21 Surreal Landscapes Even More Beautiful Than They Are Weird

Published June 29, 2016
Updated November 8, 2023

If you’ve spent any time amid suburban sprawl, you might be inclined to think that the world is a pretty dull place. But once you step beyond the strip mall — say, to one of these destinations — you’ll soon realize that Earth holds a plethora of beautiful landscapes that seem to belong to a world other than our own:

Caño Cristales, Colombia

Surreal Landscapes Cristales
A rare aquatic plant called Macarenia clavier causes this river to turn virtually every shade of the rainbow depending on the season.Wikimedia Commons

Deadvlei, Namibia

Surreal Landscapes Namibia
While it may look more like a surrealist painting than a landscape, this alien-looking orange "sky" is actually 1000-feet-high sand dunes looming in the distance. These trees are estimated to have died 600-700 years ago, yet remain because there is not enough moisture present for them to decompose.Vernon Swanepoel/Flickr

Serranía de Hornocal, Argentina

Quebrada De Umahuaca
The eroded minerals at this UNESCO World Heritage Site create mountain patterns that are both jagged and colorful.Wikimedia Commons

Marble Caves, Chile

Marble Cave
Over the years waves formed the smoothed contours of Chile’s Marble Caves. Meanwhile, the ocean's reflection paints the walls a surreal blue.Javier Vieras/Flickr

Coyote Buttes, Arizona

Aptly known as The Wave, this astounding sandstone formation -- as wide as 62 feet and as long as 118 feet -- consists of Jurassic age rock that has been slowly eroded over the millennia. Wikimedia Commons

Giant's Causeway, Ireland

One of the most unique coastline formations on Earth, Giant’s Causeway offers stones like honeycombs that create a stunning path along the ocean.Wikimedia Commons

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

Cave Glow
New Zealand’s famous glowworms spatter the cave ceiling like stars in the night sky.Donnie Ray Jones/Flickr

Dallol, Ethiopia

While the hot springs of this Ethiopian volcanic vent might be stunning to the eye—painted vividly in shades of yellow and green—it achieves its distinct coloration via a deadly concoction of chloride and iron hydroxide. Achilli Family | Journeys/Flickr

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China

Zhangjiajie’s otherworldly mountains rise from the forest floor, resembling great stone pillars.Wikimedia Commons

Fly Geyser, Nevada

Fly Geyser
While it may appear like some sort of alien structure, this surreal landscape formed on Earth after a manmade well brought scalding geothermal water to the earth’s surface.Wikimedia Commons

The Great Blue Hole, Belize

Ocean Hole
This surreal work of nature is actually an enormous underwater sinkhole that plunges down 400 feet into the ocean, creating a perfect midnight-blue ring.Eric Pheterson/Flickr

Cave of the Crystals, Mexico

Huge Crystal
Broad and overwhelmingly large bridges of gypsum crystals span this old silver mine.Wikimedia Commons

Red Beach, China

Red Beach
Come autumn, the abundant seepweed that grows along Red Beach’s shores turns a stunning shade of crimson upon maturing. Wikimedia Commons

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar Flat
After a bit of rain coats the ground, Salar de Uyuni—the world’s largest salt flat—leaves visitors standing in a seemingly endless expanse of sky. Wikimedia Commons

Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park, Madagascar

Tsingy Bemaraha
Tsingy Bemaraha presents another case of unbelievable erosion. Only this time, it's happened both vertically and horizontally in a way that turns the area's limestone plateaus into veritable forests of stone.Wikimedia Commons

Pamukkale, Turkey

Rippling formations of pure white calcium hold natural pools of warm, mineral water in a terraced pattern more picturesque than perhaps anywhere else on Earth.Wikimedia Commons

Socotra, Yemen

This island in the Indian Ocean is home to an array of remarkable geologic and botanical features, typified by the dragon's blood tree (above), named for its distinctive red sap.Rod Waddington/Flickr

Socotra, Yemen (continued)

Yemen Trees
Standing alongside the dragon's blood trees are Socotra's positively prehistoric looking bottle trees. The nearby island of Samhah may be the only other place on Earth where this tree exists.Wikimedia Commons

Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming

The Grand Prismatic Spring isn’t just the largest hot spring in Yellowstone National Park—it’s the largest in the United States.Wikimedia Commons

The Richat Structure, Mauritania

Sometimes known as The Eye of the Sahara, this 25-mile wide eroded dome is so perfectly circular that scientists long thought it was created by a massive asteroid impact.Wikimedia Commons

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon
Over tens of millions of years, erosion formed the distinctive (and distinctively named) hoodoos of Bryce Canyon's amphitheater.Wikimedia Commons

Next, check out the world's weirdest natural places. Then, have a look at this planet's most mind-blowing natural phenomena. Finally, check out six of the most beautiful beaches on Earth and Nevada's bizarelly beautiful Fly Geyser.

John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
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Kuroski, John. "21 Surreal Landscapes Even More Beautiful Than They Are Weird." AllThatsInteresting.com, June 29, 2016, https://allthatsinteresting.com/surreal-landscapes-photos. Accessed June 14, 2024.