If you’re an outdoors adventurer, rocks are usually objects you carefully walk over (for a half mile) to see Panalau Falls in Maui, or you scale them to get to the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. But did you know that some of the world’s most awe-inspiring rock formations are millions of years old with layers of history embedded inside? Seriously, these are natural landmarks you must see to believe. Hey, it might even be the perfect place for couples looking for outdoor excursion after their destination wedding or a prime spot for adventurous honeymoons. Not matter what the reason may be… Vacation wants you to plan a trip to see five of our favorite rock formations from Australia to the Philippines. Get ready to be impressed! Just make sure you pack a sturdy pair of shoes.
Twelve Apostles (Victoria, Australia)
Originally known as "The Sow and Piglets," these eroded limestone stacks have been blasted by high winds and sculpted by the stormy Southern Ocean for millions of years. Despite their name, there are seven apostles still standing, with the tallest measuring 164 feet. As the Shipwreck Coast’s most awe-inspiring site, their designated viewing platforms can get busy so arrive early to avoid the biggest crowds. Equally impressive during wild weather as well as sunny days, these stunning formations never fail to impress, and the exceptional local wildlife only adds to the appeal – look for seals, wallabies and nesting penguins.
The Wow Factor: Visit at sunrise or sunset to watch the Apostles change color from midnight blue to brilliant yellow, or vice versa.
These conical peaks and rock-hewn dwellings were formed by nature and finished by man. First, the region’s softest volcanic rock (tuff) was eroded by wind and water then, in the 4th century AD, people began carving out chambers, churches and settlements. After passing through the vineyards and lunar-like landscapes of the Anatolian Plains, prepare to be blown away by the breathtaking sight of Cappadocia’s honeycombed hills and ‘fairy chimneys.’ The fantastic range of things to see and do here range from exploring underground cities like Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, to hot-air ballooning at dawn and setting foot in the Byzantine churches at Göreme Open-Air Museum.
The Wow Factor: Experience 21st-century cave-life by sleeping overnight in one of Cappadocia's luxurious cavern hotels, furnished with Turkish antiques.
Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)
The 1,600-plus limestone stacks that pepper Ha Long Bay are the result of 500-million years of evolving, sinking and eroding mountains. To view the monoliths up close, join an organized boat trip, and allow at least two days to experience the outcrops at sunrise, sunset and under starry skies. Alternatively, soar over the bay in a seaplane – a new experience launched in 2014. While some islets have small resorts and facilities, most are uninhabited by humans but home to monkeys, squirrels, mink and antelopes. March to June offer the clearest views, while January and February’s fog and drizzle are best avoided.
The Wow Factor: Legend states that a pearl-spraying dragon descended from heaven and created these scattered islets.
Chocolate Hills (Bohol Province, Philippines)
The history: While some say that Bohol’s 1,260 or so hillocks are raised coral reefs, others believe they were formed by feuding giants, and some see them as the tears of a heartbroken lover. Rising 98 to 164 feet above fertile paddies, these perfect domes are draped in grass that turns chocolate-brown during the dry season from February to July. Near the town of Carmen, the elevated observation deck at the government-owned Chocolate Hills Complex gives sweeping views but the newer Sagbayan Peak tourist resort (around 15 miles northwest of Carmen) has an arguably better, and less-visited, viewpoint with 360-degree vistas over the peaks and shimmering Sulu Sea.
The Wow Factor: With their symmetrical shape and uniform appearance, it’s hard to believe that these aren’t man-made mounds.
Devils Tower National Monument (Wyoming)
Geologists agree that cooling magma condensed to form this monolith, but while most believe the lava welled up between sedimentary rock, others think we could be looking at an ancient volcano. Soaring above the prairies, this sacred site became the USA’s first national monument in 1906. To learn about its geology and cultural history, head to the Visitor Center, join a ranger-led walk, or visit during the Summer Cultural Program for speakers, performers and a full moon tour. With their corrugated appearance, you can examine its hexagonal columns in detail by following the paved path around the tower’s base.
The Wow Factor: Since free-climber Fritz Wiessner established the first summit pitch in 1937, climbers have flocked here to tackle some of the world’s toughest routes.
Inspired by this article and want to speak with a Vacation travel agent about how you can plan an unforgettable outdoors adventure? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts connect you with an adventure travel specialist to plan your next vacay.