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Can’t beat the winter blues? These destinations have sunny days in spades. While claiming to have the world’s bluest skies sounds like a brazen statement, it’s something that can be scientifically measured and analyzed — thanks to a device called a spectrometer developed by scientists in the British National Physical Laboratory, and a 2006 study conducted by a 27-year-old TV researcher from the U.K. (the most recent data available). In a partnership with Expedia, Anya Hohnbaum embarked on a 72-day trip around the world; in each place she stopped, she measured the spectrum of light at the same time of day and in the same direction relative to the sun to find the world’s bluest skies. So if you can’t get enough of the color blue, make sure to add these six places to your bucket list.
In 2019, less than half a million tourists visited Madagascar, an island nation in the Indian Ocean situated 300 miles off the coast of Mozambique. But those who did venture off the beaten path had a world of natural wonders awaiting them. Madagascar's capital city, Antananarivo, is the sixth-sunniest place on our list. From there, you can venture off in search of the island’s incredible 25,000 animal species (including more lemur varieties than you ever imagined), along with the otherworldly baobab trees, towering waterfalls, and stunning national parks. The only thing missing is crowds.
Cape Town, South Africa
You won’t have trouble finding an excuse to visit South Africa, with its seemingly never-ending bucket list of adventures. Foodies flip for the traditional cuisine and famous vineyards, shoppers are never at a loss for markets to peruse, and nature lovers have the savanna at their doorstep. Accompanying you wherever your adventures take you — whether that’s a hike up Table Mountain or a safari to catch a glimpse of the Big Four — are some of the bluest skies on Earth overhead.
Denarau Island, Fiji
From the crystalline waters to the sapphire sky, the only things that interrupt Fiji’s brilliant spectrum of blue are the white sand beaches and lush green palm trees. It’s difficult to find a more idyllic island paradise than this South Pacific country, which claims the number-four spot on the list of bluest skies. But as tempting as it may be to relax on the sandy beaches of this private resort island and gaze above, Fiji is also known as an adventure capital. So why not jump right into that perfect blue sky with a tandem skydive?
Ayers Rock, Australia
The sky over Australia’s Ayers Rock ranks as the third-bluest in the world. Originally known as Uluru, this gigantic sandstone rock is located in the remote Northern Territory. The contrast of the enormous rock’s intense orange color only enhances the vibrant blue of the sky above, making it one of Australia’s top tourist attractions — particularly for a sunrise or sunset photo op. Ayers Rock also serves as an important piece of the country’s history and a sacred site for Indigenous Aboriginal peoples of the area.
Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Bay of Islands is a group of 144 islands north of Auckland, located off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The subtropical islets are popular for their undeveloped beaches, big game fishing, and yacht charters, but the islands are also historically and culturally significant. Here, you can learn about the rich Maori culture at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, visit Maori villages, and discover how the modern-day nation of New Zealand came to life. Adding to the area’s natural beauty is the consistent bright blue sky — which never seems to falter. According to Hohnbaum's study, Bay of Islands has the second bluest sky in the world.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
As a booming cosmopolitan city, cultural hub, and surfer’s paradise, Rio de Janeiro has a lot going for it. The icing on the cake? Rio also claims the bluest sky in the world. If you visit Brazil, you’ll have no trouble finding ways to enjoy nature. From national parks to botanical gardens and miles of world-famous beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema, many of Rio’s highlights are outdoors. So, whether you’re ordering a cool drink and soaking up the sun from the sand, or climbing up Sugarloaf Mountain, blue skies will follow.