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Authored by Adrian Rawlings

What makes travel so special is the way every voyage can feel like an adventure.  Unfortunately, when great travel locations are completely overwhelmed by thousands of visitors, some of the wonder fades away. Tacky tourist attractions tend to detract from the rewarding sense of discovery that comes with visiting a new place for the first time.

But don’t give up hope; there are still plenty of places to travel if you crave a sense of discovery! Read on for three travel locations with surprising secret spots that most tourists have never even heard of.  Some are haunted, some are hidden, and some are just downright cool. While it might be better to leave some of these secret spots alone, if you do decide to visit, you will be sure to have an adventure.

Hidden Water Sites in Mexico

Photo by James Kelly

Tourists flock to the warm waters of Mexico every year for some vacation fun in the sun.  While many of Mexico’s sandy beaches are beautiful, none are quite as exciting as Playa de Amor or Hidden Beach. This beach is located in the mouth of the Banderas Bay as part of the beautiful Las Marietas Islands, about 20 miles off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

From above, Hidden Beach appears as a wide hole in the surface of the green grass of the island. Below is a completely hidden but surprisingly large, circular beach that can only be accessed by swimming or kayaking through a rock tunnel. Once inside, visitors can enjoy a sandy beach with crystal clear, aquamarine water, perfect for sunbathing, swimming or snorkeling.

The Las Marietas Islands themselves were formed by volcanic activity from centuries ago, but the formation of the “underground” Hidden Beach is unclear.

While it may have been part of the result of the ancient volcanoes, other theories claim the giant hole came from test bombings by the Mexican Government in the early 1900s. However Hidden Beach came about, today this secret spot is a must-visit for a completely unique day at the beach.

But Hidden Beach isn’t the only secret watery location in Mexico.

In a different part of the country, on the Yucatan Peninsula, a group of amateur scuba divers discovered a hidden underwater river that is now called Cenote Angelita or Little Angel.

Though the concept of an underwater river is mind-blowing, this fascinating waterway is truly located deep within a submerged ocean cave. Due to a combination of briny salt water and hydrogen sulfide, the Little Angel is denser than ocean water, creating a distinct separation that makes the water act and flows like a river.

A scuba diver’s dream come true, this hidden gem has sandy and rocky banks, trees, and plants just like an ordinary river, all located deep under the sea.

Mysterious Locations in Japan

Kansai during fall

Many people who visit Japan put a trip to glorious Mount Fuji at the top of their to-do lists. In fact, 300,000 people climb Mount Fuji every year. But in the shadow of this beautiful mountain is a much more secret spot – Aokigahara Forest.

This mysterious forest, considered one of the strangest locations on earth, is sadly known by locals as the Suicide Forest due to the unfortunate distinction of being the world’s second most popular place to take one’s life (behind the Golden Gate Bridge).  

Over the years, those who know about the Aokijahara Forest have come to believe this ominous site is haunted by evil spirits, and it is easy to understand why. The vast woodland is so thick with tree coverage that some areas within remain in complete darkness 24 hours day.

And just to make this location even more creepy and secretive, there have been many reports that compasses, cell phones, and GPS systems do not work at all inside the forest due to rich deposits of magnetic iron in the area’s volcanic soil. This is one secret location that may be best to leave shrouded in mystery.

In a very different area of Japan, off the coast of the Ryukyu archipelago, is another secret spot that is also surrounded by its fair share of obscurity. A few miles south of the island Yonaguni, the westernmost inhabited island of Japan, is an underwater stone structure known as Yonaguni Monument.

Discovered in the late 1980s by scuba divers, this large submerged formation has raised much debate between the few who know of its existence. 

Yonaguni Monument is made up of 15 different structures covering a total area of more than 900 feet by 400 feet. Some believe the pillars to be natural formations caused by shifting rocks during earthquakes. However, many argue that the formations are manmade, and are evidence of a fabled Pacific civilization called Mu- an Atlantis-like city that vanished underwater 5,000 years ago.

Divers who have seen Yonaguni Monument claim there are ruins of a castle, a triumphal arch, five temples, and at least one large stadium (pictured above). You will have to arrange a scuba dive visit to determine for yourself what these secret formations truly are – ruins or just rocks?

Surprising Top-secret Spots in Disneyland

Disney World Castle

While Disneyland may seem like the most unlikely place for a secret location, this major tourist attraction is actually packed with quite a few undisclosed spots.

First, there is Club 33, the super-exclusive secret speakeasy that has been a part of the park for more than 45 years now. Hidden behind a seemingly innocuous green door in the New Orleans Square section of the park is an extremely upscale club that Walt Disney originally build for dignitaries and celebrities.

Members have included Johnny Depp, Elton John, and CEOs from major companies like Chevron and AT&T. Rumor has it the waiting list to join this club is more than 10 years long, and membership fees are extremely pricey. But it could be worth it; with sources reporting a major redesign happening for 2014, the new and improved version of Club 33 is bound to be even cooler than the original.

Another secret spot is part of one of Disneyland’s most iconic and well-known attractions – the Matterhorn. While thousands of Disneyland visitors ride the Matterhorn’s wild rollercoaster every day, almost all are completely unaware of the secret inside the top section of the mountain – a basketball court!

Since the rollercoaster itself only occupies the bottom two-thirds of the Matterhorn mountain, Disney employees who were working in the park during the time of the coaster’s construction got to vote on what to do with the extra space in the top third. They chose a basketball court, but since the space was too small for a full-size court, it is actually just one hoop. Only Disney employees and very special guests get a chance to shoot hoops inside the Matterhorn, so this secret spot remains very private.

Adrian Rawlings is a TV and travel blogger. Look to him for the scoop on hit movies and TV shows, travel, tech reviews, how-to’s, and more.  Follow Adrian on Twitter.


  1. Underwater river? My mind has been blown. I may have to learn how to dive exclusively for that.

    • I need to learn how to dive period! I keep hearing about these amazing places and accepting guest posts with phenomenal underwater photos – my jealousy is spiralling out of control lol :D

  2. great to know about these secret places, might try them out some day.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Tanveer! Happy New Year!

  3. I don’t know about Disneyland but I found some hidden Mickeys in the Hall of Presidents inside Magic Kingdom in Disney World.

    • Very cool! I guess they’ve probably got little hidden secret spots all over their parks! Will have to get to Disney World for some additional exploring :D!

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