people have heard of the film Snakes on a Plane, but you might not be aware of the real-life version of this nightmare - although this time around the snakes are on an island, tucked away in an idyllic part of Brazil.
For many people, venomous snakes are one of the top ten ultimate fears, so they’d probably want to avoid paying a visit to Snake Island, otherwise known as Ilha da Queimada Grande. This small, breathtakingly beautiful island is located 90 miles off the Sao Paulo coast and it’s home to one of the world’s deadliest snakes, the golden lancehead pit viper.
This golden brown coloured light bellied snake has an elongated head and pointed nose - and if it bites you there’s a 7% chance you’ll die. The lancehead’s venom is so deadly it kills in less than an hour and can almost instantaneously melt human flesh. Even if you do manage to get treatment, lancehead bites still carry a 3% chance of death and can cause neurological damage, kidney failure, and severe haemorrhaging - err, nice.
If you did pay a visit to Snake Island, there’d be more than a slim chance you’d run into this lethal predator, as there’s estimated to be between 2,000 - 4,000 golden lanceheads there at any one time! As for this creature’s toxic venom, you can place the blame at evolution’s door, as Ilha da Queimada Grande became isolated from mainland Brazil, when sea levels rose around 11,000 years ago.
Due to their cut-off existence, the snakes had no threat from ground predators - but they also had no prey that they could hunt on the ground. Instead, they had to learn to slither up trees to catch migrating birds, but because they had to strike fast, they had to evolve a more deadly bite, so they could instantly incapacitate their prey. As if they couldn’t get any scarier, the golden lancehead has been known to practise cannibalism, though due to their penchant for perching birds, most of the time, they don’t have to resort to this option.
The golden lancehead’s bite is 5 times more lethal than a cobra’s, and as there is estimated to be 1 snake to every square inch on the island, it’s a good job no one lives there. Though there’s never been a recorded bite by a golden lancehead, due to the island’s isolation, related lancehead species have caused more human deaths than any other snake in North and South America.
The island is such a potential hazard that the Brazilian government only allows limited, officially approved visits, which are usually granted to biologists and researchers, as well as the navy who maintain the island’s lighthouse. Between 1910-1920 the island did have an official lighthouse keeper, but local rumour has it that he and his whole family perished when lanceheads entered their home through the windows.
Despite its scare factor being off the charts, the golden lancehead could actually end up helping people, and snake venom has already shown promise in treating heart disease. The medical community are now studying the unique properties of golden lancehead venom - and we sincerely hope the reptilian version of Hannibal Lector can prove to the world that though it has a deadly bite, it’s not all bad.
Unexpected combos can throw up great results, like peanut butter and jam, and salad cream and fries, but then there’s those mash ups that are just a straight out no - sardine ice cream anyone? When it comes to the animal world and uniqueness though, too much is almost never enough. After all, how can you have too many Ligers, Grolar Bears, or Beefalos?
From Zebroids to Geep, through to Beefalos and Wholphins, we’ve got you covered for quirky creature concoctions with our top 20 of the most bizarre animal hybrids that actually exist.
These curious crosses are irresistibly fascinating, from the stunning Savannah cat, with its penchant for swimming and playful, friendly attitude to the ultra-rare Jaglion, with its eye-catching dark spotted coat. Don’t forget to check out the majestic Leopon, with its lion-like head and leopard body, or the Zonkey with its cute striped legs and adorable donkey’s face!
Oh, and did you know Tigons and Ligers can actually reproduce together and that African Killer Bee swarms are commonly found in the US? We know there’s a whole lot of hybrid hoaxes out there, but we promise every entry on our list is bona fide. Read on for more mind-blowing facts about the quirky animal mixes you never expected, but are definitely going to love...
Cama (Camel + Llama)
Llamas make us go awww and camels are notorious for spitting but what happens when you cross the two together? Well, as there are now 5 camel/ llama cross breeds in existence in the Arabian desert, the world can benefit from the best of both species.
With the long fluffy coat that Llamas are adored for, and the robust legs and strength of a camel, Camas are much stronger than Llamas but easier to manage than camels. Apparently, they also behave well in a pack too, so they’re totally team players. Bred in Dubai’s reproduction centre, specialists discovered that Camas can only be created by mating a camel dad and Llama mum - as the other way around didn’t produce any successful births.
Cama’s have a peculiar twist - it’s been discovered they have partly cloven feet, which experts think is due to a blend of the camel’s soft pad and the fully cloven hooves of the Llama. We know that you’re probably wondering one thing though, do they have the hump the camel is famed for? Sadly, they don’t but we bet they have the camel’s famous temper if crossed, and as experts predict they’ll live to a ripe old age, we’ll likely all get to find out.
Hinny (Female Donkey + Male Horse)
Have you ever heard of a Hinny? No, it’s not some kind of peculiar love bite, it’s actually a cross between a stallion and a female donkey and they’re incredibly hard to breed. Not only are female donkeys and stallions incredibly picky about their mating partners, but two breeds have 2 completely different chromosomes, which means the chances of a successful pairing are slim.
Hinnys are commonly known as Jennets, while Male Hinnys are also often known as Horse Hinnys, and female versions of the species are sometimes called Mare Hinnys. Hinnys have a thick mane and strong legs, and their heads closely resemble horses, but they are noted for their shorter ears. When it comes to overall size, Hinny’s can vary dramatically but they can only be as large as the biggest donkey breed. Experts believe this is because the female parent is the one who passes on this trait, and as she is a donkey, her womb is smaller than a female horse.
In theory, a Hinny could be as small as a miniature donkey, which makes us go awwww. It’s actually a lot easier to breed smaller Hinnys than it is to produce larger ones, as to do so the female donkey needs to be a Mammoth Jenny, which are incredibly hard to come by. Hinnys are thought to be completely unable to reproduce, and though there have been claims this has happened, no one’s been able to provide any credible proof. Thanks to selective breeding though, the world can wonder at these equine marvels, and we hope more will be produced for many years to come.
Beefalo (Buffalo + Cow)
A cross between bison and domestic cattle, beefalos were originally created to improve the quality of beef, and their meat is lower in fat and cholesterol than that of typical cattle. Though Beefalo are usually the result of a managed breeding program, accidental crosses were spotted in the Southern states of North America as far back as 1749. Beefalos are usually the offspring of a female bison and a male bull, but to be considered a full hybrid, they have to have 37.5% bison genetics, otherwise they are dubbed a bison hybrid.
They have been known to go rogue - one infamous account that hit the news involved a Beefalo named Buddy, who escaped from a meat processing plant in Connecticut. A statewide beefalo hunt ensued, with Buddy popping up on wildlife cameras all around Western Connecticut. People even helped the fugitive by feeding him while he was on the run!
Buddy was eventually apprehended on a farm, chilling with some female cattle. He’d been destined for the slaughterhouse, but when he escaped, people raised over $10,000 dollars for him, so authorities changed their mind. After a full medical exam, Buddy now spends the rest of his days kicking back on the Critter Creek Farm Sanctuary in Florida, where there are 4,000 acres for him to roam free. We applaud Buddy’s bravery and are glad this fugitive from the law secured his transfer to a luxury retirement home.
Did you know there are hybrid killer bees that can chase you for more than a quarter of a mile? The Africanized Bee is a dangerous stinging insect that first appeared back in the 1950s, when local Brazilian Honeybees mated with Southern African Bees.
The species was originally quarantined, but several swarms escaped and spread through South and Central America, winding up in California by 1985. By the time the 1990’s rolled around, permanent colonies of Africanized Killer Bees had migrated from Mexico into Texas - today they can be sighted in a variety of US states, including Oklahoma, New Mexico, Southern Nevada and Arizona. With their golden yellow and stripey brown bodies, Africanized Bees look almost identical to the domestic honeybee, and it can be hard to tell these predators apart from their more benign brothers. There is one tiny difference though, Africanized Bees bodies tend to be slightly smaller, but you probably wouldn’t notice this minute detail, if one was trying to sting you!
As they have small colonies, they’re able to make nests in bizarre places, like mailboxes, holes in the ground, and even in tires. Because they appear so similar to the ordinary bee, the only real way to know if you have a killer bee issue is to call out a pest control professional. The official advice is, if you live in an area known to be frequented by this species, you should watch out for their nests - do you live anywhere near where these dangerous creatures buzz around?
The Wholphin combo happened wholly by chance, when male false killer whale l’anui Kahei shared a pen with female Atlantic bottlenose dolphin Punahele. Because of the sheer size difference between the two creatures, experts thought the pair couldn’t procreate - l’annuie Kahei weighed in at a heft 2,000 lbs, while Punahele’s weight was less than a quarter of that amount, at 400 lbs.
You can imagine that everyone was more than a little surprised when the loved-up couple produced baby Keikamalu, a perfect hybrid of the aquatic duo. It’s not unknown for bottlenose dolphins to swim with false killer whales in the ocean, but no one had ever heard of them mating before.
Keikamalu was the only known surviving Wholphin in the world, until she gave birth to her own Wholphin calf, though sightings of Wholphins have been spotted at sea. This unique lovechild has a head that resembles a false killer whale except for the tip of her nose, which, like her fins, look similar to a dolphin’s. Her colouring is darker than a dolphin’s, making her pretty unique and, as she matched her mother’s size at just 2 years old, it’s a safe bet she takes after her Pa. We just love this super sweet tale of interspecies love, but there is a bit of a twist to the story - though you might think a false killer whale is part of the whale family, they’re actually one of the third largest species of dolphins in the world!
Coywolf (Coyote +Wolf)
A one-off cross between a coyote and a wolf, Coywolfs differ from the most other creatures within the hybrid pack, as they can successfully interbreed with any member of the Canis family. Larger than a coyote but smaller than a wolf, their howls are particularly unique, starting out with a deep pitched sound, but then changing into a coyote’s higher pitched yowl. Coywolves are more intelligent than wolves and they socialise better together than pure coyotes, which makes them more pack orientated, smarter, and less aggressive.
Their name might sound like a rare Pokemon character, but Coywolfs are actually fairly common, and they even share 10% of their DNA with regular domestic dogs - a throwback from when coyotes interbred with them back in the 1900’s.
Though they reach sexual maturity later than coyotes do, they can give birth to young - as all the Canis species have genes that are similar, though they are slowly evolving apart. Until their chromosomes diverge significantly though, these stunning wolf/ coyote crosses will keep on giving birth to more baby Coywolfs, and as proof of their fertility, you can find many throughout the US and Canada. These stunning animals aren’t shy and can often be found roaming around urban environments, but they can get aggressive when they feel under threat, so if you do happen to spot one, it’s probably better to admire them from afar.
Boar-Pig or The Iron Age Pigs
A blend of the ordinary domestic pig and the Eurasian wild boar, Boar Pigs aren’t as rare as many other hybrid breeds, and are actually considered pests in numerous areas, particularly in Australia, Brazil, and parts of the US. On the other hand, these interesting creatures are sometimes bred intentionally, especially in Europe, where since the 1980’s, there have been numerous back-breeding projects attempting to recreate the look of an Iron Age Pig. By crossing a boar with a domestic pig, breeders can create an animal that closely resembles the pigs depicted in Iron Ageartwork and their meat is considered a specialty within the European market.
Hybridization has been reported in Australia for a long time, and this stems from when European settlers imported populations of wild boar, which then mated with ordinary pigs. Boar Pigs are purportedly much harder to handle than ordinary domestic pigs and they can get quite aggressive.
You might be wondering how the two species ever meet, apart from when they are intentionally bred of course, since obviously they don’t use Tinder. Pigs have been known to escape their pens, and when on their travels, they sometimes meet (and mate) with their wild boar partners. But Boar Pig crosses can also occur when wild boars go rogue, and there have been several reports of male boars jumping over styles and mating with female sows. Some have been so determined to get to the ladies, they have even gone through electric fences - they do say that faint hearts never won fair maiden!
Zebroid (Zebra + Any Other Equine)
What do you call a creature that looks like a horse, is partially striped, and has a zebra’s bad temper? The answer is a Zebroid of course, and this brilliant breed is created whenever a Zebra mates with any member of the equine family. The most common Zebroid hybrids occur when a male Zebra mates with a horse or donkey mare, and a zebra and a donkey blend is incredibly unusual. One of the most unique things about Zebroids is the sheer variety of their coats, combined with their partially striped colouration. As they take their coat and colour from their horse parent this can range greatly, although of course their stripey parts can only come from their zebra mum or dad!
As zebras differ genetically from donkeys and horses, Zebroids are typically thought to be infertile. Zebras have between 32 -46 chromosomes, while horses have 64 and donkeys 62. Zebroid babies fall somewhere in the middle, carrying around 54 chromosomes max - more than a zebra, but less than a donkey or horse. Zebroids were originally created in Africa, as farmers wanted a breed that would be more resistant to the plague of tsetse flies that carry fatal diseases, like Nagana. Zebras are immune to these diseases, and by pairing them with a horse or donkey mate, farmers were able to produce a creature that could perform the work horses do, without risk.
We think they are awesome just for existing though, so we’re just glad these amazing animals are still being bred. If you’re thinking about riding one, you’ll be pleased to know it’s a much easier feat than attempting to saddle up on a Zebra, as a Zebroid’s horse shaped body makes it far easier to stay on. However, they do have the zebra’s infamous temper, and can become angry, so you’ll probably want to consider this before mounting one.
Mulard (Mallard + Muscovy Duck)
A fusion of the Mallard and Muscovy Ducks, the Mulard’s coat can some in a staggering variety of colourations, from the half black half white Pied, to the lilac, chocolate, and blue, though the White variation is the most common.
Muscovy Ducks differ from other ducks, who all trace their lineage back to a Mallard, a fact which makes their hybrid offspring, the Mulard, extra special. Mulards are known for their calm temperament and they’re definitely not slobs, in fact they’re famous for their cleanliness and neatness! Despite the fact they are infertile, Mulards are actually fairly common, especially in France, where they outnumber geese by over 34 million! This is because they are deliberately bred using artificial insemination, though it is possible to breed them naturally as well.
According to breeders, you can only get a Pure Mulard when a male drake is bred with a female domestic duck, known as a Pekin. When it’s the other way around and the drake is a Pekin, the offspring is known as a Hinnie. This beautiful breed has white plumage with a dark spot on their heads, giving them a striking appearance. Mulards have a strong immune systems and they aren’t fussy eaters, but they can be nervy and fearful, so they do require some cosy comfort and a little extra TLC!
Did you know the white rhino is the third largest African animal, after the elephant and the hippopotamus? The hybrid white rhinoceros is a cross between the southern and northern white, and it’s being created so there can be more northern white rhinos. As the two breeds are closely related, Italian researchers have been examining a way of producing more of the northern white species, and biologists think they have finally found a way to create babies that carry their genes.
By extracting eggs from two female northern white rhinos and fertilising them with the frozen sperm of a northern white male rhinoceros, biologists plan to give a boost to the numbers of these magnificent creatures. But as the offspring would lack genetic diversity, they want to take things one step further, producing stem cells from frozen northern white tissue and then developing them into eggs and sperm.
We think it’s amazing that you can potentially populate a whole species using the tools and technology we have at our disposal today - particularly one as amazing as the northern white rhinoceros. White rhinos are not technically white, they’re grey coloured but they got their moniker from a mix up over the original Dutch name for wide, “wijde”, which was actually used to describe their mouths. The White Rhino’s mouth is specially designed so they can graze easily on grassy plains, and as the white rhino is a species known for its sedentary behaviour, we’re sure it’s glad for the chance to chill!
Narluga (Narwhal + Beluga)
This unique creature is the product of a natural pairing between a Narwhal and a Beluga whale, and as the two species share the same number of chromosomes, wild pairings are not only possible, but they’ve also happened before! Though there have been several sightings by Inuit hunters for some time, the Western world first discovered them when a strange skull was found in Disko Bay, Greenland, in 1990.
As both the Beluga and the Narwhal live in the Arctic, researchers think that a pair bred where the skull was discovered, when they both migrated to the region in the winter. Both the Narwhal and the Beluga share an elongated skull, they do have some differences, particularly when it comes to their appearance. The Narwhal has a shorter, narrower beak, than the Beluga, and the male Narwhal has tusks, while the Beluga has teeth.
Narlugas have grey body colourations, a tail like a Narwhal, and Beluga style fins. Analysis of the discovered skull revealed some interesting revelations about the species - Narlugas have teeth which appear similar to the Narwhal’s tusks and wider, longer skulls than their Beluga parent. Chemical analysis of the Narlugas teeth revealed that they eat a different diet from their fish and squid eating parents, who dive to catch their prey - the Narluga prefers to mine the sea depths with its teeth. Scientists don’t yet know whether Narlugas can give birth to any offspring, but here’s hoping they can, so we can all enjoy some more of this super-fascinating breed.
Jaglion (Male Jaguar + Female Lion)
The majestic Jaglion is a cross between a male Jaguar and a Female Lion and the pairing is extremely rare, with the only two known examples living in a wildlife sanctuary in Ontario, Canada. Their story started when two big cats at the sanctuary, Lola, a female Lioness, and a handsome black Jaguar named Diablo, surprised everyone by mating and producing two adorable Jaglion cubs, a girl, Jahzara and a boy called Tsunami.
Jahzara is a Melanistic Jaglion, as she inherited her Dad’s melanism gene, so her coat is dark, but like her baby brother, she still has her mother’s spots. Jaglions inherit the same tuft of hair that their lioness mother has at the end of her tail, but unlike a lion, they can’t grow a magnificent mane. As Lions and Jaguars both belong to the genus Panthera, they are able to mate, but it’s still extraordinarily uncommon. They are normally born into captivity, so they are calmer than either lions or jaguars, and they like to roll around a lot and snuggle up to their siblings.
Lola and Diablo’s story is extra sweet because the pair knew each other since they were small cubs, having arrived at the sanctuary at the same time, when they were small enough to need bottle feeding. As they grew older, they became closer and closer, throwing tantrums whenever anyone tried to separate them. Lola even refused to eat, so eventually, staff gave in, though they tried to keep them apart when she was in heat. We now know that plan obviously failed - but when we see how cute their Jaglion babies are, we can’t say that we’re sorry!
Zonkey (Zebra + Donkey)
The adorable zonkey is completely unique as it’s not only super cute, it’s also extremely rare. This is because zebras and donkeys carry a vastly different number of chromosomes - zebras have 44 compared to donkey’s 62. Zebras rarely mate with donkey, but on an animal reserve in Florence, Italy, a Zebra called Martin became so besotted by an Amiata donkey named Giada, that he jumped her enclosure and mated with her!
The result was little Ippo, an amazing mix of the two parents, with cute striped legs and tummy, and a lovable donkey’s face. He has 53 chromosomes, receiving 22 from his dad, and 31 from his mother, so he falls between his two parents. Though Ippo looks sweet and innocent, he isn’t as placid as donkey’s typically are, as he has zebra genes, which means he has a temper. As you can imagine, everyone immediately fell in love with Ippo, and film companies have even called his owners to enquire about making a cartoon of him.
There’s only four Zonkeys in the world, and Ippo is currently the sole existing male, so we completely understand why people are so intrigued. Though most donkey/ zebra combos can’t breed, researchers are still studying whether Ippo will be able to give birth to any offspring - we hope he can, as we’ve fallen in love with the Zonkey’s awesome adorability.
Dzo (Cow + Wild Yak)
A male hybrid of yak and domestic cattle, a Dzo is more robust than either a cow or a yak, unlike most hybrids, who tend to be weaker. Found in Tibet and Mongolia, Dzos are known for their prolific milk production, but they also have an extra superpower - they can survive at higher altitudes than either of their parents.
Smaller than yaks but larger than cows, they have shaggy coats and horns, inherited from the yak - but their faces usually resemble that of domestic cattle. They carry heavy loads along the mountainous plains of Tibet and Mongolia, and as they have a stronger, larger lungs than cows but are more agile than purebred yaks, they are expert at navigating the arduous mountain terrain. Dzos are pack animals, so they play well together, as well as with other yaks, and they are easy to herd. However, unlike their female counterparts, the dzomo, a female offspring of a yak and a cow, they are sterile and can’t impregnate a female, so breeders don’t value them much.
Herders prize them for their hardiness in high altitudes, due to their low pulmonary artery pressure, a trait Dzos pick up from their yak parent. Researchers are even studying this unique breed, to see if they can reveal any secrets that may help human hypertension. In Mongolia, Dzos are known as Khainags, while the English term for them is Yakow, taken from a combination of their parents, though this term isn’t very common. We think Dzos sound like pretty awesome animals though, and when they are not helping science, or picking their way along rocky mountain trails, we really hope these hardworking hybrids find the time to chill every now and then.
Geep (Goat + Sheep)
The Geep is a peculiarly cute chimaera of a Sheep and a Goat, and the mix is extremely rare as the two breeds both belong to a completely different genus within the bovidae family. Sheep belong to the Ova sub-family, while goats belong to the Capra group, and what’s more, the two have a different number of chromosomes, which makes hybrid offspring even more unlikely.
With that said, several Geep births have been recorded around the world, from Jamaica and Malta, to England and the US. One of the most famous Geeps, was born on a farm in Ireland - and when his mother gave birth it became obvious he was a little different to his siblings! Though the new arrival was black, when his mother was white, it wasn’t his colouration that had everyone so surprised, as sheep coats can be throwbacks through the generations. Instead, it was the baby’s long spindly legs, goat like horns, and the fact it moved much faster than a normal lamb, that convinced farmer Paddy Murphy that his ewe had given birth to a Geep.
It’s thought a stray mountain goat mated with the farmer’s sheep, resulting in a cute little baby Geep. Murphy’s Geep is particularly rare, as Geep births involving a female ewe don’t usually survive, whereas with a female goat and a ram they can be more successful. Despite the species barrier, goats are infamous for their high libidos and often pay no attention to the genetic difference, when it comes to mating with sheep. The result is so cute that we’re not complaining, and it’s no wonder that Mr Murphy has had hundreds of new visitors to his farm, who all want to see his unusual, but incredibly adorable, Geep.
Grolar Bear (Polar Bear + Brown Bear)
The world first learned about the existence of the ultra-rare Grolar when testing was carried out on the DNA of an unusual looking bear found in the Canadian Arctic. Though there have been several reported sightings, there are only 8 confirmed Grolar Bears in the entire world, and all of them are thought to come from the same Mama Bear!
A cross between a polar bear and a brown grizzly bear, Grolar bear cubs are uncommon, because polar and grizzlies have completely different lifestyles. Even though they can be found in neighbouring regions, Polars mate, hunt, and create dens on ocean ice, while brown grizzly bears are notoriously terrestrial.
Grolars have thick white fur, like polar bears, and the long claws, humped back and flattish face of a brown bear - and they often have brown patches around their eyes, nose, and feet. Their bodies are normally smaller than their Polar parent, though they are bigger than a grizzly, but their behaviour often resembles that of a polar bear’s. Scientists observing them found they hurled objects that were given to them to play with, similar to the way a polar bear hurls its prey.
Researchers think the Grolar births are occurring because grizzlies have recently expanded their territory within the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. We think the name Grolar is just great, but did you know that it’s only used to describe the offspring of a male grizzly and a female polar bear - when it’s the other way around, the cub is called a Pizzly!
Liger (Male Lion + Female Tiger)
The world’s largest cat, the Liger belongs to the genus Panthera, and is a super fusion of a Lion and a Tiger. Ligers have the strength and speed of both parents, and are bigger than a lion or a tiger, plus they have enormous teeth that are almost two inches in length. To be considered a Liger, the father must be a lion and the mother a tiger - if the situation is the other way around, the resulting offspring is much smaller, and is called a Tigon.
Ligers don’t appear in the wild, as the behavioural habits of lions and tigers are too dissimilar for the pair to be able to breed, but when they are put together in captivity spontaneous pairings can happen. There are currently about 100 Ligers in existence, and they first started to appear when a 1930’s breeder placed a lion and tiger in the same cage. While they were expected to fight, instead they mated, and a little (or not so little) Liger baby was born!
When it comes to looks, Ligers can take after either of their parents - they might have spots or stripes, or they may have neither. Their coats also vary drastically, from completely white, to golden or brown. As for manes, some male ligers have them, but they’ll never be able to grow one as big as their dads. Ligers can be fertile, but only the females, as male Ligers are completely sterile. They eat a lot, up to 9Kg of meat every day, and fully grown, they weigh more than 300 Kg - that’s a whole lot of Liger to love!
Tigon (Male Tiger + Female Lion)
Tigons are the result of a rendezvous between a female lioness and a male tiger, and they are much smaller than their hybrid counterpart, the Liger. Often, they barely grow bigger than their mother, but they more than make up for this with their temper, as they’re known to be extremely aggressive.
Tigons have dark brown striped coats, and have spots on their face like their Dads, while a lot of them have a small rufflike mane around their neck area. As for behaviour, while lions are social, tigers are typically loners, so what about the Tigons? Well, they actually inherit both traits from their parents, but sometimes, as a result, they can suffer from low mood. And while lions hate the water, Tigons completely differ, they love it, and are impressive swimmers!
Like Ligers, Tigons only appear in captivity, as the wild territories of a lion and tiger rarely overlap. Liger births can occur either through natural pairings, or artificial insemination - and they aren’t that new, they’ve been in existence since the 19th century, first appearing in India. They are much less common than Ligers though, and are extremely genetically fragile, with just a one in 500, 000 chance of survival. Female Tigons can give birth to offspring, including hybrid young conceived with a lion or tiger - did you know that when a male tiger pairs with a female Tigon the result is called a Titigon?
Savannah Cat (Domestic Cat + Serval)
An elegant cross between the domestic feline and a Serval, the Savannah cat is long and lean, with large ears and a long neck. Its coat is short to medium length, and is usually a beautiful golden or tawny coloured, with spots, and partial stripes. The Savannah is about half the weight or less than the Serval, and as a social breed, these stunning creatures get along well with other pets and with children. Savannahs are intelligent, affectionate, friendly, and playful - and they enjoy a LOT of attention from humans. People who have Savannahs as pets have noted they often follow their owners around everywhere and frequently like to bump heads with them! Like most felines, affection is nearly always on their terms though.
Savannahs are a relatively new breed, having been discovered for the first time in the 1980’s, when Pennsylvian breeder Judee Frank’s domestic cat gave birth to a kitten that was fathered by an African Serval. Female Savannahs are fertile - but males have to wait, they can’t sire offspring until they are six generations removed from their Serval parent.
Did you know Savannah’s took their name from the Serval’s natural habitat, the stunning golden plains in Africa? Their love of water most likely stems from their Serval heritage, yet despite their part-wild genetics, these gorgeous cats make lovely companions - and they even love to play fetch!
Leopon (Male Leopard + Female Lion)
The fusion of a male leopard and a female lioness, the Leopon is an eye-catching crossbreed, with its leo-like head and leopard-like body. Bred for the first time in mid-19th century India, Leopons have pale coats, while their heads, bellies, and spines display unique brownish spots.
With the leopard’s climbing ability, and the lion’s swimming prowess, this beautiful big cat can grow as big as a lion though their legs are shorter and appear more like a leopard. Male Leopons can grow a mane, though their efforts will never quite reach the majesty of the lion’s and their tails don’t have the same tuft of fur at the end that their lioness mother’s does.
Leopons can live to be between 15-20 years old, which is longer than a lion, who lives to approximately 13 years old, but shorter than leopards, who survive until they are around 23. They are extremely rare, and though some female Leopons can reproduce, most Leopons are sterile, and all male Leopons are completely unable to reproduce. You won’t come across many Leopons in the wild either, though unexpected lion/ leopard pairings have frequently happened in captivity, to the surprise of many breeders. With that being said, there have been several anecdotal reported sightings of wild Leopons in a variety of places throughout Africa, particularly Cameroon, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. We don’t think you’ll be spotting any while you’re in your local park though, which is a bit of a shame as we think these stunning spotted crosses are a truly one-off mix.
20 Mysterious Disappearances That Puzzle Experts
Every year, millions of people disappear without explanation, and while many return, or are eventually found, some just appear to leave no trace. For the friends and loved ones left behind, this is obviously more than heartbreaking but some of these disappearances are just so bizarre they become infamous.
Sudden vanishings are intriguing - they leave us wondering what happened, and some people even think they might be able to find out. Ever wondered what happened to Virginia Dare, the infamous first child born on US soil, who vanished into thin air, along with her family? Or whether author Ambrose Bierce was really captured and executed amid the Mexican Revolution?
There are 1000’s of famous unsolved cases but we’ve put together our pick of the top 20 strangest disappearances that have never been solved - yet. Get ready to go down the rabbit hole and uncover the mystery of the world’s most baffling missing persons incidents - maybe you will be the one to find out the truth?
Disabled Owen Parfitt vanishes into thin air
Owen Parfitt, crippled, was resting in a chair outside his home in 1793, in Shepton Mallet. His sister and a neighbour helped him into it but when she went to get him back in - Owen was mysteriously gone. Some farm workers had been labouring close by, so she asked them if they had seen if anyone had come to get him. They’d witnessed nothing, so everyone searched the nearby area, but there was no trace of him.
Owen had apparently led a wild life, regaling his friends with stories of pirates and women, and some said pirates had taken him away, so they could find out the location of a buried treasure. Others said the devil had taken him, as there were rumours he was involved with the occult and black magic.
This wasn’t the first time Owen had disappeared- he’d vanished in his youth while working as a tailor and no one knew where he’d gone for decades. He turned up again in 1760, when a man returned to Shepton Mallet, claiming to be Owen Parfitt. There’s one more twist to this tale - a witness said they saw Owen fleeing the area, a short time after he vanished. So did he pretend to be crippled to fake his disappearance or were supernatural forces at play? We only know one thing for certain - the last time Owen vanished, he was never found again.
The unexplained disappearance of Claudia Kirschhoch
Travel writer Claudia Kirschhoch embarked on a working trip to Cuba but it got cancelled and she wound up stranded in Jamaica. She decided to stay at a hotel in Negril with a fellow writer and the pair stayed for three days before managing to book a flight home. After having breakfast with her friend on May 27, 2000, Claudia took a beach stroll, then disappeared.
When her room was searched, her passport, phone and flight ticket were discovered, but the hotel staff were careless and the phone mysteriously vanished, as did the logbook containing the license numbers of the vehicles entering and leaving the resort.
Claudia had spent some time with a bartender at the resort, and he had called in sick the day after she went missing. A hair of hers was found in his car and her scent was detected in the trunk but there was no conclusive evidence he was guilty, so he never became a suspect.
The last credible sighting was made by a lifeguard who spotted her walking on the beach in a blue bikini. Her parents felt both the hotel chain and the police mishandled evidence, so it could be a vital clue was missed, that would have been crucial to solving the case.
The strange abduction of Heather Teague
On August 26th,1995, a person peering through a telescope near the Ohio River saw something completely unexpected - a woman apparently being abducted. A man on the other side of the river, wearing a wig and a mosquito net over his face, came out of the woods and grabbed a sunbathing girl. Heather Teague abduction occurred on the Kentucky side of the River, near Newburgh, Indiana.
The police searched for Heather but the only thing they found was a piece of her swimsuit. Then a man called Marty Dill was pulled up on a routine traffic stop- inside his car were two guns, two knives, rubber gloves, rope, and duct tape. Dill’s red Ford Bronco matched a car seen parked near Heather’s and he closely fitted the witness’s description. The Police discovered blood stains in the rear of Dill’s vehicle, along with hairs that looked like Heather’s. Law enforcement had already received tips about Dill’s involvement, so they headed out to arrest him - but before they could, he shot himself in the head.
In court, his wife pleaded the 5th amendment, refusing to talk, and despite mountains of evidence, Dill was not found guilty - but no one really knows why? Heather Teague’s mother believes there was a cover up, and as the case is still pending, we’ll have to wait to find out what really happened to Heather after she was abducted that day.
The creepy mystery of actress Ada Constance Kent
Ada Constance Kent was an English screen and stage actress who was last seen on 6 March, 1939, buying a packet of cigarettes from her local pub. A friend, who hadn’t seen her for 3 months searched her Fingringhoe cottage, but as she found no sign of Constance, she called the police. A constable came, reporting that there was nobody - and no corpse, in the house at the time he looked. It appeared Ada had just left in a rush - the door was unlocked, and her coat was still hanging up. There was a supper tray with leftovers, and an open copy of Romeo and Juliet in a chair by the fireplace.
In 1942, another of Ada’s close friends searched all three rooms of the cottage, after breaking through the now locked front door. He noticed the book and the supper tray but did not discover Ada. Later, Ada’s bank told the police someone had been making large deposits into her account up until September 1948. The Police went back to check the cottage – and were baffled to discover a fully clothed skeleton next to the bed, beside an empty poison bottle. Robbery was ruled out, as money and jewels were found, but a 21 one year old man later said he had seen bones under the bed when as a child he clambered through the window. Rather creepy don’t you think?
The landlord who last saw Ada said she looked ill but as it has never been confirmed that the skeleton was hers - and a suspect has never been named. What really happened still remains a mystery.
The paranormal disappearance of Martha Wright
In 1975 a married couple, Martha and Jackson Wright, pulled over in the Lincoln Tunnel while driving to New York City, to wipe condensation off the windshield of their vehicle. Martha said she was going to clean the back window, so she hopped out to do so but when Jackson turned around, she had strangely vanished.
Jackson claimed he never heard or saw anything suspicious, and an investigation turned up zero evidence of foul play. Seemingly, Martha had just disappeared - but where had she gone?
Because of the high amount of traffic passing through the tunnel, it was thought Martha would have been spotted if she had run away, or been taken, leading some to wonder if there was a spookier explanation like time travel, or aliens.
Some people say the entire story must have been false as there are no stoppages allowed in the tunnel, and there’s no evidence Martha even existed. Did she really vanish mysteriously, or did Jackson kill her, then made it all up? Was Martha even a real person or just a figment of Jackson’s imagination?
The odd disappearance of Brandon Swanson
19-year-old Brandon Swanson disappeared while driving his Chevy Lumina home to Marshall, Minnesota, on May 14, 2008, after a party in Canby. His car had veered into a ditch, so he called his parents to ask them to pick him up, saying he was walking towards Lynd, southwest of Marshall and would meet them there.
Brandon had first called at 1:54 a.m and as they drove to find him, his parents spoke to him over the phone, for another 47 minutes - until he suddenly said, ‘Oh, s**t!” and the call was cut off.
Police thought he might have fallen into the Yellow Medicine River but later they focused on searching an area near Mud Creek, northwest of Porter. The last search for Brandon was in October 2013, but although dogs picked up the scent of human remains, he was never found.
Brandon had no trouble walking long distances, but even so, his parents think he might have become disorientated after wandering so long in the dark. This case is particularly baffling, as authorities have ruled out foul play, and Brandon was seemingly happy, making it unlikely he faked his disappearance, so he could run away.
The series of missing person cases in the Bennington triangle
Between 1943-1950, several people vanished in The Green Mountain National Forest, in Bennington County, Vermont, an area of woodland nicknamed The Bennington Triangle.
First was Carl Herrick, who became separated from his cousin on a hunting trip in 1943. Carl’s cousin discovered his body three days later - someone, or something had squeezed him until he passed away. There were bear prints around Carl’s corpse - but apparently, a bear wouldn’t squeeze a man like that. Middie Rivers vanished in 1945, while heading up a hunting party in Hell Hollow, after he got ahead of the group. His party wasn’t worried, as he knew the Vermont woods well, but the only trace left of him was a spent rifle cartridge, of the sort he used.
Sophomore Paula Jean Welden, whose disappearance already made our top twenty, was another of the Bennington Triangle vanishings. The red jacket she wore to hike the Long Trail in 1946 would have been hard to miss, yet a couple who saw her turn a corner said she vanished after they caught up. In 1950, 8-year-old Paul Jephson vanished, after his mother hopped out of the truck she drove to run an errand. She told Paul not to leave, but when she came back, he was missing. Paul wore a red jacket, like Paula, so it would have been impossible not to spot him. According to superstition, it’s unlucky to wear red in the forest.
Frieda Langer went missing on a hike with her cousin, after returning to camp to change her wet clothing. Seven months later, her body was discovered in an open field that had been searched repeatedly, in such a state it was impossible to say why she’d died.
Local tribes believed the woods were cursed, with one legend telling of a “man eating stone” that would swallow a person if they stepped on it. Others believe the changeable wind can disorientate - though this couldn’t explain all the cases. Aliens, wildmen, or the Bennington Monster, a giant hairy beast like Bigfoot, have all been said to be responsible. Until these cases are solved, the string of disappearances are so eerie, people will continue to speculate.
What really happened to Elisa Lam?
21-year-old Elisa Lam was staying at the notorious Cecil Hotel when she vanished on February 1, 2013. The last known sighting of her was in the hotel’s elevator, and it was captured on the security camera.
The clip was bizarre - Lam presses all the buttons, then repeatedly peeks out of the elevator, gesticulating as if she were talking to someone who couldn’t be seen. Finally, she exits the elevator, disappearing down a corridor.
Some claimed Lam was mentally disturbed, while others said she was scared of someone - or something. Two weeks later, a hotel employee checked on the rooftop water tanks, and, noticing the top hatch on one was open, looked in. What he found was grim, Elisa Lam was floating face up in one of the tanks.
Things took a puzzling turn - the roof couldn’t be accessed without activating an, and only employees had the key to the rooftop stairwell and door. Even if she’d made it to the roof, she’d have had to get onto the tank’s platform, scale another ladder to reach the top, then lift a weighty hatch, before jumping inside. The tank was only between half to three quarters full, so many wondered how she’d even managed to drown.
Elisa was supposed to be on anti-psychotic medication but there was only a very low level of the drugs in her system, leading some to conclude she’d ended her life, due to under-medication. As the autopsy couldn’t rule out foul play, we’ll sadly, never know for sure.
The disappearances of the Tower of London
The disappearance of the two princes in the Tower continues to haunt us, though it’s shrouded in mystery to this day. What we know is this - after the Prince’s father, Edward IV died, his elder son, Edward V, was named his heir. But his uncle, Richard III, who was also his legal protector, placed 12-year-old Edward in the Tower, closely followed by the 9-year-old Richard.
The two were never seen again and there’s been much speculation as to what occurred. It’s thought Richard feared he’d be toppled, as the brothers would be seen as more legitimate, but there were others involved who may also have stood to benefit.
Margaret Tudor, whose own son Henry had a disputed claim to the throne, was close to the Royal court and could have secured access to the boys. She had just as much motive as Richard to want to see them gone. Margaret had previously spoken with Elizabeth Woodville, the boy’s mother, about marrying her son to one of Woodville’s daughters but nothing came of this due to the instability of the court. Did Margaret get too ambitious? It’s true there were numerous other obstacles before Margaret could place her son on the throne, but we know she managed to navigate these - Henry VII was crowned on 22 August, 1485.
As to why the Princes vanished, we’ll probably never know, but as much as Richard III could have been responsible, it could also have been down to Margaret Tudor.
Donna Kay Cloud vanishes after a blind date
On October 25 2016, 19 year-old Donna Kay Cloud left her son with his dad to go to a restaurant with a man she said she’d met on Facebook. On the 26th October, she texted, promising to visit her family the next day, but on the 27th, she didn’t turn up.
The police pinged Donna’s phone- she’d made several stops, before she disappeared off the grid, in the Westchase area, in Houston, without credit cards, ID, or extra clothing. There was no footage of her at the restaurant and no evidence she’d gone there.
A Houston private investigator discovered there’d been an argument between Donna and her father, and claimed this was the cause of her disappearance. Donna’s assertion she was going on a blind date was not true - she’d been living in her father’s house, and he’d asked her to leave.
But Donna also had an abusive ex-boyfriend and had been threatened by another person the day she went missing. The police did not follow up on this, though they questioned the two men last known to be with her, who said they’d dropped her off on her Dad’s driveway.
It’s difficult to imagine Donna would have abandoned her young son, but her ex could have been involved, though he passed a polygraph. Or, it could have been the person who had threatened her, and equally, the men who said they had dropped her off could be lying. Whoever is responsible, Donna Kay Cloud is still missing, and no trace of her has yet been found.
Where is Asha Degree?
The disappearance of nine-year-old Asha Degree, on Valentine’s Day, 2000 in Shelby, North Carolina left everyone who knew her shaken. Her father checked on his two children around 2:30 am, after a car accident caused the neighbourhood’s power to go out. Asha was still sleeping then, but by 6:30 am she was gone - her brother said he’d heard her bed squeaking, but had assumed she was shifting in her sleep.
Asha was a diligent student, who was wary of strangers and there was no sign of forced entry to the Degree’s house. Police canine units could not detect her scent but two witnesses saw a girl matching her description at 4am, on Highway 18. One of them approached her but Asha ran away, heading into the woods.
Then the police located her hair bow, in a nearby shed, though an extensive search turned up nothing more. A year and a half later, her backpack was discovered by labourers in Burke County, 30 miles away from Asha’s home.
In 2004, the police received a tip from an inmate who said where her body was - but they searched and found only animal bones. Another tipster told police Asha had been spotted entering a green car, then in 2020, another prisoner claimed he’d heard someone saying they were responsible. The inmate was interviewed but nothing came of this lead. This is a troubling case, but until she is found, no one can say what happened and we can only hope that one day Asha will be located, alive and well.
The mystery of Louis Le Prince, father of cinematography
Louis Le Prince created the first working technology used to capture motion, though Thomas Edison and the Lumiere brothers were assumed to have invented it first.
Before he could showcase his creation though, Le Prince totally vanished. He was last known to be boarding a train to Paris, on 16 September 1890, after visiting his brother in Dijon, but never arrived at his destination and was not seen again. The last person to see him was his brother, at Dijon station, and an extensive search found no trace.
Edison could have been involved, not least because Le Prince was about to patent his technology. This would have contradicted Edison’s claims to have invented the world’s first motion picture camera, and since Le Prince had the evidence, we can’t discount this theory. Le Prince’s son took Edison to court to prove it was his father who first invented the technology but lost the case. Two years later Le Prince Junior was found dead.
It’s thought Le Prince took his own life because his work was not being recognised. Backing this up is a photograph of a man who drowned in the River Seine, who bears a strong likeness to him.
Others think his brother got rid of him because of their mother’s will, or that he disappeared to start a new life with another man. It’s possible Le Prince never boarded the train to Paris, but as for eloping with a male lover, there was zero evidence he was gay, so it’s unlikely this was the case.
The unsolved disappearance of Paula Jane Welden
Stamford college sophomore Paula Jane Welden, left her Bennington College campus on December 1, 1946 to hike along Vermont’s Long Trail, wearing a red parka, jeans, and sneakers but the police were alerted when she failed to return. Paula had been spotted shortly after she left campus running up and then down a gravel pit, and Louis Knapp said she’d hitch hiked a ride and he’d let her out near one of the entrances to the hiking route.
She’d also been seen in Bickford Hollow at 4pm, after Knapp dropped her off, making her way towards the trail. One of the people who’d seen her said he’d warned her about needing heavier clothing, but she’d ignored him and continued on. An elderly couple saw her turning a corner on the trail, but when they reached the same spot, she’d vanished.
A waitress in River Falls claimed she’d served dinner to a distressed woman fitting Paula’s description, so her father went to investigate. When he returned, he said he was certain her disappearance involved a man she was seeing, because a clairvoyant told him so.
Nine years later, Fred Gadette claimed he was responsible - then later he said he’d made the whole thing up. Gadette had been one of the last people to see Paula after an argument with his girlfriend, and had stormed off afterwards in a jealous rage. As no body was ever found, Paula’s disappearance remains a mystery. Some have wondered if her death is connected to the infamous Bennington Triangle, an area where several people vanished between 1943 and 1950.
Maura Murray vanishes into thin air
On February the 9th, 2004, 21 year-old nursing student Maura Murray, emptied her bank account and headed towards the White Mountains in her car. The journey was short lived - Murray crashed on a New Hampshire street in Haverhill, and was discovered by a bus driver, who offered his assistance.
Murray said she’d alerted the AAA, even though she hadn’t, so he left her and called the police. But when they arrived, they only found the car, with the windshields cracked, and a rag jammed into the tailpipe. What’s strange is that all of Murray’s belongings apart from her debit cards and phone were still inside.
Murray had been arrested for credit card fraud in the months preceding the accident, and had crashed her father’s car while drunk, only two days before. She’d emailed her professors the day she disappeared to say there was a death in the family, so she would be taking a week off - but this was not the case.
Murray’s internet history revealed she’d searched for apartments in New Hampshire, and tried to find out if alcohol could damage a fetus, though she had been studying maternity.
It was theorised she ended her life, but though she was troubled, there was nothing truly disturbing her that police could uncover. Others felt she ran away to avoid getting into trouble, as she was on parole, and drunk. Then another girl, Brianna Maitland, vanished after crashing her car outside a Vermont farmhouse, 100 miles away. Though no conclusive link was found, some think the two cases must have been connected.
The Pilot abducted by aliens
Australian pilot Frederick Valentich vanished while flying his rented Cessna, after calling into Air Flight Service claiming there was a large UFO with green lights 1000 feet above him.
His next transmissions were even stranger, Valentich claimed the other craft was totally still, then said it was orbiting above his plane, before reporting a rough sounding engine and losing all contact.
Neither Valentich nor his plane were located, but an eyewitness account claimed there was a green light in the sky the night he crashed. The morning after he disappeared, a farmer said he’d seen a 30 metre long flying object over his property, with a small airplane attached to its side. The farmer wrote down the aircraft’s tail number - which turned out to be the Cessna.
The problem was, these accounts did not surface until years after Valentich had disappeared, when it was known he’d claimed there was a UFO and flown in a Cessna. The night he crashed there were reports of an unidentified airplane landing on Cape Otaway, a location on his route, according to Valentich’s flight plan. There were two more factors - Valentich was an avid UFO enthusiast, and he was also a failed pilot.
An engine cowl flap that could have come from his Cessna was discovered in 1983 - so did he crash, fake his disappearance to give credence to UFOs, or did something more unearthly occur?
The lawyer Ray Gricar goes missing
On April 15, 2005, Pennsylvania District Attorney Ray Gricar parked his car, then abandoned it, never to be seen again. After telling his girlfriend he’d be missing work to go for a drive, he travelled 50 miles from Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, to Market Street, in Lewisburg.
Police were alerted when he failed to return, and his car was discovered, with Ray’s phone inside, but without his laptop, wallet, and keys. The lawyer, had worked on a number of controversial cases, including Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse trial, where he’d decided not to prosecute.
Some of his colleagues felt this was unusual - Ray was known to be a tough attorney. It was thought his disappearance could be linked to the Sandusky case but since Ray had also been involved in busting a heroin ring it was mooted that revenge could be behind his disappearance.
His internet history revealed he’d searched for terms such as “how to fry a hard drive” and his laptop, minus the drive, was discovered under the PA-45 bridge. Months later, the drive was found by a fisherman on a bank nearby but was too waterlogged to be deciphered.
Though his girlfriend and step-daughter were potential suspects, they both passed a polygraph test, and while some said Ray had taken his own life, like his brother, he’d been reported as looking forward to retirement. Ray’s body has still not been found, and the case remains active but as it stands, there are no new leads, so his disappearance remains a mystery.
Virginia Dare and the Lost Colony
Virginia Dare was the first English child born on US soil, on August 18 1587, in the English colony of Roanoke Island, on the North Carolina Coast. Her grandfather discovered Virginia’s disappearance, after he returned from a trip to England, to fetch supplies for the colony he’d founded. On returning, he found the 108-person settlement gone and all the buildings dismantled. There were no signs of struggle but carved into a nearby tree were the letters CRO, and at the colony’s entrance, the word CROATOAN had been chiselled on a post. Before he’d left, he’d told the colonists to carve a Maltese cross on the tree if anything happened, but there was no such sign.
The Croatoan were a Native American group living on what’s now Hatteras Island, but a report said the colonists had sought shelter with the Chesapeake, who were friendly. Another Native Chief, Powhatan, claimed his tribe had killed most of the group.
In 1612, the Jamestown Colony secretary reported that two-story stone houses had been seen at two Indian settlements, built by Indians who’d learned from Roanoke settlers.
A 1901 poem by Sallie Southall Cotton claimed Virginia became part of a Native American tribe, fell in love with a handsome Chieftain, Okinisawa, and captured the heart of the witch doctor, Chico. She was turned into a white doe when she spurned Chico’s advances. Cotton claimed her poem was based on three-century old colonial folklore, and a white doe has been seen on what was formerly Croatoan Island, but is this really likely? What do you think?
The couple at 3000 Piedmont Drive
William and Margaret Patterson randomly left their house in El Paso Texas, on 5 March 1957, and never returned. Abandoning all their possessions and their cat Tommy. There were few clues as to where they had gone, though William’s friend Cecil Ward said he’d helped William work on the Patterson’s sailboat a few nights before.
The Patterson’s ran a photo business and Cecil Ward said that on March 6, a man called Doyle Kirkland who ran a competing business had oddly driven up to his store in the Patterson’s Cadillac. When he came in, Cecil Ward asked him why he was in possession of his friend’s car and Kirkland just suspiciously claimed the Patterson’s had gone “on a little vacation.” Ward called the police, who questioned Patterson’s mistress, Estefana. She told them William had said he’d have to disappear “soon and quickly”, though she later retracted her statement.
On March 15, the Patterson’s accountant Herbert Roth, received a telegram, telling him to become business manager for the Patterson’s store, and hire the competitor Doyle Kirkland as general manager. The telegram was signed W.H Patterson, but William’s initials were in fact W.D. Roth still hired Kirkland, but by 1960 Kirkland left El Paso, and was never seen again.
There were sightings in Mexico City - hotel workers in Valle del Bravo claimed the Patterson’s stayed for several months in 1957. 20 years later, a former caretaker for the Patterson’s told a detective he’d discovered blood in their garage, and a piece of human scalp on the propeller of their boat. As he’d been undocumented, he’d not come forward. Two years later, he died in a car accident.
Some felt the pair must have been spies as they vanished so quickly and people linked to their disappearance abruptly died or disappeared, and the El Paso county Sheriff said he’d seen William photographing military shipments on trains. This might be what happened, but as William had a Mistress, could he have gotten rid of his wife, then fled? Or did Kirkland try and take out his business rivals?
The American Author Ambrose Bierce
In October 1913, 71-year-old author Ambrose Bierce told reporters he was leaving for Mexico, to experience the revolution. By December, Bierce had joined Mexican general Pancho Villa’s army as an observer, to witness the Battle of Tierra Blanca. Bierce went with them as far as Chihuahua - but then he vanished.
Apparently, he’d written a letter, dated December 26, 1913, that said “As to me, I leave here tomorrow for an unknown destination.” But it was later discovered the letter had never been found and all that existed were words in Bierce’s secretary’s notebook.
Some think Bierce hid his whereabouts, as he intended to end his life. Others say he was killed in the conflict. According to a priest who documented oral accounts from Sierra Mojada, Mexico, Bierce was executed by firing squad and buried in the town cemetery.
Bierce collected stories about disappearances and told a friend he wanted to end his life in a more glorious way “than just dying in bed.” The most peculiar theory though, has to be the one he himself helped to popularise. The writer claimed there are mysterious holes in the reality people can vanish into, where nothing can escape. Whatever the real truth, with no hard evidence Bierce even went to Mexico, there’s little chance this case will be solved...
30 Greatest Unsolved Mysteries Of The Universe
How much do you love a mystery? A TV detective story, or an old school murder mystery perhaps? Or maybe you love getting lost in a good whodunnit book and you can’t help but turn the pages long into the night.
But what about actual real life mysteries? The strange goings on around the world, that make the headlines before disappearing without an answer. With our inquisitive human nature, we can’t help but get invested in these stories, and suffer frustration when there’s no plausible answer.
Here’s our top 30 unsolved mysteries of the universe - from missing people and disappearing planes to mysterious craters, orbs and lights that appear from nowhere. So get your detective hat on and open your mind, you’re in for a magical mystery tour!
A man turns into a mathematical genius
Of all the subjects at school that you wish you could’ve been better at, magically overnight, we’re willing to bet that it was maths. Well, that’s exactly what happened to one man, Jason Padgett, in 2002 in Washington, albeit after an upsetting and vicious attack.
Jason was attacked and left with severe concussion, PTSD and anxiety. But he was also left with something else – a mathematically genius brain and the ability to see the world through a complex mathematical lens. Not only that, he’s able to understand extremely complicated physics, too. His doctors think that although traumatic, the attack “unlocked” the part of the brain that’s responsible for seeing mathematical structure and geometry. Jason now “sees shapes and angles everywhere in real life”. Such after effects of a brain injury, where people develop amazing abilities (usually artistic or musical) is known as savant syndrome, which is extremely rare.
Everything to Jason is pixilated and he can see geometry in everything from a circle on a piece of paper to rain drops and within rainbows. It means he can draw extraordinary mathematical drawings. Whilst we’re not saying a knock to the head should form a part of our studies, what a strange concept to have to live with!
How do fireflies flash in unison?
Straddling the border of North Carolina and Tennessee sits the Great Smoky Mountains. These mountains are home to huge swarms of a certain species of firefly, one of the only type of firefly capable of synchronising their flashes from their light producing organs, called lanterns. The light of a firefly is beautiful but this mysterious phenomenon of tens of thousands of them all emitting synchronised flashing lights truly has researchers stumped. How do they do it?
This natural lightshow occurs for around two weeks each year during the mating season when the males flash their lanterns whilst seemingly dancing, to impress the females. Researchers think that they take their cues from each other to create a rapidly cascading wave of flashes and lights. This then looks like simultaneous flashes to the human eye.
But quite how thousands upon thousands of fireflies do this together, science simply cannot explain. Especially since one firefly can only communicate with the few immediately surrounding it. Mother Nature probably has the answer, but as it’s so often the case, she’s holding her cards firmly to her chest.
The bridge that bewitches dogs
If you own, or have ever owned a dog, then you’ll know that most of the time, they’re happy and excitable, especially when on a “walkies”. So it’s saddening to hear of this story, of a bridge in Scotland where hundreds dogs have all of a sudden, jumped from the bridge after seemingly being compelled to do so.
Owners have described the incidents as their dogs freezing and then becoming “possessed by a strange energy” before running and jumping from the Overtoun Bridge in Dumbarton. Since the 1950s, many have sadly lost their lives on the dangerous rocks below. The rational explanation is that they’re following the scent of small mammals who live under the bridge. But more mysteriously, Pagan Celts call this area a “thin place” where heaven and earth overlap. Many locals report seeing or feeling spirits in the area.
Scotland is known for being a spiritual place, full of superstition, and the ghost of the White Lady of Overtoun, a sad, grieving figure that has been reported more than several times, is said to roam the bridge. Could she be luring the dogs down to her to help her with her grief?
The Mystery of Forest Grove, Oregon
Residents of a pretty normal suburb of Portland, Oregon were given a rude awakening after a dark February night in 2016. The noise was described as piercing by some and as a “bad one note violin solo, broadcast over a microphone with nonstop feedback” by one particularly annoyed individual.
The noise would always occur at night and lasted for weeks. It became the hottest topic in town as residents tried to work out where the noise was coming from. A professor of physics even set up a crowdsourced map, where locals could drop a pin detailing where and when they heard the noise. Alas, the map didn’t give any indication what could be the source of such a strange noise in the middle of the night.
And so, speculation abound. Everything from street lamps with failing bulbs to an alien mothership attempting contact and the seven biblical trumpets sounding the end of time was put forward. But police assumed the noise was created by pranksters, hell bent on destroying the night time peace. In fact, the noise came to a halt a few days after the police issued a warning that anyone up to no good would be reprimanded. Prank put to an end by the police warning or phenomenon or being who happened to be scared of the authorities? You decide!
Russia’s drunken forest
Our bet is that you’ve probably seen a fair few people dancing that have perhaps had a few too many to drink. The dance floor of a family wedding is especially good for spotting a drunken dance.
But have you ever seen a tree that’s drunken dancing? No? Well, head to the Dancing Forest of Russia on the Kruglaya Dune of the Curonian Spit, and you’ll see plenty. Known locally as the Drunken Forest, there are dozens of trees with trunks contorted into all kinds of twists and spirals, exactly like the legs of someone under the influence and a little unsteady on their feet.
Originally planted to help stabilise the dune sands in the 1960s, no one quite knows how they’ve become so wiggly. Some say it’s the sand itself, others say it’s a type of caterpillar that damaged the shoots of the young trees. But spiritualists say it’s down to the fact that these dancing trees have been planted across positive and negative energy lines and that these opposing forces have caused this unique forest. Legend also has it that Christian Gods made the trees dance centuries ago in order to prove their existence, hence their twisted look. Either way, they’re stunning to look at. See more scientifically impossible places that actually exist
Why was Stonehenge constructed?
Perhaps one of the most famous landmarks of the South of England, Stonehenge stands proudly on Salisbury Plain. It’s also one of the most talked about megaliths and is shrouded in mystery and intrigue.
How did these gigantic stones get to where they are, and why? The largest stones, called sarsens, are 9 metres tall and weigh 25 tonnes. It’s thought they came from Marlborough Downs, 20 miles away. Even the smaller stones weigh around 4 tonnes, relatively ‘light’, but they’re thought to have come from Wales, 140 miles away.
It’s thought the entire site evolved over a period of 10,000 years and was much, much bigger. The area we call Stonehenge was built around 5,000 years ago. Dozens of burial sites and shrines have also been found in this sacred area. As many of us learned in school too, the stones are aligned perfectly with the sunrise and sunset of the summer solstice. Because of its beauty and quite frankly, astonishing architectural prowess, perhaps it’s more romantic that we never quite know who put Stonehenge there and why? Maybe some things are just better left unexplained…
The mysterious "Candelabra of the Andes”
As far as mysterious etchings in the land, where there’s no record of who put it there, the Candelabra of the Andes takes some beating. Just like a crop circle that emerges overnight, this so called geoglyph (a land art made of part of the surrounding landscape) must’ve sure baffled those living in its shadow when it appeared, it’s thought, around 200BC.
Measuring 2 feet deep and around 600 feet from tip to tip, this massive geoglyph dug deep into the sand of the Andes in Peru resembles a “bulbous three pronged fork” and has been likened to a candelabra in recent years. But how did it get there and what does it mean? Some say it was to get onside with the Incan creator god, Viracocha. Some say it resembles a local weed called Jimson, which has hallucinogenic effects, meaning that it could’ve had a ritual significance.
As to how the ancient Incans created it, without the tools and architectural knowledge we have today, is anyone’s guess. It also begs the question, did whoever put it there, think that thousands of years later, we’d still be asking the same questions about it?
Close to the coast of California, you’ll find the Channel Islands National Park, a beautiful area of the world with outstanding views and stunning nature reserves. But it’s beneath the surface of the water that surrounds this eight island chain that things start to get mysterious.
In 2016, an exploration team sailed to the area and used an exploration vessel to submerge themselves, and it was here that they discovered a “strange bright purple ball” that they say looked like an unhatched Pokémon. The purple blob measured no more than a few inches across and it left the researchers stumped as a creature like it had never been seen before. Everything from a sea squirt to a sea slug and even something related to jellyfish and coral were posited, but it fails to tick all the criteria needed to be one of these creatures.
Once onboard the ship, things got even more mysterious, as it began to unfold into two distinct lobes. The team then thought it could be a new type of ‘nudibranch’ which are a type of sea slug. But others thought it could be an embryo, but an embryo of what, they’re not sure. So is it a new, undiscovered species? Or is it something altogether other worldly? Only time will tell…
The Gurdon Light
Unlike many mysterious sightings that may have had a fleeting glance or never been captured, the Gurdon Light has been photographed, seen on TV and is accepted as being one that actually exists. So the mystery here isn’t whether or not it exists, it’s what’s causing it. The Gurdon Light is eerily blue-white light above a still used railway in Arkansas and moves from side to side, swinging as if a lantern is being carried by an unseen being.
It was first documented in the 1930s, shortly after the execution of a railway worker for the murder of a colleague. Could this be the apparition of a railway worker, swinging his lantern looking for revenge? Locals also say that it could be the ghost of an unfortunate man who fell into the path of the train and lost his head – which was never found. Could he be roaming the railway at night, looking for his head?
Local highway lights have been ruled out, as the sightings began long before the nearby highway was constructed. Scientists have also ruled this out based on the speed at which the light appears and disappears. It’s impossible to get close enough to the light to discover what it is, as it moves around continuously. So, could this be one of these mysteries that never gets solved?
The Lizard Man of Lee County
Lee County in South Carolina has its very own legend of folklore – the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp, said to reside in the swamplands of the area. Sightings and damage said to be caused by the Lizard Man have been abound since the late 1980s.
It all began with damage to a car in 1988 when it was parked overnight next to the Scape Ore Swamp. The damage was reported as “toothmarks and scratches with hair and muddy footprints left behind”. This prompted another car owner to come forward to report damage to his car two weeks previously by a “green, wet like creature, about 7 feet tall with three fingers, red eyes, skin like a lizard and snakelike scales”. It was reported as walking towards him whilst he changed a flat tyre, and then damaging the car before chasing it as he drove off. The man describes a lucky escape.
The story has been scrutinised many times, with many pooh-poohing the idea that such a dangerous creature was hanging around, only making itself known once. But with no evidence to suggest the man was making things up, could there be a reptilian like creature on the loose in South Carolina?
The Dyatlov Pass incident
Russia’s Dyatlov Pass was the scene of the bizarre death of nine hikers in the winter of 1959. The team set off, pitched up and made camp on the snowy slopes of the somewhat aptly named Dead Mountain, or Kholat Saykhl on the night of February 1st… and nothing was heard from them again.
It was only weeks later that a search team found the tent, that had been cut open from the inside. Then, one by one, the nine bodies were found over the coming months, scattered around the area. Some in a state of undress, some with their skulls seemingly smashed open, others with missing eyes and one with a missing tongue. At the time, an “unknown natural force” was blamed and the notoriously secret Soviet Union didn’t mention the case again. Since then, in 2019, Russia reopened the case and a “small, delayed avalanche” is now officially to blame.
That is, despite the injuries sustained being blunt force trauma injuries rather than asphyxiation, which is normally the case in deaths by avalanche. Or there being any recorded snowfall that night. A freak and unusual avalanche? Or could that unknown natural force actually be something rather, unknown…? Maybe we’ll never know.
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370
Perhaps one of the most harrowing in our list of unsolved mysteries, is the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. How can an entire Boeing 777 carrying ten crew and 227 passengers simply disappear without trace above the Indian Ocean? Yet it did, 39 minutes after take-off, the plane disappeared from the radar somewhere between Kuala Lumpur and Vietnamese airspace.
Do the officials know more than they’re letting on? As soon as the plane disappeared from radar, it took a sharp and unplanned turn continued to fly in the wrong direction before disappearing again. This is backed up by secret Malaysian Airforce data, unreleased at the time, and officials say that as this took about an hour, they can’t rule out an accident, hijack or pilot suicide.
Other satellite information suggests the plane actually continued for another six hours and places, via a satellite arc, in Kazakhstan if it turned North or the Indian Ocean if it turned South. The latter is the expert’s opinion, as is the theory that the plane then nosedived into the ocean at speed which would’ve broken it into millions of pieces. But why? Why did the plane continue in the wrong direction for hours, seemingly undetected and then abruptly fall from the sky?
The plain of jars
Travel to a remote corner of Laos and you’ll stumble across a range of fields covered in ancient stone jars. But as to who put them there, around 2,500 years ago, and why, no one is quite sure. These stone urns date back to the Iron Age and are scattered about, seemingly randomly, over hundreds of square kilometres. They’re randomly different in size, too, with some measuring an astounding 3 metres tall by a metre wide and weighing more than a few tonnes.
The area is rich in historic finds including human bones and stone lids. But why the stone jars? And by whom? Some archaeologists think that it’s a prehistoric burial site of a long forgotten tribe. Others think the urns could be part of a funeral rite and were used to decompose bodies.
But locals have their own theories ranging from potent rice wine vessels to celebrate mythical giants to whiskey jars for giants to drink from. Either way, like the mysteries surrounding many megaliths, how on earth did these enormously heavy jars get there? Maybe those giants weren’t so mythical after all?
Did the Pollock Sisters re-incarnate?
A sad story took place in Northumberland, England, in 1957. In a tragic car accident, a woman took the lives of two sisters, Joanna Pollock, 11, and her sister Jacqueline, 6.
A year later, Joanna and Jacqueline's parents had twin girls, Gillian and Jennifer. Shortly after the twins were born, strange similarities began to appear between the children and their older sisters, who had disappeared the previous year. For example, Jennifer had a birthmark identical to Jacqueline's and a scar above her eye, also identical to the one Jacqueline had suffered in a childhood accident.
The twins' childhood also has many similarities, such as the toys they play with, their habits and personalities, which echo those of their older sisters. Although they left their home town when they were young, when they returned they knew where they were and both were very afraid of cars. As adults, Gillian had visions of a certain sandpit, which she had never visited, but which Joanna had. Had the twins inherited their parents' grief or had they developed a learned behaviour? Or is this the most convincing case of reincarnation that has ever existed?
The Flannan Isle mystery
The first sign that something was amiss in the lighthouse on the Isle of Flannan in Scotland in 1900 was an absence of lights, noticed by the crew of a passing ship. Docking three days later and reporting their concern, the Lighthouse Board dispatched the lighthouse relief boat to investigate.
On arrival, and after climbing all 160 steps to the living quarters, the relief keeper discovered no sign of the three keepers on watch. He only found a stopped kitchen clock, an uneaten meal and a knocked over chair. Calling up the other crew members, the men began to look further and discovered signs of severe storm damage on the island, including twisted metal railings and train track, and torn up turf.
The fate of the three men? Officially, they were “swept out to sea” after trying to secure the area mid dinner and mid storm. But locals insist otherwise and blame everything from sea serpents, ghost ships and foreign spies. All made more credible by the fact that on the same night, a passing ship noticed no lights on, stated that all was calm. If anyone had died in the storm, surely it would’ve been recorded? Sadly, we’ll never know what happened to these three men, and it remains one of Scotland’s most baffling maritime disappearances.
The Patomskiy Crater in Siberia
From Wikimedia Commons - Patomsky crater, view from a helicopter, 2014, by Dmitry Semenov
Of all the unsolved mysteries in this list, not many have such a huge number of theories surrounding its whereabouts. The Patomskiy Crater was first discovered in 1949 and is described as an oval, conical crater with a small ball shaped mound at its centre.
Made entirely of grey limestone, it measures 160 metres across and is 80 metres high. Despite being surrounded by trees, no trees grow on the actual crater itself, making the immediate area a strange, barren place surrounded by greenery. The creation of this weird anomaly attracts theories that range from a Stalin-era uranium mine to alien landing site to underground gas explosion, meteorite landing and a metallic strike of unknown origin.
The local indigenous population called the Yakut, stay well clear of the crater, and keep their animals well clear too, as they consider it a bad place since so many have died there. Could they avoid the area now because they know something we don’t? Or sense that there’s strange goings on that created it? Or could it be that the uranium theory does make scientific sense and radiations are to blame for people and animals falling sick when they’re nearby? Maybe one day, we’ll find out!
The seal and the eel
Copyrights: US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa)
It’s quite often that we’ll see cute pictures of an animal caught being naughty. Chewing slippers, getting into a pickle and stealing food are all common pastimes for some animals – but they tend to be domesticated pets, rather than those in the wild. So when researchers studying the lives of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal found one with a spotted eel hanging from its nostril, they were stumped. Are wild animals just as playful and carefree as our cats and dogs?
The photo of the unassuming seal with an eel stuck up its nose is kind of cute, but the poor creature must have felt like it had the worst blocked nose ever. Researchers at the US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) have been studying these seals for 40 years, and surprisingly, this isn’t the first time they’ve found one in this predicament.
Since 2016, they’ve found a handful of them with eels up their noses. They think it could be down to one of two things – the eel could have slipped into the nostril of a seal when the seal was foraging for food by poking their nose and face into rocky crevices and corals. Or, it’s common for seals to regurgitate their food and vomit it through their mouth and nose. Could they have consumed an eel by mistake? The truth is though, they simply don’t know. Who knew seals could be so secretive?
What happened to Elisa Lam?
Elisa Lam was a 21 year old student from Canada when she went missing during her travels across the US. Her last known spot was the Cecil Hotel in downtown LA, a hotel with a fairly bad reputation for housing criminals and down and outs as well as backpackers like Elisa.
A CCTV video that captures her last known moments shows her in a lift at the hotel. The lift doors don’t close despite it being a couple of minutes long and it looks like she’s speaking to someone but no one can be seen.
She jumps nervously in and out of the lift as if looking for someone and then hides to one side of the lift before looking around again, making some odd hand gestures to the empty lift. Then she vanishes. 19 days later, her body was found in a water tank on the roof of the hotel.
Strikingly similar to the plot of the horror film Dark Water, many conspiracy theories exist, mostly involving ghost or alien kidnappings and an evil presence that took over her. Her disappearance and death are still unsolved, and remain one of the most mysterious disappearances of all times. Whatever happened to her might remain a mystery, but her memory is sure being kept alive.
An immortal jellyfish
Benjamin Button might have had an ailment that meant he aged backwards, with a heavy sprinkling of Hollywood to make it believable. But what if we told you of the presence of a type of jellyfish that really does grow backwards from an adult to a baby? Well, it’s true! And what’s more, they’re capable of doing it again and again.
The so called immortal jellyfish is only the size of a human pinky fingernail, and is pretty unremarkable. It’s ‘born’ as a result of the normal meeting of free floating sperm and egg but then if it’s under stress from injury or starvation, it can transfer all of its cells to a younger state.
It then transforms from adult, albeit small, jellyfish, to a blob-like cyst, which is pretty much a baby jellyfish. It can then produce identical copies of itself that then become adults and these are now overtaking the world’s oceans. This has caused marine biologists to rethink what they know about jellyfish reproduction. They say the ocean has many secrets, but could this be the secret for anti-ageing humans? Who knows!
Are we alone in the universe?
A conundrum of anyone who’s ever lived and the subject of many a late night discussion is whether or not we’re alone here on Earth. Are there strange alien beings in our solar system or beyond? If there is life on another planet, how alike are they to us? How intelligent are they?
Scientists know that the universe stretches some 93 billion light years across, with 2 trillion galaxies, each with millions of stars and planets. In fact, some say there are 100 quintillion (1 with 20 zeros) of them. Others say more.
So the chances are, we’re not alone, despite no evidence being found, yet, of other life, intelligent or otherwise. Besides, wouldn’t it be rather haughty of us to think that we’re the only ones here? Could anything else be more intelligent than us, and be watching, and laughing at us?
Some scientists say that the universe is teeming with life and that the Big Bang that created Earth and subsequently life on it, is actually a common event within the expanses of the universe, rather than a unique or random one off event. As space viewing technology comes on in leaps and bounds and we can peer deeper and deeper into the universe. Are we about to find little green beings asking to be taken to our leader? Only time will tell!
Mysterious whale swarms in South Africa
Humpback whales are known for being solitary animals, usually found on their own or in groups of no more than three or four. So scientists in South Africa were left perplexed when they started to notice “swarms” of the creatures – around 200 of them – gathering in an area of ocean no bigger than a football pitch.
Even more confusing is that this was during the summer, and humpback whales normally only visit these waters during the winter to feed on small fish, shrimp and plankton.
Various explanations have been put forward, one is that because they were seen to be hunting (which for humpback whales means diving and then lunging into the water to catch their prey), they simply may have decided to stay put, rather than migrating north. Or, some say it’s because population numbers have improved, and therefore, could this be normal behaviour for the species when numbers are flourishing? Either way, something is changing the behaviour of the whales. Could climate change be affecting their behaviour or their available prey? Or is a sinister undercurrent something scientists need to consider?
Lars Mittank, where are you?
According to YouTube, Lars Mittank is the world’s most famous missing person. The 28 year old German was on holiday on the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria with friends in June 2014. For a few days, Lars and his friends partied at the infamous Golden Sands resort, but then he got into a fight and suffered a ruptured eardrum. He disappeared for the rest of the night, returning the next morning saying that the guys he got into a fight with had hired more men to beat him up further. Doctors then prescribed Lars a strong antibiotic for his ear, and advised him not to fly.
His friends said they’d stay with him and fly when it was safe, but Lars said he’d be fine on his own. Lars then checked into a cheap hotel near the airport where he was seen on CCTV pacing and looking paranoid. Upon arriving at the nearby Varna Airport a few days later, Lars became visibly panicked. He then scaled the 2.5 metre high fence and jumped into the dense forest surrounding the airport and has never been seen or heard from since…
Speculation suggests that the attack combined with the strong antibiotics unlocked some kind of severe mental health struggle. But with no history or family history of anything like that, Lars’ disappearance continues to be investigated.
The lost city of Atlantis
The subject of much fascination since the days of Greek philosopher Plato, almost 2,500 years ago, the lost city of Atlantis was described by Plato as a “powerful and advanced kingdom, that sank, in a night and a day, into the ocean around 9,600 BC”. But was this true? Was it all based on hearsay, apparently handed down to him by his grandfather who himself had been told the legend of this lost island from the Athenian statesman, Solon?
Plato regaled the story many times, and it’s found in his famous dialogue, Critias. In Critias, he describes Atlantis as an island in the Atlantic near what is now known as the Strait of Gibraltar. The residents of Atlanta grew powerful and in doing so, their ethics declined Conquering much of Africa and Europe, they were eventually pushed back by an Athenian led army. The Gods then apparently punished Atlantis with floods and earthquakes until it sank into the ocean.
If the legend is true, it’s thought that the Greek island of Santorini, which is half submerged after an ancient volcanic eruption and resulting tsunami, could be what’s left of Atlantis. But who knows? May researchers one day find other evidence? Or was Pluto spinning a yarn that’s befuddled humankind for 2,500 years?
The ocean floor
When you think of the ocean floor, what do you imagine? If you’re anything like us, we would’ve said flat and sandy, just like when you dip your toes in the sea. But in reality, the ocean floor is as diverse as the land, with numerous craters, valleys and mountain ranges. It’s thought that we know more about the surface of the moon than what lies beneath. Yet these seascapes are critical to fisheries feeding billions, underwater cables supplying the internet to billions and even how our weather behaves.
Which is why scientists are spending so much time attempting to map the ocean floor. In doing so, rich treasures have been found – but not the chests full of pirate gold that we might think of. Instead, the ocean floor hides a copious supply of rare minerals, precious metals, oil and even diamonds.
But should we start mining the ocean floor? Could it uncover problems that we don’t even know about yet? What about the ecological damage human life has caused to the earth? Could we do the same to the ocean floor? Who even owns the ocean floor anyway? For these reasons, should we leave it alone? Or should we risk it for the plentiful and valuable resources?
Where did the water on Earth come from?
Have you ever thought about where our water comes from? The tap, might be the obvious answer, but what about before that? What about before all of that, before the oceans? When earth was forming, where did the water that covers so much of our planet, come from? Our rich water reserves (both salty and fresh) have been around for a few billion years and for a long time, modern scientists have though it came from comets and asteroids – in other words, space. Or at least the hydrogen and oxygen molecules that make water did.
But they’ve long held the belief that there must’ve been other sources, because there’s simply so much of it. Now, they think that these molecules came from both rocky sources such as comets, as well as gaseous sources such as those found in the solar nebula, a cloud that formed after the formation of the sun.
How this might’ve happened involves a lot of complex astrophysics. But in a nutshell, it involved lots of water containing comets bombarding a very young earth when it was just hot magma and noble gases. At the same time, hydrogen and oxygen gases from the solar nebula were dissolved in this magma. Fast forward a few billion years, and we dabble our toes in it, use it to make our coffee and shower in it. Far-fetched? You decide!
When was Brazil really discovered?
Christopher Columbus is widely credited with discovering the Americas in 1492 on board his ship, the Santa Maria. But could Roman sailors have accidentally happened across the small matter of Brazil, 17 centuries earlier?
Top underwater archaeologist and sunken treasure hunter, Robert Marx certainly thinks so. In the 1980s, he found artefacts buried in the waters of a bay near Rio de Janeiro that he thinks came from a Roman vessel. These are artefacts in the form of amorphas, tall jars that were carried by Roman ships way back in the second century to transport everything from oil and water to wine and grains. Robert Marx thinks they had been on a Roman ship that was then caught in a storm.
The fact that the amorphas have been found in a harbour suggests that the ship was actually navigated there, rather than blown off course, perhaps in order to shelter from the storm. Therefore, humans would’ve seen the land of Brazil. These barnacle encrusted, coral covered artefacts could well hold the secret to when Europeans first saw or even landed on the Americas, blowing the Columbus historical record out of the water.
What really happened to the dinosaurs?
Known as the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction, or K-T event, the phenomenon that caused the dinosaurs to die out is something that puzzles us all, from kids at school to the world’s top paleontologists. What is known, is that it happened 65.5 million years ago. From the early days of modern science until the 1980s, scientists thought that it was down to some kind of slow burn climate change that halted their food supply, causing a gradual but epic die-off.
But in the 80s, whilst everyone else was concerned with huge shoulder pads and even bigger hair, a father and son team discovered what is now accepted as the true reason. They discovered a layer of iridium in the geological record, that is normally only found in space. This therefore means that a huge meteor impact probably wiped them out in one hit. The Chicxulub Crater at the Yucatán Peninsular in Mexico is the likely strike spot.
So, a single catastrophic event seems likely – a 6 mile in diameter rock, hurtling towards earth at 40,000 miles per hour sure would cause some damage including severe and instant global climate change. But this is currently still a theory. As ever, we put our faith in the researchers to come up with conclusive evidence!
How did Earth get its name?
How on earth? What on earth are you doing? These are common phrases, aren’t they? However, if we actually stopped to think about it, where on earth do they come from?! It probably won’t take us long to think, well of course, it’s because something is so absurd or out of the ordinary, that it couldn’t possibly exist or be happening in the entire world. But where did the name “earth” actually come from? Who named the planet we live on, earth?
The truth is, no one actually knows. What we do know, is that the word earth is derived from the English and German words “earth” and “erde” that both mean “ground”. But as to who actually decided that earth was going to be called earth, we don’t know.
Interestingly though, earth is the only planet in our solar system that isn’t named after a Roman or Greek god or goddess. For example, Mars the God of War, Venus the Goddess of love, Neptune the God of the Sea and Mercury the Messenger of the Gods. So why plain, ungodly earth? We guess we needed to be around at the time of Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom, to truly understand that one!
Strange waves ripple around the world
Imagine rumbles in the earth, so strong that they reached more than 11,000 miles away from where they began, yet no one on earth felt them?
That’s exactly what happened in November 2018, when just north of Madagascar, seismic waves began to occur, reaching as far as Hawaii and crossing huge expanses of ocean. And they continued to do so for 20 minutes. One person spotted them – an amateur earthquake enthusiast who saw them on real time seismogram monitoring by the US Geological Survey. After posting these curious zig zags on Twitter, professional earthquake researchers took note and began investigating.
Measuring different wave patterns and certainly length of time to ‘normal’ earthquakes, these global ripples are still the cause of many a head scratch in seismology circles. Some think that there might be new volcanic activity occurring where the ripples began, but there hasn’t been much in the area in the past 4,000 years. Others propose that a huge “magma body” is pushing its way up from the ocean floor, causing these strange ripples and activity. Something is causing them, but as to what, scientists can only speculate. It could after all, be something completely unexpected and other worldly!
How will the universe end?
We’ve left perhaps the most all-consuming question to last – how, and crucially, when, will the universe end?! Scientists think that we have at least 1.1 billion years left. So nothing to worry about in the immediate future before earth gets to the point where no life can exist. They also think, that when it does happen, it’ll be down to one of four events, known as the Big Rip, the Big Freeze, the Big Crunch and the Big Slurp.
The Big Rip will be down to dark energy and the fact that the universe is constantly expanding. Eventually, it’ll be so vast that it can no longer hold itself together and it’ll rip apart. The Big Freeze is also based on our ever expanding universe, but in this scenario, it’ll get so big, everything will pull so far apart that light would no longer exist from suns and moons, and it’ll get colder and colder until all life stops.
The opposite of the Big Bang that formed everything, the Big Crunch posits that the universe doesn’t go on expanding, but will reach a point where it collapses in on itself until everything falls into a black hole. Finally, the Big Slurp has the newly discovered Higgs Boson particle at its centre. Somehow this is linked to the possibility that a bubble from another universe could infiltrate ours, causing it to literally swallow us up. We’re not entirely sure which one sounds the least awful – good job we won’t be around to witness it!
So, what do you think? Do you have your own theories on some or maybe all of these unexplained mysteries? Could some be explained away by a simple coincidence? Does science have the answer? Are some of them a playful joke blown way out of context? Or is there something more sinister at play? Are we alone on Earth? In the universe? Could we be being watched and tested by extra-terrestrial beings that we haven’t caught up with yet? Who knows? But it sure is fun thinking about them all!
The 20 Coolest Airbnb Properties in the World!
All photos in this article are owned by Airbnb
What do your travel plans look like? Full of excitement? Or does your passport need some attention and dusting off? Either way, there’s always time for a minibreak. If you’re looking to stay somewhere different, edgy, quirky and undeniably cool, then our list of the world’s coolest Airbnb properties is for you!
We’ve given you an idea of starting price for each one, plus how many people it can sleep – but things can change and you may find different seasons have different costs. Most of our list of Airbnb properties are hosted by Superhosts, so you know you’re getting a trusted deal in a clean, safe and above all, super cool, Airbnb.
Enjoy your stay!
Dreamy Tropical Tree House, Hawaii
A beautifully magical treehouse in the middle of a dense, tropical jungle is the stuff of fairy tales, isn’t it? Well yes, but it can also be your reality too. Stay in this dreamy tropical treehouse in Hawaii and you too can live the fairy tale life (for around £216 plus fees per night).
This property sleeps two people and sits atop wooden stilts – all 15 feet of them. Make your way to the top, go through the trap door, and your surprisingly modern, yet remarkably kitsch, wooden home awaits you.
Choose to hang out in the tree top and wonder at the flora and fauna on your sky high doorstep, or head down to your dreamy hanging bed suspended underneath your new temporary dwelling.
Flooded with natural daylight, your hosts have thought of everything, from the cloud like bed linen to the bamboo fixtures and the wallpaper with a nod to the flower power of the 1970s.
If you’re an eco-traveller, you’ll love the bathroom – with a certain outside-in feeling, the natural rainwater shower and sustainable cork detailing (not forgetting the hand basin carved from local rock) as they’ll tick all your green coloured boxes.
All that remains is for you to kick back, relax and enjoy being off grid for a while. We highly recommend listening out for falling fruit from nearby trees and the calls of nearby wild animals – things you won’t have heard if you’re a city dweller!
The Hideout, Bali
Bali is one of the most beautiful places on our list of countries we’ve visited and would love to go back to. So if you choose to stay at this tiny but perfectly formed eco bamboo home in Bali, we’ll be very envious!
Located in Selat in the relaxing setting of the lush jungle, this hideout will instantly make you feel chilled. Sleeping four adults (infants aren’t included in the person count) and with a total cost of £117 per night plus fees, you can share the wonders of this stunning place, as well as the costs.
Despite its rural setting, Wifi is located throughout the property. But you’ll want to put the electrical devices down and soak up your surroundings, trust us. If you’re exploring East Karangasem, this is the ideal bolthole to visit the local sights on the free scooter included in the property price.
If you’d like to stay closer to ‘home’, why not organise an in-house massage or cooking class? You simply have to make use of the outdoor shower and grass roof covered plunge pool too. One warning - it’s best to be well acquainted with your travelling companions to stay here – the bathroom is all part of the open plan space! But what’s a few ablutions among friends if you’re staying in paradise?
Lakeside Apartment in Lombardy, Italy
How do you fancy staying in a stunning Italian apartment, with a pool, tennis court, bowling green and the little fact of a breathtaking view of mountains? Who could possibly say no? For you and five friends, at around £98 plus fees for the entire property per night, you don’t have to say no.
With your front door just 150 metres from the centre of Riva di Solto, a medieval village, this stunning newly refurbished apartment overlooking a lake is absolutely stunning. The nearby ski resorts, wine regions, thermal baths and ancient villages demonstrate why this village is recognised as a world class site by UNESCO World Heritage.
Sunbathe on your private terrace, take a dip in the pool to cool off, watch some of the water sports happening below on the lake and round off such a busy day with dinner overlooking the lake and the mountains in the background. What more could you need, with so much natural beauty, right in front of your eyes?
If you do need to stretch your legs, hop on the nearby ferry to take you to Montisola – the largest lake island in Europe, home to plentiful public beaches that you’re free to use.
Bird Island, Belize
What’s that you say? A private island? Yes please! For £500 a night plus fees, you and up to five travelling companions could be staying in secluded paradise. This amazingly cool Airbnb property is located within an atoll in Belize, with so, so many things to do on your doorstep (which happens to be stunningly clear waters).
So stunning, it’s been featured in an Airbnb ad campaign, dip your toes into the crystal waters, try snorkelling or swimming or admire the reefs from the surface. Any time spent on Bird Island, is time well spent.
The entire island is yours for the duration of your stay, you just need to bring your chilled vibes, flip flops and all the food you need (there’s no shops on this island!). You can organise private tours of nearby islands with the host, although you will have full use of kayaks to explore whilst you’re on the island.
Oh, and you simply must get an Insta worthy picture on the over water swings. In fact, the entire property is vibrant, colourful and alive – and perfect for a photo opportunity. But if you’d rather not live life through a lens, then we wouldn’t blame you, this Airbnb is a once in a lifetime opportunity and deserves your full attention.
Hector Cave House, Santorini
Everything in Santorini is beautiful. With its blue skies, even bluer waters, sunshine and pure white buildings, the entire island is stunning. So if you’re looking for somewhere to stay here that stands out as something even more special, then Hector Cave House will itch that scratch.
This property has been carved out of the unique natural landscape of the caldera cliff. In fact, it was carved out 250 years ago and was originally used as a wine cellar – so if you’re a wine connoisseur, then you’ll fit in well here.
This gorgeous space can sleep up to five people and your minimum two night stay starts at around £1,137. Accessible via ten original steps from the cobbled streets below, you’ll be rewarded by your super cool cave apartment complete with private veranda and the most awesome of views across the ocean. Inside you’ll be surrounded by whitewashed walls, wooden beams and high ceilings as you live, quite literally, inside a cave.
And as if that isn’t quite cool enough, why not cool off further in the (non-heated) plunge pool?! Spend your evening sipping your favourite drink from within your private pool or lounging on your veranda celebrating how good life is.
Coconut Paradise, Florida
Coconuts and paradise go together like all of the world’s best pairings – gin and tonic, cheese and toast and Kate and Wills. Coconut Paradise, a three bedroom, up to seven guest island pool home is no different.
This stupidly cool Airbnb property is accessible by boat or water taxi as you leave the four wheels behind on the mainland and get back to the simplicity of nature. (Although you can hire a golf cart if you have tired legs!) Think total seclusion, tropical island vibes, fire pits, hammocks and a huge screen covered porch. Oh, and coconut palms – 50 of them to be precise.
Costing around £400 a night, this place isn’t cheap, but if there’s seven of you travelling together, looking for a private retreat, then share the cost and bed down. Although sleep might be the last thing on your mind – the pool, its bar and the fire pit will lure you in until the small hours for sure!
The host is super knowledgeable and is only a call away if you need anything. Although this property is so chilled and comfortable, you’ll have everything you need for a relaxing, tropical, secluded getaway.
Castrum of Serravalle, Italy
Ever dreamed of staying in a Medieval castle? Well now you, and three friends, can! This apartment in the main tower of the Castrum of Serravalle, a bone fide ancient fortress in the centre of Italy’s Vittorio Veneto, is an architectural wonder.
Stay in its confines and live like a Queen or King for a few days, or use it as your starting point to explore the nearby delights of Venice, Treviso and the Dolomites to name a few. With a hectare of private parkland lined with ancient walls, there’s plenty to discover on your doorstep, too.
Then, if you’re feeling a bit hot, cool off in the solarium with its upside down shower – which must be seen to be believed. Light the BBQ in the evening and relax on the exclusive terrace, sampling the fabulous food and wine this region has to offer.
There’s a three night minimum stay here, costing around £137 per night. But with so much to explore, and hello, it’s a castle, you certainly won’t get bored. It just remains to be seen if you’ll strut around the turrets channelling your inner princess or prince…
Modern Apartment in Akureyri, Iceland
Of all the coolest places in the world, Iceland has to be up there near the top of the list. One of our team writers describes visiting the country as the nearest she can imagine to being on the moon, without getting into a rocket. With it’s lunar like, rocky landscape, and moody, changeable weather, Iceland truly is a mystical place.
So to fully appreciate Iceland, a room with a view is a must – but rent this Airbnb and you’ll get a whole two bedroom flat with a view! This architectural property is located in Vaðlaheiði near Akureyri, the capital of north Iceland.
With views over the bay, it’s the perfect place for spotting the Northern Lights and the summertime midnight sun. It sleeps four and prices start at £120 per night plus fees.
Go for a local hike, take in the breathtaking sights of one of the nearby stunning waterfalls or fjords, go ice fishing, try cross country skiing or take a whale watching trip. It’s all possible here. Then in the evening, sample some local delicacies and relax, truly surrounded by the most stunning of natural backdrops.
Geodesic Dome Near World Biosphere Reserve, Chile
Fancy sleeping under the stars, but would rather be actually underneath something to protect you from the elements? We’ve got you! This Geodesic Dome in Chile will suit you perfectly.
Situated in the World Biosphere Reserve on the slopes of a national park, surrounded by lemon, olive, almond and avocado trees and the most awesome of the natural world, this is an epically cool place to stay.
At just 7m in diameter, there’s enough room for two people and your minimum two night stay will cost you £120 plus fees as you snuggle down amongst the cosy cushions and blankets under the night sky.
No number of words can describe how breathtakingly beautiful this area of the world is, and it would simply feel wrong to not sleep where you have a 360 degree view of the picturesque landscapes. The hosts have worked hard to make this dome as comfortable as possible, with its grand bed, floor cushions and heating.
If you fancy cooking up a feast, you’ll have access to a fire pit, although this Airbnb booking includes breakfast and a main meal as part of your stay. But most importantly, chill, relax and be at one with nature – your wellbeing will thank you for it.
Canyon Hideout Bungalow, Colorado
Tucked away in the natural red rocks of this area of the world is this super cool Airbnb bungalow – the perfect hideout for a chilled break or equally as a base for exploring the nearby miles upon miles of hiking and mountain biking trails in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
This bungalow also happens to be situated under a 900+ year old juniper tree, how cool is that?! The hosts here have been sympathetic to the natural beauty of the surrounding landscapes here, and have coupled that with cosiness and everything you need for a comfy stay.
What this teeny property lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in colour, vibrancy and character. Sleeping two, your minimum two night stay starts at around £223 plus fees. Your covered outside area is perfect for outdoor cooking on the BBQ after a long day exploring, and if the evenings get a little chilly, pop the patio heater on and extend your evening into the small hours listening to nature.
Situated on a private ranch, you’ll be hard pushed to find anywhere better to indulge your love of the great outdoors.
Luxury Home in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S
Welcome to Las Vegas! Or so the saying goes. If you’re looking for somewhere cool and quirky to stay, that’s located just minutes from the famous Las Vega strip and everything else in this part of the world, then you’ve just found it.
This super luxurious home sleeps up to eight people, so it’s ideal if you’re travelling in a group. No expense has been spared for your comfort here, from the luxe soft furnishings to the five star décor. The outdoor cooking and dining area is exquisite and is perfect for unwinding after a hard day exploring (and possibly celebrating your casino wins or commiserating your losses!).
Oh, and there’s a private pool, too – ideal for chilling out, celebrating or commiserating…
This property has been voted one of the Architectural Digest 51 Best Places to Stay in the US. So it should definitely be on your wish list. There’s a two night minimum stay rule here, but it’s so cool, you’ll definitely want to stay more than one night. Your two night stay starts at around £500 plus fees, and if you are in a group of eight, split the costs and you’ll have extra dollars for walking around like a movie star for your stay.
Cosy Alaskan Log Cabin, Alaska
The “most wished for” anything is quite the accolade, and if you’re looking for the most wished for Airbnb in Alaska (according to RealSimple), then you’ve just found it. Nestled between the trees of the Creamer’s Field Waterfowl Refuge, this authentic Alaskan cabin is literally perfect for anyone looking for a nature fuelled getaway.
Only five miles from Downtown, it’s fully stocked with all that you’ll need to have a cosy break – all you need to do is bring your food. This is dry cabin living, meaning that there’s no bathroom as such – just an RV type shower outside, which authentically, doesn’t work when the temperatures hit freezing. There is running water in the kitchen however.
What this breathtaking place lacks in bathroom facilities, it gains in outdoor firepit cooking. So fire lighting and BBQing skills are essential! If you visit in the summertime, you’ll be lucky enough to while the whole night away under the midnight sun.
A two night minimum stay for up to four people starts at £137 plus fees, and is well worth a visit if you fancy hunkering down and getting cosy off grid for a while.
Extreme climate? Yes. Wickedly cool Airbnb? Most definitely yes.
Forest and Heaven Themed Apartment, Melbourne, Australia
If ever the word ‘magical’ best described a place to stay, this is it. Hosted by four creatives who share a passion for unique and magical experiences, this mega cool Airbnb in central Melbourne is a sanctuary to relax in after a busy day sightseeing and soaking up all that this exciting city has to offer.
The restaurants of Hardware Lane are minutes away, as are the Yarra River and Federation Square. And you’re less than a half an hour’s drive from Melbourne Airport, ideal if you’re travel weary when you arrive.
But don’t let the central location put you off – this property is regularly given top reviews for the best nights’ sleep. Twinkling lights and cloud painted walls are the name of the game here, all set to a backdrop of a painted forest in which to forest bathe. And the pillow topped mattress is divine! When you wake, put the espresso machine on and enjoy a cup of Joe in the magical swinging chair or take a pew on a log to ponder your plans for the day.
Two people can stay here and it’ll cost £116 per night between you, plus fees.
Sea Cottage on the Water, Sweden
Imagine a tiny, but architecturally perfect, cottage, perched on the banks of an expanse of water with a breathtaking backdrop of forest… Got it? Then you can picture this uber cool Airbnb property situated on the edge of a tiny island in the Stockholm archipelago.
This perfect property allows for the perfect wind down and suits anyone who loves spending time in quietude and in the arms of Mother Nature. The private jetty extending from this sea cottage takes you to the boat and two kayaks that are at your disposal for your stay. Go exploring in the water, or if you’re a fan of cold water swimming, take a bracing dip.
If you need to warm up, the outside sauna, surrounded by peaceful wilderness will treat you wonderfully. Then, use the outdoor hot shower before slipping into the most peaceful and restorative slumber.
Sleeping up to four guests and with starting prices at just over £1,000 plus fees for your minimum seven night stay, this truly is a place to reset the clock, chill out and reflect. Spending time on this island is most definitely time well spent, for mind, body and soul.
Architectural Wonder in the Woods, New York, U.S
When you think of a trip to New York, you probably think of cool, urban vibes, cityscapes, shopping and skyscrapers. But there’s a whole other side to this cosmopolitan city, and it’s arguably way cooler!
This geometric, architectural masterpiece is situated on 30 acres of preserved land close to the Hudson Valley and Rhinebeck. A once in a lifetime, unique property, it’s completely open plan with no bedrooms – but three people can comfortable stay here.
If you have high eco credentials, this place will suit you, quite literally, down to the ground. Playful and quirky, it’s made from wood and has the kitchen at its sociable centre. Heated from within the ground using geothermal technology and with solar powered electricity, the owners of this property have thought of everything to make this the perfect sustainable stay. Even the water supply is from an underground well with a natural filtration system.
Staying here will cost you around £650 plus fees for a minimum two night stay – but in doing so, you’re supporting the architect-led, not for profit gallery T Space project and sculpture trail. So if you love supporting artistic projects whilst preserving the planet, this cool stay is most definitely for you.
Royal Apartment, Rome, Italy
The city of Rome is steeped in history and culture, and this royal apartment is at its centre – and most definitely lives up to its name. An Airbnb Plus property, if you feel like living like a King or Queen for a few days, then this has to be the place to do it.
The word ‘regal’ sums this cool property up, and every detail has been thought of to ensure your stay is as regal as possible. Sleeping two people, your minimum three night stay costs from around £350 plus fees. Not bad for temporary royalty!
Your host describes a stay here as like living like a 16th Century Roman aristocrat, and we can’t argue with that. If you love the glamour and ceremony of this style, with its super high ceiling and frescoes then you’ll adore your stay here.
Just minutes from the famous Trevi fountain, central Rome and the Vatican City, let your feet do the talking and explore to your hearts’ content, safe in the knowledge you’ll be sleeping in the most comfortable of beds that night. Despite being so close to all the local attractions, the property is situated in a quiet neighbourhood, so you get the best of both worlds.
Secluded Intown Treehouse, Georgia, U.S
Do you love the comfort, familiarity and ease of getting whatever you want, when you want it, of urban living? Do you also love the thought of having all that to hand, but staying in a place that feels like a million miles from anywhere?
Well, this secluded intown treehouse will suit you down to the, well, ground below you. Minutes from downtown Georgia, it’s a two person oasis set in a rural backdrop of lush greenery and trees. And it happens to be one of Airbnb’s most wish listed properties.
Unusually, this tree house exists as three separate structures – mind, body and soul – all linked by beautifully twinkly light lined rope bridges. You’ll find your living room in mind, your bedroom in body (your bed is on wheels, so you can choose to roll it out onto the canopy to sleep under the stars) and your hammock deck in soul, overlooked by the spirited 165 year old “Old Man” tree.
Everything else is shared with the hosts in the main house below. Your two night minimum stay will cost you around £559 plus fees. It’s a rare find, so make sure you book soon if you’re keen!
Nolla Cabin, Helsinki, Finland
Have you ever fancied staying in a pyramid? Well now you can! Sort of. With enough space for two people, this triangular wooden cabin is admittedly more tent like than pyramid, but one look and you’ll be hooked.
The ultimate in small space, sustainable living, the host of this cool Airbnb property created the nolla cabin to live up to its name – nolla is Finnish for zero. At 9m2, it’s roughly the size of an average bedroom and therefore challenges its guests to make more of living outside in nature, minimising their carbon footprint.
The stove doubles up as heating, electricity is supplied via solar panels, there’s no WiFi or running water (bathing takes place in the sea, where no synthetic products are allowed) and ecological dry toilets are 400m away.
So, you might ask, what do you get for your money? (Actual fees are unavailable since this amazing place is so booked up!) You get breathtaking views, a glimpse at a zero waste life, a moment to pause and forget everyday stresses and your fees are donated to the Ocean Cleanup charity that are aiming to rid the world’s oceans of plastic waste. And that’s more than enough!
Skylodge Adventure Suites, Peru
If you’re a daredevil or thrill seeker, then stop scrolling – this property has your name on it! Not for the faint of heart, it’s not called a skylodge for nothing – it’s a transparent capsule, albeit a luxury one, that hangs from the top of a mountain in the Sacred Valley of Cuzco in Peru. There are three pods here, with a maximum total of 12 people, so you won’t feel lonely!
With 360 degree views of this stunningly breathtaking valley, these pods epitomise cool. Simply accessing each pod is an adventure in itself – you need to navigate your way through a 400ft mountainous climb, or make your way through a series of ziplines.
Fees start at £325 per person and includes breakfast and a gourmet dinner with wine plus transportation from Cuzco. The minimum stay is one night, but the hosts welcome longer stays too.
Likened to sleeping in a condor nest you’ll have overnight views of the sacred and magical Cuzco valley and the ancient Inca trails that surround it. The pods also have basic washing and drinks making facilities – and with views like these, what more do you need?
If ever there was a room with a view – this is it!
Casa Piña, Mexico
If you’re looking for a super cool, modern property for you and up to seven travelling companions with stunning Pacific views, then Casa Piña is for you. There’s even a separate one bedroom, self-contained rooftop casita if you need to hire it separately.
Indoors, you’ll find a gourmet kitchen with everything you need to create delicious meals for your group, plus thoroughly modern yet reflective of the rural nature of this property, fixtures and fittings. Like a roll top bath and uber stylish dining and seating area!
Outside, there’s a table that will seat all of you for a slap up dinner cooked on your gas BBQ. Afterwards, take a dip in the infinity pool or chill out in the hammock area. If you’re a close group, then the outdoor shower and bathroom is all yours!
A minimum three night stay here will cost around £1,400 plus fees between you. So why not gather up a group of likeminded travel pals and head to Mexico? You’ll love it, we promise!
Which of These Coolest Airbnb Properties Will You Choose?
Treehouses, medieval castles, bamboo eco huts and luxury apartments – all over the world. How lucky that we have so much choice at our fingertips! The only problem we have is choosing which cool Airbnb to book first.
We’re certain there are hundreds, if not thousands more cool Airbnb properties for hire, and we’ll keep you updated when we find more. In the meantime, will you share your secret finds? Or will you keep them a well-guarded, hidden gem?
Either way, round up your travel companions, pack those bags and have fun. Safe travels!
14 Most Unexpected Footage Captured by Drones
Drones really do divide opinions around the world – there are many people who regard them as essential and beneficial tools in many areas including search and rescue missions and explorations. But there are many others who consider them an annoyance and an invasion of our privacy.
But whatever your views, there’s one thing most of us will agree on – some footage, shot accidentally or otherwise, captured by drone technology is truly shocking! Whether feats of human endurance, crimes captured as they happen or fierce acts of Mother Nature, if they’re shot from above, they make some truly astonishing footage.
So here’s some of the most unexpected footage shot by drones from around the world. Which one makes the top of your list?
A shark stalks a crocodile
Who would win a fight between a shark and a crocodile? You’re about to find out! In incredible drone footage captured by surfer Duncan Brotchie off the coast of Australia, this was a true battle of these apex predators, both usually at the top of their game in the food chain stakes (neither have any natural predators).
The footage, shot in waters surrounding the Wessel Islands in Australia’s Northern Territory, shows who started it – the tiger shark begins trailing the crocodile for around two minutes. Imagine a deadly scene, with two hungry beasts circling, that could quite happily snack on anything that happened to be in the water. If it hadn’t been for this surfer’s curiosity whilst monitoring his drone’s camera view, he (and anyone else nearby) could’ve been none the wiser until things got out of hand. As it was, he was only 10 metres from them in the same waters.
After being aggressively circled for a couple of minutes, the crocodile decided that enough was enough and… crawled onto a nearby rock, out of harm’s way! Perhaps passivist crocodiles exist after all. Or maybe this one was a sensible who knew when it was out of its depth? Either way, in answer to the original question – neither, because the croc bottled it!
An airplane slides off the runway
When the world hears news reports of a plane crash, we collectively hold our breath, waiting for a miracle and to hear of no injuries, let alone deaths. Sadly though this isn’t usually the case. But not always, as a plane accident in Turkey in 2018 demonstrated.
Amazingly, a full aeroplane with 162 passengers and six crew members on board slid off the runway at Trabzon Airport, slipped down an embankment and only narrowly missed plunging into the Black Sea. And there were zero injuries or fatalities! All passengers and crew were safely evacuated and drone footage shows the plane left in limbo as it appears to be within meters of nosediving into the water.
It was unclear exactly what caused the incident but two factors were thought to be at play – cold, icy weather conditions and the fact that the airport, and runway, are built on land that’s been reclaimed from the sea. Reports from passengers on the plane at the time revealed that everyone on board had to wait for 20 minutes before help arrived, after the plane produced a loud noise and started shaking shortly after the plane landed from Ankara. We’re not sure we’d ever want to get on a plane again. Would you?
The worst traffic jam ever
Yep, we’re calling it. Never has there been a worst traffic jam. So if you’re still reeling from the last time you were caught in city traffic, think yourself lucky you weren’t caught in this one.
It happened on the Beijing-Hong Kong-Macau Expressway in China, which has already earned itself the moniker of one of the world’s busiest thoroughfares. So imagine the horror of the drivers caught in this, with perhaps the perfect storm of conditions…
First up, it was the end of a national holiday, Golden Week, with millions of people heading home. (Yep, that’s millions.) Then there was fog. Then this 50 lane junction was forced down into 20 lanes due to the addition of a new official checkpoint. It’s unbelievable that a 50 lane anything even exists, let alone to reduce it to less than half on such a busy day. It’s unclear just how many hours people were left stranded for, or who was responsible for such a headache. But after that, would you ever travel by car again?
A hidden graveyard in New York
There’s an area of Staten Island in New York, where “any and all photography” is banned. But that hasn’t stopped curious drone operators flying their drones over the Arthur Kill ship graveyard to capture footage of this extraordinary area that you’d least expect in a cosmopolitan city.
First built in the 1930s by the Wittes Marine Equipment company, Arthur Kill was an area where shipwrecks were brought to be stripped of their valuable parts in order to be used elsewhere. (Kill is the Dutch word for creek, and this area was popularised by Dutch settlers, hence the creepy name.)
But owner John J Witte was a bit of an eccentric and refused to allow many boats to be stripped. So that’s why this area of marshy, dirty waters is now home to hundreds of decomposing ships and vessels. Over 400 of them now lay in their final resting place in the waters of Staten Island. Until his death in 1980, John Witte was a fierce defender of his property, hence why the area became so mysterious to outsiders, desperate to get a look. Now, we can all view drone footage of the sorry looking ships, some of which have now actually been stripped of their valuable materials in order to be reused in other industries. And it sure does make for a curious sight!
A strange hole in a lake
When I was younger, my mum would always tell me that if I pulled the plug out from my bath when I was still in it, I’d get sucked down the drain with all my soapy bath water. Four decades on, I still have to get out of the bath before pulling the plug.
But it turns out, this isn’t as crazy as it sounds, especially if you live in Northern California. The Morning Glory Spillway, known locally as the Glory Hole, is a humungous drain hole that empties water from the Monticello Dam into Lake Berryessa when water levels get too high to prevent flooding – at an astonishing rate of 1,300 cubic metres per second!
This huge drain hole measures 22 metres in diameter and was built between 1953 and 1957. At the time, it was expected that it would need to be opened around once every 50 years. But with the effects of climate change ever present, it’s currently being opened twice a year due to record rainfall levels. Drone footage of the drain being opened is astonishing and I can only imagine my mum saying I told you so…
An extreme weather event, from ice storms to heatwaves are always devastating events, and a tornado is no exception. Now, using drones, the full extent of the devastation Mother Nature can wreak can be seen.
Footage taken by drone operator David Waltermyer after a surge of tornadoes tore through the south east of the US in April 2020 shows the shocking and saddening results. The footage is taken in Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia and Chattanooga in neighbouring Tennessee and shows that nature knows no borders.
Around 51 million people were in the path of these particular tornadoes, with many of them at home due to Coronavirus restrictions. 1.3 million people lost their electricity supply and providing shelter was tricky due to measures meant to stop the spread of the virus. Whole streets are reduced to nothing but rubble, and perhaps one of the most iconic of figures from a modern day town, the Golden Arches of a McDonalds sign, are shown to be destroyed. A choosy weather system, the footage shows how the tornado destroyed buildings that were standing next to buildings that remain completely untouched as the path of the weather system can be tracked.
The giant sinkhole of Guatemala City
Perhaps one of the most shocking events can that can occur as a result of natural (or manmade) shifts in the ground is a sink hole. Even more shocking is the fact that they can occur anywhere, at any time. Capture them from above on drone footage and the full extent of the damage caused can be seen.
In 2010, a giant sinkhole opened up in Guatemala City, taking with it an entire road junction, a three storey building and a house. The sinkhole was thought to be caused by the rains brought by tropical storm Agatha, sadly also bringing with her hundreds of dead and injured locals. Residents have since put the blame and upset squarely at the feet of the local authorities saying that a poorly maintained sewage system was the cause of so much devastation after it couldn’t cope with the rainwaters.
As a result of tropical storm Agatha, landslides were also reported in nearby cities and neighbouring El Salvador and Honduras. Hopefully such footage can help highlight the plight of people living in often poor areas, in regions of the world on the path of hurricanes and tropical storms.
A mysterious crop circle
OK, so all crop circles are mysterious, we hear you. But this one, spotted in 2017, still has the owner of the land, stumped. Farmer Shelley Klindt lives on her farm near Hannington in Wiltshire told the BBC that she woke to the enormous crop circle, measuring 60m (that’s 200ft in old money) on her land one summer’s morning.
Formed in a field of mature wheat within the boundaries of her farm, she was shocked to say the least. Forming crop circles on someone else’s land is actually illegal but even though Farmer Shelley describes the gigantic circular formation as annoying, she did allow curious people onto her land to view it.
At first, she tried to keep it under her hat, but drone footage of the circle went viral and people flocked to her fields. In order to prevent more damage to her land, she had to provide a cherry picker to allow her expectant public a good view. Alas, a few days later, the crop circle disappeared as quickly as it arrived but under far less mysterious circumstances – it was wheat harvest time and the combine harvesters were out in full force.
A crocodile doesn't like paparazzi
In this list of unexpected drone footage, we’ve had a few incidences where human beings have become annoyed at being unexpectedly filmed by drones and have tried (some successfully, others not so) to attack and destroy the drone. But in this footage, captured in the remote outback of Western Australia, a drone gets attacked… by a crocodile! The animal was clearly either very hungry, or very annoyed.
At an unbelievable 5 metres long and a metre wide, the croc lays still in the reeds at the side of the water, hiding out of sight whilst planning its attack. And then without warning, it leaps out of the water and tries to strike the drone, possibly because it thought it might make a tasty treat. And the whole thing was captured by local fisherman and drone operator, Sean Scott.
Thankfully, Sean was quick thinking, and pulled the drone up out of the reaches of this giant crocodile who he estimates was only an inch from his pricey pride and joy. Otherwise, it would’ve been a disappointing treat for the hungry croc, and an expensive case of mistaken identity for the fisherman.
A random plane in the forest
Of all the things you’d expect to find in a forest (trees, earth, leaves and probably quite a few insects) you probably wouldn’t have an aeroplane high up on your list. But that doesn’t mean that aircrafts can’t be found in the middle of a forest, as this air footage shows.
But don’t worry, this isn’t some mysterious disappearance in the Bermuda Triangle, or the wreckage of a devastating air disaster. Far from it, for this is actually someone’s home! Buried deep in a forest in Oregon in the US, local man Bruce Campbell bought the Boeing 727 for $100,000, put it in his garden, and decided he loved it so much, he wanted to actually live in it. The wings now form his decking, the cockpit is his little reading nook and the teeny bathrooms are, well, they’re his bathrooms. Surrounded by lush vegetation, this is a truly unique home and sure does make for an interesting view if you happen to by flying over this ‘house’.
Oh, and if you’re wondering how on earth to get a plane in your back garden without a runway or landing strip – Bruce had to remove the wings and tail and pay for the plane to be temporarily stored whilst everyone scratched their heads – at an extra cost of $95,000…
A spooky clown in a cornfield
Scared of clowns? You might well be after watching this drone footage captured above a corn field in Huntsville, Alabama in 2016. It shows seemingly innocent footage of a corn field, corn blowing in the breeze and nature doing its thing.
But then things take a sinister turn when the drone pilot spots a figure, very much not camouflaged against the corn. Dressed in a bright orange top, luminous yellow braces and a curly wig stands a curious looking clown, leaning forwards to get a better look at the drone. Spooked, the clown then runs away through the rows of corn towards woodland, regularly turning back as if scared, eventually escaping the drone. However, are things as sinister as they seem?
Coulrophobes among us (that’s people that have an intense fear of clowns if you were unsure) will remember 2016 for the year of the Great Clown Scare. This was a time when people dressed as clowns and hung around spookily, terrifying people all across the US and Canada. So online sceptics doubt this corn field clown footage is as innocent as the YouTube poster claims. They suspect it was all a set up. We’ll leave it up to you to decide…
A very lucky surfer
Here’s a great example of drone technology being put to good use – as a warning system for swimmers who might be at risk of a shark attack. And Australian Matt Wilkinson sure should be thankful that this particular drone was nearby…
Swimming in the idyllic waters off Ballina in New South Wales, Matt had no idea that he was inches from a 1.5 metre great white shark. In fact, he had no idea of the danger he was in, until after he got out of the water and saw the remarkable drone footage.
It’s thought that the shark, that was circling the unsuspecting swimmer, was put off this tasty treat by either the overhead noise of a drone or the swimmers leg rope from his board touching its snout.
Either way, the recorded warning from the overhead drone urged all swimmers, surfers and bathers to get out of the water due to the presence of this enormous sea creature. Drone operator Beau Monks from Surf Life Saving NSW truly was a hero that day, as he sounded the warning after spotting the shark circling its prey. His quick thinking saved the life of another human being, and it wouldn’t have been possible without drone technology.
Four hours on tightrope above Rio de Janeiro
Do you know what slackliners are? We didn’t until we saw this incredible drone footage of three slackliners balanced 650 feet above the breathtaking landscape of Rio de Janeiro for four hours.
Slackliners are daredevils, who walk tightropes, high above the ground, for fun. Usually, the rope is placed between trees, which is considerably closer to the ground. But Ighor Pereira, Mitsu Kawaguchi and Marcio Cardoso decided that wasn’t high enough, and walked a tightrope 200 metres above the ground.
Their journey then took four hours to get from one end to the other, even staying sky high for sunset, but allowing for some stunning drone footage. Good balance and agility are definitely the name of the game here. Also known as high line athletes, the trio took in the views of Rodrigo de Freitas Lake and the area of Morro do Cantalgo. The sunset is absolutely amazing, making the whole city appear as if shrouded in a burning orange. As stunning as it looks, though, we think we’d prefer to look at the pictures of the event from the comfort of our own laptops, rather than actually being up that high, balanced on nothing more than a wire. How about you?
A crazy accident on Interstate 10
Sometimes, drone footage can be amusing and light hearted. Other times it can be used for good in search and rescue missions. But other times, it highlights the perils of being a human being.
Footage taken from a drone shows the aftermath of an awful road traffic accident on Interstate 10 in Texas. Spanning both sides of the central reservation, the accident involves around 100 cars and trucks and reports at the time suggested that hundreds were injured and at least two people lost their lives. The images show a tangled mess of vehicles, after heavy fog significantly reduced visibility in the area in November 2012. It also coincided with Thanksgiving, one of the busiest days for traffic in America.
The fog was so thick that emergency responders arriving at the scene didn’t at first realise the extent of the accident. As is usually the case with such a tragedy, uninjured passengers and passers-by helped to pull those trapped inside their vehicles. So we hope some solace can be felt in the midst of such an awful event to be captured on drone footage.
Benedictine monk spotted catching some rays
Most of us have seen a wind farm, probably from a far. However, usually out at sea or dotted along rolling hills in the countryside, this means that not many of us have seen a wind turbine up close to appreciate quite how enormous they are.
Except that is, Brother Joseph Byron, a Benedictine monk who works at a private Rhode Island school. Brother Byron has been captured in drone footage, soaking up the sun whilst relaxing at the top of one of these 175 foot constructions. (In case you were wondering, because we were, a Benedictine monk is a monk that’s part of a monastic religious order of the Catholic church. They wear black cloaks called habits and take the Benedictine Vow, a promise of stability and obedience.)
Drone pilot Kevin Miller from California who was on holiday on Rhode Island was flying his drone out of curiosity. He was astounded to view live footage of a human relaxing at such dizzying heights. Brother Byron was at first happy to see the drone, giving it a little wave, but when it zoomed in for a second look, he says he found it a little annoying. On coming back to earth, he said it was a regular trip that he took, and that it isn’t scary at all, and is in fact very peaceful.
The rooftop sunbather
Picture the scene. It’s sunny, you’re in the middle of the city, you have an afternoon off and you fancy catching a few rays. What do you do? In the absence of a local park or your own garden and the nearest beach is hours away, you need to be a little inventive.
Which is exactly what one genius sunseeker did, when she took herself up onto the roof of a large building in the middle of an urban landscape. What’s more, this sunseeker decided that she didn’t want the inconvenience of tan lines and so decided to sunbathe topless. It must’ve felt like the ultimate in sunbathing solace, up there on her towel, sun cream not far away. But imagine her surprise when she heard an unfamiliar whir of something above her.
Was it a bird, was it a plane? No, it was the unfamiliar whir of a drone, flying above her, filming her relaxing tanning session. Drone footage of the aftermath of her realising that her privacy had been so rudely interrupted shows her running along the rooftop, towel now covering her top half, with a broom in her hand, trying to knock the invasive drone out of the sky. We don’t know what happened next, but we truly hope the spying drone pilot was found and reprimanded.
A trespass reprimanded
Drones are meant to capture exciting footage as it happens, and it doesn’t get more ‘exciting’ than the drone actually being shot at. As drone technology moves on at lightning speed, they’re being used more and more for good, as rescue and explorative equipment that’s saving lives. But that doesn’t stop some people hating on these pilot operated devices, as footage shot in the UK on a large private estate shows.
The unknown pilot was flying a drone over private land, which is still a grey area in the eyes of the law. Its footage captures the attention of what is assumed to be the land owner, with his eyes locked onto the drone. He also happens to have a fully loaded rifle on his person.
The land owner then cocks said rifle, aims at the drone and shoots. In one expertly aimed bullet, the large drone is taken down, presumably never to be seen again. But that didn’t stop the footage being recorded, as it literally dropped out of the sky and lands on the ground. Perhaps that’s a lesson for any would be drone operators – check who own the land you might be flying across beforehand if you want to return home with your equipment intact.
The hammerhead shark stalker
If you’re lucky enough to be living, working or holidaying in the sun hot spot that is Miami in Florida, then you’ll probably want to spend at least some of your time swimming or paddling in the crystal clear waters.
But what if you weren’t alone, and your swimming companion, far from being a friend or fellow ocean lover, was actually an enormous six foot hammerhead shark? That’s exactly what happened to one swimmer in the winter of 2020. Attacks by hammerhead sharks are rare, but with at least 15 reports of unprovoked but thankfully non-fatal hammerhead shark attacks around the world, you probably don’t want to be hanging around one for long.
This particular incident was captured by Miami based drone and ocean wildlife enthusiast, Jason McIntosh. He was flying his drone over the water, about 25 metres from the shore, when he spotted the swimmer… and the shark. And he had no way of alerting the swimmer to the danger he was in. But luckily, the shark seemingly got bored, and it swam away, as the male swimmer, who was swimming on his back (and incidentally, giving the drone a thumbs up sign) blissfully went about his swim, totally unaware. What a lucky escape!
Here’s another case of shocking footage, captured by a drone, as well as drones being used for shocking consequences. It’s been reported that Islamic State fighters in Iraq are now using drones as bombs to attack enemy lines.
Footage shows drones dropping deadly weapons including grenades and poisonous gases onto areas in Mosul, killing and injuring dozens. They’ve also been adding chlorine gas to car bombs, spreading the toxic gas far and wide, injuring many, many more.
To make matters worse, footage has also emerged of a puppy with a crude suicide vest strapped to its back, in the hope that it would cross enemy lines where the device could then be detonated remotely. Thankfully, in this case many lives were saved, including that of the puppy, after Iraqi freedom fighters found the tiny animal and carefully detonated the deadly device.
8 Best Places to Visit in France this Summer
What do you think of when you think of places to visit in France? Probably the most obvious is the capital, Paris. Maybe then you’d think of Nice or Saint Tropez. Perhaps even Le Touquet for lunch if you’re lucky enough to know someone with a light aircraft and plenty of Euros…
But there are many, many places to visit in France that are especially beautiful and full of abundance during the summer that are well worth exploring. So if you’re looking for some va va voom and you fancy venturing further than Paris, here’s our list of fabulous French summer fancies…
Antibes is nestled between Nice and Cannes on the French Riviera, otherwise known as the Côte d’Azur, in the South of France. And it’s every bit as glamourous as you’d expect of this region of the world. One of the early French adopters of the State Environment Charter, a promise to take active steps to conserve the natural environment, Antibes is truly stunning.
With 16 miles of gorgeous coastline and 48 beaches, if you’re a fan of sand, then you’ll love it here. But it isn’t just for beach loungers and harbour dwelling lovers, as the Antibes Old Town is perfect for exploring. Especially if you love cute pastel coloured houses, pavement cafés and perusing local gift shops (you simply have to buy fresh herbs here!)
Nearby Cannes and Nice can be viewed from the kilometre long Chemin de Calvaire pathway, so you can plan your trips further afield with panoramic views before you go.
Also on the French Riviera is the town of Menton, a little known place slightly overshadowed by its more famous local cousins, Monte Carlo and Saint-Tropez. If you consider yourself a foodie however, then Menton is the place to be. Home to Mirazur, which happens to be number 28 on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, is the jewel in the crown of this French delight.
Menton is also said to have its own microclimate that’s 3 degrees warmer than the rest of France, so if you’re a food loving sunworshipper, then you’ll especially love it here! For culture vultures, the Jean Cocteau Museum is a must visit if you’re a fan of the legendary film director.
Since Menton is so close to Italy, you could choose to cross the border and take in some Italian sights on your travels, too.
Located in the Basque Country region of South West France, Biarritz is known by some as the French California. It’s famed for its surf and as such, attracts water sports enthusiasts from around the world to enjoy its long sandy beaches ideal for catching some waves.
Not only perfect for swimmers and surfers, Biarritz is surrounded by a backdrop of mountains. If you like to explore a little further afield, the nearby Basque Pyrenees with an array of hiking trails are ideal.
Casino goers and lovers of glitz and glam will also love Biarritz with its array of beachfront Art Deco casinos, uber stylish hotels, cafés and bars, which are especially vibrant at sundown.
History buffs rejoice, as the ancient city of Carcassonne is about to become your next travel destination. One of the largest surviving walled cities in Europe, yet tiny by today’s standards, it’s situated just south west of Toulouse. What this UNESCO World Heritage Site might lack in size, it certainly makes up for in history.
At its centre is La Cité, the medieval citadel that sits atop a hill within the ancient city walls. With over 2,500 years’ worth of history contained within these 3km long double walls (complete with 52 towers) its story begins in Roman times.
But venture outside of these old walls, and you’ll find an abundance of characterful architecture that’s relatively ‘new’, as the New Town dates back to the Middle Ages. Coffee shops, boutiques and fine restaurants abound here, so if you’re looking for history with a side of culture, you’ve certainly found it.
Also of note, in nearby Aude, why not visit a sunny vineyard and partake in a wine tour? Go on, you know you want to!
This well-known port city in Southern France has something for everyone, from azure blue seas and sandy white beaches, to cultural museums, a national park and a 19th Century church.
It’s surprising that Marseille isn’t better known for its beaches, since it sits on 24km of Mediterranean coastline. The Prado Seaside Park is manmade but no less stunning than a naturally carved beach and is perfect for relaxing. Museum-wise, choose from the traditional Musée d’Histoire de Marseille or the super modern MuCEM for everything from ancient Greek artefacts at the former to modern day art and photography at the latter.
The Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde is a neo-Byzantine church built in the 19th Century situated just south of the Old Port area and is a breathtaking must see. If you’re hungry after all this sightseeing, you simply have to have a bouillabaisse, a fish and seafood stew that originates from Marseille. The rustic bread covered in rouille (a tangy mayonnaise) that will accompany it is just right for dipping in. Enjoy!
The most North West region of France, Brittany, or Bretagne, is famed for its food and wine culture as well as its historic fortified towns and castles.
Perhaps we’d all be forgiven for associating France with wine, but Brittany is actually more famous for its cider, beers and mead (called chouchen, a type of wild honey mead). Also famed for its food, you’ll find crêpes galore here, as well as a variety of traditional pastries and biscuits.
Because of its foodie nature, there are many annual festivals held in Brittany. If you happen across one during your summer travels, you won’t be able to resist taking part in the folk dances and cuisines on offer.
Culture-wise, you have around 4,000 chateaus and manor houses to choose from, as well as multiple military fortresses, maritime fortifications and Neolithic sites to explore.
Now we’ve headed to eastern France, to Besançon, a city close to the French border with Switzerland with its centre on the Doubs river. Think galettes (or crêpes), cheese, charcuteries, coq au vin and all the traditional French wines you can imagine, for here is a gastronomical delight!
As well as the food and wine on offer, Besançon has five museums, countless art galleries and is famous for watchmaking and being the birthplace of Victor Hugo.
This small citadel is a perfect base for exploring Dijon (an hour away by train). Catch an excursion boat along the Doubs, visit the canal region of Ornans (a 45 minute bus ride away) and discover the surrounding forests, caves and trails.
Here’s something that might surprise you – there’s more to Bordeaux than wine! Obviously, if you’re a wine connoisseur and that’s what you’re looking for, then fill your glass, quite literally. But if you’re looking for art, history, culture and gastronomic delights, then you’ll also find them in Bordeaux.
Situated on the Garonne River in South West France, Bordeaux is home to the stunning Bassins de Lumières, which translates to the Ponds of Light, and is the largest digital art museum in the world. You can also channel your inner detective and take part in the Escape Hunt Bordeaux, an escape room experience where you need to solve clues before time runs out.
Further afield, and if you’ve hired a car, you can take a trip outside of Bordeaux and visit the plentiful lakes and vineyards that surround this beautiful area of France. And should you want to visit a wine estate actually within Bordeaux itself, then there is in fact, only one – the Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion.
We hope this list has inspired you to think about all the different areas of France to visit during the summer that you might have overlooked before. Enjoy, have fun, and don’t forget to send us a postcard!
Santorini Bucket List: 10 Things To Do On The Greek Island
As one of the Greek Cyclades Islands, Santorini sits majestically between Athens on the Greek mainland and the island of Crete, in the beautiful Aegean Sea.
Santorini has a breathtaking landscape, formed after an immense volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. This left the island, which used to be circular, with a sunken centre surrounded by tall cliffs to its east making Santorini somewhat wonky. But don’t let its irregular landscape fool you, Santorini is a spectacular island to visit, with lots of exciting places to explore. Here’s our top ten things to do on Santorini.
1. Explore the Capital Fira
The capital of Santorini, Fira, is dotted with beautiful white and blue houses along narrow, winding streets interspersed by boutique and luxurious hotels. This chic Cycladic town is picture postcard gorgeous with occasional gaps in the buildings where you’ll see spectacular views of the sea.
With museums to nightclubs and restaurants to exclusive shops, there’s something for everyone here. If you’re visiting for the day and you’re driving, all parking is free. But aim to arrive before 10am to make sure you get a parking space, as this town is a hive of fun and activity.
The villages of Firostefani and Imerovigil are within easy reach of Fira on foot (a 10 minute and 30 minute walk respectively) and are really worth seeing. Make sure you bring your camera and allow plenty of time for photography stop offs!
2. Take the Scenic Hike from Fira to Oia
If you fancy something a little more challenging than a walk, then you must try the hike between Fira and Oia. You’ll feel like you’re on the edge of the world (and for all intents and purposes, you are, so bring your steady feet).
Start off early to avoid the midday sun, then settle in Oia for some relaxation or musing before heading back to Fira. If heights make you wobble, it’s probably best not to look down into the ‘caldera’, the huge crater left behind by the landscape altering volcanic eruption many moons ago.
This 9km hike will take around four or five hours, so keep that in mind if you have a dinner reservation later!
3. Watch the Sunset in Oia
Situated in the North of the island, Oia is the glamorous and exclusive Santorini village that has inspired many an Instagram post, and legend has it, even more marriage proposals. The plush hotels here have classically Greek whitewashed walls set against the brilliant blue sky, many with an infinity pool for that extra touch of class.
So, it’s no surprise that sunset watching (with or without an infinity pool and a diamond) is a popular attraction in Oia. A sunset here is said to be one of the most spectacular in the world.
For the best views, head to the ruins of the Byzantine Castle, but make sure you head there early to secure your spot, because this sunset really isn’t a well-kept secret.
4. Visit the Santo Winery
Amazing view of Santorini caldera from Santo Winery terrace, Pyrgos, Greece
Santorini is well known for its landscape and scenery, but it’s also famed for its wine. So, if you’re a wine lover, then you’ll be right at home here. After its volcanic eruption, the earth was left rich in minerals and pumice stone, which along with a low year round rainfall and humid nights, makes the perfect climate for grape vines.
The Santo Winery is the ideal place for sampling the wines of Santorini, which tend to be white, crisp and dry – the perfect pairing for fish dishes.
Of course, the professionals will discard their wine into a bucket after tasting. But if you fancy a few drinks in beautiful surroundings with some accompanying nibbles, then feel free to drink and be merry!
5. Visit the Picturesque Village of Pyrgos
If spectacular views are your thing, then a visit to the village of Pyrgos is a must. The highest village on Santorini, Pyrgos allows you views stretching far and wide across Santorini and beyond.
Make it to the very top and you’ll be rewarded with the sight of the ruins of the Kasteli, one of the five Venetian castles on Santorini. Built as a hideaway from invading pirates in years gone by, the winding streets and narrow alleyways up to the Kasteli were designed to confuse the presumably intoxicated and possibly even a little bit daft, pirates who might have been on the attack.
Pirate traps aside, take a wander around the traditional houses, taverns and shops selling local goods that dot the streets of this pretty village.
6. Explore the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri
Akrotiri is an ancient city that is now in ruins – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one to see on your trip to Santorini. Often compared to Italy’s Pompeii, Akrotiri was completely swallowed up by the volcanic eruption.
You can go alone when you’re exploring this piece of history frozen in time, but for the best experience, hire one of the many local guides. Everything from cooking pots and flower pots to bee hives (yes, bee hives!) have been painstakingly recovered here, and in 2012 the perfectly intact but set in stone houses were protected with a roof structure, preserving them for generations of visitors to come.
If you feel sad about the events of Akrotiri, then take peace from knowing that not one body (and only one piece of gold) have been found here. Suggesting that the people of this ancient city were forewarned and were successfully evacuated, taking their treasures with them.
7. See the Akrotiri Lighthouse
Also in the city of Akrotiri is the Akrotiri Lighthouse. Built in 1892, it seems pirates weren’t the only worry these city dwellers had.
Protecting boats from the rugged rocks below, this lighthouse continued to serve right up until the Second World War. After a brief closure, it started doing its job again in 1945 and still protects seafarers to this day.
Public access to the inside of this lighthouse isn’t permitted, but take a seat on its exterior wall and take in the sights around you. It’s also a great vantage point for witnessing a stunning sunset.
8. Hike Santorini’s Volcano
Completed the Fira to Oia hike and hungry for more? Then take a hike to the edge of the crater of the volcano eruption that made Santorini what it is today. Rugged, knobbly underfoot and made up of sharp volcanic rocks, this isn’t a hike to be taken lightly, or in flimsy footwear.
But make it to the edge and peer down, and you’ll be breathless (not just from the hike). This vast crater tells the story of life on Santorini way before tourism.
Marvel at the moon-like landscape with its robust yellow flora (and distinct egg-like sulphur smell) and you’ll definitely deserve that oh-so Greek fish and white wine supper later.
9. Wander Through Ancient Thera
Many, many years after the colossal volcanic eruption on Santorini, ancient settlers made a basic ridge, on the side of Mesa Vouno Mountain, a place to call home. It remained that way for 800 years but is now in ruin.
Mother nature has wound her way through the ancient, ruined buildings, making this place lush and green, yet decorated with settler history.
High up on the mountainside, you’ll wonder at how these buildings were even constructed, let alone what life must’ve been like. But with views as glorious as these, you’ll soon learn why these people decided that this was to be their home.
10. Relax at Amoudi Bay
If after all that sightseeing, you’re craving some relaxation time, then Amoudi Bay is the perfect place for it. Sunsets at Oia might be the worst kept secret, but the cute fishing village of Amoudi Bay is still relatively unknown, and is well worth a visit – if you can manage the 300 steps through the rugged landscape that lead down to the bay from Oia.
Once you’re there, you’ll be met with a delicious array of fish restaurants and beautiful swimming spots set against a backdrop of stunning volcanic cliffs.
Santorini – Glitz, Glamour and GREAT Scenery!
So, what do you think? Worth a visit? We certainly think so. Santorini has everything on offer, from ancient history to the most modern of hotels, so whatever you enjoy, you’ll find it here in this little slice of Greek paradise. Enjoy!
10 Hidden Gems of London that Most Tourists Never See
‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. Or so the saying by Samuel Johnson, 18th Century writer and “distinguished man of letters” goes. Presumably, the same applies to females but the fact remains, if you can’t find something in London that excites you, then perhaps you’re looking in the wrong place!
I’m a Londoner, born and bred, and to help you find one or two of the things you only know if you’re a Londoner, here’s access to my top ten of London’s hidden secrets. All are easily accessible by public transport or on foot, so open Google Maps and away you go…
Nope, we’re not starting off in Italy… Little Venice is in West London, in the Paddington Basin area of the Grand Union Canal. The cute and colourful houseboats on the canal make this place a must visit, but look beyond these boats and you’ll see an array of different cafés, restaurants, coffee shops and bars.
Not hungry? No problem, book yourself on a boat trip to work up an appetite! Full from lunch? Take a wander around the Rembrandt Gardens or wind alongside the canals on foot. You can always pop back for a glass of something chilled as a reward later…
Columbia Road Flower Market
Head east towards Bethnal Green on a Sunday morning, and you’ll discover the Columbia Road Flower Market. Teeming with flower stalls, this place is definitely bustling. Feel free to barter here, and be amazed by the variety of blooms on offer. Never fear though, it’s not just cut flowers – if you’re looking for pot plants, shrubs, bulbs and herbs, you’ll find them here too.
If you’re not in this area on a Sunday, there’s still plenty of places to browse and spend your money. The Victorian buildings are packed with art dealers, antiques, quirky bric-a-brac, vintage clothing and a variety of places to eat and drink.
St Dunstan in the East Church Garden
If religion isn’t your thing, then you might not enjoy walking around an old church garden. But this old church garden really is something to behold. For me, Mother nature is my ‘religion’ and a visit here will prove just how wonderful she is.
St Dunstan in the East was named for a 10th Century monk called, unsurprisingly, Saint Dunstan, who eventually became the Archbishop of Canterbury. Badly damaged centuries later in the Great Fire of London, part of it was reconstructed by Sir Christopher Wren. Sadly, most of it was then destroyed again during the bombing raids on London in the Second World War.
Considered too costly to repair, it became a public park in 1967 and nature has allowed all manner of greenery to weave its way through the ruins leaving a beautifully stunning yet somehow mysterious place of quietude and reflection. All right in the middle of the City of London and all its power suits and bankers!
Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane
Moving east from the city past Liverpool Street station, you’ll stumble across one of my favourite places in London – Spitalfields Market. After the Great Fire, Londoners needed to move outwards, and so east London became more populated. Hence, a thriving market developed in Spital Square, selling food and essentials to the ever growing communities.
With this movement of people came the inevitable mix of crime, poverty and cholera outbreaks. Oh, and a serial killer, in the form of Jack the Ripper.
Thankfully now, Spitalfields trades on the fact it’s a trendy and fun market full of fashion, food, art, music and curiosities and is must see on any London exploration.
Move a little bit more east and you’ll find Brick Lane by smell alone. Famed for its numerous curry houses, this is a place not to be missed on a Friday night for the best Bangladeshi curries in London. And if curry isn’t your thing, make sure you grab a bagel from the (probably) world famous 24-7 Beigel Bake Brick Lane Bakery. Ideal for soaking up one or two many cocktails in nearby Shoreditch!
If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter films, then you may recognise the ornate features of Leadenhall Market in the City of London. Used as Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, this Victorian covered market is a must visit for fans.
Harry Potter fans aside, Leadenhall Market is still a brilliant place to visit, with its array of market stalls, pubs, restaurants and shops. Like St Dunstan’s in the East, Leadenhall Market was damaged during the Great Fire of London and was rebuilt, the standout painted roof being added as late as 1881. It’s of such historical importance, it’s now a Grade II listed structure. So when you visit, make sure you look up!
Almost in the shade of St Paul’s Cathedral sits Postman’s Park, a park dedicated to those who gave their life trying to save that of another’s. It began life in 1900 with four plaques detailing the lives of four of these selfless people.
It now contains 54 plaques as a memorial to self-sacrifice. The 53rd plaque was laid in 1931 and curiously, the 54th and final was laid in 2009. With 66 empty spaces, there’s room for 66 more heroes who met a tragic end whist trying to save another tragedy.
Visit here for quiet refection among the otherwise busyness of central London.
The London Charterhouse
Despite its name, the London Charterhouse is more than simply one building. It’s a group of buildings that are steeped in history and continue to be part of London’s story on a daily basis.
Located in the borough of Islington, the London Charterhouse has occupied this area of London since 1348. Over the centuries, it’s been a monastery, a privately owned mansion house, a private school for boys and an alms house for the elderly (which it still is today).
Learn more about it’s history by visiting the free museum or take a wander around the Great Chamber to get emersed in historic art. If the weather is good, an amble around the beautiful gardens is a must.
Hidden away in the urban streets of Clerkenwell in Islington, sits the hive of activity that is Exmouth Market. Whether you’re hungry for some amazing street food, thirsty for an expertly made barista coffee, looking for the perfect cocktail, searching for a quirky gift or piece of art, in need of a haircut, considering a tattoo or shopping for a diamond or a bicycle – this is the place to be.
Busy, cool and a real showcase of all the beautifully unique and different things London has to offer, Exmouth Market should feature high on your to do list. You won’t be able to help being drawn in to its independent vibe.
A gleaming example of what can be achieved by community spirit (and a heavy dose of hard work), Pop Brixton is a community space that’s home to social enterprises, street food entrepreneurs, start-ups and independent retailers.
Created as a collaborative as a temporary venue on a disused piece of wasteland in Brixton, South London, it’s a hive of activity, creativity, learning and amazing food.
Pop along for food, drinks, a community event, an art class or to learn some green fingered tips in the community garden. Child free after 6pm at weekends, this could be your perfect adult place to wind down, have some fun and meet likeminded people.
Spanning 320 hectares, Hampstead Heath is a stunning open space with lots going on – whoever said London wasn’t green? Venture to the top of Parliament Hill for panoramic views of London and beyond, but make sure you stay clear of all the kites as this hill is also known as Kite Hill!
If you love an open air swim, then pack your bathers and choose from the lido or the famous ponds. Or, take a wander through the ancient woodlands and take in the delights of all the flora and fauna that this area attracts.
So inspiring is this beautifully magical green expanse, that it’s said to have been the inspiration C.S Lewis needed to write The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Who knows, it could inspire your hidden masterpiece too…
The Tip of the London Iceberg!
Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner… But honestly, all you need to do in London is turn a corner, and you’ll find something going on. Be that a bustling market, a thriving street food stall, a cosy tea room or a lively art gallery. The best way to explore our capital city is by foot, hoping on a bus or navigating the London Underground system.
So leave the car at home, wear some comfy shoes and prepare to be wowed by all that this exciting city has to offer.
10 Incredible Reasons To Visit Bali
They have a saying in Bali, “We have no art. We do everything as beautifully as possible”. It’s true, that in this beautiful Indonesian country, there’s no word in their language for “art” or “artist”. Because there’s simply no need - everyone is an artist and everything is art.
If you’re a lover of warm weather, beautiful beaches, crystal blue seas, history, culture and the most incredibly warm welcomes, then Bali truly is for you. Here’s just ten reasons why Bali should be next, or at least high, on your travel list…
1. The weather is idyllic all year round
Most days on the island of Bali are warm and humid, but not oppressively so. You can expect an average daily temperature of around 31°C. (Phew, hot but not desert hot!) However, despite the all year round warmth, Bali has two main seasons – the wet season and the dry season.
The wet season is generally between October and April, but even so, it doesn’t rain continuously. But when it does, it’s pretty spectacular! Getting caught in a Bali shower is nothing like finding yourself in a downpour without an umbrella in a UK city on the commute home. It’s refreshing, magnificent, awesome and still warm, so you’ll dry off in no time.
However, for the warm weather with lower humidity and less chance of rain, then the best time to visit is between May and August. June, July and August do tend to be windier, so it’s good to keep this in mind – if you’re looking for unspoilt sunbathing-with-a-book perfection, May is probably your best bet.
2. The cost of living is low
Flying to Bali from the UK is lengthy (around 16 hours, with additional stopover time, usually in the Middle East such as Dubai or Doha) and for this reason, costs considerably more than your average flight to mainland Europe.
But Bali is far from average. And once you get there, you can forget worrying about the cost of anything. Accommodation, eating and drinking, travel, excursions and treats such as massages and manicures are all very low cost. If you love shopping for a bargain, markets selling clothes, jewellery and curiosities are also much cheaper than anything you’d find back home in the UK, and there’s always someone willing to barter with you.
Travelling around is also very cost effective and easy, making Bali the ideal place for moving about to see more of what’s on offer.
3. The Balinese hospitality is second to none
Endless smiles, love, warmth and appreciation is the order of the day in Bali. You’ll see locals dressed in traditional clothing, gently going about their day, with genuine smiles, laying small daily offerings onto the floor or leaving them on walls or shrines.
These incredibly pretty, small, square, woven baskets are called Canang Sari and contain flowers, oils, salts, incense and food. They’re offered as a harmonious gift to the gods, asking for goodness and assistance and to help appease the evil.
You’ll find them on the pavements outside shops, temples, hotels and homes, so be careful where you tread!
4. The beaches are quite simply, idyllic
What’s your beach style? Boho and calm? Colourful and bustling? Or perhaps somewhere in between? Either way, never fear, because there’s a beach for everyone in Bali.
Near to the airport, so that you can stretch your legs after that long flight, is the resort of Kuta. Busy and vibrant, you’ll be able to buy cold drinks, the freshest of fruits, sarongs and those all-important boho bracelets for your wrists and ankles from the hawkers that regularly walk the beaches.
Further afield is Seminyak beach. Popular with trendsetters, this hipster beach has a party vibe that extends well into the night time. Best for surfers and confident swimmers as the tide is strong, this beach is exotic, hot and sassy.
If you’re looking for a relaxed, desert island vibe, then look no further than Sanur beach, considered the antithesis of Kuta beach. Or, for five star luxury, it has to be Jimbaran beach.
Or, you could completely wing it, take a look at Google maps and discover your very own beach perfection!
5. There are some amazingly luxurious hotels
Featured: AYANA Resort and Spa, Bali
Forget the Hanging Gardens of Babylon for a moment, and consider the Hanging Gardens of Bali instead. This remote resort is the height (literally, it’s hanging off a steep valley overlooking the Ayung River) of luxury. An ideal retreat from the real world for sure.
Also near the Ayung River, only this time on the banks rather than hanging precariously above it, sits the Coco Shambhala Estate. A flagship hotel, this breathtaking place offers bespoke holistic health programmes, exquisite views and a pure forest hideaway.
If you fancy entering your hotel via a wooden bridge spanning such views as a lotus pond, forest mists, complete greenery and winding rivers, then the Four Seasons at Sayan is for you. Elegance, privacy, luxury and stunning scenery is guaranteed everywhere here.
Whoever said that Bali was just for backpackers!
6. The natural scenery is stunning
You might think of rice fields and lush green expanses when you think of Bali. And you’d be right. But that’s not all that’s on offer in this part of the world. Think waterfalls, volcanoes, breathtakingly rugged coastline and mountains.
Of note are the lush green rice terraces of Jatiluwih in West Bali, which are a UNESCO cultural heritage site. A two hour drive from Kuta, this area was created by local people using no machinery, with a traditional irrigation system in place.
Or, take a visit to the Mount Batur volcano, that’s still very much active. With breathtaking scenery, panoramic views, climbing opportunities and traditional villages dotted about, if you love adventure, you’ll love Mount Batur.
7. The marine life is rich and plentiful
Bali is perfectly suited to those who love exploring the oceans. Snorkelling, diving, dolphin watching – you can do it all here.
It’s best to stick to the organised trips, to make sure you’re staying safe at the same time as respecting nature. Stand out trips for us are the Snorkelling at Blue Lagoon and Tanjung Jepun for amazing underwater coral scenes and the most incredible wildlife and the Nusa Penida Fill Trip – Snorkelling and Land Tour to explore both the Kelingking Beach and the natural Angel’s Billabong pool. Don’t forget your camera!
8. The Balinese love a celebration!
There isn’t a month in Bali when there isn’t a religious or cultural celebration, and you won’t be able to resist joining in with the celebrations. From Chinese New Year in January and the ten day Galungan and Kuningan festival honouring the win of good over evil in February to the Bali Arts Festival in the summer, you’ll be amazed by the colour and celebration that’s dedicated to the annual festival calendar on this amazing island.
9. The cultural scene isn’t to be overlooked
Bali is teeming with temples and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. As Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the famous Eat, Sleep, Pray book partly set in Bali said, “Religious ceremonies are of paramount importance in Bali (an island, don’t forget, with seven unpredictable volcanoes on it - you would pray, too)”.
The Besakih Temple in East Bali, also known as the Mother Temple is a must-see, situated on the slopes of Mount Agung. Or, take a trip to the Taman Ayun Temple, a historical UNESCO site steeped in the history of the past Balinese royal dynasty.
Don’t forget – covering up with a sarong or sash is mandatory for all temple visits, whether male or female.
10. The cuisine is divine
Hidden among all these beautiful beaches, temples, gifts to the gods and warm welcomes is the Balinese cuisine. Perhaps overlooked by all that Bali has to offer, but by no means less impressive, the cuisine here is very diverse.
With plenty of international food on offer, the Balinese do global cuisine very well. It’s almost like you’re in a bustling cosmopolitan city, yet with a backdrop of beaches and lush greenery. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it.
Since Bali is so close geographically to Australia, there’s a definite Aussie theme to many of the higher end restaurants. One, is Sisterfields in super trendy Seminyak. This is an all-day breakfast café, but don’t let that stop you for lunch or dinner, since burgers also feature highly on this menu.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, then you won’t go hungry in Ubud, the centre of vegan café culture. Clear Café offers everything from freshly made juices and smoothies to divine breakfasts and protein packed salads.
If you’re looking for local food, then hunt down the warungs near to you, serving authentic Indonesian cuisine at a fantastic price. Look out for babi guling, a whole suckling pig roasted over flames, bebek goreng, a crispy duck dish or gado-gado, a vegetable dish served with a satay like peanut sauce.
There’s something for everyone, in Bali!
Fun, adventure, spirituality, warmth and love – whatever you’re looking for, Bali will offer it to you. But watch out, it also has a distinct knack of drawing you in and stealing a piece of your heart. You’ll have no choice but to promise yourself, and Bali, that one day you’ll return to reunite with it…
The 10 Best Things To Do In Paris!
Ahhh Paris, the City of Love. Famed for its café culture, haute couture high fashion and lots of traffic, the French capital is also the centre of romance. The backdrop to countless romantic movie scenes and even more marriage proposals, Paris has somewhat of a high expectation reputation (especially if you’re whisked away there by your partner to whom you’re not yet married…)
But what if you wanted to avoid the romance, roses and people down on one knee? What if you wanted to get your ooh la la fix somewhere other than the Eiffel Tower? Here’s our round up of the 10 best things to do in Paris – diamond rings are optional!
Musée de l'Orangerie
You’ll find the Musée de l'Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries situated on the Place de la Concorde. Less famous than that other museum in Paris, the Louvre, the Musée de l'Orangerie is home to the works of esteemed artists such as Picasso, Renoir, Matisse and Modigliani.
But perhaps most famously, Musée de l'Orangerie proudly displays many of the Water Lilies works by Monet. Originally built in 1852 to house the citrus trees from the Jardin des Tuileries during the winter, this breathtakingly beautiful building now houses must see artworks, minus the crowds.
The Louvre Museum is huge. So, if you want to see all of its 400,000 exhibits, you really will need more than an afternoon (or plan a return visit). If time is tight and you still want to tick the Louvre off your Paris shaped bucket list, then do your research beforehand, and head straight for the exhibitions you want to see (using a handy map from reception).
Home to thousands of paintings, sculptures, artefacts and mummies, the Louvre truly is a fascinating place. Unbelievably, there’s much, much more than Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, so head for the less well known areas if you’re keen to avoid the touristy crowds.
Jardin des Tuileries
If a visit to Le Louvre has left you feeling a little overwhelmed and in need of space, a short walk from the museum towards the Place de la Concorde, you’ll find the Jardin des Tuileries. These beautifully landscaped gardens have been kept in pristine order ever since earning their rightful place in the Parisian landscape in 1664.
Sit, relax, enjoy peaceful quietude in nature or visit a café to sip coffee and enjoy a pastry (when in Rome, and all that). When visiting a busy city like Paris, spending time in green spaces is great for taking a breather, so make sure these gardens are on your to-do list.
Pont des Arts
If you’ve ever seen images of a bridge literally completely covered in padlocks, then you’ve seen an image of Pont des Arts. A footbridge over the River Seine, Pont de Arts is the place for lovers to seal their love forever by closing a padlock, or love lock, inscribed with their names onto the bridge and throwing the key into the river below.
Or at least, it was. So weighed down by love locks, the authorities removed all the padlocks in 2015 and placed screens over the bridge to prevent these public displays of affection. Although some persistent lovers do still go to great lengths to affix their padlocks.
Originally constructed between 1802 and 1804, this historic bridge is still well worth a visit and a photograph, even though it was completely rebuilt in the 1980s after wartime damage was discovered. It’s since been awarded a UNESCO World Heritage Site award along with the entire Parisian riverfront.
Catacombs of Paris
Known as the underbelly of Paris, if you’re intrigued by things a little bit gruesome, then take a trip underground to the Catacombs of Paris. A subterranean labyrinth under the heart of Paris, the Catacombs are the final resting place of more than six million people.
This so-called ‘ossuary’ was developed in 1774 to help ease the overflowing cemeteries that were commonplace in Paris at the time. Rather grotesquely, it became common practice for covered wagons, filled with human remains, to take nightly trips to the catacombs to, unbelievably, tip the remains into a mineshaft at the opening of the catacombs.
Now, it’s a respectful, if not slightly macabre tourist attraction and place of remembrance.
The early 19th Century Cemetery of Montmartre is situated in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. It’s the final resting place of perhaps those a little more fortunate than those who ended up in the Catacombs of Paris.
Here, you’ll find tombstones representing the remains of famous artists, under green, leafy canopies. There’s an air of relaxation in this cemetery, and of seclusion, since it was built below street level in an old, abandoned quarry.
If you love history, then here’s the ideal place for quiet learning and reflection. If you happen to love cats too, then you’ll also love the fact that Montmartre is also home to dozens of cat families. No one is quite sure how or why, but they certainly rule the roost here!
Situated in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, the Rue Crémieux is probably the prettiest street in the whole of the city. The ideal place for getting an Instagram worthy selfie, this cobbled street, originally built for local workers, is filled with quaintly painted, teeny tiny houses, in all the colours of the rainbow. Also, think terracotta pots, window boxes and plants, all happily situated alongside the beautiful facades.
Keep in mind, this is a residential street, and the residents do get annoyed by overeager tourists. But go for a wander and take in the sights, it’s well worth the trip!
Aerial view of the Eiffel Tower on background of business district of La Defense, seen from Tour Montparnasse.
Looking for a tall tower in Paris, with panoramic views of the city? Nope, not the Eiffel Tower, but Tour Montparnasse! Tour Montparnasse was the tallest building in France until the construction of the Tour First building in 2011 took its crown.
Nonetheless, this is still the tallest building in Paris and its observation deck offers the most amazing views of this metropolitan city. Opened in 1973 as an office block, it’s still used for this purpose, but has a restaurant, le Ciel de Paris, on the 56th floor (the building has 59 floors in total) with a terrace, both of which are open to the public.
So for the best views of Paris, without the crowds, head up to the Tour Montparnasse!
If shopping is your, ahem, bag, then a trip to the Avenue de Champs-Élysées is most definitely for you. With its array of high end, designer shops, even if your budget is more window shopper than actual shopper, you’ll still feel like a movie star for the afternoon.
At almost 2km long, it’s probably best to ditch the high fashion killer heels in favour of more comfortable footwear as you take in each exquisitely curated window display.
You’ll find the Champs-Élysées stretching between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle. And, not content with only sparkling shop fronts that draw us in like magpies, this famous avenue is also a hive of evening entertainment, with its restaurants, theatres and nightclubs (so those killer heels can still have an outing!)
Canal St. Martin
Stretching for almost 5km, Canal St. Martin is a Parisian canal that eventually ends up in the River Seine. Ideal for exploring alongside on foot, or on the water in a canal boat, the Canal St. Martin is a definite for any intrepid explorer of Paris.
Book a boat tour, or go it alone by foot, either way, you’ll be able to take in the glorious sites. If you’re a bridge enthusiast, you’ll love it here, with plenty of them to pass under, and locks to explore. There are numerous canal side cafés and restaurants for a stop off, too.
What’s remarkable about this canal is that around half of it is actually covered over to make way for squares and public spaces. So you may never know what’s going on above you!
We hope you can see, that whilst the romantics among us will always have something dreamy to do or see in Paris, the City of Love isn’t just about lovers.
There’s so much culture, excitement, activity and history to explore and experience. So much, that you’ll definitely need to plan a return city break to fit everything in. Oui oui!
What Will Travel Look Like in a Post-Pandemic World?
COVID-19 has affected every part of our lives and devastated the travel industry. We went from jet-setting around the world to lockdowns and coining new terms like 'travel corridor'. Seems alien now that we could once jump on a flight that same afternoon and sit next to a fellow passenger with no face mask.
As we keep being told though, every vaccine jab is a step closer back to normality, and, in 2021, we should finally look forward to vacationing again. When that happens, I think we're all prepared, going on holiday is going to look very different.
1 - Booking Your Holiday Will Change
The days of carefree travel will be on hold for a while. Travel insurance has become mandatory if you want to visit certain countries, and travelers must keep up to date on the travel restrictions and safety measures in the area they're traveling to. Trips will have to be more carefully planned to maintain social distancing practices and measure risks. Because of these extra steps, travel consultants are becoming much more popular, as people want expert help in traveling safely and managing more complex itineraries.
Before the pandemic, it was common to find the cheapest tickets possible in an effort to get the best deal. But the pandemic has brought new and much more important considerations. Instead of the cheapest tickets, in 2021 we’ll be looking for the airlines promising strict COVID precautions and hygiene standards. As well as their physical safety, travelers will want to protect their money too. There will be an increase in airlines offering more generous cancellation policies or free transfers if affected by COVID.
Despite all of this, in recent months there have actually been more trips booked last minute than ever before. Travelers have adopted a 'now or never' attitude and are booking trips while they can, as we don't know if or when we'll go back into strict restrictions. More people than ever have been booking flights within only one week of departure to travel while they can.
2 - Workcations Will Be a Thing
Lockdown rules have brought in widespread remote working and many employers have embraced the benefits of working from home. This huge change in how we work is now expected to completely transform the future of office workers forever. Some companies have already introduced long-term plans for their employees to perform their roles from home, rather than an expensive office desk. This will also change the way some of us take our holiday. Once travel bans begin to ease across the world, there'll be a new global trend: Workcations.
2021 will see an increase in extended holidays or one-way trips dubbed 'work-cations' as employees are no longer required to be stuck to their desk five days per week and no longer expected to attend meetings physically. Remote workers could choose a three-month stay in Spain, rather than two weeks, and achieve a more fulfilled existence and correct our long overdue work life imbalance. We may even see an increase in people living a nomadic lifestyle of constant travel while they work from wherever they find themselves.
3 - Rural Stays Will Increase
Even if we overcome Covid in 2021, some social distancing measures will likely remain for the rest of the year. Travellers will also be more cautious about their holiday destinations as we try to tentatively regain our previous way of life.
Rural vacations will undoubtedly be much more popular with an expected rise in remote cottage or cabin stays which will take preference over busy hotels or hostels. But also, as we've been stuck indoors during lockdown, we're expecting tourists will be more likely to want to get outside and choose more active, experienced-based vacations like biking, hiking or even extreme sports.
4 - Domestic Travel Will Increase Too
Travelling overseas is still very uncertain with travel restrictions changing overnight. Some travellers are also understandably fearful of flying during or shortly after a pandemic, though we can expect airlines to be doing everything they can to alay traveller's safety concerns.
Still, domestic trips have become more popular in 2020 and this trend will only continue in 2021. As we have no way of knowing what countries will shut their borders at any time, domestic travel provides us with some certainty and no quarantine restrictions. More travellers will drive to their place of vacation, rather than take the risk with public transport. 2021 will be the year to finally explore the beauty of your home country.
5 - Travel Standards Will Be Different
Travel companies will implement strict rules and regimes that we haven't experienced before. There will be strict cleaning practices and everything that can become contactless, will.
We'll have to wear face masks and sanitise our hands as many times as possible as we make our way to our destination. Social distancing measures could mean there will be fewer people on your flight and it might take longer to get through the airport.
The Global Airline Trade Association has announced it will be trialing a “travel pass”, an app that will carry information about your test results and vaccination status as well as information about travel restrictions and what's needed to travel to each country. We could see restrictions on who can travel, and where to.
This crisis has been devastating for the travel industry, and many have feared for its survival. However, there is hope in sight. Experts have predicted that travel will see a boom as the pandemic starts to subside. This should be sooner rather than later now as the vaccine rollout has begun in many countries across the world. Travel restrictions have made this year unbelievably difficult, and we hope the world will open up again again to us all in 2021 so we can start our next adventure.
30 Most Violent Cities In The World
Riot Police during a student strike in Santiago, Chile.
While preparing for a trip we all know to carefully pack our bags, find the best travel deals, and check the weather forecast. But something many of us overlook is researching the safety of the destination. When was the last time you researched crime rates before booking a city escape? Those of us from safe areas who don't encounter theft, violence, or natural disasters can be guilty of being na've to how threatening our dream destination may be.
Some of the most popular destinations happen to be some of the most dangerous parts of the world. Mexico offers incredible all-inclusive beach holidays, but did you know Mexican cities have some of the highest murder rates in the world? Meanwhile, Brazil has a vibrant culture that we all want to see for ourselves but has some of the world's worst gang violence.
Before planning your next adventure, search for your government's advice on traveling to the area. Learn the common scams and what parts of the city you shouldn't venture into after dark. Cities with gang culture are often more dangerous than most, while high rates of poverty almost always mean higher rates of theft. Even if you consider yourself a tough, experienced adventurer, there are some places that nobody should travel to under any circumstances. Places where there is a genuine threat of terrorism, homicide, or natural disaster, aren't worth the risk.
Check out our list of the 30 Most Violent Cities In The World to see for yourself.
** Please note that this article contains graphic content**
Policia national patrolling El Salvador carries an assault rifle on his chest to fight against local gangs.
Welcome to El Salvador, the first capital of Brazil and one of the murder capitals of the world. Salvador is an old colonial city where you will find baroque churches and charming buildings coloured in pinks, yellows and blues. Unfortunately, you will also find scam artists, pickpockets or heavily-armed street gangs such as The Maras which are responsible for the majority of murders here.
In 2015, the homicide rate peaked at a jaw-dropping 60.6 homicides per 100,000 residents. The rates have reduced since then but the latest statistics are still worrying at 47.5 per 100,000 residents. To put this number in context, London and New York are 1.2 and 3.4 respectively.
Surprisingly then, tourism still accounts for a large part of El Salvador's economic income mainly due to its temperate climate, lush tropical surrounding landscapes and exciting city life with festivals and all-night salsa parties. However, tourists are advised to stay alert for common scams normally involving petty theft. One such scam is where a local (usually a child) distracts you while an accomplice steals your belongings. When visiting here, you'd be advised to travel with others, stick to main roads and hide valuable items as there is a high risk of pickpockets, muggings and assault on foreigners. Killings however are normally gang related.
Lagos is a high-risk travel destination and a trip here should be planned with extreme caution. The level of criminality in Lagos is high and incidents of violent crime, including assaults and armed attacks, have occurred against foreign nationals. There is a real risk of kidnap throughout Nigeria, and the UK Government advises that 'those engaged in tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business are viewed as legitimate targets.' Nigeria has also seen a considerable amount of terrorist activity. The most recent incident was in November 2020, when insurgents attacked and murdered 70 civilians.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
Watch out for unlicensed cabs that will overcharge you. Tourists should always hire a pre-booked taxi from a reputable taxi company when traveling in and around Lagos. Kidnaps for ransom are a terrifying reality in Lagos and foreigners are commonly the target. Kidnappers can dress like taxi drivers. After asking for the destination location, the driver pulls out a gun and order the victim to get in the car, kidnapping them for ransom.
Also, armed robbers do target occupants in vehicles; smash-and-grab robberies are common, with thieves canvassing stopped vehicles for valuables. Thieves will break the vehicle's window or simply reach in and grab items while a vehicle stops in traffic.
Scams & Pickpocket Risk: HIGH
The rates of petty crime is high here. Common scams involve ATM skimming, fake beggars faking injuries and online cat fishing. Once a relationship has been built, they will either tell you of a problem (fake accident, emergency surgery, stolen wallet, problem with hotel), or claim to want to take a flight to visit and then ask you to wire money over.
Natural Disaster Risk: HIGH
Lagos is seeing the terrible effects of climate change. In 2019, Lagos saw a severe flood that left thousands of people homeless.
Mexico hosts many of the world's most violent cities, and Tijuana is without a doubt the most violent. Like in other Mexican cities, gangs and drug cartels bring here thefts and violent crime. As of late 2019, there were 100 murders per day in the city. Tijuana has been consistently ranked as the most dangerous city in not just Mexico, but the whole world, notably because it hosts the most dangerous drug cartels in South America. There was an explosion of carnage in 2008 during a cartels war where corpses were hung from bridges and shootouts raged. People were terrified to step out of their house at that time.
Homicide Risk: HIGH
Statistics show Tijuana as the city with the highest per capita murder rate in the world. Tijuana experienced 2,208 homicides in 2019, down from 2,519 in 2018. the number of homicides is now slightly down but stays high. Tijuana also leads the country in femicide and it's not recommended for females to travel alone here.
Transport And Taxis Risk: HIGH
Uber and minibuses are the safest ways to travel around the city. As a tourist, it is dangerous to walk around if you don't know the city, especially at night, as you can be perfectly safe on one street, walk a few blocks and end up in a dangerous part of town.
Be aware that there are common scams occurring in taxis: the driver may try to overcharge you, take a long route to rack up a bigger fare, take you to a restaurant or hotel where he gets commissions.
Pickpocket Risk: HIGH
Pickpocketing is a fairly common crime in Tijuana. Pickpockets mostly operate in the crowded touristy areas of Zona Centro and Zona Norte during the day and evenings. As a tourist, you are a target and you shouldn't carry valuable items with you or wander at night.
Street prostitutes often work as pickpockets. They approach you, distract you by touching you or grabbing at you, then steal your phone, wallet, watch, or whatever they can get their hands on. Another trick pickpockets use in Tijuana is to wait outside of bars and target drunk people.
Baghdad is a city of over 7 million people and has been listed as one of the least hospitable places in the world. In 2003, the USA invaded Iraq, leading to a war that raged until 2011, where much of Baghdad's infrastructure was destroyed. Political instability in the area led to the rise of the terrorist organisation, Daesh, who carried out attacks in Baghd?d and around the world in other countries. In 2017, the country's Prime Minister declared that Daesh has been defeated. However, shootings, bombings, and kidnappings are still something that the people currently inside of Baghdad have to contend with.
Homicide Risk: HIGH
Extremists groups such as Daesh (ISIS) carry out attacks in Baghdad, especially in hotels, restaurants, political gatherings, and shopping malls. Because of the terrorist groups and warfare in this city, there is a significant risk of being involved with violence and losing your life. Protests regularly take place in the city that often become violent, resulting in deaths. It's recommended that you keep your political and religious beliefs quiet to avoid violent clashes.'
Transport and Taxis Risk: HIGH
Terrorism in Baghdad make traveling dangerous - terrorist groups create fake vehicle checkpoints to launch attacks on foreigners. The roads are dangerous and fatal road traffic accidents are a frequent occurrence. Only travel in an armored vehicle with an experienced guide.
Mugging Risk: HIGH Violent crime is common in Baghdad. As a foreigner, you will be a target. It is recommended to keep your valuables safe and to only travel in groups with an experienced guide.
Natural Disaster Risk: HIGH
There is a risk of earthquakes, floods, and droughts in this area. Iraq was flooded in October 2015, which prompted the authorities to declare a state of emergency. Power outages, overflowing sewers, and flooded streets were widespread in Baghdad. Dozens of Iraqis were electrocuted when electrical systems coming into contact with flood water.
Women protest demanding justice for Hathras gang-rape victim, on October 2 2020 in New Delhi, India
Hasn't everyone dreamed of visiting India in their lives? Delhi is one of India's busiest and most vibrant cities, known for being crowded, exciting and fast-paced. For all its charms, visitors to Delhi must keep their wits about them. The high rate of poverty here drives up crime rates and tourists are prime targets for opportunistic criminals. As a tourist, you're unlikely to be a victim of random homicide on a trip to Dehli, however you're likely to be a victim of petty crime. Also, sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas have been increasing in recent years (1 Rape Is Reported Every 15 Minutes in India), and women often have to deal with unwanted male attention when walking through the city.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
The roads in Delhi are busy, and unregulated. Driving here is dangerous and there is a high risk of being involved in an accident. Book your transport through your hotel or from inside the airport to avoid being scammed by a taxi driver extending your journey.'Some taxi drivers will say that they don't know where your hotel is (or that it's full, or doesn't exist) and offer to take you to another hotel. Other taxi drivers alter their reading meter, so it's important you know the exact cost of your journey.
Scams Risk: HIGH
It is common for tourists to fall victim to scams in Delhi. Become familiar with the exchange rate before you travel, so you know if you're being overcharged by a scammer. Some of the common scams involve tourists being approached by a gem dealer, who convinces them to buy some (fake) gemstones for him, fake sadhus who approach tourists and ask for donations, and begging scams. Some women rent babies for the day to extort money from tourists, sometimes asking them to buy milk in a shop where it's way overpriced. Also beware that many pickpockets operate in Delhi and target unsuspecting tourists. They are skilled and you might not realise they robbed you until hours after.
Natural Disaster Risk: HIGH
Travel in India during the monsoon season (June to October) can be hazardous as it rains heavily and often flood areas of the city. Also, Delhi is prone to strong earthquakes. A violent earthquake occurred in 1960. Some buildings in the New Delhi area were partially damaged.
Terrorism Risk: HIGH
Terrorists do operate in India and a busy city like Delhi is one of the most likely targets. In India, terrorist attacks are carried out by the terrorists and insurgent groups called Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the Indian Mujahideen.'While most terrorist attacks have been carried against Indian government, terrorists have also targeted places visited by westerners including public places like restaurants, hotels, railway stations, markets, places of worship, festivals and sporting venues.
Sana's is the largest city in the Arabic country of Yemen. The oldest area UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring incredible architecture. This ancient city is steeped in rich history and culture. Sadly, it's been the site of several conflicts in recent history that have destroyed the city and made life extremely hard for its citizens. Yemen is an extremely dangerous country and should be avoided at all costs. Terrorist groups are likely to carry out attacks in the city and kill foreigners. In 2007, eight people were killed in a suicide car bombing carried by the terrorist group Al-Qaida. In 2011, four British tourists were snatched by a small, radical Muslim group, the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army. When government troops surrounded them, the hostages were lined up in front of their captors and shot.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
The transport system in Yemen is very limited, and with many roads being destroyed, it's dangerous to be in a car. It's also likely that you might get kidnapped whilst on the road. Only travel around Sana'a in groups with an experienced guide.
Scams & Robberies Risk: HIGH
There is a high possibility that you will be scammed here. Look out for people trying to distract you by asking for help of making a scene - they may be distracting you while an accomplice steals from you. Leave any valuables behind when traveling around the city. Violent crimes are extremely common in Yemen and muggings and armed robberies do occur.
Natural Disaster Risk: HIGH
Yemen has historically been a victim of severe flooding. The 2020 Yemen flood was a flash flood that killed at least 172 people in Yemen and damaged homes and UNESCO-listed world heritage sites across the country.
Since 1979, Afghanistan has been involved in a series of devastating conflicts. Despite it's dangers, travellers might still wish to come here to experience the historic monuments of Islamic culture. Although, travelling here is discouraged as Kabul is a dangerous and violent area. The Afghan government has little control over Kabul which is effectively a war zone. The area is highly unsafe and it's recommended not to travel here.
Terrorists in Afghanistan are very aggressive and regularly carry attacks on Kabul. On 12 May 2020, a terrorist attack targeted a maternity ward at a hospital in Kabul city, killing 24 and wounding at least another 20 people. On 25 March 2020, a terrorist attack targeted a Sikh Gurdwara in Kabul city, killing 25 and wounding at least another eight people.
Terrorist attacks notably from Daesh are a serious threat to foreigners. The group is fiercely hostile to the UK and other western countries. There is an increased threat to Western interests in Kabul which could make any UK interest or person a target. Attacks include bombs (roadside and other), suicide bombs (either on foot or by vehicle), indirect fire (rockets and mortars), direct fire (shootings and rocket propelled grenades), kidnappings and violent crime.
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Ciudad Juarez is a densely populated city in Northern Mexico. Located in the state of Chihuahua, the city has a high rate of poverty with many of its citizens struggling to get by. Drug cartels and gangs operate in the city, bringing violence and destruction.
Homicide Risk: HIGH
In recent years, Ciudad Juarez has made headlines because of the alarming amount of women that have been murdered. It was estimated that more than 370 women were killed between 1993 and 2005. Half of the deaths were prompted by motives like robbery and gang wars, while a a third of the deaths involved sexual assault. A mass grave attributed to organized crime containing remains of women was also found in Madera Municipality in 2016.
Scams Risk: HIGH
Criminals in this city can spot unsuspecting tourists that they could take advantage of. You could be the victim of travel scams such as fake souvenirs, fake ATM's or even fake policemen. Fake police will generally approach solo travelers. In the case where a police officer approaches you, asking to go with them to the station or elsewhere, immediately contact emergency services on 112.
Pickpocket Risk: HIGH
Pickpockets are known to operate in the city, especially in its busy cosmopolitan areas. Muggings are also fairly common. Visitors are advised to leave any valuables in a locked safe at their accommodation.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
You are likely to be a victim of theft while using public transport here. There are also fake taxi scams in Mexico so make sure to use a reputable taxi company.
The streets of Tripoli, where the poverty has reached the highest rate since the revolution in 2011
Tripoli is Libya's capital city, home to over 3 million people. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi became the country's leader in 1969, leading to violent conflicts and civil war. Officials advise tourists to avoid Libya at all costs, as the risk to international visitors is extremely high. Violent crime is on the rise in Tripoli, with many being attacked for their skin color, ethnic origin, gender, or religion. In 2015, militants attacked a hotel in Tripoli, killing at least nine foreigners.
Also expect extensive corruption in Libya. Undocumented foreign nationals are here at risk of exploitation, arbitrary and indefinite detention, as well as beatings, sometimes amounting to torture. There have been thousands of cases of arbitrary arrests and armed groups often exercise law enforcement duties as they see fit. Libyan prisons are overcrowded and there have been allegations of unlawful killings, torture, sexual violence, and forced labor in the prisons.
Transport & Taxis Risk: HIGH
The situation in Tripoli continues to be unstable, so traveling through the city is dangerous. You could encounter violent terrorists or thieves at any point. Also, driving standards are poor here with factors that complicate traffic additionally, like the wind-blown sand that reduces visibility.
Scams & Pickpocket Risk: HIGH
Many scammers operate in the city, lingering around ATM's to steal cash. Foreigners are targeted more than locals. Anyone traveling around Tripoli must keep their valuables in a safe space and remain alert at all times.
Terrorism Risk: HIGH
Extremist groups, including Daesh, regularly carry out attacks in Tripoli. Daesh claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack on the High National Election Commission in Tripoli on 2 May 2018, in which at least 13 people were killed and many injured, and further attacks on the National Oil Corporation in central Tripoli on 10 September 2018, in which at least 2 people were killed, and on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tripoli on 25 December 2018, which killed at least two people. In August 2019, a car bomb explosion in the eastern city of Benghazi killed five, including three foreign nationals.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa is well known for its natural beauty, with phenomenal beaches and awe-inspiring surrounding mountains. So it may come as a shock that Cape Town is also one of the most dangerous cities in the world. In recent years, there has been a surge of gang-related crime. As of 2018, there were around 100,00 residents involved in gang culture. Poverty is to blame as well as years of Apartheid which have contributed to the current social issues. As of 2018/19, Cape Town's murder rate was at 77 murders per 100,000 people. Violent attacks and rapes are unfortunately common in and around Cape Town. It's not advised that women travel solo to this part of the world.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH Public transport systems are often the scene of robberies and violent crimes. Criminals target tourists coming to and from airports and metro stations.
Scams Risk: HIGH There are plenty of scammers operating in Cape Town. It's important to get to know the most popular scams before traveling. Scammers routinely pose and someone offering romance, a job, or a business venture before taking vast sums of money from their victim. Be wary of locals you meet in Cape Town if they are encouraging you to part with money.
Pickpocket Risk: HIGH
It would be a mistake not to look out for pickpockets here, especially in crowded areas and on public transport. Keep a low profile, as foreigners are perceived as wealthy and are more likely to be targeted. Violent robberies are on the rise in Cape Town. However, if you stick to tourist hotspots, you should be okay. Cape Town relies on its tourist industry, so there is a heavy police presence in tourist areas.'
Natural Disaster Risk: HIGH
The western cape was flooded in 1981 and was hit by fire in 2015 and 2017.
Terrorism Risk: MEDIUM
In 2018, the terrorist group, Daesh kidnapped and killed two South African-British nationals. Further attacks could likely take place.
Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa
Nelson Mandela Bay is one of the most dangerous cities in South Africa along with Cape Town. The worst-afflicted areas are located near Port Elizabeth and report unprecedented homicide levels, peaking between 2017 and 2019. Gelvandale reported 124 homicides per 100 000 inhabitants in 2018/19 whilst Bethelsdorp clocked 79 homicides per 100 000 in the same year. Like Cape Town, the reasons for this increasing violence are racial and economic marginalisation, extreme poverty and high rates of youth unemployment. But a closer examination suggests that gangs and emerging patterns of misgovernance in the city's administration are also linked to the increased violence in Nelson Mandela Bay.
In 2017, seven people including a nine-year old were shot in escalating gang violence. In 2021, four shop owners were murdered in their shop by thugs. Although tourists are usually targeted by thieves and no tourist homicide was recently reported, there is always the chance to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and get killed.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
Public transport such as buses is considered unsafe for tourists, especially those carrying luggage to and from the airport as there is a high risk of getting mugged. However, taxis are generally safe as long as they are from a reputable company.
Scams & Pickpocket Risk: HIGH
Scam rates are very high. Only make purchases in stores, not from street vendors or individuals selling things on the street. Scams on car park tickets were reported by tourists (scammers asked them to pay for tickets even tough the car park was free). Also watch out for altered ATM's and fake police officers. If someone wearing a badge asks you for money or to follow them somewhere, don't.
Finally robbery is the most prevalent form of crime against Nelson Mandela Bay tourists; a study reported 13% of the surveyed tourists being robbed while visiting the Bay so don't bring anything valuable.
Aleppo is one of the oldest cities in the world. In recent years, much of its beauty has been wiped away in violent conflicts. Thousands of refugees have fled to avoid being killed and about 20% of the city was destroyed during conflicts. As the violence and destruction continues, it's recommended that you don't visit this city at any costs. There is a strong military presence and they control the city. Snipers are positioned around roads and there is here a very high risk of getting shot by the military or a terrorist group. As the area is so violent and unstable, it's impossible to know exactly how many homicides occurred in Aleppo in recent years.
Terrorism Risk: HIGH
There have been many terrorist attacks across Syria including in major cities, resulting in large numbers of casualties. There are several terrorist groups operating in Syria, including Daesh and Hay'at Tahrir al Sham. They target a wide range of places, including official installations, airports, border crossings, public transport and civilian spaces like public squares, hospitals, places of worship and learning institutions.
There is an increased threat to Westerners in Syria. Foreign nationals, are high value targets for terrorists. There's an increasing threat of terrorist attacks globally against Western interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant of this and the FCDO's advice not to travel to any part of Syria at this time.
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Photo taken by the Guatemalan photographer Saul Martinez. "As soon as you turn the TV on in the morning there are news reports of a crime committed."
The country of Guatemala has one of the highest violent crime rates in Latin America, and Guatemala city is at the heart of it. Both residents and tourists can be the victims of drug related violent assaults. It is especially not recommended to wander in the city at night as robberies, muggings, and murders are likely to happen. In 2017, a violent armed attack involved a group of tourists, including five British nationals.
According to the British newspaper Daily Mail, someone is murdered in Guatemala every 90 minutes and body parts are regularly left in public places by gangs as a macabre warning to the communities. There are up to 14,000 gang members in the country, and the largest gang is the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), and the Mara-18 (18th Street), which were both formed in Los Angeles by immigrants who returned to Central America. The motto of MS-13 is 'rape, control, kill'. Described as America's most violent street gang, MS-13 members have been involved in trafficking cocaine into the US, prostitution rings, robberies, assaults, murders and gun smuggling.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
Car-jacking and armed hold-ups commonly occur along the main highways of the city. They are carried out by armed gangs. It's also not recommended to take a bus or taxi unless your hotel arranged it. There are people who operate fake taxis and buses with the intent of robbing or sometimes raping their victims.
Scams Risk: HIGH
Scammers operating in Guatemala city are often impostors posing as officials to fool people into giving them their belongings or money.
Natural Disaster Risk: HIGH
There are four volcanoes visible from the city, and two of these are active. And, the city's geographic location causes it to fall victim to earthquakes.
Porto Alegre, Brazil
Military police patrol the streets of downtown Porto Alegre amid growing concern over rising crime.
The Brazilian city of Porto Alegre is an important port city, bordering the banks of the freshwater Lagoa dos Patos. It's the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, and consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. There is here a higher than normal incidence of violent crime ' most notably, murder and armed robbery.
Homicide Risk: HIGH
As of 2018, Porto Alegre had a murder rate of 60 per 100,000 residents. The gun death rate in Porto Alegre is 21.2 per 100,000 residents every year. Taking into account Porto Alegre's population of 1,822,100 it means that on average, a gun death occurs once every 22 hours.
Transport And Taxis Risk: MEDIUM
You're mostly physically safe when using the transport systems of Porto Alegre, but traveling through the city carries the risk of being a victim of theft. Pickpockets take advantage of unsuspecting passengers.
To be safe in Porto Alegre, it's advised to not wear jewelry, expensive clothes, Nike or Adidas sneakers. Also avoid talking on your cell phone in the street and going out after 7pm.
Chihuahua is the capital city of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The buildings are in a beautiful unique architectural style and a visit here offers the chance to taste the amazing local cuisine. Although it's safer than some large Mexican cities, Chihuahua is a risky area to visit. The city has high rates of drug-rated and gang crime. There's a rivalry in Chihuahua between the powerful and dangerous Sinaloa Cartel and the Juarez Cartel. People caught up in the rivalry often get murdered. In 2017, Chihuahua had a population of 929,884 people and saw 460 homicides, making it one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico and worldwide.
Transport And Taxis Risk: HIGH
Traveling by bus isn't advised, but using taxi's are safe as long as they're from a licensed company, Don't hail taxis on the street - call them from within your hotel.
Pickpocket & Scams Risk: HIGH
Scams sometimes occur in Chihuahua, most commonly against tourists. As more widely in Mexico, there are fake police officers. It's likely to be a victim of a pickpocket anywhere in Mexico, especially in busy parts of cities like Chihuahua. Tourists should leave valuables in their accommodation. Kidnappings are also common to rob you.
Natural Disaster Risk: HIGH
In 2012, Chihuahua was devastated by a severe drought. As global warming rises and weather around the world gets more extreme, this could happen again soon.
Albuquerque, New Mexico's largest city, sits in the high desert. New Mexico had the highest rate of property crime among U.S states in 2016, and the second highest rate for violent crime. Around 27 percent of the population lives in Albuquerque, the latest non-preliminary federal crime statistics from 2018 showing that Albuquerque's crime rate was more than 3.5 times the national average.
High rates of poverty and a lack of opportunity for its citizens are to blame for the high rates of crime in the city. With an understaffed police force, criminals are bold and unafraid. There is here a very high level of gangs related crimes, assault, armed robbery, property crimes such as vandalism and theft and drug related crimes.
Homicide Risk: HIGH
Violent crimes in Albuquerque have been consistently high in recent years. Some neighborhood such as South East Albuquerque also named 'The War Zone', are extremely unsafe, especially at night. Albuquerque counts no less than 76 homicides in 2020, falling just shy of the record high of 80 in 2019. The 76 homicides in 2020 was the second-highest count in recent history. 54 deaths of 2020 can be attributed to gun violence.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
Car-jackings are common here, and tourists have reported an alarming number of stolen cars.
Scams Risk: HIGH
Like anywhere with a high poverty rate, there will be lots of people who want you to part with your money. Keep your wits about you, especially around ATM's. If you can, use an ATM inside a bank rather than one on the street.
Detroit, Michigan USA
Hilton Garden Inn on Gratiot Avenue in downtown Detroit
Detroit in the U.S. state of Michigan has a dark side. The city has gone through a major economic and demographic decline in recent decades and the population of the city has fallen from a high of 1,850,000 in 1950 to 680,000 in 2015. Local crime rates are among the highest in the United States and vast areas of the city are in a state of severe urban decay. In 2013, Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history, which it then exited in 2014. Poverty, crime, shootings, drugs and urban blight in Detroit are ongoing problems. The Gratiot area cutting through the 48205 ZIP code, is one of the most dangerous in the United States, which is referred to by residents as "4820-die." Gratiot is home to the gang Seven Mile Bloods, who significantly elevate the Detroit crime rate with their drug deals and shootings.
Scams & Pickpocket Risk: HIGH
Scammers are common in Detroit, including a lot of ATM scams and scams aimed at unsuspecting tourists. Pickpockets take advantage of the care-free tourists that flock to Detroit year on year, especially in Detroit's Downtown.
Transport And Taxis Risk: MEDIUM
Detroit has good transport systems, but traveling via public transport is not recommended at night as it's common to be robbed or harassed at bus or train stations.
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
San Pedro Sula is the second largest city of Honduras and up until 2016, was the murder capital of the world. Kidnappings, extortion, murders and corruption are common in relation to drugs traffic. The worst gangs of the city are MS-13 and Barrio 18. These gangs rely on extortion revenue from the public and they recruit young children to conduct some of their brutal hits.
Homicide Risk: HIGH
For a whopping 5 years (between 2010 and 2015) Honduras had the highest murder rates in the world. Although it still doesn't hold this title, there are new murder victims every day, all year round. Violence rises mainly from fights between gangs trying to gain control over the city's areas. Innocent victims are often killed. Even if tourists are not a primary target of organised crime, you need to be careful as there is a high risk of getting caught in crossfire. Firearms cause 83.4% of homicides in Honduras, compared to 60% in the U.S.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
Robberies and even kidnappings are common along the transport routes of Honduras. Unlicensed taxi's operate in the city, which are dangerous to take as they are often operated by gangs. Don't travel by public buses which are often targeted in armed robberies.
Pickpocket Risk: HIGH
Walking through the streets of San Pedro Sula, there will be a lot of people after your money and valuables. Petty crime like this is the most common form of crime in the city. Avoid wandering alone and travel mainly by taxis recommended by your hotel.
Natural Disaster Risk: HIGH
Honduras is particularly susceptible to hurricanes, flooding and earthquakes. Drought and forest fires are also common. In November 2020, two major hurricanes hit the region in the span of about two weeks. It was one of Central America's worst natural disasters and the hurricanes hit Honduras really hard, making thousands of people homeless.
With a population of over 15 million people, Dhaka is amongst the biggest cities in the world. It has a vibrant culture with a diverse collection of different cultures and religions, making it a fascinating place to visit. However, there is a devastatingly high rate of poverty throughout Bangladesh, making it a hotspot for crime.
Dhaka's crime rate is listed as high, and crime increases dramatically at night. Armed robbery is the second-most common crime here and there have been reports of an increase in armed robbery and gangs operating throughout Dhaka, particularly in Gulshan and Banani, two of Dhaka's wealthiest areas.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
The roads in Dhaka are extremely busy and unregulated. A popular way to get around is by Rickshaw (there are over 400,000 in Dhaka!) but it isn't without it's risks, as accidents are common. Passengers of rickshaws, CNGs or taxis are particularly vulnerable to armed robberies, especially at night. There are bus and metro systems, however they are crowded and you are likely to be a victim of thieves.
Scams & Pickpocket Risk: HIGH
Many of the crimes committed against travelers in Dhaka are petty; pickpocketing and bag snatching in particular. In this crowded city with a high poverty rate, you are likely to fall victim to a pickpocket. Don't wear expensive clothes or jewelry or travel through the city carrying an expensive phone or camera. Both petty and violent crime rates are high in Dhaka, and violent robberies are unfortunately fairly common. You are likely to be robbed at gunpoint when travelling through the city after dark.
Terrorism Risk: HIGH
On 1 July 2016 there was an attack claimed by ISIL at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka, 20 hostages died, mainly foreign nationals, and 2 police officers. There have been recent media reports suggesting continued Daesh interest in attacking Bangladesh.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Despite its charms, Johannesburg is known for being a lawless city with extortionate rates of crime. Violent crimes such as assault, vandalism and armed robbery are very common and rates of sexual assaults are terrifyingly high in the city (41,583 rapes were reported to the police in 2018/19). Women shouldn't travel alone here, and should remain in groups to avoid attacks.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
If you're going to be victim of crime here, it's likely to be when travelling from A to B. Robberies are common on metro's and at metro and bus stations. And, like in the rest of South Africa, it's a common occurrence for tourists to be followed from the airport and robbed.
Scams Risk: HIGH
It's important to be aware of Johannesburg's most popular scams before travelling here. It's common for scammers to pose as officials like police or traffic wardens so watch out for unprofessional behaviour and stay away from trouble.
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis police investigate the fatal shooting of 7-year-old Xavier Usanga on Aug. 12, 2019.
When we think 'danger' we don't usually think 'Missouri, USA'. But St Louis is in fact USA's most dangerous city with a shocking homicide rate of 87 killings per 100,000 residents, the highest on record since 1970. Missouri has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the country; it is an open-carry state that doesn't require background checks or a permit to have a gun. Gun violence is a huge problem in St Louis and can happen at any time to anyone, including young children who end up in the crossfire. There is a very high risk of homicide in St Louis, federal agents made over 1000 arrests related to shootings in 2020. There is also a high risk of thefts, assault and rape in some parts of the city.
Traveling via the city's public transport is not always safe, robberies can happen at bus or train stations. For instance The Metrolink does see a lot of crime - even some violent crimes. As a tourist you shouldn't wander through the city without knowing where you're going. It's best to have a local show you around and research where you shouldn't go as there are pretty rough area (Peabody-Darst-Webbe, Old North Saint Louis, Wells-Goodfellow).
Baltimore, Maryland USA
Baltimore is the most populated city in the U.S state of Maryland. Because of its location and history, the city attracts millions of visitors per year. Despite its charms, U.S citizens will tell you that Baltimore is notorious for its high rates of crime. More than 20% of its citizens live in poverty and gangs and drugs have become a significant problem in the city, which has driven up crime over the years.
The city of Baltimore had 335 homicides in 2020. Gun violence is raging in Baltimore and it's a really bad idea to wander alone if you don't know the city. Some areas to avoid are: Hopkins-Middle East, West Baltimore, Cherry Hill and Berea Area.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
Using the city public transport should be safe by day but isn't safe at night. Robberies and violent crimes occur commonly at bus and train stations. A bus driver got shot in Mars 2020.
Pickpocket & Mugging Risk: HIGH
It's important to keep your belongings safe when in Baltimore, as it's common for people to have their things snatched. There is a homelessness and poverty problem in Baltimore, and violent muggings are a daily occurrence as the city hosts many criminals.
Jamaica is a place filled with sunshine, scenery, and a joyous culture. Although it may seem glorious, Jamaica recorded 1,301 killings in 2020. Its capital Kingston, a vibrant port town with a culture of reggae dance and music, is in fact a dangerous place to visit and travelers are currently advised to avoid wandering alone in the city.
In 2018, 169 murders per 100,000 inhabitants were recorded in Kingston. It's not surprising as gang activity has been on the rise in recent years, and so are levels of crime and violence. Among the violent crimes that are common in Kingston are sexual assaults against women. It is still possible to visit Kingston during the day but don't travel alone and avoid the bad part of town such as West Kingston Grant's Pen, August Town, Harbour View and Spanish Town.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
You might be tempted to hire a car to get around the city, but a wiser choice would be to hire a taxi from a reputable company. Driving in Kingston is difficult and car-jacking are common. Also don't wander alone and avoid buses as they can be sketchy.
Pickpocket & Mugging Risk: HIGH
Pickpockets operate every day in Kingston. Avoid going to the same restaurant every night as this can make you a target as thieves get to know your routine. Robberies also happen so watch your back at ATM's.
Natural Disaster Risk: HIGH
Jamaica is prone to hurricanes. In 1988, Jamaicans experienced what is perhaps the most notorious hurricane in its history: Hurricane Gilbert. Damage was estimated at $4 billion. More recently, Hurricane Ivan in 2004 did extensive damage to the nation's infrastructure. Keep an eye on local news for hurricanes, forecast usually give previous advice on what to do in case of a hurricane.
Palmira is a beautiful city in SouthWestern Columbia. Nearby are exciting jungle trails and rivers to explore, and in the city is some beautiful architecture. Unfortunately, a lot of violence occurs in Palmira because of drug-related gangs. In 2017, Business Insider dubbed Palmira among the most violent cities in the world, down to the astonishing number of homicides that year.
Homicide Risk: HIGH
In 2017, Palmira had a population of 308,669 people and 144 murders. Gangs here are clashing for drug territories, murdering people stuck in the middle. Activists and human rights defenders lives are particularly at risk here and the city isn't safe for solo women travelers as violence towards women do frequently occur.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
Travelling through the city is generally quite dangerous. Roads are unsafe and you shouldn't wander alone, especially at night. Robbers wait at the roadside to ambush passers by.
Scams & Mugging Risk: HIGH
There are a lot of scammers operating in Colombian cities. ATM scams are popular, and taxi drivers take advantage of tourists by overcharging them. Across all of Colombia, violent muggings, armed robberies and kidnappings are common.
Terrorism Risk: HIGH
The National Liberation Army (ELN),' the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and other illegal armed groups all pose a threat to the people of Colombia. These groups may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls etc... In 2019, the ELN conducted a vehicle-bomb attack on a police academy in Bogota, killing 23 people.
Bogota is a city in Columbia with a population of over 8 million people. It's popular with tourists because of it's rich history, exciting culture and all the available fun to have here. It's an amazing area, but Columbia has a huge amount of problems with drugs, gangs, and violent crime. There is a war in Columbia between the drug gangs and the authorities, so being in crowded areas is dangerous, as they are the most likely to be random violent attacks.
Some areas of Bogota such as Ciudad Bolivar are very sketchy and to avoid. Explore the city during the day, but don't wander without knowing where you're going as some dangerous streets can be close to safe areas. Muggings and armed robbery are a danger, especially after dark in known tourist areas like La Candelaria and near the Montserrate cable car.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
Travelling around Bogota must be carefully planned to avoid danger. Only licensed taxi's should be used, because it's common for unlicensed taxis to drive you somewhere you don't want to be and rob you.
Scams Risk: HIGH
Scammers in Bogota use manipulative tactics like posing as police officers, and there is a lot of counterfeit money circulating in the city.
La Paz, Bolivia
Demonstrators throws stones during a protest in Bolivia, on October 28, 2019
La Paz is a Bolivian city surrounded by the Altiplano mountains. As the cultural heart of Bolivia, it attracts hundreds of people every year, who flock to the city to experience its museums and cathedrals. However, La Paz has a reputation for drugs and violent crimes, crime related to cocaine traffic is a real issue here and the political climate is also generating tension and violent protests in the country.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
There is a lot of tourist scams in La Paz, and one of them is the overcharging of passengers by unlicensed taxi drivers. Express kidnappings, do also occur. The typical scenario involves the unsuspecting victim boarding a taxi in which the driver is an accomplice. The criminals then also hop in the taxi and proceed to rob, assault, hold the victim hostage and driving from ATM to ATM forcing them to withdraw money. The areas where kidnappings are most likely to occur in La Paz include Plaza Abaroa, Plaza Humbolt (Zona Sur), Plaza Isabel La Cat'lica, Plaza del Estudiante, Plaza San Francisco, and the Altiplano, as well as the downtown area of the city.
Pickpocket & Scams Risk: HIGH
It's very common to be pickpocketed in La Paz, almost everywhere you go. It's important not to travel around the city carrying valuables. Criminals have been known to pose as officials in order to trick you into parting with your cash.
There are also fake tourists you need to watch out for. They will approach you in a friendly way and may suggest you go with them to a friend's home so they can kidnap and rob you. Another variation involves some phony police officers accusing your new-found friend of drug possession. They will take both of you to the "station" where all of your belongings will be confiscated and never returned.
Durban, South Africa
Durban flood damages in 2019
The city of Durban is South Africa's third most populous city and is surrounded by beautiful nature reserves and botanical gardens. But Durban also ranks among the most violent cities in the world. As of 2018, Durban had a population of 4,055,969 and 1,562 homicides. This is very high however most homicides occur in townships and not in the central tourist areas.
There are very poor areas in the city, and therefore it is not uncommon to hear about muggings and armed robberies. There have been reports of food and drink spiking, with victims ending up being assaulted and robbed after the incident. Rapes also occur in Durban, and it's not a suitable city for solo women travelers. Though Durban is a very dangerous city, tourist areas such as the areas near the beach are secured as they are frequently visited by policemen, and have many CCTV cameras.
Transport & Taxis Risk: HIGH
You are most at risk when you are traveling, especially to and from the airport. Robberies and muggings commonly take place at rail stations or near airports, as criminals know that tourists are carrying valuables. Remain vigilant and use a pre-booked taxi from a reputable company.
Also at night, it is highly recommended to stick to the main streets and not wander in the city unless you are very familiar with the places you're going.
Scams Risk: HIGH
Some scammers pose as police officers in Durban. They may ask to 'search' your bags before robbing you. A recent scam involved a fake police officer from the head police station in Durban calling people saying they have a rape case against them and a warrant of arrest has been issued. He would then ask for a bribe to make the case go away.
Natural Disaster Risk: HIGH
Durban is at risk of floods, wildfires, and earthquakes. In 2019, a flood has resulted in at least 70 deaths caused by collapsed buildings, mudslides and sinkholes. It is one of the deadliest disasters to hit the country in the decade.
An injured protester receives a medical treatment during a student march, in Caracas, Venezuela on November 21, 2018. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez
Valencia is Venezuela's third-largest city and is a hub for manufacturing industries. Surrounded by mountains and lying next to the sea, Valencia should be a wonderfully peaceful place. But the corruption and violence raging here has caused Valencia to be ranked among the world's most violent cities. As of 2017, the city had a murder rate of 72.02 homicides per 100,000 residents, which is considerably high.
Tourists are prime targets in Venezuela, especially in Valencia. Kidnappings have increased approximately 50 per cent from 2008 to 2009, and armed robberies are common. In recent years "express kidnapping" have emerged. These kidnappings are short-term opportunistic abductions, aimed at extracting cash from the victim. There are no safe areas in Valencia, crime can happen anywhere.
Transport And Taxis Risk: HIGH
It's common for robberies to take place on public transport, where there is nowhere to run too. Carjackings are also a common occurrence, so it's not safe even when in a hired vehicle. Carjackers tend to target expensive-looking vehicles, especially 4x4s. Well-armed criminal gangs operate widely, often setting up fake police checkpoints. They ram their intended victim's vehicle from behind, or attempt to flag them down in order to rob them. Resistance to robbery often results in victims being shot dead.
Scams Risk: HIGH
Scammers in Valencia are coming up with new scams all the time, so it's difficult not to fall for them. Scams are often discreet and difficult to detect.
More recently, ATM data was hacked and used to make unauthorized withdrawals from user's accounts. (Reports suggest hand-held scanners are also used by thieves to steal account details). Tourists should be careful only to use ATMs in well-lit public places as to avoid being targeted by street gangs.
There is a lot of corruption in the country, and airports aren't a safe place. You could be overcharged when paying airport tax for both international flights and domestic flights within Venezuela. Make sure to check the amount printed on the receipt issued for the tax (normally a sticker affixed to the back of your ticket) before handing over any money. Also do not hand a wallet full of money to people checking your personal items. Make sure to have a secret place for your cash.
Natural Disaster Risk: HIGH
Venezuela sees a hurricane season every year from 1 June to 30 November. The rainy season runs from May until November and carries a serious risk of floods.
Reynosa is another deadly Mexican City. It lies close to the US border, connected to it by a bridge over the Rio Grande River. The city is a hotspot for drug cartels and violent gangs. The cartels are often at war with each other and with authorities, leading to violent shootings on the streets. The police are corrupt, so when encountering crime in Reynosa, you're on your own. This area should be avoided at all costs. in 2017, Reynosa had 144 homicides through September, due to clash between cartels members.
Transport And Taxis Risk: HIGH
Traveling through the city is unsafe, as you could be caught up in unrest or violence at any time. Cartels can block off parts of the city. Robberies and car-jackings commonly occur, and they often become violent.
Scams & Pickpocket Risk: HIGH
Scams are rife in Reynosa, as well as in Mexico as a whole. ATM scams are extremely common, so it's not safe to use any street ATM's here. Although pickpocketing is an issue, it's actually more likely to be involved in a violent robbery, carjacking, or home invasion.
20 Most Dangerous Airports In The World
Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong
Probably the most dangerous airport ever, Kai Tak was the international airport of Hong Kong from 1925 until 1998. It was so dangerous that it was closed down in 1998 to avoid more accidents. In its time, it was famous among pilots for having an extremely difficult landing.
One of the multiple dangers at Kai Tak was the lack of a ‘bailout’ area. At most airports, pilots have their last chance to abandon their descent at around 500 feet to go back around and make a second attempt. But at Kai Tak, pilots couldn’t even level their wings until about 300 feet, meaning landings there were risky and practically impossible to save once they went wrong.
During its 63 years in operation, Kai Tak saw a staggering 14 major aviation incidents. The deadliest incident was in 1965, when an American military aircraft struck a sea wall shortly after liftoff. It crashed into the water, resulting in 71 fatalities. Then in 1993, the airport’s most infamous accident occurred when a commercial flight overran the runway while attempting to land in gale-force winds. Even though the approach was unstable, the pilot couldn’t make a second attempt. The plane skidded across the runway and ended up submerged in the waters of Hong Kong’s harbor.
Toncontin International Airport, Honduras
At Toncontin International Airport, even the most experienced pilots admit to feeling a little scared to land. Landing at the airport is so dangerous that pilots require special training before they attempt it. Of all the airports in the world that serve commercial flights, it has the shortest runway. Because of the surrounding terrain, approaching aircraft must descend rapidly before meeting the terrifyingly short runway, which has a 65 feet cliff waiting at the end for any plane that overshoots. Pilots landing here must land in exactly the right spot or risk their lives.
Pilots aren’t fearful of this airport without reason. In 2008, a landing attempt went horribly wrong when a pilot couldn’t land at his first attempt. After informing passengers that he was going to have to make a second attempt, events took a terrible turn when a strong wind from the South pushed the plane to a higher ground speed as it touched down.
The plane couldn’t stop in time and crashed down the cliff and onto a busy street below. 3 people on the plane and 2 on the ground were killed in the crash. Before that, another plane suffered the same fate in 1998, resulting in the loss of 3 lives.
Gustaf III Airport, St Barths
The beautiful island of St Barths is a destination popular among the rich and famous - celebrities such as Simon Cowell and Jon Bon Jovi have been known to holiday there, among many more. The small Caribbean island has stunning beaches, luxury hotels, designer stores... and one of the most dangerous airports on the planet.
Its incredibly short runway measures only 2,100 feet with a daunting 150-foot hill on one end and a popular beach on the other. Because of the small runway, the airport only serves small aircraft - most only able to carry less than twenty passengers. Tourists are warned not to lounge on the section of beach that lies meters away from the runway, but these warnings go ignored and departing planes regularly fly right over the heads of sunbathers.
To make the landing extra difficult, mountains surround the airport, forcing pilots to make a quick descent. In 2013, a light aircraft crashed into one of the surrounding mountains while attempting the tricky landing.
Gibraltar International Airport, UK
The dangerous thing about Gibraltar airport is its unusual location. Pilots descending onto Gibraltar have a battle on their hands to ensure their passengers arrive safely as the island suffers from extremely adverse weather and particularly powerful winds. The infamous levant winds form a massive smoke-like cloud when they hit the island, and South-West winds cause a severe downdraft and nasty turbulence. The conditions here are so extreme that they can’t even be rehearsed in a flight simulator.
Britain and Spain have a dispute over the territory. Although Britain governs Gibraltar, Spain technically ‘owns’ some airspace around it. So, on top of the terrifying winds, pilots have to make complicated maneuvers to avoid the ‘no-fly’ zone that Spain has in place.
If all of that wasn’t enough - a four-lane highway goes right through the middle of the runway. Barriers go down when an aircraft is coming in to stop traffic, but this doesn’t stop pedestrian tourists from stopping right in the middle to take a photograph. Visitors to the island often unknowingly put themselves at risk when they don’t realise they’re standing on an active runway.
Gisborne Airport, New Zealand
Gisbourne, New Zealand is known as the first city in the world to see the sun. This easternmost tip of the country is famous for its beautiful coastline, densely forested mountain parks, surfing, fishing, and for being a center for wine and agriculture. Visitors come from all around to enjoy what Gisbourne has to offer - and some come simply for the thrill of flying into its insane airport...
What's so spectacular about it? Well, Gisbourne Airport has an active railway that intersects with the runway. To avoid aircraft colliding with the passing trains, the railway and airport schedules must be coordinated extremely carefully. Trains and aircraft often come within meters of each other - a jaw-dropping sight for passengers.
Managing the two is tricky for officials, and sometimes trains are forced to pause to make way for an aircraft as it lands. Amazingly, there haven’t been any nasty accidents at Gisbourne so far. It is only a matter of time before air traffic control gets it wrong?
Paro Airport, Bhutan
At 1.5 miles above sea level, this airport is so extreme that there are only 8 pilots in the world allowed to fly here. Bhutan Airport is nestled in the Himalayan mountains, a destination only visited by the brave and adventurous.
Locals living in the houses dotted on the mountainside are used to planes coming unsettlingly close to their rooftops as they weave through the mountain tops on their descent. The mountain peaks surrounding the airport reach up to 18,000 feet, so pilots can only see fleeting glimpses of the landing strip as they approach. To top it off, there is no radar system to guide planes into the airport. Pilots have to rely on their skills alone and land completely manually.
Passengers landing here need to have a strong stomach. The runway lies in a valley that, on windy days, acts as a wind tunnel that causes stomach-churning turbulence. But if you’re brave enough, the bird's-eye view of the Himalayas might just be worth it.
Narsarsuaq Airport, Greenland
Narsarsuaq Airport was first built during World War Two as an airbase, but the area surrounding it is small, and today passengers primarily use it as a transfer point.
The terrifying thing about Narsarsuaq Airport is its frozen runways. Greenland is covered by an ice sheet as temperature can be as low as-21 °C in winter. Landing on this icy strip requires to be very experienced and own a great deal of courage. Along with the ice and frost are unpredictable harsh winds and fog, which can ruin the pilot’s visibility as the plane skid along the ice to a stop.
Along with the harsh weather conditions, active volcanoes are worryingly close to the runway. They routinely spit out ashes causing an even more difficult landing. The last accident here was in 2001 when a freight aircraft crashed on approach, dramatically killing 3 people.
Lukla Airport , Nepal
Nepal’s Lukla Airport is located in the heart of the Himalayas. Positioned at a staggering 9000 feet, this is one of the highest airports in the world. Adventure-seeking travelers must brave Lukla Airport before an attempt to climb Mount Everest, as it's the only airport that serves the area.
The short runway ends with a dramatic 2000 foot drop into the valley below and one end of the runway slopes upwards at a gradient of 12 degrees to help planes to stop. This means that if pilots calculate their landing just slightly wrong, the nose of the plane could hit the upwards slope or the whole aircraft could end up crashing down into the valley. To make it worse, the high altitude and extreme weather cause further challenges for pilots. In the mornings, it’s clear but turbulent. Then, in the afternoons, it becomes cloudy and visibility is compromised.
Touching down at Lukla is a perilous undertaking. The airport has a perfect storm of hazards, so it’s no wonder that it’s famous for being one of the most dangerous airports in the world. There are strict regulations as to who is allowed to fly here and inexperienced pilots must be accompanied to avoid disaster.
Barra International Airport, Scotland
Fancy a break at the seaside? Well, if you fly into Barra Airport, you’ll already be at the beach as soon as you touch down. This Scottish airport is famous worldwide for being on a sandy bay only 5 meters above sea level. The runway is so close to the water that it becomes completely submerged when the tide is high.
Because of this, close attention must be paid to the weather conditions, and flights can only land at certain times of the day. Air traffic controllers at Barra International are truly at the mercy of the ocean.
The airport serves the island of Barra in the remote Outer Hebrides of Scotland, which has a population of less than 2000. The airport’s beach runway is also used by tourists and locals, who love to pick cockles and take walks along the shore. To ensure an incoming aircraft won’t hit them, they consult the ‘windsock’ - a fabric tube fixed to a pole that can show the direction and strength of the day's winds.
San Diego International Airport, USA
San Diego’s is considered by some to be one of United States most dangerous airports due to its downtown location. The surrounding mountains and strong winds sometimes force nose-to-nose takeoffs and landings. The sky here is cluttered with planes, with up to 55 coming and going every hour. And with only one runway - that’s a problem.
The airspace is constantly stretched to maximum capacity, so heavy responsibility falls to air traffic controllers, who must precisely navigate each aircraft to ensure the safety of everyone on board. As well as congestion in the sky, pilots have had to contend with San Diego’s expansion on the ground. As the city grows, there are more tall buildings erected that cause a potential hazard to air crafts.
This airport was always an accident away, which did happen in 1978. A commuter flight carrying 128 passengers and 7 crew members collided with a small learner aircraft. They crashed to the ground, resulting in a devastating scene. Tragically, everyone on board, both planes and 7 people on the ground were killed in the worst aviation accident in California’s history. The incident brought scrutiny to the congested air space above San Diego and created a major change in aviation law. Because of the accident, it’s now illegal for small aircraft to fly into the paths of large commercial jets.
Courchevel Airport, France
Courchevel Airport serves Courchevel, a ski resort in the French Alps. It’s in touching distance from the ski slopes and thousands of people use it every year on the way to their dream ski holiday. Excited for their winter break, they may not realise the risk they are taking by flying here.
Like many other airports in snowy mountainous locations, it’s particularly dangerous and challenging to navigate. With very limited flat land space high in the Alps, this small airport was built with an alarmingly short runway. It has a down gradient of 18.5%, causing it to be difficult to reach - and that’s on a good day. On a bad day, poor weather can make a landing here almost impossible. Even a small amount of fog renders the airport completely invisible to pilots. And to make it even harder, the airport has no lights or landing aids.
At a normal commercial airport, pilots can fly back round if a landing goes wrong and is too dangerous. But at Courchevel, the precarious position of the airport means there are no second chance landings here.
Wellington International Airport, New Zealand
New Zealand is well known for being an incredible place to visit. It’s obvious why so many movies and TV shows use it as a location. Most famous are its phenomenal natural landscapes, which are featured in Lord Of The Rings and Game Of Thrones. However, a visit to Wellington, New Zealand means plucking up the courage to brave an ascent into Wellington International Airport...
Flying into Wellington is well known for being a nerve-wracking experience. At only 1936m, Wellingtons runway is so short that it limits the size of the planes that can use it, and the end of the runway leads straight into the sea. From the window, passengers see the rocky, mountainous landscape below them and wonder how on earth they will make it to the ground.
Considering the short runway, rocky landscape, and hair-raising weather conditions, there have been surprisingly few accidents here. However, In 1963, an aircraft overran the runway and ended up down an embankment on a nearby public road, and in a 1959 air show. Two small planes were damaged in incidents because of the high winds that day.
John Wayne Airport, USA
Being a passenger on a flight taking off from John Wayne Airport is sure to be an unforgettable experience, and maybe not in a good way.
The flight path out of the airport goes directly over the affluent California neighbourhood of Newport Beach. Strict noise regulations were put in place in 1985 when residents complained about the noise. As part of these regulations, pilots have to perform a ’noise abatement’ takeoff. This involves pulling back the engines abruptly after takeoff, which would leave you feeling as if your days were about to be over if you didn’t know what was happening.
First, passengers feel their stomach drop as if they’re on a rollercoaster. Then, the aircraft becomes eerily quiet as the engine’s power is turned right down. The aircraft’s angle drops from ascending to almost level while still flying close to the ground. Even with a warning, passengers report feeling shaken and alarmed. But they can soon relax once the plane goes beyond the noise protected area when usual takeoff is resumed and the plane climbs to cruising altitude.
Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Marteen
The beach located meters away from Princess Juliana Airport's runway attracts both sunbathers and aviation enthusiasts alike. The planes near the runway fly just meters above the tourists below, creating a spectacular sight for holidaymakers.
Separating the runway and the beach is nothing but a small highway and thin wire fence. A popular activity for thrill-seeking visitors is to hang on tightly to the fence and wait for the planes to take off or land. The powerful force of the plane’s jets produces winds of up to 100mph, almost blowing the tourists away as they have fun trying to cling on.
However exciting, this activity is not without its risks and this makes this airport notorious for its danger. In 2017, a 57-year-old woman sadly died from her injuries when she was blown into a retaining wall. And in 2012, a teenager was sent flying into a low concrete block and received a nasty gash to the head. Despite officials placing signs near the runway to warn the public of its risks, the beach remains a well-known tourist attraction around the world, and visitors are yet to be deterred from standing dangerously close to the aircraft’s jets.
Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport, Portugal
Madeira International Airport is known worldwide for being one of the world’s most dangerous. As it's located between the mountains and the sea, its runway is exposed to unpredictable wind patterns. Powerful winds blow from both ends of the runway in opposite directions, causing dramatic wind shifts. And, if that wasn’t nerve-wracking enough for pilots, they also have to navigate a tricky 150-degree turn to land.
The original runway was a mere 5000 feet long. Until, in 1977, a plane carrying 164 people couldn’t stop in time, killing 130 passengers and crew in the devastating accident. Then, only 2 months later in December 1977, another plane descended too low and crashed into the sea, killing 36 people.
As a result of these tragedies, the runway was extended to measure 9000 feet. However, the danger doesn't end there. Because of the airport’s location, the new section of runway had to be built out into the ocean. It lies on concrete supports, with a terrifying 90 feet drop either side awaiting any aircraft that overestimates the landing.
Congonhas Airport, Brazil
Sao Paulo is a vast and incredible place, so it requires 4 airports to serve it. One of these, in Congonhas airport, has one of the world’s riskiest landing strips. The danger comes from water accumulating on the runway, causing it to become slippery. It's also extremely short - creating a deadly combination.
For a long time, locals feared that the risks here were bound to lead to a huge accident, and in the Summer of 2007, their fears were realised. It was an especially wet day when an Airbus carrying 187 people overran the slippery runway, crossed a major road, and crashed into an adjacent warehouse.
Everyone aboard the aircraft and 12 people on the ground died in the crash. To this day, it remains Brazil's worst aviation accident. Only the day before, this tragedy was foreshadowed when two aircrafts skidded off the runway in smaller incidents. After the crash, efforts were made to make the airport safer, including adding drainage grooves and restricting the size of aircraft allowed to use the runway.
Sea Ice Runway, Antarctica
You might be surprised to discover that there are airports in places as remote as Antarctica. The frozen land records the lowest temperatures on earth, averaging -49°C in winter. Close to McMurdo Station, the Sea Ice Runway airport is used by scientists and as a US military base.
The 2.5-mile airport runway is made entirely of ice. Carved into the sea ice off Ross Island annually (the airport is shut in warmer months when the ice begins to weaken). It's extremely tricky to land here as pilots must avoid a heavy landing and stationary aircraft should be monitored closely to ensure they do not sink more than 10 inches into the ice. Like this wasn't enough trouble, Antarctica has 6 months of 24-hour darkness during the winter and because there are no lights here, pilots must land in complete obscurity.
Only highly trained military pilots land here, so thankfully the Sea Ice Runway hasn’t seen many accidents despite its dangers. However, in 1960, a United States Navy crashed while attempting to land on the ice. The men on board were injured, but luckily nobody was killed. The aircraft skidded into the water and was allowed to sink, its ghost still haunting Antarctica freezing waters.
Kansai International Airport, Japan
With over 2.6 million people living there, the Japanese city of Osaka is huge. To avoid taking up land space, Kansai International Airport was built on its very own artificial island. Surrounded by the ocean, this airport is not for anybody with a fear of deep waters.
The airport was built by Italian architect Renzo Piano and is an incredible fete of engineering, but doesn’t come without its risks. Situated 17 feet above sea level, the danger here comes from unpredictable weather conditions. The area is prone to cyclones and earthquakes. And on a tiny island in the middle of the sea, that’s not good news. In the event of a Tsunami, the airport would be destroyed and many lives would be lost.
If you like the idea of seeing Kansai International for yourself, you may be running out of time. Scientists predict that the airport could become completely submerged in the next fifty years due to rising sea levels.
Eagle County Airport, USA
The flying conditions around Eagle Valley Airport couldn’t get any more challenging for the pilots who brave them. Serving the Vail Mountain Ski Resort, mountains surround this airport. The runway lies in a valley, so pilots must go over the mountains and make a quick descent - dipping over the peaks and down to the runway far below.
The weather here can be extreme. Conditions can change quickly while the aircraft is already partway into their approach. It’s not uncommon snowstorm to surround an aircraft when already halfway through its descent. An underestimated danger here is the altitude. Aircraft lose 3% horsepower for every 1000ft high they go, and up in the Colorado mountains that becomes a significant issue.
Overall, planes are far less powerful at high altitudes where the air is thinner. Pilots must increase their speed as they take off to make sure they make it high enough and need a lot more runway and groundspeed than usual. Sadly, many pilots over the years have lost their lives flying in or out of Eagle Valley. Amongst them is a 65-year-old man, who’s small aircraft crashed in 2015 when he lost control of it in harsh windy conditions.
LaGuardia Airport, USA
LaGuardia Airport is dangerous because of its location in the heart of New York City. Central city airports like this one carry the possibility of thousands of casualties in the event of an accident because of their proximity to buildings, highways, and people on the ground.
New York is famous for its Skyscrapers, which pilots flying in or out of LaGuardia must dodge to avoid disaster. They have to maneuver their aircraft around the Manhattan Skyline in tight turns at low altitude, the most nerve-wracking being a delicate 180-degree turn around City Field. Meanwhile, they need to be careful to avoid the other aircraft in the sky, which is packed with planes in the USA’s busiest airport system.
Tom Hanks fans may have seen the movie Sully, which is based on LaGuardia's most famous incident. In 2009, a US Airways flight departed LaGuardia Airport headed for North Carolina. Only a few minutes in, the plane hit a flock of birds and lost both of its engines. A plane losing its engines is dangerous enough without factoring in that just below was a landscape full of skyscrapers and millions of people going about their lives. Miraculously, everybody onboard survived thanks to the pilot's remarkable emergency landing.
Top 20 Most Luxurious Hotels in the World
The St. Regis Bali Resort - Nusa Dua, Indonesia
The St. Regis Bali Resort is an ideal retreat for guests seeking tropical bliss. Boasting uninterrupted views out over the shimmering Indian Ocean, with lush green gardens and pristine white sands, it offers a luxurious slice of paradise for those keen to get away from it all. Set in stunning Nusa Dua, there are 123 stylish suites and villas to choose from with some featuring private access right onto the beach.
The 41 Exotic Villas have been recently refurbished to the most luxurious standards and a stay at the St. Regis Bali Resort even includes a 24-hour butler service (accessible via WhatsApp!), so all your needs will be catered for as any worries from your everyday life melt away.
Relaxation comes easy here. The pace of life is slow and you can fill your days with swimming in the crystal blue saltwater lagoon or laying back on a lounger listening to the waves. You can indulge at the spa, explore the library, or even enjoy a floating breakfast in your pool. All of this is nestled in the most stunning scenery. With no detail overlooked, you’ll never want to leave. A stay at the St Regis Bali resort is truly a heaven on earth kind of experience.
Cavo Tagoo - Mykonos, Greece
The Cavo Tagoo is a gorgeous beachfront hotel on the Greek Island of Mykonos, an ideal location for relaxing in the sun doing as little as possible. The hotel features an infinity pool that overlooks the ocean, with lounge decks that seem to float on the pool and coloured lights that illuminate it in the evening. So even with all of Mykonos to explore, you won't feel the need to leave this stunning poolside.
A visit to the hotel spa will leave you feeling like a new person. Treatments on offer include the Tropical Lava Shells Massage and the Golden Face and Body Veil, which uses 24-carat gold to brighten and soften the skin. Or if it's exercise that relaxes you, there's a high-end gym that you can use at your leisure.
When it comes to personalised service, nowhere does it better than Cavo Tagoo. Their dedicated concierge team is world-class and will work tirelessly to cater to your every desire, like organising your birthday party, an anniversary celebration, a private yacht, or a helicopter trip. Because of its romantic location and dreamy aesthetic, this hotel is particularly ideal for couples (and, with the option of a private photoshoot, it's the perfect place for engagement photos!)
Sofitel Moorea Iaora - Moorea
This resort is on the French Polynesian island of Moorea, which is known for its sandy beaches and volcanic mountains. You will recognise the iconic vivid blue waters and untouched nature that French Polynesia is famous for. Here, you can enjoy the impressive natural beauty from a luxury beachfront villa or overwater bungalow. From your accommodation, you will be guaranteed a breath-taking view over the water with the shape of nearby Tahiti in the distance.
For breakfast, guests staying in the overwater bungalows can have their morning meal delivered by canoe. And in the evening, go for dinner on the beach, where a 4-course menu will be served to your private table. The dining options are exquisite - the chefs here are constantly reinventing the menu to give every guest a unique culinary experience.
The team takes pride in French Polynesian culture by celebrating it by inviting guests to a showcase of Polynesian culture, which begins with a cultural masterclass and ends with a traditional dance performance. As well as this, the resort offers an incredibly varied itinerary of excursions and experiences. Amongst the activities available are snorkeling, helicopter tours, and skydiving. Or, take the once in a lifetime chance to go whale watching.
Four Season Resort The Nam Hai - Hoi An, Vietnam
Guests head to Nam Hai on Vietnam’s Central Coast for a slice of the fine life. This place provides a luxurious retreat that boasts a private kilometer-long beach and everything a guest could wish for. Close to three enchanting UNESCO World Heritage sites, this is a location to savour. However, the greatest treats can be discovered within the hotel grounds, which features coconut trees aplenty, three stunning infinity pools, and tranquil tropical gardens to explore.
Take a stroll on the sands, kayak on the East Sea or enjoy a beachside barbecue. You’d never be short of something to do here. With the sun shining on the glimmering ocean and lush greenery all around, you might just think you’ve died and gone to paradise.
Guests can opt for an ocean view villa, right on the beach. The Nam Hai's Villas are designed to pays homage to authentic Central Vietnamese garden homes and feature the traditional large timber frames, sleeping platforms, and gossamer nets. The villa's design focus on seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor spaces, bringing guests a feeling of being at one with the beautiful nature surrounding them. Read our Two-Week itinerary To Vietnam to make the most of your trip.
Hacienda Na Xamena - Ibiza
Sitting on a rock 180 meters above the sea in an area of unspoiled natural beauty, Hacienda Na Xamena boasts being amongst the best resorts in Ibiza. And with the five start luxury offered here, it's not hard to see why. For two decades this was Ibiza's only five-star hotel, so this place has had a head start on offering the best luxury Ibiza has to offer.
Only a 40-minute drive to Ibiza town, you're not too far from Ibiza's iconic clubs and parties. And if wild nightlife isn't for you, the hotel's restaurant is one of the areas most popular spots and after dark has a fun, lively atmosphere with live music playing on the weekends.
The rooms are in the stylish bohemian style of the hotel with views over the Mediterranean Sea. For guests looking to really push the boat out, the Edén room has its own pool, jacuzzi, and garden terrace. Or for families, the Na Xamena Suite has two double bedrooms and a large private terrace with sunbeds that overlook the incredible scene. The floor to ceiling windows in all of the rooms allows guests to make the most of the coastal views.
Katikies Hotel - Santorini, Greece
Katikies is set in stunning Santorini, which is undoubtedly one of the world's most picturesque travel destinations with its iconic bright white buildings. One of the most iconic elements of this hotel is its three infinity pools, which seem to blend seamlessly with the ocean beyond them. With the view of the vibrant blue water and the volcanic hills beyond, it will be one of the most beautiful places you'll ever take a swim.
If the infinity pools don’t make you feel close enough to the ocean, you can always take a cruise on one of the hotel's fleet of luxury yachts, which are reserved exclusively for guests. Choose to take a day cruise to explore different beaches and volcanoes or a romantic sunset cruise with someone you love.
While taking in the scenery in style, you can enjoy a lunch prepared by the hotel's chefs and served onboard. Guests can also take a tour to archaeological sites or go wine tasting, all while being escorted by a hotel appointed chauffeur. The rooms are in the all-white theme of the town and guests can even choose a room with its own open-air plunge pool. See here what to do in Santorini.
The Kayon Resort, Bali
The Kanyon Resort lies in Ubud, an area of regarded by the locals as having 'immense spiritual powers'. It's nestled deep in the heart of a rain forest preserve beside the Petanu River, providing a serene and beautiful setting for your luxury retreat. Its luxurious rooms are designed in contemporary Balinese style with views of the neighbouring river and jungle. Each feature a private terrace, which will have you feeling as if you're sipping your morning coffee suspended in the treetops.
Guests can start their day with a session of morning yoga at the rooftop yoga pavilion to the soundtrack of the nearby river. Here in Bali, practices such as yoga are seen as a sacred way to achieve a sense of peace and well-being. And of course, any retreat wouldn't be complete without a luxury spa.
You can find nearby Kepitu village, with beautiful temples and rich history. There is also Ubud Monkey Forrest - a natural sanctuary for the Balinese long-tailed Monkey. For a guided adventure, the Active Volcano tour includes the Elephant Cave Temple, Coffee Plantation, and of course - an active volcano! There is no shortage of enriching cultural experiences here.
Avani + Riverside Bangkok, Thailand
This hotel is a stylish oasis in the midst of Bangkok, a city famous for being energetic and full of life. The Avani+ has an infinity pool that might just be one of the most amazing you've ever seen. From the pool, your view will extend over the river to the expanse of Bangkok's city skyline. This skyline is the thing that makes this place so special. From every area of the hotel, there are exhilarating city views that will make you feel like you're sitting in the clouds.
Bangkok offers endless things to do, day or night. The city has huge futuristic shopping centres with restaurants that offer cuisine from every region of Thailand. Or, make the most of your riverside location by taking a canal tour on a traditional long-tail boat.
You won't have to go far for a fantastic night out here. The hotels' rooftop bar hosts 'Sin in the City', Bangkok's best LGBTQ night where you will be entertained by drag superstars and dance all night. On Thursdays, the bar hosts 'The Voice of Seen', where well-known singers perform live against the cinematic city backdrop. This is a place ideal for those looking to have the most fun of their life.
Nihi Sumba Island - Indonesia
Private, picturesque, and perfect in all ways, guests head to Nihi Sumba for luxury on tap, with spectacular views to die for and attentive staff trained to cater to every wish. With the breathtaking beaches always beckoning, you’ll find yourself immersed in paradise from the moment you arrive.
Stay in a private villa with a canopy bed and a private infinity pool. Each villa is exquisitely decorated and surrounded by lush greenery. Ideal for honeymooners and hidden out of view from the rest of the resort is the Villa Rahasia (meaning 'secret'), which is the absolute pinnacle of luxury and a lovers paradise.
The resort is nestled between the sun-kissed ocean and the lush green jungle that fringes the coastline. It offers some incredibly unique and exciting activities and excursions. Amongst them is the chance to go swimming with horses on Nihiwatu beach, go on a Blue Waterfall Trek through the jungle or indulge at the Nihioka Spa Safari. As well as all of this, Nihi Sumba is a surfers paradise, with a reputation for having some of the best waves in the world. With activities and options to suit all tastes, you’ll come home with epic memories.
Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle - Chiang Rai, Thailand
Camping doesn’t get more luxurious than at the Four Seasons Tented Camp in northern Thailand. Close to the borders with Burma and Laos, time seems to stand still in the Golden Triangle, a magical escape that always enchants and beckons visitors to return time and time again.
The surrounding area is filled with mysterious mountain trails and lush bamboo jungle to explore, but there’s nowhere better to soak it all up from than the comfort of the camp. The tented accommodations here are the height of indoor/outdoor luxury, with king-size beds and outdoor rain showers. Guests can opt for a river-view tent from which you wake up to a view of the river and the mountains of Laos. Then, how about spending the afternoon cooling off in the riverside pool under a canopy of coconut trees?
The camp has rescued over 20 elephants from Thailand's cities and its guests can experience a magical interaction with them on tailored elephant experiences. The camp will arrange for you to join elephants in enjoying their morning bath before feeding and walking with them. What could be more incredible than an up-close experience with these gentle giants, all while accompanied by an expert handler?
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Malaysia
The Banjararan Hotsprings Retreat is in a location unlike any other. This resort is set in and around the natural hot springs of Malaysia - an incredible destination with its lush greenery and secret caves. This place is totally unique as its spa was created by nature millions of years ago.
Take a hot bath in the natural geothermic hot springs, where warm water comes up from deep below the earth. In the thermal steam cave, you can detox and relax in the natural sauna that's nestled in the cave walls before plunging into a freezing ice bath. Then, meditate in the crystal cave surrounded by amethyst and quartz crystals.
The resorts wine bar, Jeffs Cellar, has been named one of the most unique bars in the world, and for good reason. Set within a 260-million-year-old limestone cave, this bar has to be seen to be believed. If you prefer to be out in the open, the Sky Bar is set allows guests to sit on a 30ft high terrace and enjoy a cocktail overlooking the hot springs and surrounding nature. After dark, the Sky Bar doubles up as the ideal spot for stargazing.
Montage Kapalua Bay, Lahaina - Maui, Hawaii
Soak up the Maui lifestyle at Montage Kapalua Bay, where 24 acres of tropical paradise awaits. It’s impossible not to relax in such a spectacular setting, with the Hawaiian sun glistening on the peaceful Pacific Ocean and the lush island gardens.
Choose a room with a garden or ocean view or, for those keen to push the boat out, go for the penthouse - a four-bedroom residence that offers the ultimate in luxury, with the sound of the lapping ocean always drifting in through the windows. Guests head here to sample the authentic culture and Hawaiian hospitality, and with an award-winning spa and fresh locally-sourced food always on the menu, time spent here is a treat.
On-site is the Sunset Pool, which cascades down three levels to the Pacific Ocean.You can sit here for hours sipping your cocktail and taking in the stunning views. Like to explore the island? With so much to offer here, you’ll never be short of something to do. Maui is a magical place, where so many find their visit here to be a spiritually grounding experience. A trip here is ultimately a place to completely relax, unwind, and rediscover yourself.
Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Seychelles
The Six Senses Zil Payson is the only resort on the Seychelles island of Félicité. While the resort takes up around the third of the heavily forested island, the rest is completely untouched.
This is a luxury, all-villa resort. Amongst the most impressive of the Villas is the Private Four Bed Villa, which may remind you of Tony Starks home in Iron Man with its dramatic hilltop location and modernistic design. Lying on one of the highest points of Félicité, from this villa is a 360-degree panoramic view of the ocean and surrounding islands.
A perfect day here could be spent island hopping on a luxury yacht over waters so clear that you will spot the turtles swimming beside you. End your day with private dining in the wine vault or watching the sunset from the hilltop, where staff will set up beanbags, candles, and champagne. To top it all off, 'Cinema Under the Stars' allows guests to watch a movie projected onto the big screen, curled up on a lounger surround by palm trees.
With no reminders of your regular life around for miles, you can't get a more secluded spot than this.
Six Senses Yao Noi - Thailand
Set in Yao Noi, Thailand, with idyllic tropical beaches and little islands dotted all around, a stay here might just be the island getaway of your dreams. Follow in Roger Moore's footsteps on a private speed boat to 'James Bond Island', which film fans will recognise from The Man with the Golden Gun. While you're at it, you'll be shown the floating fishing village of Koh Panyi and the prehistoric cave paintings hidden on the islands.
In your downtime, your private villa will be the perfect location for a lazy day in the sun. Each Villa boasts giving guests total privacy with thatched roofs, private terraces, and infinity pools overlooking breath-taking views. They even come with a 'guest experience maker', who will make sure all your needs are catered too.
Available here is possibly the most romantic possible excursion - the 'castaway experience' where you and your loved one can be transported by boat to an island that you will have all to yourselves. Choose to go out before dawn to watch the sunrise and have breakfast together from the empty beach. Or, at sunset along with a personal chef who will serve your meal as darkness draws in.
Villa Tre Ville, Positano - Italy
Get the celebrity treatment at The Villa Tre Ville, which looks straight out of a James Bond movie. This Villa complex is sat on a cliff on Italy's Amalfi Coast and perhaps boasts the best luxury that Italy has to offer.
The Villa Tre Ville offers a reclusive and tranquil experience, with private balconies, plunge pools, and secluded gardens. It's the former home of celebrated opera and film director, Franco Zeffirelli. The hotel's interiors offer little insights into his creative mind and design flair. Because it was built as a home there really is a sense of homeliness here and the staff emphasise on making sure guests feel completely comfortable.
A hidden elevator shaft can take you down to a private seaside sundeck, and the restaurant serves vegetables from the hotel gardens and fish from the sea beside it. The Biana Bar is reserved exclusively for guests - this Morrocan inspired terrace is covered in vines and allows guests to enjoy a cocktail overlooking the best of the Amalfi coast, all in complete privacy. Another stunning space available to guests is the Club Lounge, where a spread of fresh foods is available all day. Here, everywhere you look is like a painting in an art gallery.
Le Méridien – Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Nestled on the pristine white sands of an exotic island and surrounded by the warm cerulean waters of a private lagoon, this is a dream island paradise. Le Méridien beckons visitors to Bora Bora, one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Boasting natural wonders in abundance, it must be seen to be believed. Tranquil, romantic and always peaceful, this is the perfect retreat for those keen to escape modern life and all its pressures.
Guests can stay in incredible overwater bungalows, which stand on stilts with glass floors that provide a fascinating glimpse of the marine life here, from the cosiness of your bed! From each bungalow, a ladder will allow you to effortlessly slip into the crystal waters.
To help exploring the stunning surrounding, kayaks, outrigger canoes and pedal boats are all available to you. Visit the nearby turtle sanctuary and feed the turtles; go on a diving excursion to get up close to the marine life in their natural habitat, or, simply lounge at the poolside bar enjoying a book, a cocktail and the knowledge that you’re in paradise.
The Seaview Faralya Butik Hotel, Fethiye - Turkey
The Seaview Faralya Butik Hotel is a beachfront hotel near to Turkey's famous Butterfly Beach. A small, family-run boutique hotel, the team here pay extra close attention to the individual needs of their guests. You can relax in the knowledge that the staff here have everything in hand to make sure your experience is memorable.
Each room has a magnificent sea view, equipped with private Jacuzzies and infinity pools. If you're a sunset lover, a room here will be a joy every night with the guarantee of a breathtaking sunset that you won't have to leave your bed to see. For breakfast, you’ll be served fresh produce from the local area - from olives and flatbreads to cream and jam and an array of seasonal fruits. For dinner, the restaurant team takes pride in both the food and the romantic atmosphere, proudly boasting that they get to be part of many marriage proposals due to the dreamy setting they create.
To make your trip extra special, you can go paragliding over the landscape - taking off from the slopes of the Babadağ mountain, and landing 40 minutes later on Ölüdeniz beach. Or if thrills aren't for you, simply take the 10-minute walk down to the beach. However you choose to spend your time, you will be treated like royalty here.
Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island - Australia
Kangaroo island is an Australian island like no other. Perched atop the rugged cliffs that overlook the fierce seas beyond, Southern Ocean Lodge is at one with its spectacular Aussie surroundings. The natural world is celebrated here, with views to savour out over the waves and wonderful wildlife all around. You can spot seals, koalas and, of course, kangaroos, all in a unique and exclusive environment. There are 21 luxurious suites to choose from, each designed with comfort, seclusion, and sophistication in mind.
Foodies will be spoilt with choice at Southern Ocean Lodge, with fresh, natural ingredients providing gastronomic delights and the finest seafood always on the menu. Meanwhile, those keen to kick back can head to the spa - a private oasis of calm that is guaranteed to relax.
For those seeking adventure, guided excursions are always on offer. Explore the island with a guided tour of Kangaroo Islands National Park or take a clifftop walk along the cliffs of stunning Hanson Bay. A highlight is Seal Bay, where a resident naturalist can introduce you to the colony of Seals that live nearby. After all of this, top the day off by returning to watch the sunset from the comfort of your lodge.
Alpina Gstaad - Gstaad, Switzerland
The Alpina Gstaad is perched on a hillside overlooking a picturesque Swiss ski village, with classic chalets located among the trees and a towering mountainous backdrop. It's the perfect hideaway for a private retreat. Small and exclusive, with just 56 rooms and suites, guests head here for discreet luxury; the Panorama Suite offers breathtaking views from the highest point of the hotel.
The focus here is on comfort and privacy. This is a modern hotel, with personalised experiences to ensure guests receive a service that is tailor-made to meet their particular needs and requirements. The property hosts the only Six Senses Spa in Switzerland, featuring wellness traditions that draw upon the energy of the Alps and the Bernese Oberland's peaks and pastures.
On-site, there are Michelin-starred restaurants as well as a famed wine cellar that offers more than 1700 different selections - making this the place to come for the finest things that life has to offer. Relax in front of a roaring fire or head out onto your private terrace to soak up the spectacular Alpine views, the choice is yours. This is a five-star service in a breathtaking location. You’ll be sure to leave rejuvenated and keen to make a return visit.
Lion Sands River Lodge, South Africa
Set on the beautiful banks of the peaceful Sabie River, guests head to Lion Sands to safari in style. Straddling the private Sabi Sand Game Reserve and the stunning Kruger National Park, this is a very special place with breathtaking views that captivate all who are fortunate enough to visit. The resort features 18 guest chalets as well as 3 tree-houses for guests to stay in, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will put you right at the heart of wild Africa.
This resort offers no shortage of animal encounters as it is located in one of the most ideal areas for wildlife spotting. Expert rangers are on hand to take you by jeep or on foot to see lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, hippos, and zebras. Animal lovers will be in their element here, in their own David Attenborough documentary come alive.
Take a private helicopter trip to fly over the Blyde River Canyon then wait for nightfall to go stargazing from the riverside platform. Visit a local village to learn about local crafts or spend an evening learning from the in-house ecologist at an evening wildlife lecture. For those with an adventurous, curious spirit, there’s nowhere quite like it.
London Marriott Hotel County Hall, England
It’s all about location, and it’s hard to do better than the Marriott London. The Marriott is a luxurious hotel with a superb South Bank setting and London’s top attractions all on the doorstep. Iconic and exclusive, guests head here for the unbeatable views, with The Big Ben, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament all just a glance out of the window away.
Like to visit the attractions for yourself? Nowhere is more than a short hop from here, with Central London beckoning and your agenda your own. There are rooms and suites for all here, with balconies and river views for those keen to push the boat out. Watch the thousands of people milling about below you in the comfort of your cosy suite.
The Marriott building is steeped in iconic English history and you will feel so alive knowing that you’re in the epicenter of one of the world's most visited cities. Savour an afternoon tea, a quintessentially-English tradition, before heading out to a museum and then on to the theatre. There’s so much to do in this area of London and it couldn’t be easier to access.
Hotel Belmond Castello di Casole, Italy
Timeless and quintessentially-Tuscan, indulgence awaits at Castello di Casole, set amongst beautiful rolling hills, sprawling vineyards, olive groves, and offering classic Italian elegance that beckons guests seeking the finer things in life. Combining the old and the new, all mod cons can be found inside the 1000-years-old castle walls, and, with a 4,200-acre private estate to explore and enjoy, you’ll never be short of things to do.
Take a watercolor painting class (in the comfort of your suite!) or learn to make classic Italian dishes in a cooking class. When you want to get outside and explore, activities include going stargazing guided by a professional astronomer or take a breathtaking 'first light walk' accompanied by a photographer.
Life here couldn't possibly be more relaxing and, with world-class wine and the finest locally-sourced food always on the menu, you'll leave rejuvenated. Choose from 39 rooms and suites, all oozing Italian sophistication, before heading out to the poolside to relax on a luxurious lounger, cocktail in hand, beneath the beating Tuscan sun. With a tranquil spa amongst the facilities, you’ll soon feel your worries melt away.
Nayara Gardens Hotel, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is the dream destination for a lot of people and Navara Gardens Hotel might just be it's most idyllic resort. With rooms surrounded by nature and featuring stunning outdoor showers, this place is perfect for a romantic getaway, as you'll easily feel like you're the only two people in the world.
The hotel is a sanctuary nestled in the rain forest and the staff team here prioritise sustainable tourism, taking care of the nature around them. Perched on a cliff in the tranquil heart of Arenal Volcano National Park, it's a garden of Eden in the modern world. Activities available here include horseback riding, white water rafting, and visits to wildlife refuges where you can meet a crocodile or a friendly sloth.
Expert guides can take you exploring in the surrounding wild areas, showing you hidden waterfalls and natural hot springs along the way. To unwind, guests can head to the spa where they can enjoy a massage, facial, or unique volcanic mud treatment. Spa treatments here take place in open-air pavilions, so guests are always making the most of the hotel's surroundings.
Soneva Jani - Noonu Atoll, Maldives
PICTURED: VILLA, SONEVA JANI
Probably the most photographed in the Maldvies, the astounding 5 stars resort Soneva Jani is largely spread over five separate islets. It couldn't be more remote,and is accessible by seaplane from Velana International Airport 166 km away, or via speedboat from Kunfunadhoo Island.
All villas here are made from sustainable wood and have the coolest features such as water slides leading straight in the turquoise sea, glass floors to watch the Indian Ocean sea life and retractable ceilings above beds. The amenities include an outdoor cinema named "Cinema Paradiso" where films can be watched outside from loungers with Bluetooth headphones. Spend your day at the 5 stars spa, surfing and snorkelling and don't miss the star-lit dining experience at the observatory.
Nature lovers will love the sea turtles here. You could even be lucky and see a mother turtle lay her eggs in the sand, and then see tiny hatchlings make their way to the ocean...
Gateway Canyons Resort and Spa, Colorado
The Gateway is in the most breathtaking setting - Colorado's Red Rock Canyons. The resort sits in Unaweep Canyon, an area that is relatively untouched by humans. Here, you can have a uniquely all-American experience, with activities including hiking, shooting, and horseback riding at the Palisade Ranch.
Guests can stay in their own Casita (meaning 'small house') which comes fully equipped with a private fire pit and stone tiled outdoor shower. They come in sizes to suit any size group, and are ideal for a trip with the whole family. After your day of adventures, there are plenty of on-site restaurants to choose from. The Entrada restaurant is in a serene location on the outdoor patio while the Paradox Grille is great for a fun lunch with the family.
If you're looking for something a little more intimate, the resort offers the chance to have a private dining experience under the stars. This is certainly a cinematic experience for guests, who can choose to dine by a gorgeous pond or at the resorts scenic amphitheater. All of this while experiencing the beauty of the National Parks, with a landscape that will make you feel like you're on Mars.
The Peninsula - Shanghai, China
Like to arrive in style? Make a grand entrance at The Peninsula, where guests often turn up in a helicopter, Rolls Royce Phantom, or aboard a private yacht. Here, nothing is too much to ask. This 5 stars hotel offers the ultimate luxury experience in the heart of bustling Shanghai, where guests are provided with anything they desire.
Soak up the atmosphere in the grand lobby, with its high ceilings and chandeliers, before heading to a room that must be seen to be believed. The hotel's interiors are a gorgeous art-deco design and include a spa and indoor pool. So, even in the center of busy Shanghai, guests can have a totally relaxing experience. Other luxury amenities such as terrace, private jacuzzi, and gym are also available for guests.
Sir Elly’s Rooftop Bar offers the best views in Shanghai, as the hotel sits in a prime location on the city’s iconic riverfront promenade. Head upstairs for a cocktail and prepare to be amazed as the city’s lights start to come on and the skyline comes to life. With an emphasis on personal service and spectacular views to die for, you'll certainly want to visit The Peninsula at least twice.
Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
Featured: two bedroom Jungle Villa
Song Saa resort is on a completely private Cambodian island and offers guests an idyllic tropical getaway. If you're looking to relax and connect with nature, this is the place for you. Song Saa provides spa retreat packages that offer the best in relaxing and rejuvenating spa treatments, focusing on using tools from the natural world. Come here for a perfect reset - waking up each morning knowing that you're in store for another day of pampering.
But this resort offers more than a relaxing holiday. Guests come here to re-connect with themselves or their loved ones. As well as massages and facials, the spa offers yoga and meditation sessions. On your request, a wellbeing therapist can conduct a private meditation session in the comfort of your villa.
The accommodation here provides luxurious living with a focus on connecting you to the natural world. Options include staying in a Jungle Villa, which includes a canopy daybed that's shaded by the surrounded greenery. Or, go for an Ocean View Villa to look out at the ocean from the comfort of your four-poster bed. For the best sleep of your life surrounded by the sounds of the ocean, stay in an overwater villa.
The Lodge at Glendorn - Bradford, Pennsylvania
The Lodge at Glendorn is perfect for travelers seeking thrilling outdoor adventures. Bordering the beautiful Allegheny National Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania, this is a luxurious retreat with stunning natural surroundings and agendas tailored to meet your desires. Great for families, this resort offers 500 acres of grounds to explore and a diverse selection of experiences and activities for everyone.
In the summer months, guests can choose from kayaking, canoeing, and a white water rafting adventure. Not a fan of water sports? Tennis, hiking, biking and golf are also among the array of activities available. In the winter, the Lodge offers a whole new experience, you can spend your days' skiing, sledding, ice skating, and even ice water fishing!
Busy day? Go to the Forest Spa for some downtime and to get those muscles massaged. Then, the evenings spent relaxing in your private cabin will have you ready to do it all over again tomorrow. The cabins here are luxurious and cosy, each with its own individual charm. For example, The Miller Cabin is the oldest and overlooks a stream while the Hutch Cabin is nestled in a ring of an ancient Hemlock tree. Imagine curling up by your outdoor fire pit, getting ready for the best night of your life after such an active day.
137 Pillars House - Chiang Mai, Thailand
137 Pillars House in Chang Mai is a painstakingly-restored old house, which remains true to Thai traditions whilst offering guests all the modern services and amenities. Set on the Mae Ping River, Chiang Mai is a fascinating city and the unofficial capital of Northern Thailand. This is an exciting place that's far less frantic than the much-busier Bangkok.
Chang Mai is a cultural paradise. For those keen to explore, 137 Pillars House is the perfect base. Drive for 5 minutes and you arrive at Thapae Gate Market or 10 minutes to find yourself in Chang Mai city center. Have a drink at The House by Ginger where you can listen to live Jazz or take a tour of Araksa Tea Garden. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple is the most important temple in Chiang Mai and a must-see for visitors.
Back at the hotel, each suite is fitted with parquet flooring and features a walk-in closet as well as balcony, patio, and spacious living area. Bathrooms come with a Victorian bathtub as well as an open-air shower and all of the interiors are sophisticated and contemporary. For your evening meal, the dining room offers a menu of à la carte Thai dishes to try.
Hotel Chalet Al Foss - Italy
For lovers of the outdoors, there's nowhere more exciting than the Hotel Chalet Al Foss. This hotel is surrounded by multiple famous mountain ranges, including the Brenta Dolomites and Ortles Cevedale.
The outdoor adventures available here will feel endless. Within the valley is the Noce river, where during the summer months guests can have fun ayaking or canoeing. On your adventure, you'll pass through dense woodland and spectacular waterfalls. In the winter months, it becomes the perfect ski resort with 290 kilometers of downhill slopes. For those not interested in skiing, a winter break here still offers the chance to skate on an ice rink or go ski mountaineering. As well as all of this is the hotel spa, where you can make the most of the sauna and massage treatments. From the indoor pool, huge windows face the Presanella Glacier.
The room's wooden features make it feel cosy and inviting, while the views of the surrounding mountain landscape are phenomenal. Your private balcony will allow you to make the most of the scene around you. Stay in the Alpin Lodge to have your own personal jacuzzi- an ideal way to get relaxed and warm after a day on the slopes.
Serengeti House - Singita Grumeti, Tanzania
Designed with exclusive use in mind, Serengeti House calls to those seeking stylish and sophisticated safari living. For lovers of wildlife, it's the place to go for a once in a lifetime luxury Safari trip. Set amidst one of Africa’s most iconic conservation areas, this is a location that is impossible to beat. It boasts uninterrupted views from the slopes of Sasakwa Hill out over the Serengeti with wonderful wildlife all around.
Guests can start their day by hot air ballooning at the break of dawn and sore over the Serengeti. For lunch, the hotel staff can provide a picnic in the bush. Like to get up close and personal with the awe-inspiring animals? The elephants, in particular, like to visit. A game drive with a professional guide is available daily and is not to be missed.
After seeing the cheetahs, giraffes, lions, and leopards in their natural habitat, it’s time to head back to the house to relax and indulge. This hotel has first-class facilities and no shortage of luxury. You can lie back beside the infinity pool lounger looking out over the African plains as giraffes wander past, or, head indoors to the tented spa suite. An unforgettable experience.
10 Mind Blowing 5 star Hotels in The Maldives
If you’re looking for an idyllic tropical getaway the Maldives should be the first place on your list, as the country is a haven of green forests, white sand beaches, and endless clear blue waters. The flattest country in the world is the ideal place to unwind and relax - but as there’s so much to do, and the Maldives is so rich in plant and marine life, it’s also the best spot to adventure in.
Made up of 20 natural atolls, and approximately 1,200 islands, the Maldives boasts sunshine year round, averaging temperatures between 23ºC to 31ºC. The ideal time to visit is between November and April, when there’s less rain and wind, with peak season falling between December and March.
As it’s such a picture perfect paradise, you might assume that a Maldivian holiday will blow your budget - but though a trip there doesn’t have to cost the earth, the area hosts some of the most extravagant private beach resorts in the world. If you want to make your visit to this dream location a truly memorable one, you won’t want to miss out on the full 5 star experience by staying in one of the Maldives finest hotels.
Here you’ll find mind-blowing resorts with everything on offer -from overwater spas where you can watch colourful fish swimming beneath your feet, to hotels with wedding chapels and ice-skating rinks! In case you’re stuck for ideas on where to stay when you visit, we’ve put together our top 10 list of the most luxurious resorts - stick around to discover the top 10 most mind-blowing hotels in the Maldives and get ready to jet away in style.
The St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort – Dhaalu Atoll
The St Regis offers a premium holiday experience, starting with its dreamy secluded location in the Dhaalu Atoll, an area reachable only by seaplane. The resort is set between lush rainforests and sparkling white beaches and surrounded by 9 hectares of tropical gardens, ringed by crystal clear turquoise lagoons.
Stay in a beach front lodge and enjoy unrestricted views of the greenery, or book a luxury waterfront villa and admire the crystal ocean, while enjoying your own private pool, rainforest shower, and comfortable pillow top bed.
This stunning, 5 star resort boasts a beautiful infinity swimming pool as well as the ultra-indulgent Iridium Spa, where you can indulge in a massage or unwind in a sunken soaking tub overlooking the ocean.
Food lovers will be spoilt for choice, as the hotel’s restaurants offer an array of enticing international cuisine, from Italian, Chinese and Japanese, through to spice-infused Middle Eastern. Pick the perfect location for your meal, whether you want an intimate dinner and drinks in the subterranean Decanter wine cellar, a gourmet feast in tropical gardens at Cargo, or tapas and cocktails in the overwater Whale bar, where you’ll watch the sunset over the ocean.
The St Regis is famed for its 24/ 7 butler service, so here everything will be at your fingertips,, from booking day trips through to packing and unpacking. You’ll never be short of things to do either, as there’s just so much on offer - check out the world class Vommuli Dive and Water Sports Centre, where you can go speed boating, snorkelling, or embark on a glass-bottom kayak tour!
Finolhu - Baa Atoll
Set in picturesque Baa Atoll, a UNESCO protected biosphere, Finolhu is a luxury resort that’s a true island paradise. This is the destination to head to if you prioritise unique experiences, as everything on offer is a one off - from the stunning location to the world class food. Stay in a luxury lagoon or beach villa with a private pool, or sleep under twinkling stars in a premium Finolhu Bubble tent, for a uniquely romantic night with a loved one.
Finolhu has some of the best restaurants in the whole of the Maldives - visit the award winning Japanese restaurant Kanusan, where you can watch sushi being prepared by expert chefs, or take a trip to the oceanside Arabian Grill and feast on aromatic spice dishes and fresh fish.
Dance barefoot on the sand at the resort’s exclusive Beach Club, while top DJs spin, enjoy a floating breakfast at the pool, or check out the palm tree thatched Crab Shack that runs for 2 kilometres over the Indian Ocean, and take in sweeping views of turquoise blue lagoons.
When it comes to water sports, you’ll have endless choices, as the resort is a mere 30 minutes speedboat ride away from the world’s most famous manta ray hotspot. If you visit between May and November, you can dive or snorkel with the rays as they feed! Hire your own private Dive Butler for an ultra-personalised experience, or visit the Watersports centre and go wakeboarding, water skiing, or surfing. Thrill seekers can even make like James Bond and embark on a hydro flight in the water propelled X-Jet Blade, for heart pounding aerial action several feet above the ocean!
Soneva Jani - Noonu Atoll
Relax in an overwater sustainable wooden villa at Soneva Jani, a unique resort spread over 5 separate islands, and enjoy a glass floor that lets you view the marine life beneath your feet. Open up your beach villa’s retractable ceiling to become immediately immersed in nature, snuggle up together at the private outdoor cinema, or swoosh down the water slide connecting your residence to the ocean and enjoy the cool caress of the waves.
This resort has its own Marine Biologist - if you’re a nature lover, you’ll gain a unique insight into marine life - watch mother sea turtles laying their eggs in the sand or tiny hatchlings making their way into the sea!
The dining choices here are truly special - enjoy a star struck astronomy dinner in the Bond-inspired observatory, while the resident astronomer takes you on a journey of the evening sky, or crunch on a zingy, plant based gourmet dish designed by raw food chef, Diana Von Cranach, at So Wild. Couples won’t want to miss out on a deliciously intimate Maldivian meal at the open air The Crab Shack, voted the world’s most romantic restaurant by CNN viewers.
With an upstairs deck where you can relax with a cocktail and watch the sunset and a range of curry and crab dishes to tempt any palette, you can dine barefoot in the white sand, taking in uninterrupted views of the lagoon.
Soneva is tailor made for couples looking to escape it all together and offers near-total privacy, so you can enjoy each other in paradise. It would make a superb honeymoon destination or intimate get away - but anyone looking for a luxurious and scenic location will appreciate a stay here too.
LUX* - South Ari Atoll
Sleep in a spacious bungalow on stilts atop the glittering ocean and enjoy an all-inclusive stay where your every whim is catered to, at Lux* Resort, one of the top 3 Maldivian vacation spots.
Located in a Marine protected area in stunning South Ari Atoll, this resort is perfect if you’re a fan of ocean adventure, not least because of its 5 star PADI Dive Centre. Here you’ll be able to dive, scuba, wakeboard, jetski or kite surf to your heart’s content – or, if boats are more your style, why not opt for a catamaran outing or sailboat excursion?
Go on a tour to meet giant manta rays with the resort’s Marine Biologist, embark on an exciting night dive, or submerge on a snorkelling expedition and view sea turtles, dolphins and impressive whale sharks.
Swim in one of two striking infinity pools, watch a movie at the outdoor cinema, or indulge at the on-site spa, where you can choose from a selection of relaxing or invigorating treatments. As for dining, you’ll have endless options, as the hotel has 8 restaurants, all of which are vegan friendly, though carnivores aren’t forgotten either!
Sip sake or peruse the largest selection of Japanese whiskey in the Maldives at Umami bar, while you sample teppanyaki, or munch on Italian pizza made in a wood-fired oven at the outdoor Beach Rouge club, as you enjoy a cocktail and the soft breeze.
If you’re on a romantic getaway, why not have a private dinner in the botanical garden, under soft candlelight and a starry night sky - or how about a floating breakfast in the pool, or a midnight dip in the sea?
Whatever your pleasure and whether you’re honeymooning or holidaying with family, this island paradise has something to suit every taste – and we think a stay here is definitely worth the splurge!
Jumeirah Vittaveli – South Male Atoll
Located in picturesque South Male atoll, Jumierah Vittaveli is a luxurious, fun-filled resort that’s ideal for adventurers looking for an action packed holiday. Framed by white sand beaches and sparkling waters and ringed by coral reefs, there are 5 shipwrecks located close to the island’s shores, for visitors to dive. Each of the luxurious suites overlooks the ocean and has a large private swimming pool and direct beach or lagoon access.
The Jumierah Vittaveli is perfect for families, as the resort has its own kids club, lifeguard monitored family pool, and Teen lounge, but there’s plenty for all ages, from kickboxing, through to cooking classes and ice skating at the resort’s rink! Then there’s the world-class PADI dive and watersports centre, where you can surf, scuba, and jetski to your heart’s content - or embark on an exciting semi-submarine adventure to explore the resort’s marine ecosystem.
Lovers of indulgence might prefer an afternoon at the exclusive Spa, with its multitude of treatments, while party goers can sip signature cocktails at retro-chic beach bar B4R and soak up live jazz. There’s a variety of exclusive restaurants, so you’ll never be short on places to dine, including ocean front Samsara, where you can feast on international fare, French gourmet experience Fenesse, and Swarna, an Indian restaurant set in a Maharaja style garden.
This resort would be ideal for a unique wedding in paradise, as it has a beautiful submerged pavilion where couples can exchange underwater vows - but whether you’re honeymooning or holidaying with family, one thing’s for sure - your stay at the Jumeirah won’t ever be boring!
Cocoon Maldives – Lhaviyani Atoll
If you want a stylish stay, you’ll love the boutique-hotel inspired Cocoon resort, that’s surrounded by the sparkling blue ocean. Created by acclaimed Italian designer, LAGO, the resort has 150 tropical beach and lagoon villas with floating air beds, private pools, and gardens. Located in scenic Lhaviyani Atoll, this chic paradise is a 30-minutes seaplane ride away from Velana International Airport, in Male.
Superb for couples and style fans alike, Cocoon is the first design hotel in the Maldives and this luxurious location offers guests an exciting selection of 5 star food and entertainment. Sample the finest international cuisine at Octopus Restaurant, enjoy a sizzling steak at Palm Square grill, or take a cosy candlelit dinner under the silvery moon at outdoor Manta.
Try out the water sports centre and go snorkelling with rays, napoleon fish, and turtles, or climb aboard a boat for a local island exploration tour, or guided dolphin cruise. Check out Cube spa for a couple’s massage, relax with a cocktail at pool bar Loabi, or visit colourful Kurumbi, where you can listen to live music and see Maldivian artists perform.
Cocoon is the perfect place to get away from it all with a loved one - and if you need an ideal spot to say I do, why not tie the knot at the resort’s beautiful sandbank wedding venue, overlooking the Indian Ocean? This resort was made for romance – but adults with kids can holiday here too, as Cocoon now has a family section, with double villas and a cultural club, so little ones can learn about Maldivian life!
Milaidhoo Island Maldives – Baa Atoll
Set against a backdrop of stunning nature in the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO biosphere reserve, Milaidhoo is a private, tiny , 300 by 180 m island, encircled by bright coral reefs and fringed by soft white sands.
It’s perfect if you want to escape from it all, as this no-drone zone offers you near-total privacy – but it’s also the destination to head to if you’re a nature lover, as it’s near the Hanifaru bay bio-reserve. Milaidhoo’s own coral reef is a protected area too, and offers an outstanding snorkelling and diving experience, allowing you to spot octopuses mating, and swim with eagle rays and sharks.
The resort has a marine biologist, so you can learn about the biodiversity around you, and offers a range of enticing excursions - we think the champagne cruise where you can watch dolphins swim as the sun sets sounds amazing!
Book a water villa and stay on stilts over the ocean, or sleep surrounded by palm trees in a spacious thatched villa on the beach. Whatever accommodation you choose, you’ll be swaddled in luxury, as every residence comes with a large freshwater pool, rainforest shower and outsize bed.
When it comes to flavour, Milhaidhoo doesn’t disappoint, with a pool bar, ocean restaurant, and sizzling shoreline grill all of which have a laid-back, no shoes needed policy. If you fancy some spice-laden Maldivian cuisine, why not head to the unique Ba’theli Bar and restaurant, where you can dine aboard a boat, in a shimmering turquoise lagoon?
This resort is designed for couples, as children under 9 aren’t allowed on the island - but if you’re looking to surround yourself with some of the most inspiring nature the Maldives has to offer, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better place.
Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas – Baa Atoll
Dubbed the “world’s most instagrammable hotel” the Anantara is located on Baa Atoll, and is framed by an infinite blue lagoon that melts into the sapphire coloured ocean. This is the ideal honeymoon location, nestled on a dreamy, tropical island close to a UNESCO nature reserve - stay in one of 80 overwater luxury villas, each with a private infinity pool, cinema, and personal butler!
Gourmets are in for a mouthwatering dining experience, as the Anantara hosts 4 tempting eateries, including eye-catching underwater restaurant, Sea, where you can dine on European cuisine, while watching colourful coral fish swim.
Work out in the fitness centre, go paragliding, or take off on a jet ski and enjoy the ocean breeze rippling through your hair. Afterwards, rejuvenate in the award-winning spa and revel in a raft of relaxing treatments while overlooking the ocean - or let the spa come to you, with a private treatment in your villa.
Anantara offers some of the most unique experiences in the Maldives – and it even has its own overwater observatory, complete with lounge cocktail deck and in-house astronomer. The action packed dive centre offers incredible scuba excursions, delightful dolphin cruises, and the opportunity to snorkel with manta rays and turtles.
The Anantara is ideal for luxury loving families as it has a kids club, trampoline park, and babysitting service, as well as a resident marine biologist who runs marine life courses for children. Couples will love it too though – whether you’re young, old, travelling together, or simply solo, this resort has it all, from fine dining to family adventures.
Six Senses Laamu - Laamu Atoll
The only resort in Laamu Atoll, near the far southern reaches of the Maldives, Six Senses Laamu is an sustainable destination that’s buried like a rare jewel in the Indian Ocean. This place prioritises healthy living and wellbeing -if you seek peace and privacy, you’ll certainly find it here.
From the moment your stay begins to when you leave, you’ll have a one of a kind experience - traditional ritual welcomes you to the resort, while a departure one bids you farewell. Throughout your stay, you’ll take part in several colourful ceremonies, from water rituals with singing bowls that will revitalise you, through to fire rituals that help you release negative emotions.
Six Senses is so eco-friendly it grows its own herbs and vegetables in an organic garden that’s open to guests and bottles its own water - while its 3 restaurants solely source fresh local produce. Enjoy themed dinners at open air Longitude, set on the turquoise water and watch chefs prepare your food, visit Zen for modern Japanese Omakase cuisine, or Leaf for a Mediterranean meze.
The resort’s 97 beachside and overwater villas have direct beach access, overwater hammocks, and a treetop deck for views of the sun as it sets - and some have an infinity pool that overlooks the ocean. The activities on offer here are the best you’ll find, offering totally unique experiences - how about a picnic on a deserted island that’s yours to explore for 6 whole hours, or a couples cruise in a traditional Maldivian Dhoni sailing at sunset?
If you want to learn about ocean life - go on the day discovery course and start by snorkelling on the lush house reef, where dolphins and parrotfish swim, before learning how to identify turtles and manta rays, then enjoying a dolphin cruise and fish BBQ. Surfing fans are in luck, as the famous Yin Yang break is close by and the resort’s resident TropicSurf team are always on hand to help you catch a wave, whether you’re novice or pro.
Indulge after all that exploring at the resort’s Ayurvedic Spa, where you can discover your Dosha, or enjoy a restorative Maldvian style massage. Then, sip signature cocktails at the overwater Chill Bar and enjoy the sound of the Indian Ocean as it laps all around you.
Six Senses Laamu isn’t easy to reach as it’s on remote Olhuveli Island, which is a 35 minute flight away from Kadhoo, where you’ll have to make a speedboat transfer to reach the main airport. What it lacks in convenience it makes up for in every other way though, as this tranquil idyll is a paradise island - here you’re certain to make memories that will last you a lifetime.
Four Seasons Maldives Private Island - Voavah, Baa Atoll
For unsurpassed luxury, book a stay at the Four Seasons Voavah, the most exclusive (and expensive!) private island retreat in the Maldives - and enjoy a 5 star dive centre, Michelin starred dining, and the rich biodiversity of a UNESCO protected reserve.
Voavah boasts several firsts, including the only Olympic sized infinity pool in the whole of the Maldives, and a 62ft luxury yacht the Voavah Summer, that you can charter to explore the island. The resort is designed to accommodate just 22 guests - and visitors can choose to stay in either a beach villa with a private pool, or a magnificent Mezzanine suite that overlooks the crystal lagoon.
Voavah’s water sports centre is unparalleled and the resort supplies guests with state-of-the-art equipment - try out the X-Jetpacks and soar above the ocean for an adrenaline filled experience, parasail on the state of the art Cherokee 30, or go deep sea diving.
There are also 15 resident Manta Trust biologists on-site to help you learn about marine life - rehabilitate turtles, conserve coral reefs, and identify manta rays - or snorkel at the resort’s colourful house reef.
When it’s time to refuel,visit The Ocean of Consciousness, the resort’s world-class Spa, then get your private chef to prepare you a meal, or enjoy sunset cocktails on your own yacht!
Four Seasons Voavah isn’t cheap but if you can afford the $62,000 dollars a night to stay here, it’s an absolutely unforgettable experience. It’s highly exclusive though and all guests have to go through an approval process first - if you want to experience the ultimate in island luxury, you’ll have to request a stay and wait to see if you're accepted!
Two Weeks in Vietnam: Our Guide for the Perfect Trip
Vietnam was on our travel bucket list for a while and we finally decided to go in February 2020. It was one of our best travel experience despite the difficult context (the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak). Vietnam is vibrant and picturesque and will fulfill any adventurer. It’s also a cheap destination, we’ve spent in average 938,910 Vietnamese Dong or £33 a day, as eating out is super cheap, even in bigger cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh. Some of the typical (and delicious) dishes to try are the morning glory, pho, noodle Soup, egg fried rice, nems and the strong Vietnamese coffee.
Our holiday wasn’t the cheapest holiday as we stayed in five-star hotels but it’s definitely possible to travel to Vietnam on a budget if you want to. There are plenty of very decent hostels to choose from for less than £10 a night. 5-star hotels in Vietnam are of course expensive, but still way more affordable than accommodations in Europe.
We traveled to Hanoi, Hue, Danang, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh and internal flights to travel from a city to another were very affordable (we used Vietnam airline). There are lots of great outdoors activities to do in Vietnam and we’ll let you know which ones we picked.
5 Days In Hanoi
We stayed in Hanoi for five days as we wanted to take time to recover from jet lag, fully explore and also take a trip to Ha Long Bay. Our first day in Hanoi was disconcerting. We honestly didn’t know if we liked the city or not. There are motorbikes everywhere (literally) and they rarely stop at the red light. We felt overwhelmed and so scared to cross the street. Though after a couple of days, we fell in love with this hectic and chaotic city. There are great spots to discover and we really enjoyed the authentic Vietnamese food. Hanoi isn’t a touristy city at all, you can really experience how locals live and we thought it was a great place to start our trip with.
Our favourite activities in Hanoi
Day trip to Ha Long Bay
Going to Ha Long Bay isn’t the cheapest activity to do in Vietnam, but it’s just too amazing to be missed. There are plenty of options at different costs to choose from. We payed £160 ($195) per person for a private 6-hour trip with 2-hour return transfer from our hotel in Hanoi which isn’t bad at all. It was really difficult to pick a tour as you are literally facing hundreds of options. We picked a day tour with Vega Travel and we had a perfect day trip.
Walk around Hoàn Kiếm Lake at night
The lake looks magical when the lights are switched on at night.
Train street is the ideal spot for your Instagram pictures!
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
The citadel is a beautiful sight and it take two to three hours to visit. The place is soaked with interesting history and it was a lovely sunny afternoon spent outdoors.
Hanoi’s French Quarter
Hanoi’s French Quarter hosts most of the city’s foreign embassies, government buildings and affluent residential neighbourhoods. Its beautiful architecture definitely worth to wander around and you’ll find upscale restaurants in the area.
Our favourite places to eat in Hanoi
Located right next to gorgeous St Joseph Cathedral, Chusa cuisine is authentic Vietnamese and a pure delight. We went three times during our stay when we usually try new places every day. The morning glory is to die for and their strong coffee will give you energy for the day. Plan to spend £12 per person for a meal and coffee.
Chestnut restaurant and sky bar
Located at the Delicacy Hotel and Spa, this is the ideal place for drinks or a romantic diner. The sky bar oversees the city and we had here delicious, high-end cocktails. The food was also great and high standing. We ate a three-course meal plus drinks and paid £40 per person when we would have spent twice this in London. We highly recommend this place, maybe take a taxi to get here though as there is a lot of traffic around.
Happy hour at Polite & Co
Don’t miss drinking fancy, good quality (and delicious) cocktails at this upscale speakeasy for an average of £3 during happy hour!
The Oriental Jade Hotel & Spa
We ate a few times at our hotel, The Oriental Jade Hotel & Spa. The food here is really good and we definitely recommend you try the restaurant. They also have an impressive breakfast buffet. Average cost per person £15.
Pizza 4P Hanoi
Craving some European food during your trip? Pizza 4 P is a Vietnamese pizza chain and it’s always busy so make sure to book ahead! Pizza and Pasta are great and you should definitely stop by. Average cost per person £10.
The Note Café
Stop for an iced coffee or a milkshake at Hanoi’s cutest café. The place is literally covered in post-it and you can take here awesome Instagram pictures!
Our Stay In Hanoi
We picked the Oriental Jade Hotel and Spa (a five-star hotel) for its location. The hotel is located 5 minutes walk from Hoàn Kiếm Lake, 30 minutes walk from the French quarters and is at the corner of St Joseph Cathedral.
The hotel is clean and quite modern compared to other hotels in Hanoi. Overall, we had a nice stay but there are a few things we think could be improved in this hotel.
We booked the Oriental Pearl room (The cheapest room in the hotel) which was comfortable. However, there was a stain on the room carpet, and we could hear noise coming from upstairs as the room was located right under the sky bar. It was really noisy when they cleaned the swimming pool and we had to ask for another room. We’ve been upgraded for no additional cost to the Oriental Emerald room which was way more spacious, very quiet and leads to St Joseph Cathedral. This room costs only £15 more a night and we whished we booked this room from the beginning.
Apart from this, our stay at the hotel was nice. We ate well and the breakfast buffet was impressive. You’ll find here French patisseries, freshly baked bread along with local tropical fruits and Vietnamese typical foods. The swimming pool on the roof top is small but you’ll appreciate it on a hot day. You can see the busy streets of Hanoi from here and it’s very relaxing to chill at the sun with a drink.
The staff at the Oriental Jade goes above and beyond to accommodate you and therefore we definitely recommend this hotel. Though we advise you to book the Emerald room as it is a higher standard for a similar price. The hotel is relatively new, and they probably need to do some adjustments, but it’s overall a nice place to stay and it’s relatively cheap for a five-star hotel in Hanoi.
4 Days in Lang Co
We booked an internal flight early morning from Hanoi to Danang, and then we jumped in a taxi to our resort (we payed £16). We stayed at the Banyan Tree, a remote 5-star resort in Central Vietnam, located within the peaceful village of Lang Co, nestled at the foothills of the nearby mountains.
We wanted a quiet place to relax and enjoy a full immersion in nature. If you visit, isolation should be part of the appeal. The resort is removed from almost everything, so you won’t find any restaurants, shops or nightlife less than a half-hour drive from the hotel. Banyan Tree is located nearby three UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites: Hoi An Ancient Town, The Imperial Citadel of Hue and My Son Sanctuary. The banyan Tree Lang Co was our best resort experience, everything here was perfectly orchestrated and close to perfection.
Our Favourite Activities in Lang Co
Hike Bach Ma National Park
Bach Ma is a protected area near the city of Huế. It’s a nature lover paradise, ideal if you’re looking for a long walk surrounded by nature. We booked the private tour organised by Banyan Tree. Our guide was very knowledgeable and told us the tales and stories of the area. We were lucky and spotted Red-shanked douc monkeys from afar, a wonderful experience.
Explore Hue's imperial city
If you like history you’ll want to visit the imperial city. Hue used to be the imperial capital of Vietnam and the place is soaked with history. We spent about 3 hours wandering on our own, but you’ll probably spend more time with a guide as there is a lot of history to uncover.
Relax at Lang Co Beach
This is a beautiful beach with over 10 km of white sand surrounded by blue waters and rainforests. Words are not enough to describe its beauty.
Indulge with a massage at the Banyan Tree Spa
Treatments in 5-star hotels are always dear, but not always as spectacular. There are also plenty of activities to do at the Banyan Tree, such as golf, yoga or cooking class. Our only regret was to not have stayed longer. After Lang Co, we traveled to Hoi An, which is only two hours away by car. Read next about our stay in Hoi An.
3 Days in Hoi An
Hội An is known for its well-preserved Ancient Town, cut through with canals. It’s a gorgeous town and the former port city’s melting-pot history is reflected in its architecture, a mix of eras and styles from wooden Chinese shophouses and temples to colourful French colonial buildings. Some people absolutely love staying in Hoi An when others find it too touristy. We fell in the second category unfortunately. We thought Hoi An was beautiful, but it was absolutely packed with tourists, and during the coronavirus outbreak so we can’t imagine how it usually is. If you’ve been to Venice, it’s a similar experience so if you weren’t bothered with the crowd, you’ll probably have a good time here. Hoi An old town is a great place for shopping. You can get here cheap Vietnamese goods like coffee or silk kimonos.
We stayed at a massive resort called the Sunrise. It’s located 45-minute walk from Hoi An old town and 15-minute drive. We had here a poor client experience. The resort looked great on pictures, but our room was really dated. Also, it was featuring a king bed, which ended up being two single beds put together. The hotel staff was cold and not caring at all, and we could literally hear everything in the next room. We stayed two nights instead of four and flew earlier to Saigon city.
You might love Hoi An and some people wouldn’t miss it, it’s just a matter of personality. We don’t like touristy areas, so we enjoyed way more our stay in Hanoi. Looking back, we would have done a daytrip from Lang co to Hoi An, as it’s a two-hour drive.
4 Days in Saigon (also known as Ho Chi Minh)
Saigon is the business and financial hub of Vietnam, with a prominent history going back hundreds of years. It’s a fascinating place, mixing classic French architecture, sleek skyscrapers as well as ornate temples and pagodas. The city is also filled with rooftop bars that overlook Saigon and beyond, while fantastic restaurants offer a combination of French, Chinese, and local Vietnamese cuisine. Saigon is busy and there is a lot of traffic here but probably not as much as Hanoi. People are lovely here and we had a lot of fun.
We stayed at the luxurious Hotel des Arts Saigon, a stunning hotel, blend of French colonial and contemporary Vietnam architecture. It’s ideally located, and we walked everywhere from here. Our room was relaxing and decorated tastefully, the service and the food were excellent.
Saigon is vibrant and really exciting, there are amazing bars and restaurants for all budgets, see next our favourite activities and restaurants in Saigon.
Our favourite activities in Saigon
Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral
The cathedral is a must see if you go to Saigon. Built in the late 1880s by French colonists, it’s one of the few remaining edifices of Catholicism in the largely Buddhist Vietnam.
The Central Post Office
Another beautiful piece of architecture, the post office is a beautifully preserved remnant of French colonial times and one of the biggest post office in all of Southeast Asia.
Ben Thanh Market
This market is a great place to buy local handicrafts, branded goods, Vietnamese art and other souvenirs. Enjoy typical Vietnamese delicacies at the eating stalls inside the market or cool off with a cold Vietnamese coffee.
Just wander in the city
It’s really lovely to have a wonder in the city, discover the beautiful streets and enjoy their architecture.
Trip to the Cu Chi Tunnel
The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense 250 km network dating from the war. There are two big tunnels two explore, Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. Ben Duoc haven’t been enlarged for the most part so you can really get a better sense of what the tunnels were like when they were in use. Though you might feel a bit claustrophobic in there. Ben Dinh tunnels are more popular as they have been reconstructed and significantly expanded. It’s up to you what kind of experience you’d prefer really.
Our favourite restaurants and bars in Saigon
Social Club Above Saigon
Sitting on the rooftop of the Hotel des Arts, Social Club Above Saigon is one of the trendiest places to go out in the city. Evenings here are fun and vibrant. And the cocktails are great. We definitely recommend you go for at least one drink.
Xu restaurant lounge
This cosy restaurant transforms to an animated bar after 6PM. The food is typical Vietnamese and really good. They do a happy hour between 8 and 10PM and the cocktails are high quality and cheap (about £5).
This rooftop garden is the go-to place for authentic, home-cooked Vietnamese food. Secret Garden really is a secret garden–beautifully decorated with central Vietnamese-style lanterns, a lot of greenery and wooden furniture to match.
This trendy little café brings Taiwan-Inspired Cuisine to Saigon. Enjoy a Soy Marinated Tofu Bao and a delicious Baozi milk tea.
This is the place to go to if you’re craving some European food. Namo is a beautifully designed Italian restaurant and the pizza are to die for.
Our Trip To Vietnam, The Bottom Line
Vietnam was one of our favourite trips, Mid-February was a great time to go as the weather was warm but not too hot. We flew with Vietnam airline from London and internally and the cost was reasonable for a high-quality service (we preferred this company to British Airline). We came back from Vietnam with Cathay Pacific as we couldn’t get tickets with Vietnam Airline (we booked a bit last minute) but didn’t think the level of service matched for a similar price so we definitely recommend Vietnam Airline for all flights.
We really liked our itinerary and only regretted not staying longer at the Banyan Tree. Looking back, we would have added a trek in Sapa between Hanoi and Lang co. We were afraid to have too much on our list for this two-weeks holiday but once in Vietnam we felt like we could have squeezed this in.
Anyway, Vietnam is a delightful country, packed with history and interesting culture. The nature here is marvellous and this is a country to add to your travel bucket list. We wanted a luxurious travel experience and stayed in 5-stars hotels, but you can definitely travel to Vietnam on a budget and stay in hostels or homestay for a cheap price. In fact, Vietnam is one of our listed cheapest destinations and was actually one of the best countries at dealing with the Covid-19.
A Perfect Day In Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Ha Long Bay Guided Tour With Vega Travel
The first challenge you’ll inevitably face when visiting Ha Long Bay is the absolutely overwhelming array of choice. There must be more than a hundred tours to choose from, all with different routes and duration. We found Vega Travel as they were recommended by The Independent which is a reputable source and they offered a single day tour.
Vega Travel offer a private 6-hour trip with 2-hour return transfer from any hotel in Hanoi at a cost of $195 USD per person. This seemed good value for a private day-long tour, especially in comparison to others we’d seen and that's originally why we picked them.
On the day, we were picked up at 9.30 AM by the tour guide and driver. We arrived in Ha Long Bay at half 11 to embark on our private boat, immediately presented with a delicious homemade buffet of Vietnamese food including prawns, clams, rice, spring rolls and chips.
We visited in Spring so weather conditions were typically foggy which decreased visibility but gave Ha Long Bay a dramatic feel as the impressive green peaks appeared from a heavy silver mist. We were able to see the bay from the front of the boat which gave us breathtaking, uninterrupted views of the bay - ideal for keen photographers.
Our tour guide was speaking perfect English and excellently explained the history of the area and the tale of dragons which gave Ha Long Bay its name. She spoke with enthusiasm and it made our experience that much richer.
The first stop we visited was the largest cave in Ha Long Bay - Sung Sot - also named the surprise cave which is definitely worth a visit as it’s a UNESCO declared world heritage site.
After that, we went kayaking in a large lagoon which was so much fun! It was our first time on kayaks but our guide explained clearly and we were soon finding it easy. She helped us spot a Macaque perched on some nearby limestone rocks. We brought bananas in advance which was a great tip from the guide as we used these to tempt the monkey over for a photoshoot. We ended the trip relaxing at Titop island which was a welcome rest after our activities.
We have to give our guide big credits as we were massively jet lagged after flying across six time zones to Hanoi. She not only offered to tailor our trip to a more ‘low-energy required’ approach but took us past a pharmacy on the way back to pick up sleeping pills! She was extremely enthusiastic and excited about sharing the bay’s stories and she made the day extremely fun.
We highly recommend paying the extra for a private tour like this. We saw many large group tours which can still cost up to $100 USD per person. Privately, we had a rich, intimate experience of Ha Long Bay which will love long in our memories. Click Here To Book With Vega Travel
What to pack for your trip
Raincoat if the weather isn't good
Waterproof shoes or flip flops (for kayaking)
The bottom line
If you're planning to go to Ha Long Bay, you'll have the option of a day tour or a 2 or 3 day-cruise. We did not feel like we missed out staying only for a day but if you like the idea of staying longer and fully explore the bay, Vega Travel also offers this option.
Ha Long Bay is not a place you'll want to miss if you travel to Vietnam. Yes, it can get packed with tourists but it's too stunning to be missed and 100% worth the money.
10 Scientifically Impossible Places That Actually Exist
The Crooked Forest
Poland's Crooked Forest has long beckoned visitors with a penchant for the unusual. Science suggests that the J-shaped trees that are growing within are an impossibility. Yet they're here for all to see, even if a reason for their misshapen nature cannot be explained.
There are countless theories about the Crooked Forest, but so far none has been proven or disproven. Known to local people as Krzywy Las, the forest can be found in Poland's western fringes, not far from the border with Germany. Some believe that invading tanks flattened young saplings during World War II, causing the recovering trees to take such a strange shape.
But others have blamed aliens, gravitational fluctuations, and the thick snowfall for which the region is renowned, all without evidence or a convincing argument. It's possible that the truth is more mundane. Some claim the trees were manipulated by human hand to create tailor-made shapes for construction purposes.
The active Kawah Ijen Volcano in Banywang Regency, Java is one of the world's most extraordinary volcanoes. Instead of producing the usual red lava and black smoke, its underground activities result in electric blue lava and flames rising into the air.
Kawah Ijen's fabled blue lava has long drawn the curious to Java. Here, on this stunning Indonesian island, the volcano's spectacular eruptions are a sight to behold. The phenomenon has long fascinated scientists. But although the colours cannot be questioned, the underlying cause is not as most believe. The lava here is not originally blue but becomes it due to a natural phenomenon. Indeed, the volcano has some of the highest levels of sulfur in the world and when the volcano's sulfuric gases meet air temperature above 360'C, the lava turns blue.
Another interesting fact about this place is that it's home to one of the world's most dangerous sulfur mining operations in the world. The working conditions are precarious, and the workers being exposed to the toxic sulfur gases for long periods of time develop long-term health issues. Interested in visiting? Don't adventure here on your own. An exciting thing to do is a night guided group tour to the volcano to see the blue flames phenomenon.
The Hessdalen Lights are beautiful, but baffling. Scientists have long pondered their cause. But despite numerous investigations and research galore, the reason for this Norwegian phenomenon remains unknown.
The Lights were first reported in the 1930s and have captivated visitors ever since. Sometimes the show lasts for just a few short seconds. But on occasions, the bright yellow, white, red, green, and blue lights can shine for well over an hour.
Located in rural Norway, the Lights illuminate a 7.5 mile stretch of the Hessdalen Valley. They can appear during the daytime or at night and appear to drift and float. But no-one knows why, with scientists struggling to find an answer or offer an explanation. The Hessdalen Lights are more prevalent during some periods than others, with sightings spiking in the 1980s, but proving less common in recent times. This just adds to the mystery in a place that continues to confound.
Planning a trip to Russia? This is a spot to avoid at all costs. Lake Karachay's scenic shoreline is considered the most polluted place on the planet. In the 1990s, tests revealed that just standing close to the lake for a single hour would, likely, result in death.
The big problem here is radiation. For decades, the Soviets worked on a top-secret atomic bomb project in this remote region. The radioactive waste? It was all dumped into Lake Karachay. Convenient, perhaps. But this came at quite a cost.
The landscape here might be beautiful, but it's also deadly. Science might suggest that such levels of radiation are impossible, but the slapdash Soviets have proved otherwise. The lake has since been filled in, but risks remain, with the soil here presenting grave dangers to human health. The Russian government has restricted access, meaning it's impossible to visit, not that you'd want to.
Science suggests that the Bermuda Triangle is a little more than a myth. Rational researchers are adamant that this is the stuff of folklore, but doubts persist, and anything seems possible. The Bermuda Triangle covers a huge area in the North Atlantic Ocean, spanning more than 500,000 square miles.
It's also known as the Devil's Triangle or Hurricane Alley, as countless ships and planes are said to have disappeared without a trace whilst in this area. But does this mean that the legend is true? Science suggest that the legend of the Bermuda Triangle is a manufactured mystery, perpetuated by writers who either purposely or unknowingly made use of misconceptions, faulty reasoning, and sensationalism. One explanation pins the blame on leftover technology from the mythical lost continent of Atlantis when another says that unusual local magnetic anomalies may exist in the area, confusing compasses, and leading ships to get lost. There is also the myth that violent storms occur in the triangles, sinking ships.
The Triangle is one of the busiest shipping lanes on Earth and experts think it's not unusual that vessels are lost here from time to time. But still, those entering the Bermuda Triangle often do so with a deep sense of unease, the triangle legend enduring and not entirely proved wrong.
Tourists flock to Piedmont to see Italy's famous Double Tree. Here, on a much-visited site, between Grana and Casorzo, a cherry tree grows atop a mulberry. Science suggests that such a thing should not be possible. But there can be no disputing the facts. This place, and these trees, do actually exist.
Called the Double Tree of Casorzo, or Bialbero di Casorzo, this is quite an anomaly. It isn't unheard of for one tree to grow on top of another. But growth tends to be limited in such instances, with neither tree able to thrive or to reach a significant size.
This is where Bialbero di Casorzo stands out, defying science and proving that anything is possible. It is thought that, long ago, a bird must have dropped a cherry stone onto the mulberry tree when flying overhead. This sounds plausible, but no-one could have imagined that it would turn out quite like this.
Science suggests it isn't possible for a river to reach such temperatures. Yet hidden deep in the Peruvian Amazon, researchers have uncovered evidence to the contrary. Here, in Puerto Inca, the Boiling River continues to defy scientific norms.
It isn't quite boiling. But it is very hot. Located in Peru's dense jungle, the Boiling River reaches temperatures close to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Tempted to take a dip? You shouldn't. The waters here are hot enough to burn, and in some instances, kill.
The Boiling River is a sacred place and local shaman believe the waters have healing powers. Scientists have long been baffled and explaining this place is difficult. But it's thought underwater fault lines are responsible, the waters being heated deep underground before being pushed back to the surface. The Boiling River ranks amongst the largest geothermal features on Earth. It's hard to believe such a place exists, but there's no arguing with the evidence.
The Petrifying Well
It was once thought that witchcraft was at play in North Yorkshire. Here, not far from Knaresborough, a well that was said to turn objects to stone appeared to be doing the impossible. Mother Shipton, a much-feared local witch and oracle, was blamed for such sorcery. There are still some who think that not all is as it should be here, although science suggests otherwise.
Mother Shipton was associated with several tragic events having made it her business to predict certain horrors that she claimed would befall England's Tudor reign. The Petrifying Well left local people terrified in the 1600s.
Items that met its waters, it was said, would turn to stone. It has since been discovered that the water's high mineral content can have a petrifying effect. It doesn't make for such a good story, but it's a more likely explanation than witchcraft.
The Blue Pond of Hokkaido
The Blue Pond's fabled waters are almost impossibly colourful. Located close to the popular hot spring town of Shirogane Onsen in Japan, this is a place that beckons those with an eye for the unusual. The pond itself is man-made, but the intriguing bright blue waters within are all natural.
Yet they also seem supernatural, and we could definitely add this lake to our list of places that look like from another planet. The pond's origins date back to the 1980s, when nearby Mount Tokachi erupted, threatening the small town of Biel. To reduce the risks that were posed by lava flows and mud slides, a dam was built to help strengthen Biel's defences. This led to several ponds forming, including the Blue Pond.
The main reason for the vibrant hue that provides the Blue Pond's name is the high level of aluminium hydroxide that can be found in the water. The white birch and Japanese larch trees which stand in the middle of the lake are adding to the Blue Pond mystical aura, and it's certainly a spot you want add to your travel bucket list.
We all heard the saying 'lightning never strikes the same place twice'. Well, at lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, lightning can strike up to 280 times an hour and last for 10 hours a day. Called Catatumbo Lightning, this is an atmospheric phenomenon that just goes on and on and on.
It is thought the region's unique topography and wind patterns contribute to this unique phenomenon, but the precise reason is unclear, with this an occurrence that continues to puzzle the country's brightest scientific minds. When the storm clouds gather high above the mouth of the Catatumbo River, you know you're in for a show.
There's more. There's no thunder, with the lightning strikes taking place in a deafening silence that can be a little eerie. Then there are the colours, with the darkening skies here lit in red, orange, pink and blue. Catatumbo Lightning can be seen, on average, on 160 days a year, making for a natural phenomenon that demands to be seen. Interested? You can join a guided night tour to witness the spectacle and explore the tropical savannas nearby. Make sure to pack your camera!
The Devil's Kettle Waterfall
The Devil's Kettle waterfall, also called Disappearing River, has long fascinated visitors to Minnesota's Judge CR Magney State Park. Located on Lake Superior's scenic northern shores, there's a great deal to see and do in this beautiful park, but most are drawn to this wonderful wilderness to see its extraordinary waterfall.
The fast-flowing river defies the laws of nature and puzzles scientists and explorers alike. It splits in two, with one side dropping over a standard 50-foot waterfall, whilst the other vanishes without a trace.
Scientists think the river must drain somewhere beneath Lake Superior but they've been unable to prove it. Another hypothesis is this portion of the river plunges into a vast pothole that cannot be seen from the surface, before re-joining the main flow a little further downstream. Researchers and other curious visitors have dropped various objects into the hole and searched for signs of them in an attempt to solve the mystery, but so far, none have been found.
Ringing Rocks of Pennsylvania
This place gives a fresh meaning to the term 'Rock Concert'. Here, in northern Pennsylvania, not far from the scenic Delaware River, those with a penchant for the inexplicable gather to experience a genuine scientific oddity.
The large rocks that litter the ground here ring like bells when struck. Our advice for anyone planning a visit, make sure to bring a hammer. Scientists have long studied Pennsylvania's remarkable Ringing Rocks, but a clear explanation remains elusive.
Make no mistake about it: this is something that shouldn't be possible. But there's no question that the rocks here do ring, although not all are audible. It was once thought that just one third of the rocks made their distinctive sound. Yet research in 1965 discovered that all the rocks here ring, but some sound at a pitch that is lower than the human ear can detect. That research didn't, alas, determine the cause.
The Sea of Stars
The stunning Sea of Stars is a sight to behold. This might appear to transcend the possible, but there can be no question that this phenomenon is in rude health.
Found in the Maldives, the lapping waves look like the night sky, filled with bright lights, twinkling like stars in the ocean. It's all down to plankton, microscopic organisms that make the impossible possible. The dazzling effect could not be more magical.
Like to see the 'stars' for yourself? Vaadhoo Island, part of the picturesque Raa Atoll, is a prime spot, with the late summer months the best time to visit. The bioluminescent plankton are often at their brightest here, with the movement of the waves prompting a chemical reaction that causes the 'stars' to shine. It might seem too good to be true. But the Sea of Stars is there for all to see. Far from impossible, this is a destination that demands a visit.
There can be no question that Lake Hillier is a scientific oddity. It takes just a quick look to realise that this is a body of water with a difference. Most lakes appear blue, or maybe green. But the shimmering waters that lap Lake Hillier's scenic shores?
They're bubble-gum pink. Located on Middle Island, in Western Australia's picturesque Recherche Archipelago, this is a puzzle that has long baffled scientists. It shouldn't be possible for a lake to be bright pink. But Lake Hillier? It most certainly is.
There are various theories, the main one being that the lake's high saline levels, coupled with a rare algal species, are responsible for its most notable feature. Yet Lake Hillier remains pink all year round, and even when removed from the lake and bottled, the water's distinctive colouring stays as vibrant as ever. Such things ensure that Lake Hillier is a scientific oddity.
Hum Of Taos
Science has been unable to solve the so-called 'Taos Hum'. This is a persistent sound that has troubled people here since the 1990s. No-one knows what it is or where it comes from. It might seem scientifically impossible, but there can be no doubt that this is a real phenomenon.
The Hum, which has also been described as a rumble or drone, is a low-frequency sound that isn't audible to all. Research suggests that just 2% of people in Taos can hear it, and this just adds to the mystery.
Scientists have spent much time in this small north-central New Mexico town, but still an explanation remains elusive. There are some who believe this to be a paranormal phenomenon. That the Taos Hum once featured in the X-Files, as well as other sci-fi TV shows, has nothing to deter the conspiracy theorists. Still, though, scientists continue to ponder this persistent problem and it's a conundrum that is proving impossible to solve.
Circles Of Namibia
Countless theories abound, but Namibia's famed Fairy Circles continue to confound. Located in the arid Namib Desert, these distinctive bare patches have long puzzled the scientific community. Various explanations have been put forward, but none has yet been proved possible.
The indigenous people here believe the circles are caused by the poisonous breath of a subterranean dragon. It seems as likely an explanation as the others put forward. The barren circles measure between two and 15 metres in diameter. There's no missing them. But understanding them is another matter. Some think rampant termites are responsible.
But others point to the region's inhospitable nature and argue that the efficient plant life has organised itself in order to best access the desert's scarce water reserves. Regardless of the reason, the precision of the perfect circles makes them impossible to comprehend. Could it be the dragon, or maybe the other myths that are commonplace here? As things stand, science has failed to find a better answer.
The Nazca Lines of Peru
Peru's puzzling Nazca Lines have long baffled scientists seeking a plausible explanation. Etched into the hot desert sands, these ancient geoglyphs are enormous. Some dating back to 500BC, their sheer size alone makes them all but impossible to understand. But these head-scratching symbols are real, as all those fortunate enough to have seen them in person can attest.
Comprising more than 10,000 individual lines, there are over 300 figures to find in an area that spans 1,000 square kilometres in this remote corner of South America. It's hard to believe, but new geoglyphs are being discovered all the time.
Indeed, in 2019, a further 100 figures were found, adding to a tally that was already impressive. Some depict animals and other plants, but all continue to confound those determined to fathom their purpose. Best seen from the air or the neighbouring hilltops, it's hard to believe that these Peruvian treasures are even possible. But make no mistake about it: the puzzling Nazca Lines are all too real.
It should not be possible for life to exist in Romania's so-called 'Poison Cave'. But deep beneath a featureless plain in Constanta, not far from the Black Sea and Bulgarian border, creatures that have never seen sunlight lurk in an environment that could not be more alien.
Discovered in 1986, Movile is believed to date back more than five million years. The eco-system within is unique. This is a place that verges on the impossible. The air is different down here, containing one-third to a half less oxygen than that which we breathe on the surface. The internal atmosphere is rich in hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide.
Separated from the outside world, life here is based upon chemosynthesis rather than photosynthesis. Life shouldn't exist here, but no less than 48 different species live in mysterious Movile, including leeches, spiders, and a weird and wonderful water scorpion. Hard to believe, perhaps, but this place does exist.
The Sargasso Sea
Sargasso is a sea within a sea, a body of water with no land boundaries, surrounded on all sides by four ocean currents. The North Atlantic waters in which it sits are cold and rough, but the Sargasso Sea is strangely calm and warm.
Some 2000 miles long and 700 miles wide, the Sargasso Sea is sizeable. But it's not its scale that sets this place apart. The Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Current, Canary Current and North Atlantic Equatorial Current swirl around its fringes.
But within its watery boundaries, all is tranquil, the warm blue waters offering a sanctuary to countless creatures. The conditions here encourage the sargassum to grow, a type of seaweed that gives the sea its name. This attracts nesting sea turtles and ensures a unique environment that appeals to the inquisitive.
The Michigan Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle enjoys global renown, but in the United States, a similar phenomenon is little known outside Michigan. It too is triangular in nature, this an eerie area in which mysteries endure. Scientists have never managed to get to the bottom of what goes on in the Michigan Triangle. Like its more famous counterpart, this is a place that defies possibilities.
Stretching between Ludington, Benton Harbor and Manitowoc, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan, sailors entering the Triangle are taking a risk. The schooner Thomas Hume disappeared in 1891 with its crew, and no trace has ever been found.
But others have followed and paid a similar price. In 1921, the Rosa Belle was discovered damaged and upturned, its 11 crew members nowhere to be seen. Theories abound, but science has been unable to find an answer. Some think there is a time portal here, whilst others believe UFOs are responsible. Like the Bermuda Triangle, this is a seemingly impossible place that exists.
The Baltic Sea Anomaly
Scientists are very confused by the Baltic Sea Anomaly. Discovered in the dark depths of the Gulf of Bothnia, this is an underwater find that has long stoked debate. Some think that it's a natural geological formation, whilst others insist it's a sunken UFO. Either way, this is a strange find that continues to push the realms of possibility.
Treasure hunters combing the ocean floor for historic artifacts happened upon the Anomaly in June 2011. Known as the Swedish Ocean X team, they even produced a sonar image. But this is indistinct and so unclear that experts remain divided on what, exactly, it shows.
The most rational continue to argue that, whilst unusual, it is possible for volcanic rock to have settled in such a formation. But those pursuing a more far-fetched explanation are adamant this is evidence of life in Outer Space, even pointing out clear similarities in shape with Star Wars' Millennium Falcon.
The Julia Sound
The Julia Sound was an inexplicable underwater noise that caught those listening off guard. It happened on March 1st, 1999. No-one has heard it since. This might sound mysterious, but such things are far from unusual in the oceans' murky depths.
Indeed, there are countless sounds that have never been fully explained. Like Julia, these all have official names, including The Bloop, Upsweep, Slow Down, Whistle and Train. Experts at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recorded Julia, but a definitive explanation remains elusive. Julia lasts for around 15 seconds and is eerie indeed.
The likeliest cause is a great iceberg, either breaking up or running aground in the frigid waters of Antarctica. Regardless, Julia could be heard underwater for many miles around. Like The Bloop, Upsweep and all the others, Julia happened, but none can explain why, or predict when or if such a sound will be heard again.
Gruner See means Green Lake. It's an apt description. But it doesn't tell the full story. For those visiting Gruner See during the winter months, this doesn't seem like a great destination for diving. But the possibilities here are hidden during such times, with Gruner See's other side not being revealed until spring.
For much of the year, the so-called Green Lake is little more than a shallow pond. But once the mountain snows begin to thaw, the landscape changes in dramatic fashion and the transformation is magical.
The entire basin is flooded, with Styria's trees, benches and bridges submerged beneath waters that can be up to 40 feet deep during summer. It is a phenomenon that has long attracted divers keen to glimpse this impossible underwater world. The Hochschwab's mountains and forests have long beckoned outdoor adventurers. But take Gruner See's other side into account and the possibilities here are endless.
Devil's Pool of Australia
Queensland's Devil's Pool might look like the perfect place to take a dip. But this is a dangerous spot indeed. Located close to Babinda, not far from Cairns, this is a destination that beckons backpackers and sightseers alike.
The days here can be hot, so the temptation to swim is strong. But the waters here have been described like a 'washing machine', with the currents strong and the conditions like nowhere else on Earth. Indeed, Devil's Pool boasts deep waters that are fast flowing through the boulders and gullies, with a 'rock chute' that punishes the unprepared.
Impossible phenomena or haunted pool? Legend has it that a young woman jumped into the Devil's Pool after being torn from her lover. It's said she's still looking for her true love today and luring young men to their deaths in the pool. More than 17 people are known to have drowned here in the past 50 years.
The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
The Darvaza Gas Crater is better known as the Door to Hell. It is a fitting nickname. Located close to Derweze, a small village in Turkmenistan's barren Karakum Desert, this is a place that does not seem possible. Yet countless visitors have travelled here during the last four decades or so, and all can attest that this is all too real.
Calling it the Door to Hell ascribes this place a mythical status. But science has an explanation that is rather more prosaic, the door to hell is in fact a product of men. It was opened in the 1970s and happened by accident, when careless Soviet engineers caused a natural gas field to collapse into a vast underground cavern below.
The fire is said to have been started deliberately, to prevent methane escaping. The result is spectacular, with immense flames and boiling mud beckoning tourists galore. The fire has raged ever since and no-one knows how to put it out. Looks more like the product of hell to us.
Located close to Zhangjiajie, in China's Hunan province, Tianzi proves popular amongst those with an eye for the unusual. Thinking about paying a visit? You'll never have seen anything quite like this before and you might question whether you're still on Planet Earth.
Indeed, when James Cameron was making the movie Avatar, he took inspiration from the alien landscape here. Stranger than fiction? Take our word for it: such places do exist. Reaching 4,000 feet into skies that are often thick with fog, Tianzi's quartz sandstone towers are ancient. These are thought to date back four million years. But with weathering and erosion having taken their toll, the fabled peaks look nothing like they once did.
Scientists say the peaks are the product of erosion, but according to legend, the mountain gets its name from an ethnic man named Xiang Dakun. Xiang Dakun fought against the emperor soldiers until he was forced back to the edge of the mountain's cliff and then fell to his death. After his death, his lover covered the cliff with flowers, which explains the flowers that cover the ledges today. Legend also states that the Tianzi peaks are Xiang Dakun writing brushes, which turned to stone after his death. Which explanation do you like most?
The Black Forest
Germany's beautiful Black Forest appears impossible in its scale and its splendour. Make no doubt about it: this is a natural wonderland that is seriously big. Enjoying a stunning location in Baden-Wurttemberg, in Germany's south-eastern regions, the thick forest stretches as far as the eye can see.
But there's rather more here than the trees alone. Mountainous and marvellous, the Black Forest even blankets Feldberg, Germany's highest summit. It might not seem possible, but there's no question that this picturesque place is real.
Known to local people as Schwarzwald, the Black Forest inspired the Grimm Brothers' fairy tales and covers 2,320 square miles and boasts countless rivers and lakes amongst its geographic treasures. Beckoning all with a penchant for outdoor adventures, this is a place that demands a visit. But getting lost is always a possibility, so do take care not to lose your bearings.
Ever heard of these strange seemingly impossible phenomena?
In 2013, a strange phenomenon occurred in the village of Kalachi in Kazakhstan. Several people fell into a sudden state of deep sleep that could last for days! The village had to be entirely evacuated as no one knew how to stop the issue. The world's scientists have their theories but aren’t certain of the explanation.
Mount Roraima looks like it’s floating in the sky, sitting on the Venezuela-Brazil-Guyana border. This exotic place is said to have been one of the inspirations for Arthur Conan-Doyle's The Lost World, in which dinosaurs and ape men are discovered living atop an isolated mountain. Some people even believe that dinosaurs still live in the lush forest… what do you think?
One the Abraham Lake in Canada you can see thousands of magical frozen bubbles. However, you wouldn’t want to be too close to one if it popped. The bubbles are in fact frozen pockets of methane, a highly flammable gas. We don’t recommend lighting a match around here!
Ah-shi-sle-pah in New Mexico is a natural landscape peppered with clusters of bizarre, otherworldly formations that seem to defy gravity. Scientists can’t explain their unusual shapes, let alone in large numbers… Could they come from aliens visiting earth?
15 Incredible Discoveries Made by Divers
Temple Of Doom (Cenote Esqueleto)
Looking a little like a skull, Mexico's "Temple of Doom", aka Cenote Esqueleto, is an apt name as one of the most hazardous and intricate dive sites in the world. This cenote is incredibly dark, disorientating and dangerous.
Divers are asked to stick to sunlit areas to be safe, and take extreme care as many passageways are tight and narrow. It's very easy to become lost in Cenote Esqueloto, and many divers have run out of air trying to find their way back and died.
Not hazardous enough? There is also no access ladder at Cenote Esqueleto, meaning those keen to reach the intricate cave network that lies far beneath the surface have to take a giant leap of faith right at the beginning. However, the Temple of Doom rewards courageous divers with its fascinating deep and complex cave formations, boulders, and stalactites.
The Ghost Fleet Of Chuuk Lagoon
Like to go wreck diving? Chuuk Lagoon is hard to beat. Located in the remote Central Pacific, underwater explorers flock here to see the world's largest ghost fleet. Known to some as 'the Japanese Pearl Harbour', what awaits beneath the surface is awesome indeed. Difficult to put into words, Chuuk Lagoon must be seen to be believed.
There was once an impenetrable Japanese naval base here, but as World War II approached its end, the stronghold was destroyed in a devastating attack known as Operation Hailstone. In total, the United States destroyed 16 warships, 32 merchant ships and 25o aircraft.
Nowadays, wrecks litter the lagoon's sand-covered floor -- filled with marvellous marine life, and beckoning divers with their long-lost treasures. Look out for the San Francisco Maru, a vast cargo ship that still has three tanks on deck. Haunting and exciting in equal measure, this is a dive site that is not to be missed.
The Axolotl, The Mexican Waterdog
Once a staple of the Aztec diet, these days the unusual Axolotl is fast approaching extinction. This is a strange-looking creature; aka the Mexican Waterdog or Walking Fish, this is an amphibian with a difference.
Unlike similar species, the Axolotl does not undergo metamorphosis -- instead remaining gilled and aquatic and not taking to the land during adulthood. Like to see one at close quarters? Time is starting to run out.
Numbers are dwindling due to urbanisation, pollution and the prevalence of invasive species, but Axolotl can still be found in Central Mexico's fresh waters for those determined enough.'
Lake Xochimilco is perhaps the best spot for those keen to catch a glimpse, whilst smaller bodies of water outside Mexico City's overcrowded environs also offer opportunities. They're not easy to find in the dark and murky waters, but for those divers who do succeed, the effort is well worthwhile.
The Wreck Of The USS Saratoga
Submerged 50 metres beneath the calm ocean surface at beautiful Bikini Atoll, the wrecked USS Saratoga draws divers keen to explore its historic hull. This is a ship that can boast a fascinating back story -- an aircraft carrier that saw significant action during World War II, torpedoed by a Japanese submarine following the Pearl Harbour attack, before taking part in the legendary Battle of Iwo Jima.
Ironically, the Saratoga was eventually sunk by the United States as part of the nuclear weapons tests -- called Operation Crossroads -- that took place here in the 1940s. It has sat peacefully at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean ever since.
Because its final resting place isn't too far from the surface, the Saratoga is accessible to recreational divers, who head here to see the wreck at close quarters. There are other dive sites in the area -- best accessed via the Marshall Islands -- but there's no question that the Saratoga is the most popular of all.
Christ Of The Abyss
For avid divers or anyone interested in underwater exploration, Christ Of The Abyss is a must-see dive site. Located in the shimmering Mediterranean, between Camogli and Portofino on the Italian Riviera, this is a sacred spot for scuba divers.
Found 56 feet beneath the sun-kissed surface, this is a peaceful place indeed. Measuring eight feet from head to toe, Guido Galletti's submerged bronze statue offers a benediction of peace, its head and hands raised towards the skies above.
Placed at the spot where Dario Gonzatti, the first Italian to use scuba equipment, died in 1947, Christ of the Abyss has stood here since 1954, beckoning those keen to pay their respects. Similar statues can be found in waters around the world, but the purists always head here -- to see the original and the best.
The Pyramids Of Yonaguni
Located off Ryukyu Island in Japan, Yonaguni's mysterious pyramids have baffled scholars ever since being discovered in 1986. The area has long been a popular dive site due to the graceful hammerhead sharks that glide through the waters here. But in the decades that have passed since the massive stepped monoliths first came to light, divers have had another reason to take the plunge and head down to the captivating depths.
Some think that the pyramids are natural, with the strong underwater currents having shaped the soft sandstone over thousands of years. Yet there's a growing belief that this is, in fact, a 'Japanese Atlantis', an ancient lost city, sunk by a powerful earthquake two millennia ago, and preserved forever beneath the lapping waves.
Regardless of their origins, Yonaguni's popular pyramids demand to be explored. Ranking amongst diving's greatest discoveries, this is an experience that is not to be missed.
Sand Drawings In Japan
Like underwater crop circles, these mysterious 'sand drawings' confounded scientists for a short time. Discovered during a routine dive off Amami Oshima in southern Japan, wild theories abounded.
Measuring six feet in diameter and found 80 feet beneath the ocean surface, no-one could explain their origins. Further dives soon revealed the reason, however. This has nothing to do with aliens -- but the explanation is no less fascinating.
The rippling geometric patterns are, in fact, created by small puffer fish, who toil to fashion intricate designs on the soft ocean floor. The reason? Scientists have discovered that these delicate 'drawings' help the puffer fish to attract a mate, as well as providing a safe place for eggs to be laid. It's a beautiful sight and an incredible discovery. Preparing to dive in Japan? Be sure to look out for the puffer fish -- and their amazing underwater artworks.
Sunken Yacht In The Antarctic
Ghost ships have long beckoned divers keen to explore their sunken hulls. Most date back to days long gone, but the stricken Mar Sem Fin was a wreck more modern.
This Brazilian research vessel slipped beneath the surface in 2012 having become trapped in the frigid waters of Maxwell Bay, not far from King George Island, some 750 miles from South America's southernmost tip. The 76-foot yacht has since been recovered. But, for a time, this was a dive site like nowhere else on Earth.
The Mar Sem Fin got into trouble having been battered by 60mph winds and, with the crew having been rescued, the ship's fate was inevitable. Having sunk to a depth of just 30 feet, the wrecked yacht could be seen from the surface, the Antarctic conditions giving the impression that it was glowing beneath the water, demanding to be discovered.
The Lion City -- aka Shi Cheng -- was once a major metropolis, an economic and political powerhouse in China's eastern Zhejiang province, its ancient buildings attractive and its influence great.
That all came to an abrupt end in 1957, when the powers-that-be here decided that a vast hydroelectric power plant was needed. Its inhabitants evacuated from their homes, Shi Cheng was submerged at the bottom of an enormous man-made lake. Out of sight and out of mind, it was soon forgotten.
Divers rediscovered 'China's Atlantis' almost five decades later -- making this a popular spot indeed for those with a penchant for underwater adventures. Lying 130 feet beneath the surface of picturesque Lake Qiandao, the city's haunting streets and buildings remain intact, drawing those keen to explore Shi Cheng's long-forgotten corners. Had it not been for curious divers, this historic urban centre might have been lost forever. Will you be brave enough to explore this underwater ghost town?
With so many of the planet's underwater places having yet to be explored, there's still a great deal for divers to discover. Little beneath the oceans' surfaces can ever hope to rival this, however. Like to swim alongside the largest animal on Earth? It's time to take a trip to Sri Lanka.
The so-called Pearl of the Indian Ocean is a diver's paradise, but there is nothing to be found in the captivating depths here to beat the breathtaking Blue Whale. Measuring up to 30 metres from head to tail -- and weighing as much as 170 tonnes -- this is an immense beast indeed. Yet calm in nature and often shy, it is possible to get up close and personal with these gentle giants during a dive, albeit with expert instruction and guidance.
Picturesque Weligama is the place to go for anyone keen to experience an underwater encounter like no other. There's a great deal to discover in the Earth's oceans, but there's little that can ever hope to rival this.
Wreck Of The Titanic
Having slipped beneath the ink-black surface one night in 1912, Titanic lay undisturbed on the frigid ocean floor for almost three quarters of a century. Rediscovered during a secret operation in 1985, divers have longed to explore the renowned wreck ever since.
Getting there is the problem, with Titanic's holed hull lying more than two miles down in an unpredictable part of the Atlantic that is almost impossible to access. Yet plans are afoot to resume exploration, using special submersibles to transport those with the means to a dive site like no other. It was an oceanographer called Robert Ballard who located the wreck in the 1980s, but the costs and logistics involved have made return visits problematic. With Titanic disintegrating, those keen to follow in Ballard's footsteps know that time is running out.
Like to take a trip? It will cost a fortune, but with Titanic's bow, deck and bridge to explore -- as well as a vast debris field strewn with historic artifacts from that fateful voyage -- those who can afford it might consider it a price worth paying.
Cleopatra's Sunken Palace
In 1996, the president of the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology made a startling discovery, the long lost island of Antirhodos. He actually spent 10 years planning an expedition to the island to uncover the secrets of Cleopatra's sunken palace. The island sank without a trace in the Fourth Century due to a great earthquake prompting a chain of devastating tremors and a powerful tsunami that struck the Egyptian coastline hard. Once a place of immense wealth and splendour, Antirhodos vanished to be rediscovered in the 90s, a priceless archeological find recovering well-preserved and authentic relics, statues and artwork.
Unfortunately for divers, nowadays all those pieces have been taken out of the water to tour the world museums. That said, there are some artifacts left for divers to see today and you can still explore the stunning historical palace. The site isn't really deep, just 5 to 8 meters, but it's really shallow, which is something to bear in mind.
You can see many of the columns of the palace, huge stones everywhere, big bowls used in ancient times to keep water or food and two Sphinxes. You may also see stones with ancient Egyptian writings on it if the visibility is good enough. Fan of historical discoveries? You'll definitely want to brave the shallow waters and take a look at this.
The first diver to have ever encountered a Moon Fish must have been given quite a fright. Measuring up to three metres from head to tail -- and sometimes over four metres from fin to fin -- this is an immense creature indeed. Large it might be, but the Moon Fish is no threat to divers. Recovered from the initial shock? Swimming alongside this gentle giant is a rare treat indeed.
The Moon Fish has several names -- including, somewhat confusingly, the Ocean Sunfish -- but its moniker matters little to those keen to get up close and personal. Found in temperate and tropical waters around Southern California, Indonesia and New Zealand, the so-called Swimming Head (another nickname, this one that points to the Moon Fish's unusual shape) is calm and shy.
Happiest swimming close to the ocean surface, the massive Moon Fish can weigh up to 1,000kg -- making it the heaviest bony fish on Earth. Impossible to miss, this is one to discover on your next dive trip.
The Cathedral, Australia
Divers have long known about The Cathedral - an immense cave network on the picturesque Tasman Peninsula - but so vast is this awe-inspiring underwater world, exciting new discoveries are being made all the time.
The site was formed over thousands of years, with fresh water filtering through the soft limestone, before rising to the surface under pressure, eroding great chunks of stone in the process. The result is spectacular, with intricate passages aplenty, and the chance of yet another amazing discovery waiting around each and every corner. The latest find has been dubbed 'The Chamber of Secrets', a cavernous expanse that has yet to be explored fully.
The Piccaninnie Ponds cave system is so huge that no-one knows what else might be hidden down here. It's perhaps no surprise then that intrepid divers are drawn to Southern Australia to swim in its waters. However, after a series of non-qualified diver deaths, access to them is now strictly controlled.
Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park
There's nowhere on Earth quite like the haunting Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park. Located off Grenada's popular western shores, divers take to the warm Caribbean Sea to catch a glimpse of the strange underwater world that the British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor created here in 2006.
There's a circle of life-sized human figures, all holding hands, that can unsettle the unprepared, whilst other attractions include 'The Lost Correspondent' -- a man sitting at a desk, working on his typewriter -- and 'Man on a Bike' (no explanation necessary).
This is all on the ocean floor, remember, but if it all seems a little silly, Taylor's work is serving a useful purpose. Enhancing the native reef and encouraging marine life, the ocean is claiming this artificial environment as its own, a little at a time, and more and more creatures are making their homes amongst the sculptures. It makes for a fascinating dive and no matter how often you visit, there's always something different to discover down here.
The Underwater River
There are dive sites galore dotted along Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula -- the porous limestone that lies beneath ground level prone to sinkholes that, over time, have flooded and filled with water. They're called cenotes in these parts and there's one underwater world in particular that demands to be explored. It's known as Cenote Angelita -- Little Angel -- and the discoveries that have been made down here are remarkable indeed.
In ancient times, the Maya people believed the sinkholes to be sacred places. Here, gifts could be given to the gods -- with gold, precious stones and even human remains amongst the sacrificial items offered. Finding an ancient artifact is always possible in Yucatan's fascinating cenotes, but at Angelita, the best discovery of all has been a natural one.
It's an underwater river that flows deep beneath the sinkhole's surface. The science is complicated and the concept surreal, but you don't need to understand it to enjoy it. The underground river was discovered by amateur divers -- and there's a good chance that further secrets are down here, just waiting to be found.
The Lost City of Heracleion
Divers spent decades searching for Heracleion -- a vast ancient city, rumoured to lie beneath the shimmering ocean surface, not far from Egypt's picturesque coastline. Lost for thousands of years, some thought it little more than a myth, a legend hinted at in rare scrolls and texts.
But in 1999, French archaeologists found Heracleion's ruins some six kilometres from the Alexandria shoreline. It was a remarkable discovery that has seen countless treasures recovered from the deep.
Some 64 ships, 700 anchors, innumerable gold coins and giant statues -- some still intact -- are amongst the items retrieved from a city believed to date back to the 12th Century BC. Even more impressive is the massive temple discovered down here -- an awe-inspiring place that demands to be explored. Divers have made some incredible discoveries over the years, but few can rival this.
A Hole In The Earth
Divers have long known about the huge marine sinkhole -- aka the Great Blue Hole -- that lies close to Lighthouse Reef, an atoll 70km from Belize's sun-kissed shores. It wasn't until recent times, however, that the secrets that lie at the hole's mysterious bottom were discovered. Heading deep down, more than 120 metres beneath the shimmering ocean surface, curious divers found a dark place indeed.
Higher up, life abounds -- with sharks, turtles and colourful corals amongst the spectacular sights to be seen. Down below, however, it is a different matter. Upon reaching 90 metres, divers discovered a thick layer of toxic hydrogen sulfide -- described as a vast 'floating blanket' -- that spanned the hole in its entirety.
Beneath this, all life vanished, with no oxygen and nothing to see other than long-dead crabs and a so-called 'conch graveyard'. The most interesting find? The divers discovered small stalactites -- suggesting that this was once a huge dry cave, most likely formed during the last Ice Age, some 14,000 years ago.
36 Million Dollars Worth Of Silver
In 1941, the SS Gairsoppa -- a British-built merchant ship that had seen service during World War II -- departed India bound for Ireland. It never reached Galway, its intended destination, having been sunk by a torpedo, fired from a lurking German U-Boat.
The Gairsoppa slipped to the deep ocean floor, its 85 crew members killed and its precious cargo lost. That cargo? Some 48 tonnes of silver bullion, with an estimated value of more than $30 million (at today's prices). The wreck sitting in 15,000 feet of water, it was thought that the treasure was lost forever.
In 2011, however, deep-sea divers discovered the Gairsoppa's remains and a delicate operation began to recover the treasure from the ocean floor. It took a little time and much careful planning, but the silver was found and brought back to the surface. Considered 'the deepest, largest precious metal discovery in history', it is thought there might still be more riches down there just waiting to be found. For curious divers, it's an intriguing proposition.
A Giant Eyeball
You never know what you might find when exploring the ocean. It might be a shipwreck, plundered treasure, or a long-lost city. It might also be a giant eyeball. This is one that the squeamish should avoid at all costs, an immense eyeball discovered on Florida's sun-kissed coastline and a find that -- for a short time, at least -- bamboozled scientists and local wildlife experts.
It might look as though it once belonged to an immense sea monster, but the truth is a little more prosaic. The chances are the eyeball came from a large swordfish. Prosaic perhaps, but this is still something that most divers would prefer not to discover.
Swordfish tend to be deep-sea dwellers and can reach huge sizes -- up to four-and-a-half metres in length, and weighing 650kg. The giant eyeball must once have belonged to an incredible specimen indeed. You never know what you might find when exploring the ocean.
Um El Faroud Wreck
Officially a man made dive site, rather than a natural beauty, the Um El Faroud dive site off the southwest coast of Malta is a stunning spectacle, and most definitely doesn't lack any beauty despite being deliberately created.
Um El Faroud doesn't represent the name of the area. Instead it's the name of a 10,000 tonne British built, Libyan owned fuel tanker vessel, that in 1995 suffered a gas explosion during routine maintenance work whilst dry docked in Malta. She was so damaged as a result that she could no longer sail, so she was purposefully sunk, or 'scuttled' in nautical terms, to her final resting place at the bottom of the sea close to Wied iz-Zurrieq in 1998.
But that's not the end of her story. In 2005, this artificial reef was damaged further by a violent sea storm and was split in two ' making it an even more interesting dive! Home to tuna, squid and barracudas, this dive sit sits 36 metres down and 200 metres from shore. Experienced wreck divers can follow the inquisitive fish as they enter the wreck, which still remains upright on the sandy seabed despite all that Mother Nature has thrown at her, to explore her mysterious beauty.
The Ocean Atlas Statue
Don't ever be fooled into thinking that man made diving sites lack intrigue, excitement and breathtaking beauty. Because the Ocean Atlas Statue in Nassau in the Bahamas has all of that and more.
Sitting at a depth of 5 metres, Ocean Atlas is an artwork depicting a young Bahamian girl 'sustaining the ceiling of the ocean' above her. With both wonder and energy in her eyes, she represents the Greek titan Atlas, condemned to carry the weight of the heavens on his back for eternity.
Officially the largest single underwater sculpture, she's a reminder to divers of the positive impact humans can have on the world. She's so large (18 foot tall and weighing in at 60 tonnes), she had to be assembled in place underwater by British sculptor and designer Jason deCaires Taylor. She's made from a pH neutral cement that allows reef organisms and marine life to make the surface an artificial home and thrive there.
She also creates a distraction that helps deter divers in the area from exploring the overstressed natural reefs nearby. Immensely curious to explore, the Ocean Atlas girl will eventually become completely covered with coral and organisms, but will still be recognisable for the beautiful human she is.
The Sweepstakes Shipwreck
Situated 200 feet below the surface of the ocean, 45 metres from the head of Big Tub Harbour, lays the Sweepstakes shipwreck. The Sweepstakes (also now affectionately known as Sweeps) was a Canadian two masted schooner built in 1867.
Carrying her load of coal, she was damaged off Cove Island in August 1885 where she then sank in shallow water. The following month she was towed by tug into Big Tub Harbour where it was discovered that she sadly wasn't worthy of repair.
The decision was made to strip her of her load and anything useful, before being sunk in the harbour, where she remains to this day. Accessible and visible to tour boat passengers, snorkelers and divers alike, the Sweepstakes Shipwreck is one of the most visited of several wrecks in the Fathom Five National Marine Park in Tobermory in Ontario.
With her hull still intact after all this time, she lays majestically in the water, and her partially remaining bow is visible from the surface of the water. She also holds the accolade of one of the best preserved Great Lakes schooners from the 19th century still in existence and is well worth exploring.
Gili Meno Statues
Described as 'hauntingly beautiful' by Lonely Planet, the Gili Meno Statues are to be found off the coast of Gili Meno island in Indonesia, between Bali and Lombok. Sculpted by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, these beautiful statues comprise of 48 life size human figures, arranged in a circle, the outer ring standing as couples embracing, the inner ring curled together, but all looking inwards towards the centre of the circle.
Over time, this sculpture will gradually take on the role of home to coral and sea life, but will still be recognisable as a ring of humans even as the coral reef it will become. In fact, each piece was cast from a real person, and is made from pH neutral, environmental grade concrete that supports the delicate ecosystems of coral reefs.
The Gili Islands are a beautiful place to visit, and a diving trip to the Gili Meno Statues is a must. Even though this is a manmade dive site, we simply couldn't leave it off our list of incredible dive sites since it's so beautiful and so dedicated to helping to save nearby coral reefs. Visible to both snorkelers and divers, and surrounded by tropical fish, there's something for everyone as you swim these pristine, warm waters.
The Military Museum
If you enjoy diving and you also enjoy visiting military museums, then this dive site is most definitely for you. The Military Museum in Aqaba in Jordan in the Middle East is the world's first underwater military museum, and it's a sight to behold.
Comprising of 19 different pieces of hardware including tanks, an ambulance, a military crane, a troop carrier, anti-aircraft guns and a combat helicopter, each piece was sunk in 'battle formation' for authenticity. Organisers say that great care was taken to remove anything toxic from the pieces, before sinking them in an underwater playground for diving and military enthusiasts.
The dive site is situated far from any natural coral reefs, and it's hoped that it will bring tourism to the area, and create a crucial, albeit manmade, coral reef where coral, sea sponges and fish will thrive and call it home. It's hoped that it will also give divers somewhere new to explore, taking them away from the delicate coral ecosystems nearby.
This is a stunning dive to explore, in the bluest of waters and even though it's between 15 and 28 metres below the surface of the sea, it's also accessible to snorkelers and tourists in glass bottomed boats.
The Baltic Sea Anomaly
If you're looking for the ultimate in ghostly, intriguing, stunning deep sea discoveries, then you've just found it in the shape of the Baltic Sea Anomaly. For years, this discovery has been a mystery, after divers found what looked like a UFO sunk in the waters at the bottom of the northern Baltic Sea at the centre of the Gulf of Bothnia.
Discovered by sonar image by the Ocean X diving team in 2011, the ghostly image sent back to surprised explorers looks just like a UFO. It's thought to be raised off the sea bed by about 10 feet and measures in the region of 200 feet by 25 feet ' so, enormous.
Many artists impressions of the object have been produced, and many theories abound about what it could be. Having the distinct shape of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, these theories range from a UFO (it's been dubbed the 'Roswell of the Ocean'), to a plug to the underworld, to a Nazi anti-submarine defence ship.
More recently, rock samples brought to the surface from this mysterious site suggest that it's merely glacial rocks, that have been dragged across the ocean floor for many years. Since the area is a glacial basin, carved out during the ice age, this does seem like the most reasonable explanation. But then, stranger things do happen at sea' What do you think?
David Copperfield is famous worldwide for his magic, but even more intriguing than his illusions and storytelling, is the Musician dive site in the waters that surround his private islands in the Bahamas. The Musician is a man made, life size sculpture of a mermaid sitting and staring longingly at a baby grand piano.
She sits majestically, 15 feet below the surface of these stunning, crystal clear waters, atop pristine white sands and is said to be beckoning divers to the piano to play her the tune she so longs to hear.
Commissioned by Copperfield, world famous British underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor created this stunning sculpture as a 'quirky surprise' to the small number of exclusive guests Copperfield has visiting him on his island. But never fear, you don't have to be a mega rich, famous friend of this A lister, as boat trips are organised from the shores of nearby islands so that us mere mortals can catch a glimpse of this aqua beauty.
Made from stainless steel, the Musician is best explored when the waters are still, as the strong currents in the area can stir up the white sand from the seabed, obscuring her beauty. Accessible to snorkelers as well as divers, she's a must see if you're in the Bahamas.
Staniel Cay Plane Wreck
Close to Staniel Cay Airport in the Bahamas, the Staniel Cay Plane Wreck dive site is surrounded in dastardly intrigue as well as beauty. Easily accessible (one of the most easily accessible plane wreck dive sites in the world, actually) due to its shallow location in these stunning turquoise waters, this dive site is just half a mile from shore.
The beauty of this wreck turned artificial reef is the way that Mother Nature has just continued to go about doing her thing. The plane is now home to many different species of both coral and fish, and is a lasting reminder of the power of nature to adopt a home even in such shallow waters.
But the dastardly intrigue comes from the reason this plane is in the water in the first place, just six feet below the surface. This plane belonged to a drug smuggler ferrying his load of marijuana from Columbia to Miami. It was the 1970s and the reign of Pablo Escobar was at its height and planes used to stop off at the tiny Staniel Cay Airport at night.
Running out of fuel, this plane didn't quite make it, and it's thought that both pilot and passenger perished because they couldn't escape the plane through the mountains of marijuana on board. Now it's a popular tourist spot, looking for the ghosts of an era long passed, but still holding its cards close to its chest.
20 Most Dangerous Tourist Attractions
Mount Hua Shan, China
Located in China's Shaanxi Province, Hua Shan is a courageous feat. You must be brave, or perhaps just foolish, to take on this striking mountain. Considered the most dangerous hike on Earth, the hazards here are not difficult to spot.
Unable to resist? You're not the first. The views from Hua Shan's summit are spectacular, and the route is all laid out, but you shouldn't expect this to be a simple ascent. You'll need to balance on the narrowest ledges, cross the terrifying plank walk and negotiate the impossibly-steep steps that have been hewn into the craggy mountainside.
If someone approaches from the opposite direction, there's little room to get past, and your position being precarious, the best you can hope for is a chain to cling on to. There are no official statistics on deaths toll on Mount Hua Shan but it has been estimated that about 100 people die every year.
Running Of The Bulls
Planning a summer trip to Pamplona? Held here on an annual basis, the Running of the Bulls continues to prove popular and those taking part are taking their lives in their hands. We do not recommend to sign up for this.
The bull run is an ancient tradition here, involving running in front of a small group of six to ten bulls that have been let loose in the town's streets. It originated in northeastern Spain in the early 14th century. Whhile transporting cattle in order to sell them at the market, men would try to speed the process by hurrying their cattle using tactics of fear and excitement. After years of this practice, it started to turn into a competition, as young adults would attempt to race in front of the bulls and make it safely to their pens without getting hurt.
Some 15 people have died taking part in Pamplona's bull run since records began in 1910 and the risks involved are obvious. Goring causes the most injuries, although crushing is a major hazard as those fleeing the charging cattle run for their lives. Pamplona is the most famous, but the Running of the Bulls also takes part elsewhere in Spain, as well as in Portugal and Mexico. Such is its popularity here, Pamplona's bull run is even broadcast live, so it's probably best to watch on TV.
Hawaii Active Volcanoes
Visitors flock to Hawaii to sample laid-back island life at its finest. With sea, sand and surf aplenty, the attractions here are obvious. But make no mistake: there is trouble in paradise. Hawaii's active volcanoes are a constant hazard.
Take Kilauea, for instance. This is an awe-inspiring sight, for sure. But it's also classified as the most dangerous volcano in the United States and those planning a trip to the Big Island are advised to always exercise caution. Kilauea has been erupting since 1983 and no-one knows when it might next blow its top. Factor in Hawaii's other active volcanoes, including Mauna Loa, Hualalai and Mauna Kea, and it's clear that this is a perilous place indeed.
Spotted a fresh lava flow? Don't get too close, wear proper shoes and always stick to the designated paths. Recently-cooled lava fields can collapse into the ocean without warning and for those who take chances with Hawaii's volcanoes, the consequences can be dire.
Valley Of Death, Russia
The name says it all. Russia's Valley of Death is a destination to avoid at all costs. Those who do get too close risk never returning.
Lying beneath Kikhpinych, a stratovolcano on the remote Kamchatka Peninsula, the Valley of Death traps the poisonous gases that emerge from countless cracks in the Earth's surface. Hydrogen Sulfide, Carbon Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide and other dangerous elements make for a toxic brew. With no wind to disperse the deadly gases, just breathing the air here can be fatal.
Innumerable bird and mammal carcasses lie all around in what has become an eerie animal graveyard. Those heading here risk suffering a similar fate, and visitors are not encouraged. Since the Valley of Death was first discovered in the 1930s, many adventurers have found the lure too hard to resist. If you ask locals, they’ll tell you 80 people have known to have been lost in the valley of death.
Devil's Pool, Zambia
Victoria Falls are a spectacular sight that demand to be seen. More than 5,000 feet wide and over 350 feet tall, this Zambian jewel is classified as the world's largest waterfall.
It is allowed to swim here but taking a dip in Devil's Pool is a dangerous pursuit. Located close to the Zimbabwean border, adventure seekers flock here in order to test their courage. Thinking about joining them in the warm river waters? You'll be taking quite a chance.
Devil's Pool sits right on the edge. There is a rock ledge that, in theory, prevents bathers from going over. But thrill seekers do die here and the warnings should always be heeded. If the falls themselves are not dangerous enough, other hazards lurk in the mysterious Zambezi River. Look out for the giant crocodiles that prowl beneath the surface or, better still, find somewhere safer to cool down and kick back.
Yosemite Half Dome
Half Dome is a Yosemite icon. Once believed to be impossible to scale, this striking rock beckons those keen to reach its fabled summit. Located in the National Park's awe-inspiring eastern fringes, Half Dome is accessible to all; but that doesn't mean that it's safe to climb.
Park Rangers here are called upon to assist and rescue hundreds of wannabe mountaineers on an annual basis. If you don't know what you're doing, It might be best to give this one a miss. One thing is certain: you need to be in decent shape to tackle Half Dome. Climbing to the top involves a 16-mile round hike, and conservative estimates suggest that it'll take around 12 hours to complete.
The last part is the scariest, with hikers using the cables attached to the granite rock's smooth surface to haul themselves up the final 400 feet. You don't need climbing equipment to reach the top, but slipping is a real risk and accidents do happen; since 2005, there have been at least 13 deaths, 291 accidents and 140 search-and-rescue missions on Half Dome.
Feeling brave? You'll need great courage to travel down the ever-dangerous Death Road. Known also as Yungas Road, this ranks amongst the deadliest routes on Earth. Yet still tourists are drawn to Bolivia to experience the death-defying drive from the capital, La Paz.
Death Road's nickname could not be more appropriate. Between 200 and 300 people are said to die here on an annual basis. Take a look at the road conditions and it isn't difficult to understand why.
Death Road was built by Paraguayan prisoners in the 1930s and, although some improvements have been made in subsequent years, it remains hazardous in the extreme. Cut into the striking cliffside, the road is steep and narrow, with countless twists and turns that pose great dangers to those courageous enough to come here. Planning to tackle Death Road? Don't get too close to the edge. The fall would be fatal so drive slowly and carefully.
Papua New Guinea Trails
Papua New Guinea is a natural wonderland. Boasting lush green jungles and mountainous peaks, this is a tranquil spot that beckons those with an eye for the unspoilt. But those who head here to trek the island's twisting tracks and trails often discover hidden dangers.
Indeed, the Kokoda and Black Cat Trails tend to prove popular, but both present significant hazards that should not be underestimated. The surroundings might be picturesque, but navigating Papua New Guinea's trails is anything but simple. There are thick forests, raging rivers and challenging climbs to overcome. And then there's the constant risk of contracting a tropical disease. Also factor in the ancient tribes that still live here, the ruthless bandits that often lie in wait, machetes in hand, and it's clear that this can be a perilous place. People have been murdered on these trails so you might want to look for a safer destination.
Death Valley is a perilous place. Located in eastern California's barren Mojave Desert, this is a land of extremes. It might beckon the adventurous, but this is not a destination to underestimate.
The greatest threat here comes from the deadly weather conditions. The highest temperature ever recorded in Death Valley was over 57C. Get caught in the scorching desert sun and it could be the end. A few unprepared people die every year here, though if you take precautions the risks can be minimised.
Our tips? Drink plenty of water, don't hike in the heat and always be prepared for a survival situation. Look out for signs of trouble such as nausea and dizziness and don't take any chances. The temperature poses the greatest threat, but there are other dangers lurking here too. Look out for rattlesnakes and scorpions, and beware the abandoned mine shafts that can often be difficult to spot.
Crocodile Feeding, Thailand
Crocodile feeding has emerged as a trend in recent times with tourists offered the chance to feed giant snapping reptiles using great chunks of meat that are attached to fishing rods.
But such a hazardous practice is not encouraged. The authorities here are keen to close down such enterprises, but still crocodile feeding continues, posing some obvious dangers to those left holding the rods.
This tends to be a popular pursuit in Pattaya, a resort town on Thailand's sun-kissed eastern Gulf Coast. But those tempted to have a go should think again. Sometimes the feeding is done from boats. But elsewhere, precarious platforms are overloaded with curious participants lured to crocodile farms to test their luck. The featured picture was taken by a shocked motorcycle-taxi rider Jon Nok. It shows hundreds of crocodiles circling the raft in a pond at the Elephant Kingdom farm. This attraction was so dangerous it was shut down in 2016 for 90 days so health and safety checks can be carried.
Skellig Michael, Ireland
Located seven miles off County Kerry's spectacular coastline, Skellig Michael is a sight to behold. Its twin peaks reach high into the Irish skies, beckoning visitors from the mainland.
Thinking about taking a trip? Do take care. There are three landing points, with each leading to ancient stairways that pose great dangers. Hewn from stone, these are steep and narrow. There is no handrail and the 1000-year-old steps are often slippery. Not realising the risks, tourists often come a cropper and some have even died.
Skellig Michael couldn't be more exposed, but although the wild weather often takes its toll, this is a place that is well worth a visit. There's an ancient Gaelic monastery and wonderful wildlife, including puffins, gannets and seals, whilst the island has been used as a location in two films from the new Star Wars series. Tempted? Do take a trip just don't take a tumble.
Praia De Boa Viagem, Brazil
Brazil is renowned for its beautiful beaches and this one is no exception. Located in Recife, on the country's stunning north-east coast, the sun shines, the sands are golden and the warm waters glisten.
This is the perfect place to kick back and relax. But you might want to think twice about taking a dip in the ocean. Fearsome tiger and bull sharks patrol the shores and are always searching for their next victim and the beach ranks amongst the most dangerous in the world. Since 1992, 24 people have died of shark attacks, with over 60 registered incidents in the region.
It wasn't always like this. Marine experts blame the sprawling Port Suape, built not far from here in the 1980s, for disturbing the region's marine life and making this one of the deadliest places on the planet to take a dip. Stretching for five glorious miles, Praia De Boa Viagem offers ample opportunities for those keen to soak up some rays. If you're planning to go, just stick to the sand.
Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Located in the Upper Amazon River Basin, mesmerising Madidi is a natural world like no other. Home to countless exotic plant and animal species, this tropical haven beckons those searching for unspoilt lands.
But this is not a place to underestimate, as unprepared adventurers often discover to their cost. The forest here is thick and dense and getting lost is a constant danger. But losing your bearings is just the start.
Dangerous predators prowl the jungle with panthers, alligators and anacondas amongst the animals seeking their next meal. Then there are the plants. There are more than 20,000 species here and many of them are highly poisonous. Factor in the parasites and the venomous spiders and it's clear that this is a remote spot to approach with caution. Our best advice? Recruit an experienced local guide and never venture out alone.
Bikini Atoll, The Marshall Islands
Bikini Atoll is beautiful. The surrounding ocean shimmers and the coral captivates, but don't be fooled. There is trouble in this Pacific paradise. Have no doubt about it, this is a dangerous destination indeed.
Sharks patrol the warm waters here, but it is on land that the greatest threat of all can be found. Exposure to harmful radiation is a constant risk.
It was here that the United States conducted controversial nuclear tests in the 1940s and 50s. Several hydrogen and atomic bombs were detonated in the remote region polluting the land and leaving a deadly legacy that remains to this day. Scientists declared it safe to return in the 1990s, but local people who left their homes long ago still refuse to return. Produce grown here is to be avoided at all costs but perhaps the safest option is to avoid the atoll altogether.
Afar Depression, Ethopia
The Afar Depression is a fascinating place. Part of East Africa's Great Rift Valley, the Depression, also known as the Afar Triangle, is a place of geological wonders.
Covering a vast expanse in Ethiopia, as well as neighbouring Eritrea and Djibouti, shifting tectonic plates deep beneath the Earth's surface make this an unpredictable place that brims with danger as earthquakes can be commonplace here.
Still thinking about paying a visit? Look out for fissures and cracks in the sinking valley floor and always be ready to run. Home to the lowest point in all of Africa, bubbling lava is never far beneath the surface in the ever-dangerous Depression. Hot and hostile, you need to be very prepared to take this trip safely.
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Located in stunning County Clare, the Cliffs of Moher are a breathtaking sight. The views here are to die for. The trouble is, more and more people are doing just that.
Visitors flock to Ireland's wonderful western fringes to walk the spectacular Coastal Trail that runs alongside the country's awe-inspiring Atlantic shores. But erosion is a constant danger here and those who ignore the warnings risk paying the ultimate price.
There are signs aplenty, but still people venture too close to the edge in search of the perfect selfie. The grass-topped surface might look stable enough. But with the cliffs here eroding from the bottom up, your next step could well be your last. With persistent rain weakening the land and strong winds a constant hazard, the steep paths and loose gravel should be approached with great caution. A few people actually died over the years by adventuring outside the official walking trail and falling off the cliff.
Lake Natron, Tanzania
Thinking about taking a refreshing dip in striking Lake Natron? You should think again. Located in northern Tanzania, not far from the Kenyan border, this is a strange place that calls to the curious.
The highly-alkaline waters here could not be more hostile to life, and those who get too close tend to regret it. If red spells danger, the warning signs are obvious. This mineral-rich soda lake catches the eye with its vibrant colours and captivating crust. But this is a poisonous environment that is hostile to life and only a few creatures choose to make their home here.
The countless flamingos are a notable exception, with Lake Natron's shores a major breeding ground for the bright pink birds. Pay a visit, take a trip and satisfy your curiosity. Just don't get too close to Lake Natron's toxic waters.
Sinabung Volcano, Indonesia
Until recent times, Sinabung didn't appear to pose a great danger to tourists. For more than four centuries, Indonesia's imposing volcano had lain quiet and dormant. But in 2010, Sinabung blew its top with devastating consequences.
Since then, the eruptions have hardly stopped. Following a 400-year hiatus, Sinabung is back with a vengeance. Having erupted in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, the dangers here are all too obvious.
Located in North Sumatra, Sinabung inhabits a picturesque land. But it's best seen from afar, with those who get too close taking their lives in their hands. There are more than 130 active volcanos in Indonesia, but Sinabung presents the greatest risk to life.
Standing 2,460 metres tall, its threat should never be underestimated. When it erupted in June 2019, Sinabung blasted ash almost five miles into the darkening skies above Sumatra. With earthquakes commonplace in the Pacific Basin's so-called 'Ring of Fire', there's no question that this is a dangerous tourist destination.
The Danakil Desert, Eritrea
The inhospitable Danakil Desert ranks amongst the most dangerous places on the planet. People do live here, close to the Ethiopian border, but life in Eritrea is tough, so take our advice and reconsider this trip.
The hottest inhabited spot on Earth, temperatures reach 45C on a regular basis. Factor in the toxic gases that make the air hard to breathe and it's clear that this is a destination to approach with caution.
Lying in a geological depression far below sea level, Danakil is home to countless lava pools, bubbling sulfur springs, volcanos, and acid lakes. Often called 'The Gateway to Hell', its nickname is apt. Bleak and barren, a shortage of breathable oxygen means that those taking a trip are also taking a risk.
Mount Washington, USA
Mount Washington's snow-capped summit beckons climbers and hikers alike. Towering over all in spectacular New Hampshire, this is a popular spot for outdoor adventurers. But make no mistake about it.
Those who underestimate the highest peak in the northeastern United States risk paying the ultimate price. Mount Washington is accessible, but that doesn't mean it's suitable for the inexperienced. The weather conditions are erratic here and countless hazards await.
Year-round snowfall can make navigation a constant challenge. But it's the high winds that swirl around the summit that make Mount Washington so dangerous. The highest wind velocity ever recorded, some 231mph, was here, in 1934, and severe weather continues to prove perilous.
Those unprepared risk being blown off course and getting lost or worse. Unstable snow formations mean avalanches are always a real risk, and more than 150 fatalities have been recorded on Mount Washington's ever-dangerous slopes. Thinking about taking a hike in New Hampshire? Please do take care.
Shark Cage Diving
This is definitely an activity for adventurers looking for thrills (and chills). Great White sharks can measure up to 6.4 m and weight up to 1000 Kg. So could they actually break the cage? While cage diving is mostly safe, it's always a risk to enter a predator territory. Many people believe that shark cage diving is safe, as quite often sharks just come and take a peek at the cage, however, it is not always the case.
In 2005, a British tourist in South Africa was attacked by a great white shark whilst cage diving. The shark tried relentlessly to bite through the bars and destroyed one of the parts keeping the cage afloat. The diver was forced to exit the cage and swim to the surface, whilst the boat captain hit the shark to scare him away. This guy is very lucky to have survived! There are other incidents of sharks breaking into cages caught on camera, but people usually have time to escape unarmed whilst the shark gets stuck in the cage.
Still fancy diving with great whites? Here are some of the best locations: Port Lincoln in Australia, Guadalupe in Mexico, Bluff in New Zealand, Gansbaai in South Africa, Mossel Bay in South Africa, False Bay in South Africa, Farallon Islands in U.S and Cape Cod in U.S. Remember that shark diving has its risks! You've been warned.
The Cage Of Death, Australia
Crocosaurus cove in Darwin Australia boasts the world's largest display of reptiles and some of the biggest Australian saltwater crocodiles. It's also home to the Cage of Death.
The Cage Of Death is a cylindrical see-through cage, immersed in water so you can experience a close face-to-face encounter with a 5 meters saltwater crocodile for 15 minutes. Bear in mind that most of these crocodiles weren't born in captivity. They’ve been captured in the wild and taken to the Crocosaurus cove.
The attraction is closely monitored. However, technical accidents occasionally occur, and we really wouldn't want to be stuck under water with a massive crocodile. In 2011 the cable lowering the cage broke with two people inside and the cage hit the bottom of the tank. Also in 2015, a Dutch tourist found herself stuck in the cage for 30 minutes. The staff had to drill the top of the cage and take her out, whilst the crocodile was certainly hoping that she falls in the water. No one was injured (yet) but it certainly isn't a danger free attraction.
10 Deadliest Beaches In The World
Skeleton Coast - Namibia
The Skeleton Coast is a 40 km wide and 500 km long coastal stretch in Namibia, a hostile destination that Portuguese explorers once named 'The Gates of Hell'. Take our word for it, it's an apt nickname. Boasting golden sands and superb surf, the beaches are beautiful. But the hazards here mean that this is no place to kick back, relax and top up your tan.
The Skeleton Coast's sea is really rough, with roaring winds and strong currents responsible for countless shipwrecks littering the landscape here. Many of the wrecks have been completely destroyed by natural elements over the years, but a few remain, their ruined and rusting hulls reminding visitors that this is a dangerous destination. But the perils don't end there.
Eleven different shark species patrol Namibia's Atlantic waters, whilst things are not much safer on land. Lions, hyenas and other fearsome predators often wander onto the sands, whilst other creatures lurk in the bushes, watching from a place that is sometimes referred to as 'the land God created in anger'. Looking for a destination for your next beach holiday? Taking everything into account, the Skeleton Coast is certainly a place to avoid.
Cape Tribulation - Australia
Having struggled to navigate Queensland's jagged reefs in 1770, Captain Cook gave Cape Tribulation a name that summed up his troubles. Some 250 years later it remains fitting. These days, the main dangers come not from the reefs that hampered Cook's approach, but the hazards that await holidaymakers. Thinking about paying a visit? With warm waters, golden sands and rainforest vistas, we don't blame you. But please don't underestimate the perils.
Deadly jellyfish lurk in the ocean here, meaning a stinger suit is a must. Thousands of crystal clear Box Jellyfish live in Cape Tribulation warm waters from October to early June. This jellyfish specie is very dangerous as their venom attacks the cardiovascular system which can cause swimmers to drown before reaching land for help.
If that wasn't enough, Cape Tribulation beach is infested with saltwater crocodiles, so it might be best to avoid the water altogether. That the crocs sometimes head onto the beach means the sands are not safe either, whilst in the forest, dangerous cassowaries stalk amongst trees that themselves pose dangers. Look out for jagged leaves and poisonous plants, or follow Captain Cook's example and head elsewhere.
New Smyrna Beach - Florida
The surf is epic at New Smyrna Beach. But those taking to their boards are also taking a chance. This is a place that has been dubbed the world's 'shark bite capital'. It's always tempting to take a dip. But you should think twice. New Syrma beach is one of these places you should never ever swim.
It's such a shame as the shimmering waters are warm, the sands golden and the sun always shining. But the risks outweigh the rewards, and anyone entering the water here stands to be bitten. Blacktip sharks are very common in New Smyrna Beach, so common that it gave New Smyrna Beach the nickname 'shark attack capital of the world'.
It is estimated that you're always within 10 feet of a shark in New Smyrna's Atlantic waters, and even if attacks aren't frequent, they happen, so take our advice and head elsewhere. Florida's sun-kissed coast boasts surf spots galore and a safer alternative is never far away. Shark attacks here don't often prove fatal, it's true. But anyone thinking about entering the infested ocean should always ask themselves the question, is it really worth the risk?
Uttakleiv Beach - Norway
Norway is famed for its dramatic landscapes and Northern lights. Every year, visitors flock to the stunning Uttakleiv Beach to see the Northern Lights in winter months and the Midnight Sun during summer. The surrounding landscape is breathtaking, for sure. But this is a spot that has hidden hazards, and those paying a trip should always exercise caution.
Uttakleiv is perhaps Norway's most photographed beach, and for as long as you're snapping away, you're safe enough. But put down the camera and head for a refreshing dip and this becomes a perilous place.
The problem here is the water temperature. Uttakleiv is located on the Lofoten Islands in Norway's northernmost reaches. This puts it in the Arctic Circle - far north of Iceland - and means the frigid seas with temperatures going as low as 8 degrees Celsius in winter are a hazard to life. It's a stunning place, but please don't underestimate the dangers here and stay away from the water. Falls happen after all, and can easily lead to hypothermia.
Boa Viagem Beach - Brazil
Brazil is renowned for its beaches -- and Boa Viagem is one of the best. Located in sprawling Recife, this is one of the most visited stretches of sand on the country's picturesque northeastern coast.
Offshore, there's a vast reef that calms the waves and helps to keep the shimmering waters warm. But those taking a dip are also exposing themselves to great danger. The trouble here is the Tiger Sharks. These haven't always posed a problem, but'attacks have become commonplace since the super-sized Suape Port was built just along the coast in 1990.
Construction disturbed the natural balance beneath the waves - causing the local shark population to head elsewhere. Nowadays, these great predators patrol the inviting waters off Boa Viagem - and those splashing about are in constant danger. In fact, the tiger shark is reported to be responsible for a large share of fatal shark-bite incidents, and is therefore considered one of the most dangerous shark species*. Unlike great white sharks, considered highly dangerous, tiger sharks are not likely to swim away after biting a human, so watch out!
Bikini Atoll - U.S. Marshall Islands
Beautiful Bikini Atoll is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It boasts golden sands, warm Pacific waters and exotic landscapes fringed with palm trees that rustle in the breeze. But this magical spot in the Marshall Islands is no place to lie back and relax.
Radiation is a significant risk for all who travel here. And this has made Bikini Atoll a place to avoid. It was here that the United States conducted nuclear tests and experiments in the 1940s and 1950s. Hydrogen and Atomic Bombs were exploded, forcing local people from their homes. Most have never returned. Scientists declared Bikini Atoll 'safe' in 1997 but the beaches are still polluted and the risks remain. If you ever go there, avoid to eat anything locally grown!
Furthermore, what makes Bikini Atoll an 'idyllic' location is that the lack of offshore fishing in the last century particularly helped the marine life to flourish. Consequently, there are many sharks patrolling the area. Seeking paradise? The Bikini Atoll seem a tad perilous, you may want to look elsewhere.
Fraser Island - Australia
Heading to Fraser Island? Be aware that beaches don't get more dangerous. Located off Queensland's picturesque southern coast, this is a stunning spot. The sands are pristine and the ocean waters glisten in the sun. But those treading these spectacular shores face perils and hazards galore.
Forget about the aggressive Dingoes that often wander onto the sands and the Great White Sharks that patrol the ocean waters. It's all about the jellyfish, and the stingers that are most common here rank amongst the deadliest around. Beware Blue Bottles and always look out for the infamous Irukandji. This species is small, for sure. But it's also extremely venomous.
One of the most poisonous jellyfish on the planet, the consequences can be dire for anyone stung by an Irukandji. Urgent medical attention is required. But with none available on Fraser Island, whether help arrives on time or not can be a matter of life or death. Fraser Island also hosts not less than 18 species of snakes, with one third of them considered dangerous, including the extremely venomous eastern brown snake. The eastern brown is responsible for more than half of all serious snake bites in Australia and over 60 per cent of the country's snakebite-related deaths*. Will you pay a visit to the gorgeous Fraser island?
*University of Melbourne
Reunion Island is a tropical haven. The pristine sands are white, and coconut trees fringe the beautiful beaches surrounded by dramatic volcanoes and lush rainforests. But danger lurks in the warm Indian Ocean - and those taking a dip are also dicing with death.
This might sound a little theatrical, but the hazards here must not be underestimated. Sharks patrol Reunion Island's waters in great numbers, and fatal attacks are far from uncommon. Indeed, in the five-year period between 2011 and 2016, more than 16% of all shark-related deaths on Earth occurred here.
The reason? Located east of Madagascar, Reunion Island lies on the so-called 'Shark Highway' that runs between Australia and South Africa. Passing sharks often settle in the waters here, attracted by the diverse ecosystem and abundant coral reefs. This makes the island - an overseas French department - a perilous place. Given its clear waters and tropical climate, Reunion Island beckons those keen to snorkel and explore the marvelous exotic marine environment. Tempted to take a dip? Take our advice and stick to hiking instead.
Chowpatty Beach - India
Chowpatty is one of India's most famous beaches. Revellers gather here in great number to celebrate the Hindu festival of Garesha Chaturthi each September. This is an occasion to savour. But for those seeking a place to kick back and relax, our best advice is to look elsewhere.
Located on Mumbai's glittering 'Queen's Necklace' promenade, Chowpatty's sands are filthy. It might be famous, but the unprecedented pollution here makes this an unpleasant place to take a vacation. It used to be even worse, but efforts have been made to clear up the litter that once blighted the Mumbai coastline.
In 2017, 5.3 million kilogrammes of garbage were removed from a 2.5 kilometre stretch of sand. The beach is now cleaner than ever, but still hazards to health remain. The water here is not fit to swim in, with raw sewage and the waste from storm drains often discharged straight into the sea. Perilous and unpleasant, you could seriously get a disease here or step on something dangerous. We seriously advice you to not wander on Chowpatty beach.
Kilauea Beaches - Hawaii
Hawaii beckons sun-seekers with its exotic black-sand beaches. Planning a visit? Pick your spot carefully. Kick back too close to Kilauea and the consequences could be dire.
There's no question that this is a picturesque place. But the dangers are obvious and all too real. Kilauea is a sight to behold, it's true. But it's also a volcano that ranks amongst the most active on Earth.
How active? Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983 and not even the experts can predict when it next might blow its top. Sending molten lava flowing into the ocean, you don't want to be in the firing line when it goes off. Those who underestimate the dangers tend to come off worst. Factor in the prowling sharks that patrol the warm waters here -- with attacks often fatal -- and it's clear that these are not the best beaches to visit. Our advice? Head elsewhere in Hawaii and don't take any chances.
Staithes Beach - UK
Seeking the perfect spot to swim? There are better options than Staithes. For one thing, the waters on the North Yorkshire coast are far from warm. But for those taking a dip here, there's much more to worry about than the temperatures.
Staithes Beach enjoys a scenic setting, but don't be fooled. The North Sea waters here are far from clean. Considered amongst the most polluted coastal stretches in Europe, this is a spot that has failed to meet minimum standards time and time again.
The problem here is agricultural waste, with farm sewage from neighbouring fields prone to drain into the sea during periods of bad weather. Offshore breakwaters exacerbate the issue, trapping pollutants in the harbour and preventing dilution. Seeking the perfect spot to swim? With ecoli, meningitis, typhoid fever and hepatitis A all a risk to those who ignore the warnings, there are better options than Staithes.
Playa Zipolite - Mexico
Playa Zipolite might look like paradise, but this is a resort that has a darker side. It is known in these parts as the 'Beach of the Dead'. This is a fitting nickname.
Located on Mexico's picturesque Pacific Coast, Zipolite proves popular with surfers, backpackers and nudists. But those entering the warm waters here are taking their lives in their hands. So great are the dangers, drownings are not uncommon, especially if you swim on the west end of Zipolite, the rip tide that runs along the rocks could very much drawn you.
Zipolite's big waves beckon surfers and those keen to catch a swell. But dangerous rip currents present constant hazards, whilst powerful undertows often sweep the unsuspecting far out into the ocean. If you are drawn out to sea, it may be difficult to swim directly back to shore since you will be swimming against the current that pulled you out. Still the surfers come - and still the accidents occur. Don't want to be the next victim of the Beach of the Dead? Head elsewhere along the Oaxaca coast, where the water conditions are more favourable, and the risk to life not so great.
Gansbaai - South Africa
Gansbaai ranks amongst South Africa's top tourist spots. But the main attraction is the thing that makes this place so dangerous. Thinking about taking a dip in the cool Atlantic waters? Be aware that the ocean here is teeming with Great White Sharks, one of the most dangerous creatures on the planet.
These are fearsome predators indeed, but it is possible to get up close and personal. Local operators offer cage diving experiences for those keen to come face to face with a real-life Jaws. This does minimise the risks. But still, it's a pursuit that we're reluctant to recommend.
Despite the obvious dangers, some swimmers still take to the waters here. But this is a perilous pastime and a risk that is not to be taken lightly. Make no mistake: get it wrong and you could pay the ultimate price. If you really must enter the ocean, a protective cage is a sensible precaution. But our best advice is to find something else to do -- with whale watching a much safer alternative for marine life lovers.
Hanakapiai Beach - Hawaii
Hawaii is renowned for its world-class surf and island living. The beaches here are stunning and the shimmering waters warm. But there's trouble in paradise. Heading to Hanakapiai? Please do take care. The ocean conditions here could not be more hazardous, and drowning is not an uncommon occurrence.
The sand is golden and the sun always seems to shine at Hanakapiai which continues to prove popular, but the strong rip currents, high surf and dangerous shore breaks should never be underestimated. There are no major reefs to hinder the ocean currents here and those unaware risk being swept out to sea. Indeed, even those who know what they're doing are risking their lives.
Yet some people snorkel around Hanakapiai beach, an activity in Hawai that is most commonly leading to visitor drownings. State health department records of the last 10 years show that Hawaii's visitor-drowning rate is 13 times the national average and 10 times the rate of Hawaii residents. Fifteen bodies remain missing, whilst a warning sign on the sands keeps a grim tally. Don't want to end up another statistic? Take our advice and give the snorkel a miss.
Dumas Beach - India
Feeling brave? You'll need to be. Dumas Beach is not one for the faint of heart. Once a burial ground and cremation site, this is an eerie place that has long been rumoured to be haunted. You might not believe in such things, but spirits are said to wander the sands here. People claim that they heard strange voices coming from the beach, even when its desert. Think it's all poppycock? Perhaps. But people do disappear from Dumas and this is not a spot to spend time alone.
Located close to sprawling Surat in India's Gujarat state, Dumas enjoys a picturesque position on the sparkling Arabian Sea. But locals tend to give it a wide berth and tourists are often advised to find somewhere else to lie back and relax in the sun.
The ghosts might be little more than a myth, but the giant wild and deadly king cobras that often slither onto the warm sands here are all too real. Whether it's the spooks or whether it's the snakes, you should weigh up all the potential dangers before deciding to spend the day at Dumas.
The Red Triangle - California, USA
Stretching for 200 miles, this slice of Californian coastline is far removed from the glamour and sass that Cali is famous for. The Red Triangle Beach runs from Bodega Bay (to the North of San Francisco) to the Big Sur (to the South of Monterey), and is famous for something really quite deadly.. sharks.
It's thought that just short of 40% of the great white shark attacks reported in the whole of America happen here. And that equates to 11% of the total attacks the world over. So if you're looking for a safe swim, perhaps the waters off the Red Triangle Beach aren't for you.
Hungry sharks are kept well fed by the large populations of unsuspecting sea lions, elephant seals and sea otters. But like us, sharks like to mix things up a bit and are fond of a 'nibble' of human flesh. Although we are reliably informed that they do in fact prefer sea creatures to sea faring humans. When they do attack humans, it's thought to be out of curiosity. So that's ok then. Despite this, these waters are popular with thrill seeking surfers, windsurfers, divers and swimmers looking for what could possibly be the experience of a lifetime. We wouldn't recommend it unless you know exactly what you're doing!
Mindanao Island - Philippines
Situated in the Southern Philippines, the Mindanao group of islands has beautifully sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, ideal for exploring and snorkelling. The second largest in the Philippines, it's known as the Land of Promise, since it's also known as the 'breadbasket' of the Philippines due to its large agriculture based export industry. Mother Nature truly did create a paradise island with plentiful supplies.
But what makes these islands appear on our deadly beaches list isn't to do with Mother Nature, it's a man made problem ' terrorism. In recent years, the main city of Mindanao, Marawi, became overrun by fighters from Isis as tension grew between the government and pro Islamic State militant groups. Fighters declared a caliphate leading to these idyllic beaches becoming the scene of a bloody, five month long battle between the caliphate and the army.
Since the siege ended, groups of fighters have been forming again on the island, and there have been kidnappings and executions of foreign holidaymakers. The advice from the Foreign Office (FCO) is that on the whole, travel to the Philippines is safe, but to avoid travelling to Mindanao.
Juhu Beach - India
Situated on the shores of the Arabian Sea in Mumbai, sits Juhu Beach. This beach is popular with the rich and famous including the high earners from Mumbai's mega metropolis and stars from Bollywood movies. This vast beach in one of the wealthiest areas of Mumbai attracts a vibrant tribe and it's certainly not the most quiet of beaches to visit.
Whilst you'll get a glimpse of life in one of the busiest cities on earth, it's difficult to find peace and quiet, so it's best not visited if you love a relaxing sunbathe on a beach. That said, the sunsets are a must see and the vast array of food stalls offering delicious food and snacks make this place a buzzing one.
But what makes this beach deadly is what beach goers, revellers and joggers leave behind ' mountains of waste. Juhu Beach is the most polluted beach in Mumbai and there's hardly a square inch of beach that doesn't have some kind of debris left on it. If plastic pollution upsets you, then avoid Juhu Beach at all costs. Another factor is that this beach is situated under the flight path for the bustling Mumbai airport, with planes regularly, and loudly, flying low overhead.
Volusia County - Florida
Florida has the well earned nickname of the Sunshine State, due to its endless days of year round sunshine. So its beaches must be places of paradise, right? Well, most of them are. Two famous bays in this area include Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach but all of Volusia County Beaches are somewhat different to the chilled Florida vibe you might expect.
These beaches are visually stunning, but they harbour a dark secret ' they happen to be known as the shark attach capital of the world. In 2017 alone, there were nine reported cases of shark bites in these beautiful waters. Not only do visitors to Volusia County Beaches have to be hyper vigilant of nearby hungry sharks, they also need to be aware of two other dangers. Jellyfish stings (even for beachgoers staying in the dry, as they often get washed up, beach side) and lightning strikes are also relatively common here.
Popular with sun worshippers and surfers (the surf is exceptionally good, as long as it doesn't have sharks looking for dinner in it), Volusia County Beaches come with an avid warning ' enter the water at your own risk. (But it is comforting to know that nearby hospitals have plenty of shark bite specialists on hand).
Tamarama Beach - Australia
Sydney is known the world over for its stunning, city side beaches and Tamarama Beach is certainly no exception. Tamarama Beach is small, but has a huge reputation as being a place where the beautiful people hang out. So much so, that it's known locally as Glamarama Beach and has been since the (arguably not very glamorous) 1980s. But don't let the prospect of beautiful people put you off. Let the danger of rip tides and huge, crashing waves put you off!
Situated between Bondi Beach and Bronte Beach, Tamarama/Glamarama Beach is actually a tiny cove. In fact, it only has 80 metres of coastline. But that doesn't make it any less deadly. Renowned for its glamour, it's also renowned for being one of the deadliest beaches in Sydney. The beach here is very narrow, and the might of the regular riptides will scoop up whatever they like, drag it all out to sea and throw it against the rocks. For this reason, swimming and paddling on Tamarama Beach is often prohibited.
Surfing usually falls under the no-go rules too, but that doesn't stop adventurous thrill seekers from venturing out on their surfboards. Since Sydney has so many stunning beaches, if a dangerous (but we're sure, thrilling) surf isn't your thing, maybe stick to another, safer beach!
Second Beach, Port St Johns - South Africa
Second Beach in South Africa is more than just a beach. Known as the Wild Coast, it's part of a stunning landscape of the mountains, rivers, forests and beaches of Port St Johns. Situated on the South East coast of South Africa, Second Beach is served by the Umzimvubu River and is close to the Indian Ocean.
But amongst all this natural beauty and mix of dramatic landscapes, is a deadly problem. Second Beach holds the (almost certainly unwanted) title of the most deadly area for shark attacks on humans in South Africa.
The majority of shark attacks here are caused by bull sharks (also known as Zambezi sharks) and in one recent five year period, there were eight shark attacks where people have lost their lives. One even occurred after a man was attached by a shark in water that was only waist deep.
Despite this, this area of coastline is popular with swimmers and surfers. But anyone entering these waters does so at their own risk. As its not only shark attacks that make it dangerous, but strong currents too, that make these very dangerous waters indeed, especially for anyone who isn't a strong swimmer. So take heed!
Lamu Archipelago - Kenya
In the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Kenya, sits the archipelago of islands known as Lamu. Perfectly pristine and stunning, they're truly the stuff of dreams (and tales of desert islands). With powdery soft sand and crystal clear waters, they've long attracted those seeking to switch off.
Not content with beautiful beaches, the Old Town of Lamu has a beautiful 14th Century collection of stone houses, earning it UNESCO World Heritage status. Inspired by both Arabic and Swahili cultures, it's most certainly an interesting place to visit. But all that changed in 2011 when two separate occasions saw Western tourists kidnapped and killed. Somali gangs were behind these and other attacks since then on tourists staying on the Lamu Archipelago, with terrified and unsuspecting holidaymakers bundled into speedboats and smuggled into neighbouring Somalia.
The UK government advise that attacks on tourists can still occur at any time on Lamu and suggest that travel should only be essential. With the threat of terrorist kidnappings very real in this part of the world, we're inclined to avoid visiting Lamu, despite its beauty.
Camber Sands, East Sussex - England
Most wouldn't expect a UK beach to appear on a list of deadly beaches, since most beaches in the UK belong to quaint seaside towns. The most deadly thing we might think of is the ghost train in the nearby funfair!
Camber Sands Beach in East Sussex stretches for three miles along the popular East Sussex coast. It's dotted with sand dunes making it ideal for private sunbathing, playing hide and seek and enjoying a picnic. It can get quite breezy on this part of the coast, making it perfect for flying kites. However, it's these conditions that make Camber Sands far from friendly when the winds and tides get whipped up into a frenzy. This beach is known for a hidden but deadly danger ' rip tides. These are powerful, fast flowing bodies of water caused by strong winds and even stronger tides.
They result in large volumes of water being pushed towards the shore and then dragged back out to sea again. And they're no match for children, animals and weak swimmers, who can get caught up in their might. Even the strongest of swimmers would struggle against a rip tide. Officials advise against swimming and the use of inflatables on the worst days. But like all aspects of Mother Nature, they can be unpredictable and entering the water at Camber Sands should be done with caution.
Adelaide City Beaches - Australia
Adelaide has many small beach suburbs, among the most popular are Glenelg, Henley, Brighton and Semaphore beaches. They're all only a short distance from the centre of the city, and provide the perfect, relaxed respite from city life. These beaches attract holiday makers from home and abroad and day trippers alike, all attracted to their chilled out vibe, shopping malls and places to eat and chill with friends. If you're a fan of an old fashioned wooden pier and feel of the British seaside, then Glenelg even has that, too!
But it turns out, that another, non human being, wants in on the act. These beautiful beaches were full of alarmed swimmers, paddlers and top dippers in December of 2019, when the warm waters saw in influx of the blue-ringed octopus. This sea creature is beautiful, with, as its name suggests, stunning blue-ringed colouring. But it's equally as deadly. They hide in the rocky shore of the waters along the Adelaide City Beaches, surprising the toes of unsuspecting beach goers.
When the weather is warm, they tend to move towards the shore, where rockpools provide the ideal cooling off places. But they're highly poisonous to humans and one bite can cause swelling of the mouth, face and neck, causing breathing difficulties. They can also prove to be fatal. So don't be tempted to pick them up for a photo opportunity!
Huntington City Beach, California - USA
Another stunning Californian beach is that of Huntington City. Huntington City Beach sits in the Orange County area of California and is popular with visitors from home and abroad no matter the time of year.
With wall to wall sunshine pretty much guaranteed all year round, locals and tourists alike come to Huntington City Beach to soak up both the sun and the atmosphere. Popular with those who love to lounge, viewing the sunset from a vantage point on the Huntingtin Beach Pier is a must. It's loved equally by those who love a more active beach experience, the surf here is legendary and attracts surfers from all over the globe.
But lurking beneath the waves, is a danger that's almost invisible, and certainly unexpected. In the autumn of 2019, hundreds of unsuspecting beach visitors were stung by stingrays as they celebrated Labor Day weekend. These waters are a natural breeding ground for stingrays providing the ideal temperatures for the creatures to hang about and enjoy themselves as much as the beachgoers. But when faced with thousands of people encroaching on their space, they give a nasty nip to legs and feet that get in their way. You've been warned!
Shenzhen - China
Shenzhen Beach is situated just across the border separating China from Hong Kong. We'd love to describe the sand and the waters of this beach, but it's simply too crowded to get any kind of view of it. Popular with locals who visit in an attempt to escape the hustle bustle of life in the city, this beach might cover a long stretch of coastline, but how people can relax here is anyone's guess.
It gets so crowded during the summer and on bank holidays, that hardly a square inch of space on the sand is available. Which is why this beach makes our deadly beach list ' the high risk of getting into trouble in the water. If you were to hazard a guess at the leading cause of death among children aged 1 to 14 years old in China, what would it be? You'll probably be as surprised as us to learn that it's drowning.
This sad statistic is most sobering on the beach of Shenzhen, since the possibility of drowning is what makes Shenzhen Beach so deadly. Adults and children alike have lost their lives on Shenzhen Beach, and it's been given the sad moniker of one of the world's most dangerous beaches. It really is best avoided, especially if you don't like crowds or you're a weak swimmer.
Acapulco, Guerrero - Mexico
If the word 'Acapulco' gets you singing Going Loco Down in Acapulco and thinking of the Phil Collins film Buster, you're not alone. We do too. Acapulco is the beach resort synonymous with fun, palm trees, cocktails, sunshine and freedom. Situated on the Pacific coast of Mexico, it was once the place to see and be seen, attracting the rich and famous from around the world.
But now, these beaches tell a different story. Acapulco is now famed for being one of the most dangerous places in Mexico, earning itself the nickname of the murder capital of Mexico. In 2018 alone, there were 2,316 murders in Acapulco. Most of the murders (and kidnappings) are related to drug violence and many seafront shops and eateries are at the mercy of extortion monies they are forced to pay to drug gangs. So gruesome are some of the crimes here, that bodies and body parts are known to have been dumped on beaches. Certainly not the ideal beach tourist attraction.
Traveller numbers are surprisingly picking up, but whilst you sit on the beach in shorts and flip flops, you won't be far from an armed guard, dressed in army fatigues and heavy boots, ready to attack like they're at war. Given this, we think it'll be a while before Acapulco regains the fame for fun it had in its heyday.
Jurassic Coast, Devon & Dorset - England
Another UK beach featuring in this list of deadly beaches is the Jurassic Coast that stretches from Studland Bay in Dorset to Exmouth in Devon along the South coast of England. This coastline is dramatic and rugged, but also stunningly epic. So much so, that it's earned itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site listing.
The Jurassic Coast is well known for its sheer cliffs, ancient rock formations and variety of bays and coves to explore, as well as its breath taking beaches. Here, the millennia have carved their way into the earth, leaving behind an extraordinary amount of history perfect for exploring. But, as you would expect from such dramatic scenery, it comes with added danger. Even if you're an experienced hiker, walker or rock climber, it isn't advised that you walk too close to the edge of the rugged cliff edges here.
Known for rock falls, coastal erosion and landslides, this beach is as dangerous as it is stunning. People have lost their lives here due to rock falls, and with an ever changing geography, things are only set to continue in the same way. If you do visit the beaches of the Jurassic Coast, don't hang around too long, and certainly don't risk your life by sitting under the precarious cliffs above.
Maho Beach, St Maartens - the Caribbean
Maho Beach on the tropical island of St Maartens is exactly the kind of idyllic beach that we think of when we dream about whiling away our time on a Caribbean beach. Think tropical blue waters, gently lapping against the softest, most yellow sand, with beach huts selling coconut cocktails dotted along the sand.
Maho is situated on the South West shore of the island and promises everything you need from a Caribbean holiday. Except for one thing ' peace and tranquility. This perfect beach also happens to be under the flightpath from the nearby Princess Juliana International Airport. Quite unremarkable, until you appreciate that Maho Beach is quite literally adjacent to the (very short) runway and planes fly less than 30 metres above the sunworshippers and beachgoers heads.
For this reason (and the fact you can probably look straight into the eyes of the pilot), Maho Beach is extremely popular with plane spotters and those who want to witness this multiple-times-daily spectacle. Plane pass by so closely, that the jet blast from planes taking off is capable of knocking people off their feet and into solid objects or the water. You have been warned!
Copacabana Beach - Brazil
Copacabana Beach in Rio is perhaps one of the world's most famous beaches. Stretching for 2.5 miles along the South Zone of Rio's city, it's popular with both locals and tourists from all around the world who flock there for the party vibe, endless water sports, bars and restaurants. The New Year's Eve celebrations each year are legendary.
But amongst all this fun and excitement, is a dark and dangerous underbelly of crime. Pickpocketing is rife, and armed robberies of tourists are becoming more and more common. A new crimewave has seen groups of Brazilian youths running through crowded parts of the beach, causing a commotion and stealing valuables such as wallets and mobile phones in the chaos.
Roadblocks and stop and search tactics have been put in place, but Copacabana Beach remains a crime hotspot for tourists who may not be on their full guard when on holiday mode. Another danger on this beach is that of raw sewage containing billions of potentially harmful bacteria and viruses spilling out onto areas of the sand and into the water. If Rio is on your bucket list, keep your wits about you on Copacabana Beach or chose to visit somewhere less crowded and less likely to attract criminals.
Cable Beach - Western Australia
Most of the destinations on this list of deadly beaches are deemed deadly due to one dangerous aspect. From sharks to jellyfish to terrorism, each beach has its own unique danger thanks mostly to their natural geography or political climate. But Western Australia's Cable Beach is an exception to this rule, as it has multiple dangers!
Cable Beach is 22km long and its white sands and blue waters stretch as far as the eye can see. Situated in the city of Broome, the beach is breathtakingly beautiful and relaxing. That is, unless the jellyfish, sea urchins, sandflies, crocodiles and thieves are about! Sun worshippers, beach lovers, swimmers and stunning sunset seekers all flock to Cable Beach, but it can be closed in moments if any of its dangers are set on ruining everyone's day.
Dangerous box jellyfish and Irukandji jellyfish are common in the waters off Cable Beach, and are most common from November to April when the water is warm. Saltwater crocs are rare but not unheard of in these parts and heart urchins are common at low tide. In the evenings, there are two menaces: annoying sandflies and irritating thieves. So make sure you've got both your insect repellent and your wits on you at all times!
23 Strangest Foods Eaten Around The World
Chicken's Feet are not to everyone's tastes, it's true, but there's no question that, although a little weird, this is a foodstuff that proves surprisingly popular.
People dine on Chicken's Feet in countless countries - including Indonesia, Ecuador, Romania, Russia, Mexico, Moldova - and it is a highly popular food in Chinese and Indonesian cuisine. As a matter of fact, packaged chicken feet are sold in most grocery stores and supermarkets in China as a snack, often seasoned with rice vinegar and chili.
Such is their global appeal, there are numerous cooking methods that vary from country to country. Chicken's Feet can be eaten as snacks or added to dishes, but regardless of the recipe, it's crucial to prepare them properly. The Chinese like them deep-fried or steamed until puffy and in southern China, they also cook chicken feet with raw peanuts to make a thin soup. Would you be willing to try it?
Spotted Shirako on the menu? You should think twice about ordering. This might sound harmless enough -- like a variation on sushi or sashimi. But Shirako is, in fact, fish sperm.
This is a dish that is served in Japan, as well as other Asian countries, including Indonesia and Korea. 'Milt' is another word to look out for on the menu. Unless eating a fish's seminal fluid is what you intended, you should think about ordering something else.
Cod Shirako is the most common -- although sperm that has been drawn from molluscs and other water-based creatures that spray their fluid onto eggs can also be used. It's difficult to picture, but most find that Shirako looks nothing like they'd imagined. It tends to be squishy and ovoid in shape and is similar in appearance to a miniature brain. If you think eating fish sperm is weird, spare a thought for those who have to collect it.
There's no question that this one has the gross factor. But Tuna Eyeballs are popular in Japan, where they're readily available from most supermarkets. Like all things fishy? This might still be a step too far. Tuna Eyeballs are the size of tennis balls and are surrounded by fat and severed muscles.
It should not be eaten raw and needs to be lightly cooked. There are various cooking methods used here, but none can disguise the fact that this is a giant eyeball -- or shake the nagging feeling that you're being watched.
Home cooks often boil Tuna Eyeballs and season to taste, whilst chefs braise them in soy sauce and mirin or saut' in sesame oil and ginger. The taste is a little like squid, but the texture can present quite a challenge. Served as bar snacks and appetisers, there's no question that Tuna Eyeballs are an acquired taste.
Most people couldn't bear to touch a giant tarantula. But to eat one? This is such an alien concept that it's difficult to imagine. But fried spiders have been eaten for some time in Cambodia -- where Crispy Tarantulas are considered to be quite a delicacy.
This is believed to be quite a recent trend that began during the dark days of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. With more traditional foods in short supply, people here began to eat spiders in order to avoid starvation. The dark days are over in Cambodia, but still the practice persists.
Most popular in Skuon and Phnom Penh, the spiders are bred in holes in the ground until they're the size of a human hand. They're then fried in oil, along with sugar, salt and garlic, until the legs are stiff and the body crunchy. Thinking about trying a Crispy Tarantula? You're braver than us.
White Egg Ant Soup
Got a favourite soup? Most people plump for a classic, such as tomato, chicken or leek and potato. But travel a little further afield and the options become rather more exotic. For those heading to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos, soup is much different to the familiar flavours that are found at home.
White Egg Ant Soup is just one example from the region. This is, as the name suggests, a dish concocted from ants and their eggs. You might have a favourite soup, but we doubt it's this one.
White Egg Ant Soup contains baby ants, partial embryos and eggs which pop in the mouth -- releasing flavour. There are regional variations, but the general taste is sour, with a flavour that is similar to shrimp. This is one that calls only to the culinary courageous and probably the most exotic soup you can find.
Jellied Moose Nose
Jellied Moose Nose is not one for the squeamish. This is an indigenous dish that originates in Alaska and Canada's northernmost reaches. Here, wilderness hunters could dine on a single moose for several weeks. But that meant eating everything -- and we mean everything.
Long after all the best cuts had been devoured, the moose's less-attractive parts would still feed families. This included the nose -- preserved in a gelatinous broth. Served cold in slices, this isn't one that appeals to all.
Challenging perhaps, but once winter set in, eating such things could be the difference between life and death. So the long bulbous nose went into the pot, where it was cooked with onions, garlic and spices. But that is not all -- with the moose's ears, lips and other facial features often added to the mix.
These days, Jellied Moose Nose is harder to find, and you certainly won't find it in restaurants, but it is still out there. You may be able to find it at a public potlatch, a gift-giving feast hosted by indigenous communities in Alaska and Northwestern Canada.
Black Pudding is a familiar food in the UK and Ireland. It is often included in a traditional cooked breakfast here. This might not sound as weird as certain other foodstuffs -- but consider its composition and the concept is somewhat strange.
In its most basic form, Black Pudding is a sausage that is made using pig's blood, drained during slaughter. Weird, perhaps. But as fans and foodies can attest, it is also delicious.
This is an ancient dish that dates back centuries. Traditional Black Pudding comprises pork blood and fat, mixed with beef suet and cereal, and encased in a cow's intestine. Described as such, it doesn't sound too appealing, it's true.
But look past the pudding's production and this remains a popular British foodstuff. So-called 'blood sausages' are commonplace elsewhere, and can be found all over Europe and beyond. But Black Pudding is the original -- and, as traditionalists continue to insist, the best.
Salo is not one for anyone watching their waistline. Traditional in Slavic countries, this is not the healthiest option out there. Foodies consume cured slabs of pork fat in great quantities across Eastern Europe. For lard lovers, this is as good as it gets.
Salo is considered a national treasure in Ukraine, where it is most popular. Visiting Hungary, Poland, Russia or Romania? You will see Salo on sale here too. But the big question is, will you be brave enough to give it a try?
People eat Salo cooked or raw, and with or without skin. There are regional variations aplenty, but the basic premise is always the same. Cured in brine or dried in salt, Salo is smoked in the South and served with paprika in the East, and it often comes with a shot of vodka on the side. Have a try, but do take our advice. Order a second glass before tucking in.
How do you like your eggs in the morning? Preserved? China is the place to be if this is the case. Here, the fabled Century Egg remains a prized delicacy. Enjoyed in these parts since the Ming Dynasty, 600 years ago, this is an unusual food that endures to this day. It's not to everybody's tastes, but still discerning diners here put it on a culinary pedestal.
Duck, chicken and quail eggs are used most often. These are preserved in clay, ash and salt for several months -- the precise time depending on your tastes. When the process is complete, the flavour is strong and the yolk has turned dark green or grey.
Eaten on their own or as a side dish, Century Eggs are often cut into chunks and stir-fried with vegetables or drizzled with sesame oil and soy sauce. Regardless of the final dish, there's no disguising the Century Egg's distinctive flavour. Are you adventurous enough to try?
People have been eating Locusts since Biblical times. Served dried, smoked or fried, this is a food stuff that is packed with protein. Most popular in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, edible insects remain an important source of nourishment for millions. Like to give Locusts a try? You'll find them rather moreish.
So much so that Locusts are starting to become available outside their traditional heartlands. Europe has still to be conquered, but it seems as though this is a food trend heading our way. Would you eat insects?
You could soon get the chance without having to travel. For now, though, Locusts are best enjoyed served the traditional way, from a Middle Eastern market or Asian food stall. Seasoned well and cooked to a crunch, Locust fans love to scoff theirs on wooden sticks whilst on the move and is a weird food that remained popular through centuries with foodies all over the world.
Like to eat a rotten shark? Thought not. Yet in Iceland, this is a delicacy. Called Hakarl, this is a food that divides opinion. One thing is for certain: Hakarl reeks. Those tasting it for the first time are advised to hold their nose.
Those who don't heed the warnings are often ill. Hakarl comes in two different types -- soft and chewy. Both are disgusting. You might think that you have a strong stomach. But nothing can prepare you for this.
Greenland Sharks are cured using a particular fermentation process and left to hang for four to five months in order to make Hakarl. It's a long and laborious process and one wonders if it's worth it.
Yet still production continues -- and still those tasting it for the first time continue to gag at the ammonia-like stench. Feeling brave? We don't recommend it. But if you must give horrible Hakarl a try, be sure to wash it down with a shot of Brennivin -- a potent local spirit that makes the experience a little less vile.
Known also as Mexican Truffle, Huitlacoche is a Latin American delicacy, dating back to Aztec times. This is a prized foodstuff in these parts. It's strange to think then that this is, in fact, a fungus -- a plant disease dismissed elsewhere as Corn Smuts.
Found growing on affected ears of corn, Huitlacoche has an earthy flavour, a little like mushrooms. Like to put it to the test? Trust us on this one: it tastes much better than it sounds.
Sharp-eyed foodies harvest the blue-black spores for use in various Mexican dishes -- including quesadillas, tortillas and soups. It can be bought canned or jarred from stores and markets, but is best enjoyed in freshly-prepared favourites from traditional street food stalls. Smothered in melted cheese and topped with spicy salsa, Huitlacoche can be elevated from fungus to fine food in an instant. Weird perhaps, but a tasty treat indeed.
This is not one for all the dog lovers out there. Yes, Boshintang is a soup that is made using canine meat. Frowned upon in the West, eating dogs has long been a part of Korea's culinary culture. You might think that this is wrong. But in Asia, there is nothing unusual about tucking into a steaming bowl of Boshintang.
This flavoursome soup is eaten both in North and South Korea. Dining out? It could be called Gaejangguk or Dangogiguk on the menu. You don't want to eat dogs? Then this is one to avoid.
Boiled with onions, dandelions and various herbs and spices, Boshintang has a rich flavour that, the ingredients aside, tempt the taste buds. Eating it is said to be invigorating, with some claiming the broth even has medicinal benefits. But for dog lovers, eating this dish is probably unthinkable.
Most common in Mongolia, Airag is a popular drink throughout Central Asia. Yes, it's milk, but not as we know it. This is a product that is best described as fermented mare's milk.
There's no question that Airag is an acquired taste. It's pungent and slightly alcoholic. Even here, where it's still consumed in great quantities, it's not everybody's cup of tea.
The taste is sour and it tends to sparkle a little on the tongue. Rich in vitamins and minerals, this provides a nourishing drink for nomadic people. For travellers to these parts, it demands to be tasted. But it's quite a challenge -- and there's no shame in finding it too much to bear. Airag can also be found in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and China. Popular here, perhaps. But for those not used to drinking sour fermented horse milk, this is one that might just be a little too weird.
Balut beckons the brave. Popular in the Philippines -- as well as Vietnam -- this is not one for the faint of heart. It is a developing bird embryo that is boiled and eaten direct from the shell. The bird in question tends to be duck, although other species are sometimes used. Sold at markets and street food stalls, local people love Balut. For travelling foodies, however, this presents quite a challenge.
The eggs are incubated for between 14 and 21 days and the embryo inside has recognisable features once opened. It is eaten, bones, beak and all -- these soft enough at this stage to be chewed and swallowed. Reckon you could keep this down? We're not so sure.
Balut was introduced to the Philippines by the Chinese in 1885 and has gone on to prove popular during the subsequent period. This is a weird food that raises certain ethical issues, whilst the taste and general appearance mean it's one that only calls to the most courageous.
'Casu Marzu' translates as 'rotten, putrid cheese'. Forget Stilton and the like, this takes things to another level. Traditional in Sardinia, this is a cheese made from sheep's milk. So far so good. But it's the squirming maggots that make this cheese so unique that also make Casu Marzu such an unpleasant prospect.
It is indeed packed with live insect larvae which can disgust the most ardent cheese lover. Feeling unsettled? Look away now as you probably won't be able to stomach it.
Casu Marzu is a cheese that has been taken beyond fermentation to a state of decomposition. The flavour is strong, the smell pungent and the texture so soft that it's almost a liquid. The crawling maggots are too much for most to bear. But for Casu Marzu fans, this is the best bit, so much so that they'll refuse to eat it if the larvae have passed. Eaten with Sicilian flat bread and local red wine, there's no question that this is authentic. But for most, Casu Marzu is a step too far.
Edible insects are all the rage in Thailand. Head to Khao San Road in Bangkok, or Bangla Road in Phuket, and the street food stalls are overflowing with creepie crawlies. You can choose from various species, including Red Ants, Silkworms and Scorpions. Feeling a little squeamish? Grasshoppers are often the best bet for those not used to such things.
They're called Takatan here and they're available in plentiful supply. Sometimes they're included in delicious Thai dishes. But Takatan are best enjoyed as crisp salted snacks -- purchased from street food vendors and eaten on the move.
Thai Grasshoppers are often deep-fried in soy sauce and for those brave enough, they're surprisingly moreish. Packed with protein, these provide much-needed nourishment for many, whilst also appealing to travelling foodies. Take our advice and give them a try -- before moving on to the more-challenging Red Ants, Silkworms and Scorpions.
Seeking strange foods? It doesn't get much weirder than Wasp Crackers. Even in Japan, where they're eaten, these are considered an oddity. Like to give them a try? You're braver than us. The crackers in question are quite a recent phenomenon, dreamt up by a so-called 'fan club for wasps' in a small town called Omachi. Here, they're known as 'Jibachi Senbei'.
Digger Wasps native to the region are captured before being boiled, dried and added to the rice cracker mix. Each cracker contains five or six wasps. The taste is best described as being bitter, and a little like eating burnt raisins.
We could live with this, but the texture is perturbing. The wasps' wings and legs are prone to getting stuck in the teeth, which makes it a non-starter for us. Looking for an unusual experience? You'll probably find content here.
Like to take a Bush Tucker Trial? You don't need to be a celebrity. Just head Down Under. Here, in the outback, Witchetty Grubs can be found in plentiful supply. You just have to be brave enough to tuck in. Long a staple in traditional Aboriginal diets, Witchetty Grubs are packed with protein and make for a nourishing snack.
The flavour is a little like almonds, with a crispy skin and a soft inside. These don't look too appetising, it's true, but don't be fooled by their appearance. Witchetty Grubs are, in fact, surprisingly tasty.
The grubs are the larvae of various Australian moth species -- in particular the giant Cossid Moth, that feeds on Witchetty Bushes (hence the name). Long, plump and white, they're none too attractive, but don't let this put you off. Eat them raw, or lightly cooked in hot ashes for a snack that, whilst flavoursome, could not be more weird.
Beondegi is a popular snack food in South Korea. Served boiled or steamed, it's sold both on street corners and in supermarkets. Tempted to have a little taste? Do just bear in mind that this popular snack food is, in fact, silkworms.
People here have been feasting on Beondegi ever since the Korean War, when nutritious food was in short supply. There's no question that it's nourishing -- this a snack that is packed with protein. But the flavour isn't to everyone's liking.
Still tempted? You can go sweet or savoury, choosing between spiced and salted silkworms or ones that have been candied. The shell is crunchy, whilst the inside is soft and juicy, with a flavour that is nutty. Served in disposable cups with toothpicks, Beondegi is readily available in South Korea. The question is, will you be brave enough to give it a try?
Mopane Worms are not, in fact, worms at all. They're large caterpillars -- yet to become giant Emperor Moths. In Southern Africa, they're an important foodstuff for millions of people. Like to give them a try? Mopane Worms taste a little like leaves. This is due to their diet -- which is, in the main, the leaves of the Mopane Tree. If this doesn't sound weird enough, consider how they're harvested.
Mopane Worms are hand-picked, often by women and children, who pinch their tails hard to rupture their innards. They're then squeezed like a tube of toothpaste in order to expel their guts. Only then are they ready to prepare and preserve. The caterpillars are either dried in the hot sun or smoked for flavour.
Some like to eat them raw, as a crunchy dried snack, whilst others prefer to buy them canned in brine from the supermarket, before adding to dishes as a rich protein source. Either way, for those uninitiated, eating Mopane Worms could not seem much weirder.
Chefs in Japan must undertake rigorous training for at least three years before serving this dangerous dish. Get it wrong and it could be curtains. Fugu is a meal that is made from the poisonous pufferfish.
This is a creature that uses tetrodotoxin -- a lethal chemical -- to deter predators. Eating it? That doesn't sound like a good idea.
Still, Fugu is a popular dish in Japan, where skilled and qualified chefs are much sought after and celebrated. The pufferfish must be prepared with great precision in order to remove the poison and guard against contamination.
One false move can have dire consequences -- as Homer once found out in The Simpsons. He lived to tell the tale, but not all are so fortunate. Indeed, those attempting to prepare Fugu at home are taking a great risk.'Thinking about trying Fugu? Take our advice and seek out an expert.
Been offered Desert Whitefish? Do beware. This is just an alternative name for a dish that is often eaten in the Southwest United States. The Desert Whitefish that looks so tempting on the menu? It is, in fact, Southern Fried Rattlesnake. Still keen to order?
Venomous rattlers are abundant in Texas and Arizona, but since discovering them to be delicious, local foodies have stopped complaining. Like to give Southern Fried Rattlesnake a try? Take our word for it: this is an acquired taste.
Often bland and lacking flavour, it can be difficult to eat -- with the meat sinewy, tough and riddled with small bones. Get a good one, however, and aficionados reckon that, with sufficient seasoning, this is good eating indeed. Best served breaded and deep fried, it's not a dish for all. Be it Desert Whitefish or Southern Fried Rattlesnake, this might be one that is best avoided.
When it comes to weird food, it doesn't get much stranger than Starfish. Popular in China, this is a street food most often found on market stalls. Dried out and deep fried in oil, the Starfish is considered quite a delicacy.
Yet eating it is far from a simple task for the uninitiated. The outside is tough and armour-plated and not good to bite down upon. Keen to avoid a rookie mistake? Crack it open and seek out the meat inside.
This is soft and spongy, but connoisseurs will tell you that this is where the good stuff is. It can be rather mushy, whilst the pungent smell puts off many. But Starfish fans cannot get enough, and hai xing -- as it is known here -- is regarded as a considerable treat for foodies. Starfish is often served on a wooden stick, like an exotic seafood lollipop.
Frog's Legs are a French cuisine delicacy. Yet "Cuisses de Grenouille" is quite a recent phenomenon. Elsewhere on Earth, diners have been feasting on frogs for much longer.
The Chinese in particular have been enjoying Frog's Legs for centuries, but it's in France that this weird foodstuff has gained the greatest gastronomic renown. Here, they're served in the discerning Dombes region. Like to give them a try? They're not as bad as most people imagine.
Frog's Legs taste a little like chicken, with a mild flavour and a texture like wings. They're packed with protein and fatty acids. But their reputation remains questionable. This is, in part, due to animal welfare issues. Served all over Asia, as well as in Portugal, Spain and the Southern United States, Frog's Legs are more popular than you'd imagine. Yet, despite the fact that the food has found its home country in France, it is not a dish largely consumed by the French.
Bird's Nest Soup
It's all in the name - a soup that is made from bird's nests. Intrigued? Bird's Nest Soup is delicious. But it's also expensive. The high price is due, in part, to the dangers involved in harvesting the edible nests from the mountaintop caves in which they're found.
The nests then require a thorough clean to make them safe to eat. This is a painstaking process that just adds to the cost. The end result? Connoisseurs have no doubt that it's worth it.
Popular dish in Chinese cuisine, people have been eating Bird's Nest Soup throughout Southeast Asia for more than 400 years. The nests are created by swiftlets, using solidified saliva. This might sound disgusting, but it's considered quite a delicacy. When dissolved in water, the nests have a gelatinous texture that makes them popular amongst discerning diners. This is probably one of the strangest most expensive foods eaten by humans.
Stink Bugs could not sound less appetising. This is a species that secretes a pungent chemical that is used as a defence mechanism against predators. In a nutshell, Stink Bugs smell bad -- hence the name. It's surprising then that these odorous insects are eaten in great number throughout South Africa, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
The good news? When cooked, Stink Bugs lose the eye-watering aroma that gives the species such a bad reputation. But that's not all. Rich in protein, vitamins and essential nutrients, this is an insect that is vital to keeping local people well nourished, fit and healthy.
Boiled and then sun-dried, Stink Bugs are fried and served as a salted snack. Tempted to give them a try? Stink Bugs could not sound less appetising, it's true. But this weird food is one that, in our opinion, does not deserve to have such a bad name.
Mexicans have been eating Escamol since Aztec times. Comprising the larvae and pupae of ants, this 'insect caviar' is popular in Latin America. Feeling peckish? Trust us on this one -- it's much nicer than it sounds. Harvesting the light-coloured eggs is a laborious process that makes Escamol a delicacy.
The distinctive flavour is both buttery and nutty, and the texture a little like cottage cheese. This is particularly popular in and around Mexico City. Ever paid a visit to this pulsing metropolis? The chances are you've eaten Escamol.
Local cooks often add Escamol to fresh tacos and flavoursome omelettes. But it's also eaten alone, with guacamole and tortillas. Sometimes the larvae is fried -- giving it a distinct crunch. Best served with butter and local herbs and spices, this is one that we recommend. Mexican street food at its weirdest, this is also indigenous cuisine at its authentic best.
Feeling a little under the weather? You should consider a bowl of Khash. This is a pungent dish that is believed to have healing powers. But a strong stomach is required for those not used to such things. Eaten throughout the Middle East and Eastern Europe, Khash is often served with an accompanying glass of vodka. There's no question that Dutch courage is needed in order to get this down.
Khash is made from boiled cow and sheep parts. It's difficult to be more precise -- but animal heads, feet and stomachs are often thrown into the bubbling pot. This is considered an effective hangover cure -- although on reflection, you might prefer just to sleep it off.
Served, amongst other places, in Afghanistan and Albania, Bulgaria and Bosnia, Georgia and Greece, Khash is thought of as a local delicacy. Add salt, garlic, lemon juice or vinegar according to taste -- and don't forget the vodka.
Ever tried Tripe? It's eaten all over the world. Once popular in the UK, this is a dish in decline on British shores. But Tripe is still favourite across Europe and beyond. Often found in France and in Italy, this is a foodstuff that is still served in great quantities on the Continent. Yet for those uninitiated, Tripe's reputation makes it one to avoid.
Tripe is the edible lining taken from a farm animal's stomach. More often than not, this comes from cows and sheep. But those with more exotic tastes dine on deer, antelope and even giraffe Tripe. Boiled and bleached, Tripe was a working-class staple during Victorian times -- providing a cheap and nutritious meal that was readily available.
Modern tastes and trends mean that it is far less popular in the UK these days. Yet aficionados elsewhere continue to swear by it -- with Tripe Soup one variation that is consumed on a regular basis in Eastern Europe.
20 Breathtaking Places to Visit Before They Disappear
Amazon Rainforest, Brazil
The good news? The awe-inspiring Amazon remains the world's largest tropical rainforest. The bad news is it's shrinking fast. Deforestation has reached record levels in recent times. Those keen to visit should not dither, with this breathtaking land in danger of disappearing altogether.
The rainforest still covers vast swathes of South America, but an area equal in size to two football pitches is being cleared every minute. Land-grabbing, mining and farming are all to blame. If things continue like this, there'll soon be little left.
Experts estimate that 17% of the rainforest has been lost so far and it's thought that the Amazon is close to reaching a tipping point. Renowned for its diverse wildlife and untamed landscape, illegal logging has altered this natural wonderland for the worst.
Scientists predict that, unless something changes soon, this once-lush forest will become a barren scrubland that supports little life. The Amazon is essential to the planet ecosystem, so this is bad news for us all.
Located on Greece's picturesque Peloponnese Peninsula, inspiring Olympia is a sight to behold. This is where the Olympic movement began in 776BC, with the ancient Greeks staging great sporting contests every four years.
Interested in history? You'll find this iconic spot fascinating. But with Olympia's existence under increasing threat, you're advised to visit sooner rather than later.
Olympia ranks amongst Greece's top tourist attractions. But that could soon change. Rising summer temperatures mean that devastating wildfires have become commonplace in these parts. The rampant flames are getting closer and so the risks to this ancient site are rising.
There are more than 70 buildings and ruins to explore here, including the remains of Zeus' great temple; a visit is much recommended. The clock is ticking as the climate continues to change, and those keen to see Olympia at its breathtaking best are facing a race against time.
Venice has long lived a charmed life. Built on 118 low-lying Italian islands in a shimmering lagoon, the city's questionable location has always made it precarious. Prone to flooding since its earliest days, it looks as though time is starting to run out.
When high winds in the Adriatic swept six feet of water through the city's streets in 2019, it represented Venice's worst floods for more than half a century. Climate change was blamed initially -- but poor engineering, civic mismanagement and neglected flood defences also played their part.
The floods caused untold damage to countless ancient buildings and monuments here. Swimming across St Mark's Square might illicit a chuckle, but the reality is no laughing matter. With ocean levels continuing to rise and the city's flood defences not fit for purpose, this might soon become a common sight. With Venice in danger of disappearing for good, this is a city whose luck has run out.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Remote and remarkable, the gorgeous Galapagos Islands are a haven for wildlife lovers. But there is trouble brewing in paradise. More than 170,000 tourists head here on an annual basis, keen to see the famed Giant Tortoises and countless other creatures at close quarters.
But increasing numbers are putting quite a strain on this minuscule dot in the ocean. One proposal being considered is a cap to limit visitors. Yet this will not solve all the island's mounting issues.
Global warming is having a major impact here and, as the ocean temperatures continue to rise, the region's marine life is under threat. Climate change is causing widespread coral bleaching, damaging the reefs and killing the creatures that live there. Moreover pollution, illegal fishing and the ever-present risk from the El Nino weather system put the Galapagos Islands in grave danger.
Congo Basin, Congo
The Congo Basin is home to the second largest rainforest on Earth. But that could soon be about to change. Deforestation is rampant in this impoverished land. Second in size only to the mighty Amazon, the Congo Basin is shrinking fast.
The logging that is doing such damage here is illegal, but the problem is so widespread that the authorities have lost control. Countless trees continue to be felled to clear the land for farming. The damage being done in the process is huge.
The Congo Basin's disappearing forests are rich in wildlife, home to endangered species galore, including most of the planet's remaining gorillas. Like to see this breathtaking place for yourself? Be sure to visit before it disappears forever.
The sprawling rainforest still covers an area larger than Alaska. But with 165,000 hectares having been cleared between 2000 and 2014, this lush landscape is getting smaller and smaller.
The Sundarbans, India and Bangladesh
The clock is ticking for the precious Sundarbans. This is a fragile land that is fast approaching a tipping point. Getting smaller and smaller, there's a danger that it'll disappear altogether before much longer.
Located in the picturesque delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers, this is one of the largest mangrove forests on the planet. But as more and more trees are felled, the risk to the land increases.
Illegal logging is a major problem here and, with fewer trees to hold the thinning soil together, erosion is a constant threat. Prone to devastating cyclones and tidal waves, the people here have long relied on the forest to shield them from the worst of the weather.
But as the trees disappear, the land too is starting to vanish. The Sundarbans are rich in wildlife -- home to 260 bird species, Bengal tigers, endangered estuarine crocodiles and rare Indian pythons. With their homes under threat, the consequences could be dire indeed.
The Maldives have long beckoned tourists keen to kick back. Located in the sun-kissed Arabian Sea, this is an island paradise, with its white sands, amazing under-sea landscapes, tropical climate and laid-back lifestyle. But the Maldives are under threat.
Thinking about paying a visit? You'll need to get a move on, with the islands in danger of disappearing forever. Climate change is the culprit once again. With sea levels rising, those in the Maldives are preparing for the worst.
Like other low-lying atolls and islands, the Maldives are first in the firing line as the world gets ever warmer. This might be a popular tourist destination now, but scientists predict that the Maldives could be uninhabitable by the end of the century.
Frequent flooding, a lack of freshwater and major damage to infrastructure are all on the cards for a beautiful land that could have fewer than 80 years left. Trouble in paradise? This is a breathtaking place that is living on borrowed time.
Patagonian Ice Fields, Argentina
The Patagonian Ice Fields are enormous. Located in the Andes, between Chile and Argentina, there is 5,500 gigatons of solid ice packed here. The problem is, it's melting. Global warming and its impact on the environment cannot be underestimated.
With the ice fields shrinking fast, those keen to catch a glimpse of this fascinating frozen land cannot afford to hang around.
Home to glacial fjords and dramatic valleys, this is a picturesque place, but the threat from climate change is real. There's so much ice here that, were it all to melt, global sea levels would rise by as much as 15mm.
This might sound far fetched, but the ice fields were once even greater, with all that remains now just a fraction of the vast ancient Patagonian Ice Sheet. That began to melt 18,000 years ago. With global temperatures continuing to rise, this is a fragile landscape that is soon to be altered forever.
The Everglades, United States
Breathtaking? For sure. Disappearing? There can be no doubt about it. Described as 'the most threatened park in the United States', Florida's famed wetlands were once twice the size they are today. There is little sign that this disturbing trend is about to change.
Home to abundant wildlife, and in particular the alligators for which the popular park is most renowned, the Everglades are facing threats on several fronts. Climate change has taken a toll, but man-made dangers are doing the greatest damage here.
Florida's population pressures mean urban development is a constant challenge to those determined to keep this wild land wild, whilst the diversion of water and the introduction of new species has disturbed the natural balance. The race is now on to save what is left, but with the Everglades coming under constant pressure, those keen to visit should start planning their trip now.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Tourists have long flocked to Bolivia's vast salt flats to witness a haunting land and its famed pink flamingos. This was once a huge prehistoric lake, but the waters dried up long ago. The barren flats cover 11,000 square kilometres here, with the bright white salt gleaming in the hot South American sun.
You can still experience Salar de Uyuni and its unique attractions. But there can be no question that this fascinating corner of Bolivia is living on borrowed time.
The threat comes from lithium, used to make batteries, and electronic gadgets and devices, with one hundred million metric tons of the rare metal buried in Bolivia. This means the land might need some digging on an industrial scale and, with artificial lakes, laboratories and machines littering the landscape, Salar de Uyuni's unique appeal is beginning to disappear. Thinking about paying a visit? You'd better make it soon.
The Madagascan Rainforest is a marvellous place. Renowned for its unique biodiversity, countless plant and animal species can be discovered here. But all is not well beneath the thick jungle canopy. Deforestation doing untold damage to the precious environment, this is a fragile habitat that is disappearing fast.
Madagascar enjoys a spectacular location in the shimmering Indian Ocean, but there is trouble in paradise. The rainforest covers around 21% of the island, and this number is falling fast. The trees here are being felled to create agricultural and pastoral land, and the impact on the island's rich wildlife cannot be underestimated.
Conservationists point to desertification, habitat loss and soil degradation as the greatest threats and it's clear that Madagascar has reached a tipping point. The rainforest here remains a marvellous place. Keen to see it for yourself? Be sure to pay a visit soon, before it's too late.
Komodo Island, Indonesia
Tourists have long flocked to captivating Komodo Island. The attractions here are plentiful, with volcanic hills to climb, lush forests to trek and colourful reefs for divers to explore. Then there are the famed lizards that give this place its name.
There are 4,000 Komodo Dragons here and the chance to get up close and personal is a rare treat. But with the environment under threat from tourism, plans are afoot to limit access - or forbid it altogether.
Closing Komodo Island to all visitors has been debated, although that drastic proposal has been shelved for now. Instead, a hefty tourist tax is being considered, which would make this a far more exclusive destination. Whatever is decided, it seems certain that you'll soon find the island far more difficult to visit. Is Komodo Island on your travel bucket list? You should go and spend a little time with the giant lizards before it's too late.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is not what it once was. Stretching for more than 1,400 miles along Australia's stunning eastern shores, it remains the largest reef system on Earth. It can still be seen from Space, but get closer and it's clear that this natural wonder is in trouble.
The problem? It's all down to climate change. The oceans are getting ever warmer and the Great Barrier Reef just cannot cope. You can see it in the colours - or lack of. Once bright and vibrant, the reef is turning white - a phenomenon known as bleaching. As the ocean temperature rises, the reef expels the algae that gives it that characteristic colour.
Bleached coral cannot reproduce, which means that the Great Barrier Reef is not growing as it once did. More than half of the reef is believed to have died and there's an 89% decrease in new coral growth. Like to see this breathtaking place before it disappears? Don't leave it too late.
The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
The Door to Hell is a fascinating place. Located deep in the bleak Karakum Desert, in remote Turkmenistan, just getting here is a considerable challenge. But those who do make the difficult pilgrimage find the experience rewarding.
The fire that lights the night skies here has been burning for more than four decades, but the blaze could soon be extinguished. Natural gases have long fuelled the dramatic Door to Hell, but the reserves are not limitless.
You can go right to the edge and see the crater that formed during a drilling accident in the 1970s. It is enormous, measuring 225 feet from one side to the other, and almost 100 feet deep. The fire began when the ground beneath a Soviet drilling rig gave way, starting an inferno that still rages. But the blaze cannot last forever and those keen to take a peek are advised to get on with it.
Dead Sea, Israel, Jordan and Palestine
Is the Dead Sea dying? Not quite, but there's no question that great change is afoot in the Middle East. Beaches that once proved popular on the inland ocean's shimmering shoreline these days lie far from the receding waters.
The Dead Sea isn't dying, but there's no question that this landlocked salt lake is getting smaller and smaller.
The Dead Sea is popular with tourists thanks to the extreme saltiness that makes it impossible for bathers to sink. The waters here are almost 10 times saltier than those in the Earth's oceans and there's nothing quite like floating on the surface with a good book in hand.
But as the water level drops in the heat of the Middle Eastern sun, huge sinkholes have started to open up, causing the Dead Sea to shrink at an even more rapid rate. With the shoreline receding almost three feet a year, you're advised to visit as soon as possible.
Choquequirao Archaeological Park, Peru
Choquequirao is an Incan archaeological treasure that has long remained hidden from the tourist hordes. Reaching 'Machu Picchu's Little Sister', it requires a challenging hike that keeps visitor numbers in check. But that is all about to change, with a cable car under construction that will alter this quiet corner forever.
Conservationists fear that making Choquequirao accessible to all could attract 3,000 visitors a day, shattering the tranquility that makes the ruined temples and terraces such a joy to explore.
Intrepid hikers trek deserted paths through lush rainforests and beneath snow-capped peaks in order to get here and the journey is half the attraction. So for those keen to experience Choquequirao at its peaceful best, the time to visit this breathtaking place is now. Don't wait for the cable car to be built and book your flight.
Glaciers of the European Alps, Switzerland
There are almost 1,800 glaciers in Switzerland's beautiful Alps. The ice here is melting fast, with those keen to visit advised not to leave it too late.
This might sound a touch dramatic, but consider that some 800 million metric tons of ice was lost in just 14 days as the summer heatwave gripped Europe in 2019 and it's clear that the threat to the region is real. Climate change has taken quite a toll here, and scientists fear there's no going back.
Experts predict that 50% of glacier ice in the Alps will have melted by 2050, with that figure expected to rise to almost two-thirds by the end of the century.
The Pennine and Bernese Alps are at particular risk, whilst those keen to see the Jungfrau-Aletsch at its breathtaking best would be wise to pay a visit soon. With the Swiss Alps in danger of being all but ice-free by 2100, there really is no time to delay.
Bordeaux Vineyards, France
Bordeaux's famed vineyards are world-renowned, with the wines produced here amongst the finest on Earth. Yet this heritage that dates back to Roman times is under threat. Climate change is to blame, with rising temperatures prompting vintners to fear for their futures.
Like most places on the planet, France's picturesque Gironde department is getting ever warmer, with average temperatures having increased by 2C since the 1950s. The conditions here are no longer as conducive to growing grapes as in times passed. The implications for the wine trade are serious.
The region relies on its wine, producing some 700 million bottles in a good year. That number is falling fast as the vineyards start to shrink, with the excellent Merlot grapes that are synonymous with Bordeaux at particular risk from the warmer summers. The climate here has become more Mediterranean than Atlantic in recent times which might have a very important impact in the future.
The Alaskan Tundra, Alaska, USA
Covering almost half of the largest state in the US, Alaska's treeless tundra is enormous. The trouble is, this remote and ancient land is disappearing fast. Like a take a look? Take our advice and don't leave it too late.
The conditions harsh and the temperatures cold, this is a spot far from the tourist trail, but therein lies the tundra's obvious appeal. This is a magical place to spend a little time, but that time is starting to run out.
The issues are all man-made, with climate change and increasing human exploitation to blame for a land that is forever shrinking.
The permanently-frozen ground here is starting to thaw, with obvious consequences for the native plant and animal species. Often called a 'cold desert', the tundra is far from barren, this a beautiful spot that demands a visit. Like to take a look? Make it sooner rather than later.
The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Towering tall over Tanzania, Kilimanjaro's snowcapped summit has long beckoned the adventurous. Measuring 16,000 feet from top to bottom, those able to complete the breathtaking ascent are rewarded with ancient glaciers and views to die for.
Like to take a peek? You'll need to get a move on. Scientific studies have shown that the glaciers are melting, with researchers predicting that Kilimanjaro's snows might soon have disappeared altogether.
The reasons continue to prompt debate in the scientific community, although it seems quite clear that global warming is playing a significant role. Kilimanjaro's famous glaciers are believed to date back almost 12,000 years, but with the ice fields here having shrunk 85% in area since 1912, there can be no question that the situation is critical.
Once covering 12 square kilometres, just 1.85 square kilometers remain. Like to see the snows of Kilimanjaro for yourself? Time is pressing, with some predicting the mountaintop could have thawed out entirely by 2033.