From plane re-routing to destinations so remote that not even its nature sounds overwhelm it, these destinations have the peace & quiet we’re seeking.
On a planet with over seven billion human inhabitants, it can be challenging to find a quiet place to get away from it all. Those seeking solace have a lot to contend with—honking cars, planes flying overhead, forks clanking against teeth, toilets flushing, elevator music, and the list goes on and on. Even the forceful pressure of fingers in the ears isn’t enough to drown out all the noise. These notably quiet places on earth offer relief from the chorus of everyday life in a way even the most top-of-the-line noise-canceling earplugs cannot.
10 Haleakala Crater – Hawaii
The dormant Haleakalā Volcano makes up most of the Hawaiian island of Maui, a travel destination that draws hundreds of thousands of tourists annually. The peak of Haleakalā rises over 10,000 feet above sea level, its crater a bed of dried lava void of vegetation.
Sound moves slower at higher elevations, though there is little sound to be moved here. The otherworldly landscape has little to offer wildlife, so visitors will feel a sort of aloneness that’s at once peaceful and uncomfortable – like they are the only surviving creatures in an expanse of barren beauty.
It takes a brave soul to explore Antarctica, but those who do will be met with a quiet they never knew existed. The southernmost continent has remained mostly untouched by civilization. The ice-encased wilderness has a few settlements for the scientists who intermittently brave the cold in the name of research. Expedition vessels take eager tourists on multi-day adventures to explore the frozen wonderland, with plenty of opportunities to hike across the ice and find silent spots to appreciate a part of the world left to exist in its impressive natural state.
8 Hoh Rainforest – Olympic National Park, Washington
The Hoh Rainforest may be the most beautiful place in the world to find some peace and quiet. Thick moss blankets the trees and forest floor, providing an enchanting feel and working as a natural sound absorber. Dewdrops twinkle atop the leaves of ferns that look as though a fantasy author dreamed them up. Airlines have been rerouted to avoid passing overhead, saving Olympic National Park’s magical rainforest from unnecessary sound pollution.
7 Kelso Dunes – Mojave Desert, California
Much like Antarctica, the harsh climate of the Mojave Desert keeps visitors at bay, which means those who don’t mind a little heat are in for a treat. The collection of impressive rolling sandhills known as the Kelso Dunes makes it difficult for sound to travel long distances. With all the strength the legs can muster, hikers make their way to the tops of the dunes, some over 600 feet tall, and admire the silence of the desert.
6 Tak Be Ha Cenote – Tulum, Mexico
Those looking for quiet underground might be able to find it in Tulum if they make it to Cenote Tak Be Ha before the crowds arrive. It’s only natural for people to be drawn to the planet’s beauty, but with people comes noise, and one of the most beautiful things about Tak Be Ha is its silence.
Cenotes are natural wells formed by collapsed limestone bedrock, creating magical swimming holes filled with crystalline water and interesting rock formations. Neither light nor sound can penetrate the cave walls at Cenote Tak Be Ha, making it one of the quietest spots on the planet when one is lucky enough to experience it alone.
5 Landmannalaugar – Iceland
Like Hawaii, volcanoes are responsible for large portions of Iceland’s landscape. Landmannalaugar is a region located within the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, known for its stunning scenery and array of outdoor activities. Adventurers travel through an environment shaped by volcanic eruptions, the landscape a spectacular smear of unbelievable colors. The volcanic craters in the Highlands provide ample opportunity for quiet isolation, and natural geothermal hot springs only enhance the relaxation of utter solitude.
4 Kronotsky Nature Reserve – Russia
Only 3,000 tourists are permitted access to Kronostky Nature Reserve a year, so it’s unlikely travelers lucky enough to gain entry will be met with the sounds of other humans. The reserve is not without sound, but the noise is peaceful in its own right, echoing the power of nature with an occasional geyser eruption and the gentle whisper of a calming breeze.
3 Zabalo River Wilderness Quiet Park – Ecuador
The Amazon Rainforest is under constant, heartbreaking threat at the hands of humans thirsting for its land and resources. However, preservation is the goal at the Zabalo River Wilderness Quiet Park in Ecuador. Quiet Parks International named the park an oasis from noise pollution, with co-founder Gordon Hempton stating that “natural quiet has become an endangered species without people knowing it.” Eco-tourist opportunities exist for those who’d like to witness the serenity of the Amazon unhindered by the buzz of modern life.
2 Wadi Rum Protected Area – Jordan
In recent years, the Wadi Rum Protected Area has seen a rise in eco-tourism, the expanse of desert home to luxury camps focused on honoring the area’s natural beauty. The UNESCO world heritage site boasts an astonishing number of prehistoric carvings in multiple languages, incredibly red rock formations used as natural backdrops for movies set on Mars, and colorful sunsets that give way to star-studded night skies. The quiet comes from the sheer size of the reserve, and visitors will have no problem finding their personal slice of natural silence.
1 Orfield Laboratories – Minnesota
Though Microsoft’s Building 87 recently claimed the Guinness World Record for the quietest place on earth, it’s worth noting that Orfield Laboratory is home to one of the most popular anechoic chambers on the planet. Though it’s been said the longest anyone can stand to stay inside is 45 minutes, it seems this is more myth than fact. However, after a certain amount of time in the chamber, people can hear the sounds of bodily processes usually drowned out by other sounds, including the pumping of blood through the veins and gurgles of digestion.
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