From the National Geographic book Destinations of a Lifetime
Christmas Island, Australia
Each rainy season Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean witnesses one of the world’s most spectacularly colorful migrations as a moving tide of millions of crimson red crabs make their yearly pilgrimage from the island’s central forests to breed at the ocean shore.
Lake Nakuru, Kenya
In the heart of the Kenyan Great Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru hosts one of the greatest bird spectacles on the planet as hundreds of thousands of greater and lesser pink flamingos flock, in blankets of pink, to the water’s edge to feed on the lake’s algae.
Mallory Square, Key West, Florida
Each night this buzzing Key West square fills with vendors, street performers, and acrobats. But the star of the show is the sky, transformed into blazing oranges, pearly pinks, and velvety purples as the sun drops into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Lubéron, France
Across the seasons the Lubéron Massif is alive with color—with almond blooms, red poppies, fall foliage, and more. July is no exception; it is when regimented rows of fragrant lavender bushes peak in vibrant purple across the picturesque Provence landscape. The fields of Sénanque Abbey near Gordes provide the quintessential display.
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
Directly under the “Aurora Oval,” Yellowknife is a northern lights hot spot where curtainlike waves of the aurora borealis twist and writhe across the vast skies of the Canadian wilderness in dazzling shades of green, yellow, purple, and red.
Erg Chebbi Dunes, Morocco
Constantly shifting in the North African winds, the golden dunes of the Moroccan Sahara take on a different hue every hour but are at their most spectacular at sunrise and sunset, when their curved shadows contrast with the sun-burnished sand.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic is the largest—and most colorful—hot spring in the United States. Its rainbow halo is the consequence of pigmented bacteria in the microbial mats that grow around its edge, its deep blue center the result of its depth and purity.
Caño Cristales, Colombia
Caño Cristales, the river of five colors, runs through Macarena National Park in central Colombia. On sunny days from July to November, the combination of the Macarenia clavigera plant, the chemistry of the rocks, and the sunlight turns this river into a liquid rainbow.
Hitsujiyama Park, Japan
Blooming close to the ground in glorious blankets of pink, white, and magenta, the shibazakura flowers of Hitsujiyama Park in Chichibu are truly sublime. Commonly known as moss pink, the 400,000 or so vivid blooms, arranged in bold patterns, are best in April and May.
Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland
This is one of the best places to experience Iceland’s magnificent crystal-blue ice caves. Their fantastical formations, in vibrant tones of cerulean, cobalt, and aquamarine, last only for the winter season, before melting in the warmth of spring.