And with a world full of vast and varied sights, it can make deciding where to go a little bit harder. The travel experts at Windy City Travel know all about the unique things this world has to offer, from one-of-a-kind experiences to natural phenomenon you can only find in a few places on Earth.
Whether you have your sights set on seeing the majestic Northern Lights or the giant crystal caves of Mexico, our agents at Windy City Travel can plan the trip of your (and Instagram’s) dreams. Here’s a peek at some of the exotic experiences we can arrange for you.
It might sound childish, but a beach lit up like an enchanted fairytale really is a sight to behold. The water itself doesn’t actually glow, rather it’s the microscopic sea creatures living in the water. These bioluminescent beings emit a soft, twinkling light that attracts mates, confuses predators, and communicates with each other.
There are a handful of places in the world where lucky visitors can witness such a phenomenon, both in the United States and abroad. The only place that has year-round bioluminescent sightings is Mosquito Bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico. It has been recognized as the brightest bio bay by Guinness World Records. The natural reserve is a bit remote, which makes it all the better to see the glowing marine plankton known as dinoflagellates. Swimming in Mosquito Bay isn’t allowed, but kayak tours are offered nightly. To get the best view, it’s best to go on nights just after the full moon. It will be darker, which enhances the glowing effect.
Honorable mentions: The Maldives and Koh Rong, Cambodia—the bioluminescent season doesn’t last all year round, but visitors are allowed to swim in the glowing waters.
White sand has always been the gold standard when it comes to beaches. But white isn’t the only color to seek out. Hawaii, for example, is home to unique black and (slightly) green sand beaches. But for a truly Instagram-worthy beach pic, head to Pink Sands Beach in The Bahamas. The 3-mile stretch on Harbour Island is popular for more than just its rosy hue. The ocean waters there are calm and crystal clear, and its location on a smaller island makes it a bit more secluded than other spots in The Bahamas.
Just like the bioluminescent waters in Puerto Rico, the sand at this Bahamian beach isn’t actually pink. The blush tint comes from the shells of foraminifera, a microscopic plankton that lives on the sand.
Honorable mentions: Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda and Elafonisi Beach, Crete, Greece
Seeing penguins in the wild is a dream of many children and adults alike. But penguins are heavily concentrated near the South Pole, which means most of the tuxedo-ed birds call Antarctica home. Travelers looking to stay a little closer to home can visit the Galapagos Islands to see the only penguin species that lives in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Galapagos penguin is endangered, but eco-tourism efforts in the area have led to an increase in the population recently. Visitors who want to see the penguins should plan to visit Fernandina Island and the west coast of Isabela Island, but the penguins also live on several other islands, including Santiago, Bartolome, Santa Cruz, and Floreana.
Honorable mention: Penguin Parade on Phillip Island, Australia—the nightly event is one of Australia’s biggest tourist attractions.
To start planning your next trip to see one of these natural phenomenon or any other place on Earth, get in touch with one of our experienced agents at Windy City Travel. We’ll make booking travel simple, and our know-how ensures an incredible value on everything from flights and lodging to unforgettable experiences.