The popularity of shows such as The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, and Fringe reveal our fascination with that which can't be explained logically. Series like these contemplate alien visitors, time travel, and parallel universes as a way to shed light on and more deeply explore human nature. Interestingly enough, you don't need to watch a science-fiction show to get your fill of strange, extraordinary occurrences. The natural world is full of mysterious phenomena that have long captured our imaginations and inspired fantastical tales; twinkling forests, shimmering night skies, and glowing seas are all very real natural wonders that scientists are finally able to explain.
I Want to Believe...
If you're in the mood for a different kind of vacation, check out our list of the world's best otherworldly travel destinations. These surreal experiences are sure to leave you with a sense of wonder for the natural world and will show you that, sometimes, fact really is stranger than fiction.
Hobart, Australia. If you want to head to the beach in Hobart, Australia, on the southern tip of the state of Tasmania, make sure you go at night. You might see the waters come alive with an eerie blue glow. The underwater light is produced by blooms of large, single-cell, bioluminescent organisms called dinoflagellates. Bioluminescence occurs when a living organism produces and emits light, usually through controlled chemical reactions. To catch the show, rent a car in Launceston and take in the breathtaking, rugged scenery as you drive down to the coast.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee. Great Smoky Mountain National Park is not only the most visited national park in the United States, it is also home to the largest firefly population in the Western Hemisphere. What is so fascinating about fireflies is that they produce a "cold" light, which means nearly 100% of their energy given off as light. In contrast, the energy produced by a man-made incandescent light bulb is only 10% light and 90% heat, incredibly wasteful when compared to the energy-efficient beetles. Leave your flashlight behind and head to the forest during the two hours after dusk to catch the magical, harmonious light display as the tiny males synchronize their flashes across great distances.
Abisko, Sweden. This town of only 85 inhabitants in Sweden's far north might be the best place on earth to catch one of the most awe-inspiring shows on earth: the aurora borealis. The dancing, glowing waves of green that paint the night sky in winter are caused by cosmic rays, solar wind and energetically charged particles interacting with the upper atmosphere and subsequently emitting light. Abisko has almost no light pollution to dim the northern lights, and the enormous Tornetrńsk Lake creates the surreal "blue hole of Abisko," a patch of sky that remains clear no matter the surrounding weather patterns. Get a Lulea rental car and head north--even farther north--and rethink your definition of "nightlight."
Waikato, New Zealand. When you step inside the Caves of Waitomo in Waikato, New Zealand, the long, thin, glowing stalactites that greet you will surely take your breath away. What is truly fascinating, however, is that they aren't stalactites at all, but rather dangling strands of mucus produced by thousands of glowworms. The clever little worms use the lights to attract insects into the sticky strings, which they then real in and eat. The Waitomo glowworms have developed an evolutionary trait that has not only allowed them survive in the dark caves, but has also created one of the most haunting sites you'll ever see. Rent a car in Hamilton to easily reach the caves.
Hachijo-jima Island, Japan. There is nothing like stepping into the forests of Hachijo-jime Island in Japan. This volcanic island off Japan's eastern coast is crisscrossed with hiking trails, and if you take to the trails at night, you're in for a special treat. Seven different kind of bioluminescent fungi light the trail with a dreamlike green glow. Pinch yourself, however, and you'll find that you're not dreaming. An enzyme in the mushrooms known as luciferase emits energy in the form of light when it comes into contact with oxygen and lights up the forest floor.
Get Carried Away with Auto Europe!
The best otherworldly travel destinations prove that you don't have to travel to a parallel universe or get abducted by aliens to have an unearthly vacation experience. Here at Auto Europe, we want you to have the trip of a lifetime, so give us a call at 1-888-223-5555 to book a rental car today. Our award-winning customer service agents are so good that you might think we designed them in a clandestine, Twilight Zone-type lab, but we swear they're answering the phones from our Portland, ME, office. Amazing customer service is just one more out-of-this-world perk you get when you book with Auto Europe!