There are certain places on this beautiful green planet that just don't look like they belong on Earth. Rather, they look like something that an artist may have dreamed up for a new movie set - or for a new sci-fi book.
Truth is often stranger than fiction, and when it comes to our amazing world, this is almost always the case. As dreamlike and surreal as these destinations are, they are real and yes, you can visit them.
Grand Prismatic Spring - Yellowstone Park, WY
No, someone didn't drop a bucket of paint on the ground - that's a real hot spring found in Wyoming. Not only is this the largest hot spring in the world, but it also happens to be the most colorful thanks to the pigmented bacteria and sediment inside the spring.
This spring is also very deep - deeper than a 10-story building at its lowest point. This massive, multicolored hotspring is too warm to bathe inside, but it's still breathtaking enough to attract visitors from all over the world.
Fun Fact: The Grand Prismatic Spring is the most photographed attraction in Yellowstone, not Old Faithful.
Antelope Canyon - Page, AZ
You might notice that this canyon looks like an alien planet, and you'd almost be right to think so. However, this "slot canyon" as it's called, is legitimately real and was created by erosion over millions of years.
Right now, this scenic region is known for being a favorite among tourists and for being very close to a Native American reservation. Going here will be a surefire way to learn tons about geography and Native American culture.
Monument Valley - Monument Valley, AZ
These rock formations may look a bit familiar - especially if you have a penchant for watching Western movies. That's because Monument Valley has been used in a ton of movies precisely because it looks so rustic, lonely, and ever-so-slightly surreal.
Much like Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley is tribal land. So, if you do go, be respectful and take this opportunity to learn about Native American culture.
Bonneville Salt Flats - Tooele County, UT
This is a contender for the title of the world's flattest land region, and that alone makes it look pretty spooky. There's no curve, no rock outcroppings, no hills...just flatness.
But, that's not the only surreal thing you'll notice here. When it rains, a thin sheet of water pools across the entire flat. This in turn makes this landform into a giant mirror that evaporates as time passes.
Cool? Yes. And it's also disorienting as hell.
Zhangye Danxia - Gansu, China
The Zhangye Danxia land formation is a series of mountain-y hills that look like they were painted by Grateful Dead fans. Thankfully, no paint was involved in the creation of this breathtaking monument.
According to scientists, Zhangye Danxia was created over the span of 24 million years - with layers of multicolored sandstone being deposited and eroded over that time.
The End Of The World - Banos, Ecuador
This location is a tall mountain outcropping overlooking an active volcano - but that's not what makes it surreal yet. No, what makes it surreal is the one lone tree that grows on the outskirts of the ledge, and the treehouse built on top of it.
Part of the treehouse structure is a rickety old swing where tourists who are brave enough can choose to swing right over the top. Should the branch break, they'll fall to their deaths thousands of feet below. There are no harnesses either, making this one of the most daredevil attractions in the world.
Mendenhall Ice Caves - Juneau, AK
The Mendenhall Ice Caves are literally located inside of a glacier, and whenever light hits the entrance of the cave, the entire interior begins to glow a bright blue. It's breathtakingly beautiful, and sadly, global warming will probably melt it away in time.
Your best bet is to go as soon as you can.
Hidden Beach - Marieta Islands, Mexico
Have you ever wanted to be in one of those fantasy adventure flicks that involve swimming in underground caverns filled with lush greenery? At Hidden Beach, you can!
This new attraction began after bombs were dropped in the area as target practice. One of the bombs tore open the cliffs, revealing a hidden beach underground. It stayed unnoticed until the 1970s, when some tourists just discovered it while hiking.
Now, it's a major attraction - and it's been discovered that the waters inside tend to stay warm, too.
Underwater River - Cenote Angelita, Mexico
This is already a trip! After all, it's kind of hard to figure out how a river can happen underwater. But, it is possible, as long as you have water makeup like the one found in Cenote Angelita.
What you're seeing is a river of saltwater, that's sitting underneath a larger pool of freshwater. There's a three-foot layer of naturally occurring hydrogen sulphide keeping the two apart. That layer
To get to this "river," you will need scuba gear. It's well worth it though, as the underwater river looks exactly like it does in the photos - and that makes it an incredible photo opp.
Hang Son Doong Cave - Quang Binh Province, Vietnam
The Hang Son Doong Cave is the largest cave cross-section in the entire world, and it's so massive that it would be large enough to house a whole city inside. Inside the cave is a rapidly flowing underground river that visitors can swim through, as well as sections where the cave ceiling collapsed.
In the "skylit" areas of the cave, you also can see plant life. It's like witnessing a world within a world. This area is relatively new, since Hang Son Doong Cave was only discovered in 2009.
Sea of Stars - Vaadhoo Island, Maldives
The Sea of Stars is a small beach area that has a very lively ecosystem chock-full of bioluminescent phytoplankton. When the water gets stirred up too quickly, the phytoplankton begin to glow a bright blue-white color. Thus, the name of the area.
Cave of Crystals - Naica, Mexico
Deep within the Naica mines is the Cave of Crystals - an area regularly voted to be one the most surreal places on Earth by travel magazines. This cave is filled with selenite crystals that are larger than an adult human being, and the cave itself was created over the course of 4 million years.
Naica's mines have been the subject of study because of how incredibly unusual the cave system is. In 2017, scientists discovered that there are ancient lifeforms that were found inside some of the crystals - many of which appear to date back 50,000 years.
Whitehaven Beach - Whitsunday Island, Australia
This beautiful beach is famous for its crystal-clear, emerald-hued oceans as well as its incredibly fluffy white beaches. When the tides go high, you get to see the white sands get mixed with beautiful blue water. The sand itself is so fine that it almost feels like walking on powder, too.
Cano Cristales River - Meta, Colombia
No, this photo isn't altered - that river really does look like it's been tie dyed. Often called one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, the Cano Cristales River gets its strange colors thanks to a mix of sediment, local vegetation, and bacteria that help bring out the rainbow in it.
Depending on where you go, you may end up bathing in blue, green, red, orange, or yellow water. Swimming has never been more colorful - or natural!
Valley of the Moon - Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, Brazil
This isn't the set of the next sci-fi film. This is a national park with some of the most unusual grey stone formations in the world. A favorite among rock climbers and photographers alike, this valley has one of the oldest rock formations in the world.
According to scientists, the stones in this valley could be as old as 1.8 billion years in age. Their smoothness is due to the elements sanding them over the course of those years. With that being said, they look surprisingly unnatural for being one of the world's most natural rock formations.
Lake Hillier - Goldfields-Esperance, Western Australia
This lake looks like it's had the Pink Panther dissolve into it, but that's not what happened. What happened was...
Well, actually, no one knows why this lake is pink.
Lake Hillier also defies the typical pink lake trope because it stays pink year round, and also stays pink if the water in it is bottled up. Go figure, right?
Tunnel of Love - Klevan, Ukraine
The Tunnel of Love isn't a cheesy amusement park ride in Ukraine. Rather, it's a very carefully crafted garden path that is totally covered by vines, trees, and plant life. During the spring, the leaves begin to grow and turn green.
By summer, the entire tunnel bursts into full bloom, with flowers at every corner. It's a favorite hotspot of Ukranian lovers, but it also has a functional aspect to it, too. The Tunnel of Love also happens to be a railway that delivers wood to a nearby business.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves - North Island, New Zealand
There's something incredibly fantastic about seeing bioluminescent animals in the dark. It almost reminds you of the world in Avatar, doesn't it? Well, we're willing to bet that the creators behind Avatar got some inspiration from the Waitomo Glowworm Caves.
This is the only home of a specific kind of glow worm, all of which have made home in what is called the Glowworm Grotto. These are the little critters that light up the cave ceilings - and even though they're creepy crawlies, they're really beautiful.
Devon Island - Canada
This Canadian island looks barren as can be; in fact, it looks a lot like Mars, doesn't it? One would hope so. After all, this was the location that was used to test out most of the Mars rovers that were sent to the red planet.
Right now, Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island in the world. Considering how alien it looks, it's easy to see why most people would have a hard time feeling at home here.
Socotra Island - Yemen
Socotra Island has been called the "most alien place on Earth" by multiple newsgroups because of its downright strange landscape. This remote island is home to a number of the world's most unique trees, flowers, and animals.
Its most unique, trademark plant would have to be the Socotra Dragon Tree - a stubby, oddly branched plant that just doesn't seem to be built quite right.