Natural Wonders

The Best View From a
Hotel Room in Patagonia

Glaciers, fjords, wildlife, mountain peaks, rushing rivers, idyllic lakes—Patagonia is one of the most scenic regions on Planet Earth. The area is vast, divided between Chile and Argentina at the southern tip of South America. Given the size and beauty you’d think that it would be difficult finding that one hotel with the best view in Patagonia. But it isn’t. One resort outshines the rest: The Hotel Salto Chico.

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LOST Hawaii

As fans of the hit ABC television series LOST watch the riveting drama about a group of airplane crash survivors on a mysterious island, they often ponder questions of love, fate, survival and black smoke monsters. What exactly is the Dharma Project? and What do those numbers mean? are questions nearly all LOST fans have asked themselves. They inevitably also ask Where exactly are all these gorgeous tropical scenes filmed?

The vast majority of LOST was set in various locations around Hawaii. Even many of the locations that were supposedly not on the survivor’s island were shot in the Aloha State. The Sydney airport in LOST? That was actually the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu.

Here’s our roundup of our favorite Hawaii LOST filming locations. Each are worthy Hawaii travel destinations, for LOST fans and fans-in-waiting who have (yet) to see the show:

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The World’s Most Beautiful, Crowded Waterfall

James Cameroon with all the latest CGI special effects could not concoct a waterfall more perfect than the one at Dunn River in Jamaica.

In a lush jungle filled with beautiful birds and red rhododendron, crystal waters cascade along smooth sculpted rocks until finally splashing upon a bone white beach and a stark blue Caribbean Sea. The planet has more dramatic waterfalls (Iguazu and Victoria come immediately to mind) but per square meter none may be more beautiful.

And none is more crowded.

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The Dunes of Lake Michigan

Picture outdoor travel in the upper midwest of the United States and an image probably comes to mind of flat forests and flat fields—if anything comes to mind at all.

In fact, the region is home to a variety of unexpected natural treasures,. Among those: the world’s largest freshwater dune system.

These dunes scattered along the shores of the five Great Lakes—Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario—were formed 3,000 to 6,000 years ago (recent in terms of geological terms) when the water level of the lakes was 40 feet (12 meters) higher than it is today. Every U.S. state and Canadian province that borders a Great Lake has at least one sand dune preserve area, including Indiana where there are some wonderfully scenic dunes not far from the powerfully unscenic blighted industrial town of Gary.

Arguably the coolest place to experience the Great Lakes dunes is at the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area in western-central Michigan.

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The Amazing Bioluminescent Bay

The bay’s superlative bioluminescence comes thanks in part to the 17th-century Spanish explorers

None of the photographs on this post are the product of PhotoShop manipulation. So what’s the blue luminescence you see around these swimmers and kayakers? That’s the result of the natural properties of Puerto Rico’s Laguna Grande.

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The Guatemala Bat Cave

To make the final leg of the journey to Guatemala’s Lanquín Caves (Grutas de Lanquin) intrepid travelers have two options: The first is to walk the path along the banks of the Lanquín River. The second is to take float down the river on an inner tube to—and then into—the caves. Regardless of the mode of transport, if you arrive at the caves around dusk and you’ll witness an extraordinary event!

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New Zealand’s Best Hot Springs
& Geothermal Sites

Waiotapu is Maori for "Sacred waters" but we think this place should have been named for whatever the Maori translation is for "Incredibly photogenic place."

If you’ve seen the Lord Of The Rings movies you’ve seen a glimpse what a beautiful country New Zealand is, with its awesome fjords, its stunning coast line, its dense forests and its Mountains of Mordor. What you didn’t see is that, after those long horse rides and rough battles, the citizens of Middle Earth are able to spend time touring geothermal sites and relaxing in hot springs. Here are our four favorite:

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Cool Caribbean: Dominica

Many people, even those well-traveled, have never heard of the rugged, tropical nation of Dominica. Tourism does not dominate here in the way it does many other small Caribbean islands where development often crowds out ecological concerns. Much of Dominica is green, wild and untouched. No wonder Dominica was chosen as the filming location for the “remote feeling” outdoor scenes of Pirates Of the Caribbean.

If you are looking for a Caribbean destination with magnificent diving, fantastic hiking and lush jungles, you should choose Dominica too. The natural beauty of this place makes it one of Spot Cool Stuff’s favorite island nations. Spend some time here and you’ll come away wondering why more people haven’t heard of this paradise.

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