Weird holiday destinations for out-of-this-world breaks

Fifteen out-of-this-world travel destinations


Go completely off-the-beaten-track on your next holiday and visit one of the world's most mysterious destinations.

From the eerie moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in America to China's fiery Red Beach, you won't believe these places are found on planet Earth...

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Weird holiday destinations for out-of-this-world breaks

These weird yet wonderful rocks on the West Coast of New Zealand began forming 30 million years ago and today appear like huge stacks of pancakes after thousands of years of earthquake activity and the rain and wind erosion. The Pancake Rocks and Blowholes are especially spectacular at high tide when the ocean swells rush through the vertical shafts creating impressive hissing and heaving sounds, and geyser-like plumes of salt water are emitted.

The Plain of Jars is a site of 300 stone vessels that sit on a hill overlooking Phonsavanh town in Laos. The jars are believed to be over 2,000 years old and their purpose still remains a mystery. Some people believe they were great funeral urns, while others believe they were used to make lao-lao, the potent rice wine of Laos. Their archaeological study became more difficult following the American war in Indochina, when the area was heavily bombed and saw many of the jars broken and blasted from their original locations.

Located above the north-western side of one of the world's driest places, Death Valley in California, Racetrack Playa is one of the world's most mysterious places. The site is home to sailing stones - big and small rocks that glide across the mirror-flat landscape, leaving behind a tangle of trails. They have never been seen or filmed in motion, although they are said to be moved by strong winter winds that reach 90mph. The tracks left by the rocks are clearly visible and some suddenly change directions and move at almost perfect right angles, adding to the mystique of Death Valley.

The Giant's Causeway has inspired artists and captured the imaginations of all who see it for centuries. This unusual site, famed for its polygonal columns of layered basalt, resulted from a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. Three periods of volcanic activity gave rise to the Lower, Middle and Upper Basalts, and the Middle Basalt rock which forms the famous amphitheatres of hexagonal columns. According to legend, the causeway is the remains of a bridge that Irish giant Finn McCool built linking Ireland to Scotland.

The Hells of Beppu is a series of stunning hot springs that are mainly for viewing, rather than bathing. Located on the island of Kyushu, Japan, the multi-coloured pits of boiling water and mud are popular in Japan, but little-known outside the country. Seven of the strange geothermal springs are named Sea Hell, Shaven Monk's Head Hell, Mountain Hell, Boiling Hell, Demon Mountain Hell and White Pond Hell, and there are two more springs, Blood Pond Hell and Geyser Hell, about two kilometres away.

We love the name of the incredible hills of Bohol, which are covered in green grass and turn chocolate brown during the dry season. There are said to be at least 1,260 Chocolate Hills, which many say look like mole hills or women's breasts. The hills are between 30 and 50 metres high and legend says they were made by two giants who threw stones and sand at each other and fought for days. When they were finally exhausted, they became friends and left the island, leaving behind the mess they made!

This may look like ice but what you see is in fact the hot springs of Pamukkale in Turkey. The terraces, pools and stalactites of the city were created by the warm mineral water, which cools as it cascades over the cliff edge. You won't find anything else like this strange landscape in Turkey, which is a popular spot for visitors seeking a unique place to bathe and relax. Pamukkale means "Cotton Castle", which just adds more magic to the fairytale site.

The Moeraki Boulders are alien-like boulders mainly located on Koekohe Beach on New Zealand's South Island. The ancient rock formations are believed to date back more than 60 million years and some weigh several tonnes. They were originally formed on the sea floor in the same way that a pearl forms around a particle of sand. Mauri legend says the boulders are remains of eel baskets, while locals call them "giants' gobstoppers".

Shaped like a tall breaking ocean wave, incredible rock formation Wave Rock in Western Australia is the result of hundreds of millions of years of erosion. The stripes are caused by leaking minerals in the rock and the "wave" stands 14 metres high and 110 metres long. Over 2,700 million years in the making, today it is popular with visitors posing on the rock face and surfing the giant wave.

The world's deepest known blue hole is Dean's Blue Hole on Long Island in the Bahamas. The blue hole is 663 feet deep and at about 75 feet deep it begins to widen to about 240 feet. Dean's Blue Hole happens to be gorgeous too, with waterfalls of sand that cascade dramatically down the sides. The blue hole is popular with divers and snorkelers, and children and non-swimmers are advised to stay well away as the drop-off from the sandy beach into Dean's is sudden.

Rotorua is home to the world's most lively fields of geothermal activity. The city and surrounding areas have a bizarre range of weird ecosystems - volcanoes, hot springs, mud pools, geysers, forests and lakes. South of the city lies Wai-O-Tapu, a thermal wonderland, where you'll pass bubbling mud, sulphur waterfalls, neon orange lakes and steaming vents.

Rio Tinto, or Red River as it translates, is a river in Andalucía famed for its coloured water. The unusual river is one of the places on Earth that most closely resembles the surface of Mars. The site along the river is full of copper, silver, gold, iron and has been heavily mined since ancient times. The river's water is dense due to the metals it carries and it has low oxygen content.

The highest table mountain on the triple border of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana is Mount Roraima, which stands 2,800 metres tall. The strangest thing about the mountain is the shape, with its swerving edge of 400-metre high cliffs on all sides. It rains almost every day at Mount Roraima and the top appears black due to added moss and fungi over millions of years. The only way to climb to the top is from the Gran Sabana side in Venezuela.

It may look like a scene from a sci-fi movie, but this giant hole of fire in the middle of the Karakum Desert was made by geologists in 1971 who were drilling at the site and tapped into a cavern filled with natural gas. 40 years later, the hole with a diameter of 70 metres is still burning and is known to locals as 'The Door to Hell'. Its golden glow can be seen for miles and attracts curious travellers from all around.

China's Red Beach is aptly named after its appearance, caused by a type of sea weed that flourishes in the saline-alkali soil. The weed at the beach in the Liaohe River Delta is green during the summer but turns flaming red in the autumn creating an infinite red carpet that is mostly a nature reserve and closed to the public, apart from a small section open to tourists.

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