#3. Izvorul Bigar, the Weeping Waterfall of Romania
Adam Rifkin via Flickr
Romania's Izvorul Bigar isn't a particularly tall waterfall (it's a mere 26 feet high), doesn't have cascading sheets of water so much as continuous drizzles, and is encased in a thick layer of flow-disrupting moss. Yet pretty much everyone who has seen it considers it to be the most beautiful waterfall in the entire world, because it looks like a giant green rock floating on space magic.
The locals call it the "miracle from the Minis Gorge," because unlike most waterfalls, which get their titular resource from a free-flowing river or lake, the water pouring down Izvorul Bigar seems to be flowing from a hole in the universe. There are no connecting sources of water whatsoever. It's as if the waterfall itself is some giant, sweaty rock monster.
Sabin Uivarosan via Huffington Post
Yeah, you have rock monster ball sweat set as your desktop.
The actual source of Izvorul Bigar's water is a subterranean spring bubbling up intermittently through several small holes along the ground, as if the gorge finally got sick of having its radishes stolen and decided to drown Fraggle Rock with a busted water main.
Coretchi via Huffington Post
Those are the tears of horrible victory.
Izvorul Bigar's bodysuit of thick moss slows the water's movement to a crawl, and the result is a steady, constant shower that in many ways is more beautiful and impressive than the thundering torrents of Niagara Falls. Until you look at it from the side; then it looks like the dank underdwelling of a Stephen King monster.
There's definitely some kind of clown spider under there chewing on a Velcro sneaker.
#2. The Split Apple Rock of New Zealand
Michal Vitasek via New Zealand Photo
The Split Apple Rock, located on South Island in New Zealand, is an extremely popular tourist attraction where visitors from around the globe gather to take the same goddamned picture year after year.
"Dammit, I really need to be more careful about where I do my squat thrusts."
Known as Toko Ngawha by the locals (which means "burst-open rock," because sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade), the rock is an honest-to-God anomaly with no universally agreed upon explanation. Nobody knows for sure how it was split, except for maybe Poseidon, and you can't get a straight answer out of that guy.
According to local legend, two Maori gods were fighting over possession of a giant boulder, because big rocks are apparently the currency of divinity. They eventually realized that neither one of them was going to back down, so they decided to settle their dispute by splitting the rock in half. Once that was done, they apparently decided they didn't want the rock anymore, because they just left both halves in the middle of the damn ocean.
Rosino via Inspire Fusion
"Well, I mean, it's broken now. What the hell am I supposed to do with a broken boulder?"
Of course, if you're one of those nerds who prefer a boring, science-y explanation, there is an alternate theory -- frost wedging, which is a common geological phenomenon in cold places (and South Island can admittedly get pretty damn cold). Water will infiltrate a crack in a rock, and once the temperature gets low enough, the water freezes, turning to ice and expanding the crack. As this process is repeated countless times over thousands of years, it could eventually carve a titanic geological sea gonad like Split Apple Rock completely in half. Either that, or a giant Rune Ax was flung down from Valhalla like a shard of Ragnarok and cleft that boulder in two before detonating into clouds of mythic dust, which is clearly the superior explanation.
Christopher Bryant via Inspire Fusion
#1. Ireland's Giant's Causeway: The Lost Levels of Q-Bert
The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland is a series of rocky, raised columns that looks like a level from a puzzle game. It is a pile of natural Tetris pieces that cannot possibly be real, and yet totally is. In addition to looking like the palace of Q-Bert's ancestors, the causeway also provided the cover of Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy, because apparently it struck the members of that band as something naked children would climb on.
Drugs make everything seem like a great idea.
The causeway was formed by hundreds of basaltic lava columns hardening into stone 65 million years ago during a volcanic eruption. Normally, this leaves behind a flat sheet of rock, but in the case of the Giant's Causeway, the basalt actually contracted as it cooled, essentially forming the world's largest pottery collection.
Uberraschungsbilder via Wikipedia
Think of how many spectral Patrick Swayze fingers it would take to sculpt this garden.
There's a similar structure 200 miles away in Scotland, called Fingal's Cave. As its name suggests, Fingal's Cave is somewhat more enclosed than the Giant's Causeway, but you can still play real-life Q-Bert in it if you feel like shattering your femur and drowning in a pool of shimmering beauty.
Totally worth it.
As is the case with most things in the world that make no immediate sense, ancient people explained the cave and causeway with a badass myth. An Irish giant named Fionn MacCumhaill waged war against his annoying neighbor, the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn built the causeway (which, according to the myth, originally stretched from Ireland to Scotland) so he could march across the ocean and punch Benandonner, but soon realized he was terrible at fighting and had his wife disguise him as a baby instead. Once Benandonner saw the enormous infant, he ran off in terror, coming to the understandable conclusion that a baby that huge must have a cataclysmically gigantic father. Benandonner then destroyed most of the causeway, leaving only the Giant's Causeway in Ireland and Fingal's Cave in Scotland to confuse the almighty shit out of generations of humans.
"But wait, why would a giant build a road of tiny blocks? It ... it doesn't make sense!"
Related Reading: If you're still on the prowl for some fabulous vacation destinations, why not try this hellish maelstrom in the ocean near Scotland? If you'd rather see something amazing that won't fucking kill you, check out the Bosnian Pyramid. It's incredible, the sort of things that are just hiding on our planet.