Landscapes in North America
Most will rank Kailua and Lanikai as the best beaches on this side of O'ahu, but Waimanalo Beach is another great candidate. It has the same turquoise waters and soft white sand, but it's also has shady towering trees and is beautifully set on backdrop of steep mountains. It's located right next to Kalaniana'ole Hwy, so it's even easy to reach. However, the beach park is also an unofficial tent camp for homeless people.
Spectacular Waimea Canyon is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and for good reason. About 16 km long with green crags, tumbling waterfalls, and deep valley gorges. The twisting drive from Waimea town to Kokee State Park follows the entire length of the canyon, and is the best road trip on Kaua'i. It's littered with lookouts, one more breathtaking than the other. The most established ones have proper parking facilities, while others just have space for a few cars in the curb. Waimea Canyon also offers plenty of hiking opportunities ranging from short walks to further viewpoints, to strenuous hikes deep into the valley.
Waipi'o Valley is enclosed by steep cliffs and fringed by a black sand beach. It was once densely populated and home for the kings of Hawai'i, but today you only find a few houses, taro fields and waterfalls - including Hi'ilawe Falls, the tallest in Hawai'i with a drop of more than 400 m. The sweeping views from the lookout is amazing, but it gets even better if you follow the crazy road down. Keep in mind that the road is one of the steepest in Hawaii with a grade of up to 40%, so walk or go with a 4x4.
Located in a rough and wild part of Oaxaca state, down a make-shift road with 'checkpoints' by local villagers, is a very unique geological feature. Hierve el Agua (water boils) is a set of natural (and bizarre) stone and water features. Bubbling up from the earth, heavily mineralize water has flowed over the terrain for centuries. As the water cascades over the cliff face, little by little, year after year, traces of the minerals have hardened. As a result, a 'stone waterfall' traverses down the hillside. But perhaps even cooler are the natural spring water pools which literally hang on the edge. The views are awesome, the features are cool and the water is therapeutic.
© Demelza Howard
Ever wanted to fry some eggs on the bare ground? Then Death Valley is the place for you! The second hottest place on earth with summer temperatures up to 56.7 C (134 F), and ground temperatures rising up to 94 C (201 F), Death Valley is also the lowest point in North America 86 m (282 ft.) below sea level. Here you will find a diverse landscape of beautiful sand dunes, salt flats, natural marble canyons, mountains and remnants of ancient salt water lakes with unlimited back country hiking and camping. There are also ghost towns to explore, and disused mineral mines that barely lasted a year or two due to the harsh climates (and yet Native American tribes have been living here for 10,000 years). You really need your own vehicle here, and preferably a 4WD if you want to go back country as there is no public transport. There are a few tiny tourist towns with amenities, and a few designated trails, but you are free to go wherever you like here.
Denali National Park is mainly a summer attraction. During winter, the park is closed for the biggest part but this means also that there wonâ€™t be thousands of people visiting at the same time as you. At the visitor centre you can borrow snow shoes and ski poles for free and you can go snow shoe hiking. A great hike is to the top of Mount Healy from where you get beautiful views of the park and its mountains. If you are lucky, you can see moose either along the trail or along the access roads to the park.
The tourist facilities right by the park are closed in winter but in the nearby town of Healy there are several places to stay and restaurants which are also open in winter.
This mountain is one of the seven summits, the highest mountains of each continent. With an altitude of 6,194 m (20,320 ft), it is one of the most difficult ones to climb because of its altitude gain (for Mt. Everest, the base of the mountain is much higher) and the cold weather. There is some dispute about its name, officially called Mount McKinley, but locally known as Mount Denali. This disagreement is purely political. You don't have to climb this mountain to enjoy it. If the weather is clear you can see this mountain from Anchorage and it stays pretty much all the time in sight when you travel up North on Highway 3.