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The 10 most beautiful places in the world you didn't know existed

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 19/04/2016 Matt Meltzer, @mmeltrez, Thrillist

Methane bubbles trapped under frozen Abraham Lake. © Vicki Mar/Moment/Getty Images Methane bubbles trapped under frozen Abraham Lake.

Anyone who's watched more than two episodes of The Twilight Zone -- or read the angry comments when we named the most beautiful place in every state -- knows that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Undaunted, we proceeded to tell you about all the beautiful places you didn't know existed in California and New York and even in Nevada, because believe it or not, there actually is beauty there outside of a strip club.

But enough about America, there's a whole big world out there; and it's full of stunning scenery that you've probably never laid eyes on -- until now. Here are 10 of the most spectacular places on the planet.

1. Abraham Lake

Alberta, Canada

Ever wonder what happens when freezing water traps methane bubbles created by bacteria feeding off dead matter on the sea bottom? Welcome to Abraham Lake. Here, those bubbles of methane (undetectable in your standard, non-frozen lake) create pockets that resemble millions of orbs trapped in the ice. Just don't light up while you're snowmobiling; if the ice cracks and those bubbles burst, methane is highly flammable.

2. Cueva de los Cristales

Chihuahua, Mexico

Cueva de los Cristales - The cave of Crystals. © Alexander Van Driessche/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0 Cueva de los Cristales - The cave of Crystals. Don't feel bad for not knowing about this "Cave of Crystals" -- until 2000, nobody had heard of it. That year, two brothers mining for silver drilled here and accidentally uncovered an epic cavern filled with translucent, 30ft crystals, some of which are nearly half-a-million years old. If you can stomach a 20-minute van ride through a mine shaft, you'll be greeted by triple-digit temperatures and 90% humidity thanks to the magma field that flows a mile under your feet.

3. Dean's Blue Hole

Long Island, Bahamas

Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas. © Burnett & Palmer/Age Fotostock/Getty Images Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas. There are some spectacular beaches in the Caribbean. And some other-world crazy cenotes in Mexico. Dean's Blue Hole combines the two -- albeit underwater -- and is the largest blue hole in world. Although honestly, the white sand beach and limestone walls that surround the hole could make this list as well, they're equally as stunning. That said, descend past the initial 60ft bottleneck and Dean's Blue Hole opens into one of the largest underwater cenotes in the world, complete with turquoise water, seahorses, and tropical fish (it's a hotspot for tarpon and snapper). Clear visibility and no current make it a place as scenic below the surface as above.

4. Crystal Mill

Marble, CO

Crystal Mill, Colorado. © Brad McGinley/Flickr/Getty Images Crystal Mill, Colorado. OK, OK, so we couldn't resist throwing at least one US spot on the list. About an hour outside of Aspen, and an eight-hour hike from the nearest road, there's a ghost town at the base of the Rocky Mountains. And the lone remnant of that ghost town is this old mill. If you visit in the fall, the combination of golden leaves, blue sky, and white snowcapped peaks might be the most unexpectedly beautiful vista in the American West.

5. Iguazu Falls

Misiones Province, Argentina

Iguazu Falls, Argentina. © Philippe Widling/Design Pics/Perspectives/Getty Images Iguazu Falls, Argentina. Iguazu Falls aren't that obscure, but they're probably just another one on your mental list of big waterfalls to visit some day, up there with Niagara and Victoria. Which sells them WAY short. This isn't so much a waterfall but a venerable city of waterfalls -- 250 of them stretching nearly two miles -- that dumps 53,000 cubic feet of water PER SECOND. Throw in the fact that they're located in a gorgeous South American rainforest, and you've pretty much got one of the most impressive feats of nature on the planet.

6. Lençóis Maranhenses

Maranhao, Brazil

Lencois Maranhenses National Park, Sandy dunes and natural pools in Brazil, Maranhao. © Marco Simoni/AWL Images/Getty Images Lencois Maranhenses National Park, Sandy dunes and natural pools in Brazil, Maranhao. The name literally means "bedsheets of Maranhao," the state in Northeastern Brazil where these coastal dunes sway over 600 square miles of shoreline. The dunes are formed when the Parnaíba and Preguiças Rivers bring sand from the country's interior to the ocean, and then the ocean currents -- aided by northeasterly winds that blow inland -- send that sand back to the shore. Though the area might look like a desert, temporary lagoons spring up in between the dunes during rainy season and often double as exceptional fishing holes.

7. Cavernas de Marmol (Marble Cathedral)

Lake General Carrera, Chile

Marble Caverns in Chilean Patagonia. © Jorge Cabello/Flickr/Getty Images Marble Caverns in Chilean Patagonia. What happens when you take a Patagonian peninsula made completely of marble and surround it with a massive glacial lake? Weird, swirling marble caves that change color, that's what! These only-accessible-by-boat caves near the Chile-Argentina border reflect the color of the water that flows through them, shining turquoise in the spring and deep blue in the summer. The reflections also change the appearance of the patterns in the marble; meaning, if you visit the caves at different times of year you'll have a completely different experience. Then again, after the 1,000-mile drive from Santiago and lengthy boat ride, once might be enough.

8. Forest of Knives (Tsingy Forest)

Madagascar

Ankarana Reserve Tsingy rock formations, Madagascar. © David Parsons/E+/Getty Images Ankarana Reserve Tsingy rock formations, Madagascar. The name might sound like the setting for Halloween 12: Michael Does Madagascar but the surreal beauty of this limestone forest is anything but horror-inducing. Quite the opposite. Here, slabs of rock stab upward 200ft in the air, mixing with trees to create a literal forest made of leaves and jagged peaks. Climbing here is the main attraction but be warned, it can be dangerous: slip and you could find yourself with a Ginsu-like gash.

9. Seven-Colored Earth of Chamarel

Chamarel, Mauritius

Chamarel, Mauritius. © Becker & Bredel/Ullstein Bild/Getty Images Chamarel, Mauritius. One of the problems with rainbows, other than the fact that there's never a pot of gold at the end of them, is that as soon as you try to Instagram one... POOF!... it's gone. If only rainbows were made out of sand that could withstand thousands of years of rain and erosion. Well, guess what rainbow lovers, meet the Seven-Coloured Earth of Chamarel! These rainbow dunes in Mauritius are formed by sand of seven distinct colors -- red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple, and yellow. Even cooler: pick the sand up, put it in a bottle, mix it up -- eventually it'll resettle into the same seven distinct layers. Every time

10. Deadvlei

Hardap, Namibia

Deadvlei, Namibia. © Peter Van Der Byl/Gallo Images/Getty Images Deadvlei, Namibia. It's hard to believe when standing under an oppressive sun in the middle of 1,300ft-tall sand dunes that this valley was once a lush forest fed by the Tsauchab River. That, of course, was 900 years ago. Since then, the area has become so parched that the remaining trees didn't even have enough water to decompose, and now sit as charred relics. Add rusted sand and a deep-blue sky, and this is one of the most colorfully desolate places on the planet.


In pics: 20 of the most beautiful views in the world

STUNNING VISTAS: Sometimes, Mother Nature likes to show off. From surreal landscapes to places that take our breath away, the world is filled with abundant beauty. The best part is that once you get to the destination, be it a city hilltop or a deep desert canyon, the million-dollar view is all yours, almost always for free. Here are 20 standout sights that are sure to inspire wanderlust. 20 of the Most Beautiful Views in the World

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