23 incredible travel destinations you probably didn’t know existed

During the rainy season, pools form in the dunes of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Maranhão, Brazil.

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During the rainy season, pools form in the dunes of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Maranhão, Brazil.
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Shutterstock/vitormarigo

The world is home to many incredible destinations that have yet to be overrun by tourists.

Inspired by a Quora thread about the best unknown travel destinations, we’ve found 23 lesser-known gems around the globe.

From a stunning, hidden beach to one of the only places in the world where you can swim between two continents, here’s your off-the-beaten-path bucket list.

Talia Avakian contributed reporting to an earlier version of this article.


Tucked away under the surface, the Marieta Islands’ “Hidden Beach” is a secret beach with crystal-clear waters that travelers can access either by swimming or kayaking through a long water tunnel.

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Facebook/Marieta Islands Hidden Beach

Click here to learn more about Hidden Beach »


Huacachina is a desert oasis located five hours south of Lima, Peru. The watering hole was once a popular getaway for the upper class escaping from nearby Ica, but now it has become a stop for backpackers who come here to enjoy activities like sand boarding and dune buggy rides.

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Shutterstock/sunsinger

Click here to learn more about Huacachina »


Those who visit Blagaj, a village in Bosnia and Herzegovina, are often in awe at the majestic sight of the Blagaj Tekke — a monastery built for the Dervish cults. Visitors are welcome to enjoy its wooden interiors or have a cold drink while overlooking the striking Buna river.

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Shutterstock/RossHelen

Click here to learn more about the Blagaj Tekke »


Australia’s Lake Hillier maintains its vibrant pink color year-round. The cause of the color remains a mystery, though some say it could be the result of its high salt content combined with the presence of a pink bacteria species.

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Shutterstock/vvvita

Click here to learn more about Lake Hillier »


The Silfra fissure, located within Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park, is one of the only places in the world where visitors can swim between two continents. Not only is it home to some of the world’s clearest waters, but in some instances, the spaces are so narrow that swimmers can actually touch the continental plates of both North America and Europe.

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Shutterstock/nudiblue

Click here to learn more about Silfra »


In the 1600s, Isola Bella was transformed from what was once a barren rock in the middle of Lake Maggiore, Italy, to a blossoming garden and palace. Besides the palace, the area is also known for its stunning baroque gardens.

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Flickr/Andy Hay

Click here to learn more about Isola Bella »


Malta’s Popeye Village was originally created as a film set for the 1980 film “Popeye” before being repurposed into a theme park. The set was created using tree trunks brought in from Holland and around 2,000 gallons of paint. Today, visitors can enjoy boat rides, a winery, and water trampolines.

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Flickr/Tobias Scheck

Click here to learn more about Popeye Village Malta »


The Dongchuan Red Land is located in the town of Xintian in China and is known for its striking red hue. The soil in the area contains oxidized iron and minerals that produce the color, and blooming plants throughout the year add to the colorful sight.

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Shutterstock/Dongchuan china

Click here to learn more about the Dongchuan Red Land »


The Door to Hell, located in Derweze, Turkmenistan, is a giant hole of fire that was created when geologists accidentally tapped into a cavern teeming with natural gas. They burned off the hole, hoping that the fire would use all of the fuel that leaked and inevitably burn out, but it has continued burning to this day.

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Flickr/Stefan Krasowski

Click here to learn more about the Door to Hell »


The island of Flores, located in the westernmost point of the Azores Archipelago off the coast of Portugal, gets its name from the bountiful wildflowers that surround the area. It also has natural hot springs and lagoons that make for a relaxing swim.

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Edoardo Moretto/Shutterstock

Click here to learn more about Flores »


Giola is a natural pool located within the Astris region of Greece. Visitors will need to walk a trail to reach it, but once they do, they can enjoy a water reservoir with stunningly clear waters.

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Shutterstock/SonicN

Click here to learn more about Giola »


Admire the stunning neo-Gothic architecture of Las Lajas Sanctuary, which crosses a gorge on the border between Colombia and Ecuador. Marvel at its landscape, set 150 feet above the river in between lush cliffs and waterfalls, before seeing its gorgeous interiors.

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Shutterstock/Rafal Cichawa

Click here to learn more about Las Lajas Sanctuary »


During its rainy season, the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Maranhão, Brazil, is an unforgettable sight. Thanks to the nearly 47 inches of rain it gets each year, pools form between its massive dunes, creating thousands of clear lagoons. The best time to visit is between July and September, when the pools are at their most full.

During the rainy season, pools form in the dunes of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Maranhão, Brazil.

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Shutterstock/vitormarigo

Click here to learn more about Lençóis Maranhenses National Park »


Guatemala’s Semuc Champey is a paradise for those in search of turquoise waters hidden amidst a lush landscape. Though the ride there can be bumpy, once you arrive, you’ll find a limestone bridge with a series of natural pools that provide cool waters ideal for swimming.

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Shutterstock/Javier Garcia

Click here to learn more about Semuc Champey »


Soak your feet in the hot springs of Rotorua, a New Zealand city known for its geysers, thermal springs, and bubbling mud pools. It’s nicknamed the “Sulphur City,” and visitors can also partake in water sports in the region’s many lakes.

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Shutterstock

Click here to learn more about Rotorua »


Setenil de las Bodegas grew out of a network of caves located in the cliffs above the Rio Trejo in Spain. Today, its white houses have been built within this network, and some even have rock roofs. The area is also home to bars, restaurants, and spectacular food.

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Shutterstock/Migel

Click here to learn more about Setenil de las Bodegas »


Journey to Namaqualand, an arid region that stretches over some 600 miles in Namibia and South Africa. Every spring, the barren area suddenly fills with orange and white daisies, creating one of the most surreal landscapes in the world.

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Shutterstock

Click here to learn more about Namaqualand »


Discovered in 1836 by a hunter, France’s Grotte de St Marcel d’Ardèche is home to almost 200,000 feet of known passageways. Here, travelers will find an underground network of water basins and breathtaking rock formations.

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Facebook/Grotte de Saint Marcel d’Ardèche

Click here to learn more about La Grotte de St Marcel d’Ardèche »


Rangiroa is a massive, ring-shaped atoll in French Polynesia that is known for oysters that produce black pearls. It also has some of the world’s best scuba diving, and visitors can see dolphins, manta rays, green sea turtles, and hammerhead sharks.

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Shutterstock/Pommeyrol Vincent

Click here to learn more about Rangiroa »


The small town of Castellucio di Norcia sits near Norcia in Umbria, Italy. The town is famous for its brilliant display of flowers that bloom from late May to early July.

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Flickr/La Valnerina ~ Umbria

Click here to learn more about Castellucio di Norcia »


A small fishing village located about 200 miles west of Fortaleza in Brazil, Jericoacoara is the kind of place where the streets are paved with sand and beaches stretch for miles in every direction. The sleepy beach town attracts kite-surfers and windsurfers from around the world.

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Flickr/Winniepix

Click here to learn more about Jericoacoara »


The Marble Caves, which are located on a peninsula bordering Lake General Carrera in Chile, are a breathtaking cave network where thousands of years of waves washing up against calcium carbonate have formed swirling marble patterns on cavern walls.

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Shutterstock/Wata51

Click here to learn more about the Marble Caves »


Pangong Tso is a lake that stretches over 60 miles from India to China, making it one of the largest lakes in Asia. With clear waters that reflect its mountainous surroundings beautifully, the lake is a striking sight for visitors to enjoy.

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Shutterstock/samgupta

Click here to learn more about Pangong Tso »