1. Marble Caves, Chile
Carved into the Patagonian Andes, the Cuevas de Mármol are located on a peninsula of solid marble bordering Lake General Carrera, a remote glacial lake that spans the Chile-Argentina border. Formed by 6,000-plus years of waves washing up against calcium carbonate, the smooth, swirling blues of the cavern walls are a reflection of the lake's azure waters, which change in intensity and hue, depending on water levels and time of year. Located far from any road, the caves are accessible only by boat.
Panama City is fresh off hosting the Summit of the Americas where the Central American capital had a chance to show off its modern and colonial charm. Looking ahead to 2016, expect to see the Panama Canal expansion completed, allowing even larger ships to traverse the link between the seas. Throughout construction, travelers and admirers could marvel at the project at the new Expansion Observation Center in Colon.
3. Azores, Portugal
These nine small Portuguese islands in the middle of the ocean lie between Boston and Lisbon. A history of lucrative whaling has given way to whale watching for tourists, with humpbacks and sperm whales common sightings, especially from Pico, an island named for the perfect peak that dots its center. Other points of interest on the islands include on Faial, where the Capelinhos volcano expanded the landmass from 1957-1958 by pumping lava up to the surface. On many islands there are shoulder-high walls protecting white grapes that are grown for Azorean wine, and the islands are also known for their tea plantations and several types of intensely-flavored cheese. In between there are winding drives up and down the lava flows and past numerous black and white churches, with (at least) one for every community.