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Top Places to See Optical Illusions in Nature

Posted January 20, 2022 in Top Contenders - Last updated November 7, 2023

Life is an illusion. I am held together in the nothingness by art.”

-Anselm Kiefer

More valid words have not been spoken, especially about the artistic prowess of Mother Nature.

When it comes to the natural wonders of the world, there are certain places where the line between reality and illusion starts to blur. Fantasy takes flight, and the wild and expansive power of the Earth creates utter magic. If you’re anything like us, you’re a traveler who loves immersing yourself in the natural mysteries that nature spins out for us.

Optical illusions in nature are probably one of the most mysterious and awe-inspiring artworks that the Earth has painted across our planet. You’ve come to the right place if you’d like to see optical illusions out in the wild. So pick up your travel diary and start noting these names. These places should be on your itinerary for 2022.

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1. Yosemite National Park – Horsetail Fall

Want to see liquid gold spill out of a seemingly innocent-looking waterfall? Head over to Yosemite National Park and straight to Horsetail Fall. As the sun sets, light rays suffuse the Fall waters with a delicious golden glow. But, of course, you’ll be left wondering whether you’re looking at liquid gold or lava flowing down the rock face.

February is the best time to see this magnificent illusion since the weather and timings combine perfectly for this incredible display.

2. Mauritius – Underwater rainfall

Continuing with the theme of falling water, did you know there’s underwater rainfall in Mauritius? Well, kind of.

Another optical illusion, courtesy of the unique sand deposits along the Mauritius coastline, is the underwater rainfall of swirling sand that looks out of this world. The sand creates an illusion of a deep cleft or crevasse in the waters. These swirling sand and waves make it look like rain falling on the Earth.

You can see this best if you take a helicopter ride or use a drone to see the illusion.

3. Leh-Kargil Highway – Magnetic Hill

Want to travel in zero gravity without ever leaving the Earth? Well then, head over to Leh in India. When you drive down to Magnetic Hill, switch off your car or put it in neutral. You’ll notice how your vehicle moves uphill of its own accord, as if by magic!

This gravity-defying feat has boggled the minds of people for decades. As a result, locals in Leh believe that the Magnetic Hill is the stairway to heaven, where deserving people will be gently pulled (or rolled into heaven) by the Gods.

The reality is a lot less divine. While there isn’t sufficient evidence, some schools believe that Magnetic Hill could have a powerful magnetic force that pulls stationary vehicles uphill. Or it is just an optical illusion, and nothing moves when you park your car near the hill.

4. Hawaii – Green Flash

You would have seen a golden sunset, an orange one, and the occasional pink sunset. But have you ever seen a green sunset? If you’re in Hawaii, you certainly can catch a Green Flash.

As the sun sets in the Pacific, it suddenly transforms from a patch of gold into a neon green flash during the final few seconds before the sun goes under. For that instant, the sun looks like a mythical green monster that gently slinks into the depths of the dark Pacific.

This green flash isn’t wizardry… at least not manufactured. Instead, it’s a rare and beautiful natural phenomenon that combines the dispersion of light and a mirage over the water. While green light is usually present during light scattering, it’s too faint to be seen by the naked eye. This is where the mirage comes into play – making the illusion of the green flash seem more extensive and more visible than it is.

5. Wimberley, Texas – Jacob’s Well

Do you love to dive?

If diving is your thing, you’ll love Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, Texas. A famous diving and swimming spot for locals and tourists, Jacob’s Well boasts a unique optical illusion that can change diving from fun to frightening in seconds.

Standing on top of the rocky diving outpost atop Jacob’s Well, the dive looks hundreds of feet below. It takes a firm stomach and a calm mind to remind yourself that the drop is just 3 feet. But that’s what makes this dive challenging, too. You’ll need to be careful and intelligent as you dive because you’ll reach the water sooner than anticipated. So, better let the adventure lovers have this spot.

Of course, if you don’t want to dive, you can continue swimming in Jacob’s well. The water is comfortable and cathartic.


Optical illusions in nature are a sight for sore eyes. If you haven’t visited any of these spots yet – get to it. The problem with pollution, deforestation, and climate change is changing how mother nature works. It’s just a matter of time before these natural wonders become part of books, pictures, and blog posts rather than reality.

So, pack your bags, bring a travel journal, and head to these natural optical illusions. Want to make the trip planning process more manageable? Travel planning is a bit hectic, but with some help, it can be a walk in the park. A top trip planner like Travel-Wise can help you with all your travel needs and make your vacation memorable. We know you’re going to have an unforgettable trip.

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