Landscapes in North America
Set on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, this smallish (in Canadian terms) national park boasts a beautiful coastal landscape of headlands, coves, islands and mountains. It's home to many seabirds and large populations of harbor seals and gray seals. There are plenty of both hiking and bicycle trails in summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails in winter. Le Grand Tour (8.7 km, 3 hours) hiking trail is really diverse and will take you along the rugged coastline, past beaches, on steep and narrow cliff tracks and through forest. Accommodation within the park range from camp sites and rustic shelters to yurts and cabins.
Niagara Falls in Ontario are Canada’s largest waterfall by volume and Della Falls (440 m) in British Columbia are the highest. So Montmorency Falls (84 m) must settle with the title as Québec's highest waterfall (sheer drop). It's located a short drive from Québec City and the base is right next to the highway. There are bridges, boardwalks, viewing platforms, and plenty of stairs, all for free. The only things that cost are the cable car and zipline. The public bus runs straight to the top of falls, making it both a spectacular and cheap sight.
If running off a list of 'beach holiday destinations', Canada would probably be near the bottom of the list. But with more coastline than any other country on Earth, it would be logical that Canada has some darn fine beaches. And they don't come much finer than those in Pacific Rim National Park on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. The village of Tofino was once, not long ago, a tiny rain-soaked fishing village at the end of the Trans-Canada Highway. But these days, the ultra-cool surfer hippie scene has taken over. The waves, along the seemingly endless stream of pristine beaches, are finally attracting world wide attention. Although the summer is the busiest season, a visit during the wintery rainy season can be cool too. And storm watchers are rewarded with some of the wildest weather conditions.
The Greenlandic Ice Sheet is that big chunk of ice that covers the interior of Greenland. Roughly 80% of Greenland's surface is covered by this one-piece of ice sheet (also called ice cap), making Greenland very white. At its thickest, it is more than 3 km deep and it stretches about 2400 km north to south - sizes that are too hard to comprehend for the human mind. A visit to the edge of the ice sheet will put a bit of perspective to it. You can easily look across some of the glaciers that run off the ice sheet, not knowing whether a finger of ice is 150 m or 150 km wide, since the air is so clean and everything is just rocks and ice with no point of reference.
Spectacular Akaka Falls drops impressive 135 meters down. For breathtaking unobstructive views follow the paved trail from the parking lot to the viewing deck. The trail is a loop of about 0.6 km and pass through lush rainforest with tall trees and giant bamboos. There is also a lookout for another and almost as tall waterfall, Kahuna Falls (100 m), but unfortunately it's partly hidden by vegetation.
The northern shore of O'ahu Island is famous for its world class surfing, particularly during winter, where the waves can reach mammoth proportions. Banzai Pipeline off Ehukai Beach is especially legendary for its perfect barrels, which offers some of the best tube riding in the world. Unfortunately, the monster waves break in shallow water just above a sharp coral reef, which have caused serious injuries and death to many pro surfers (and surf photographers) over the years, making Banzai Pipeline one of the most deadliest waves in the world.
The setting of Green Sand Beach is more spectacular than the greenish colour of the sand. Located at the bottom of an aqua blue horseshoe-shaped bay at the foot of steep cliffs, the first look of this secluded beach will for sure take your breath away. To reach the beach from the parking lot you have to hike for about 5 km along the wild barren coastline on a beaten track. Locals have set up a thriving business by driving peple back and forth in their beat up 4x4s.
The east coast of O'ahu is also gorgeous. Here the sheer cliffs breaks off into the turquoise ocean. The shore is littered with tide pools and blow holes, some easier to see than others. From the lookout you can Halona Blowhole, where sea water is pushed through a lava tunnel and sprayed high into the air.
It's easy to understand Hapuna Beach's reputation as one of the finest in Hawaii. A gorgeous sliver of white sand enclosed by black lava rocks. However, when the waves are big (in winter), the shore break can get rough and flood the entire beach. Luckily, you can always retrieve to the grassy patches on higher ground at the beach park. Here you also find showers, toilets, and shady pavilions along with a big parking lot (a hint of its popularity).
The Volcanoes National Park on Big Island used to be world famous for its flows of red glowing molten lava. However, the eruption in 2018 put an end to that. Today the national park is all about crater lookouts and hiking over old lava flows. To see where the lava once flow, head to the end of Chain of Craters Road. Since the landscape is constantly changing, start your visit at the well organized visitor center, which has the latest information about what is open or not. The national park is Hawaii's only UNESCO World Heritage site.