Unless you’re incredibly lucky (and some of you are), you probably live in an area with air that is far from pristine. Even some of the world’s most eco-friendly areas are surrounded by polluted air as toxins from faraway places – places thousands of miles away – drift on through.
We weren’t exactly surprised when we started to notice a few tourist-friendly places advertising that they have some of the cleanest air in the world. Who wouldn’t want to take a vacation in a place where the air is actually worth a breath?
The following 10 places are considered the cleanest vacation destinations in the world. We’re not making it up, either. They are regularly monitored by testing stations set up by local governments to track changes in ozone and carbon dioxide. These complex monitoring stations can detect more than 250 different pollutants in the air, letting us know when what we think is clean air really isn’t.
The air in Tasmania is incredibly clear and if you travel further south of the equator you won’t see much change. If you’ve never been to Tasmania before, you might want to consider visiting during the summer months when the climate is more welcoming. The South Cost Track is an incredibly popular hiking destination, spanning over 600,000 acres of wilderness and, of course, fresh air.
On the northern tip of Tutuila Island in American Samoa you’ll find a tropical climate situated in the perfect location for crisp, clean, air. There’s one observatory on the island and even that is eco-friendly, operating largely on solar generated power. Wave jumping and surfing are popular clean-air pastimes in Samoa.
8. Big Island, Hawaii
You would think that the Big Island of Hawaii would be susceptible to major pollution crossing the ocean from China but Hawaii’s high elevation allows it to maintain its status as one of the cleanest places on earth as far as air is concerned. Hawaii sits above the inversion layer, a natural boundary in the air that creates warmer air. The air is clear all around the island, but you can actually tell the difference in air quality at the lower elevation levels (say, while paddling your kayak in the ocean) versus at the higher elevation levels (at the top of the Mauna Loa trail and summit).
Antarctica may not be the sunniest destination on earth but it is far enough away from the rest of civilization to remain unpolluted. You’ll enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and adventurous kite skiing while you’re there.
Iceland is saved by air pollution because most of the air it receives passes through Canada and Greenland first. While there, it’s virtually scoured clean of toxic particles by clouds. Iceland is a very eco-conscious country and the fact that they prefer using hydroelectric and geothermal sources of power is notable as well. When you visit you’ll enjoy touring the area on horseback instead of by car.
5. Easter Island
The air on Easter Island is relatively clear but scientists have noted that the use of diesel powered generators will continue to add smelly emissions to the atmosphere. Even still, the beautiful islands will welcome beach dwellers, explorers, and scuba divers from around the world for years to come.
4. Cape Peninsula, South Africa
Quite a few scientists were surprised to find that Cape Peninsula, South Africa has some of the cleanest air in the world. The area is, of course, known for its coal and bio-mass burning projects. The air here was measured from the Table Mountain National Park, situated between the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. If you paraglide over the park you’ll see both oceans and will be amazed at the two different water colors staring back up at you.
3. Patagonia’s Lakes
The lakes of Patagonia, located at the southern tip of South America, usually register a whopping “zero” on the pollution monitors for the majority of the calendar year. The cleaner Southern Hemisphere combined with plenty of rain makes the air here very enjoyable. Grab your hiking boots and hit the trails.
Tahiti’s wildly unpopulated landscapes are the perfect breeding ground for clean air. Nearby Papeete, on the other hand, is one of the dirtiest air sources on earth, made so by excessive use of old automobiles. Kiteboarders and surfers love Tahiti, specifically Bora Bora, because of the lack of large manufacturing companies and industrial buildings available to pollute the islands.
1. South Island, New Zealand
The South Island of New Zealand has an advantageous location, receiving winds from that originate from relatively unpopulated areas. If you want your air to be even cleaner you’ll take advantage a plain ride around Mount Cook where, as you explore the snow-covered mountain peaks, you’ll have the chance to breathe some of the cleanest air available in the world.
Ready to take a breath of fresh air? Add one of these incredible destinations to your next vacation itinerary. You’ll enjoy the experience so much we sincerely doubt you’ll want to return home!