1. Santra Cruz Island, Channel Islands, California
Would you believe me if I told you that there are the most lush, uninhabited islands just an hour off the coast of LA? The Channel Islands National Park is comprised of 5 gorgeous islands, and here we are on the island of Santa Cruz. The largest island in California, Santa Cruz contains rugged mountains, stony cliffs, massive sea caves, aquamarine tide pools and of course, immaculate beaches. The drama and colours that I crave all come together in this tropical paradise; its beauty a result of the fact that it has been untouched by man for over a million years. If you ever wanted to get a sense of what California looked like before it became California, then this is a must see!
2. Smith Rock, Oregon
At around 3000 feet elevation and 650 acres, Smith Rock in Oregon is another dramatic landscape that transports you to another world . Rocks made from volcanic ash rise like fortresses from the high desert of Central Oregon to create this glorious place. I reached there just as the sun was about to set, and towers of rocks were washed with the most brilliant golden yellow light, and all I could do was stare in awe. Smith Rock has such a commanding presence, it’s easy to see why it is considered one of the 7 wonders of Oregon!
3. White Sands, New Mexico
Imagine my surprise when I reached the heart of Tularosa Basin, and for miles and miles I saw nothing but the glistening White Sands of New Mexico. My immediate thought was “well this must be exactly what an alien moon is like!” Dunes rose like waves, some almost 60 feet high, and crashed up against the bright blue sky. The sands so white you feel as though it should be snow! I ran around, rolled and kicked the sand for a while before I was told we must leave. I cannot wait to go back the minute I get the chance to!
4. Leo Carillo Beach, California
As you can probably tell by now, I am drawn to vast, dramatic landscapes that go on as far as the eye can see, and California, gives me so many options. There are beaches that are popular and so packed with people it’s hard to walk on them. Then there are beaches such as this one, Leo Carillo, which is far enough from LA that you feel as though you are on a private island, complete with tide pools and stunning rock formations. The drive might be longer to but well worth it once you reach the beach. I highly recommend finding your own rock to perch on and watch the sunset.
5. Hatta Desert, Dubai, UAE
Here we are at my birthplace, Dubai, U. A. E. Most people when they think about Dubai, they imagine tall, ultra-modern skyscrapers with a wild nightlife. And whilst all of that is true, the city is also home to some of the most stunning desert landscapes you will ever find. Ranging from soft yellow sands to rich reds like this one here in the Hatta Desert, for me it’s always a place to go relax and find inspiration for my art. It’s so untouched and otherworldly, I can’t help but be drawn to going back every time!
6. Wahclella Falls, Oregon
Not as well known as some of the other waterfalls in Oregon, visiting Wahclella Falls was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. The lower tier of falls dashes 80 feet into an emerald pool surrounded by a ring of rocks covered in neon green moss and ferns. Even before I saw the falls, I felt the cool mist of the powerful gush of water and there was this gorgeous earthy scent all around. It is so overwhelmingly stunning, I just stared at it for a while. Definitely worth the time!
Photos by Paul Brown