Snuggled along the coast of Hawke’s Bay on New Zealand’s North Island, the small city of Napier owes its current fame to an earthquake that destroyed it. On February 3, 1931, a massive 7.8 earthquake leveled most of the city, killing 258 people in the temblor and the ensuing fires. With its citizens eager to rebuild their city as quickly as possible, construction projects sprouted up all over town in the next few years. Art Deco happened to be the architectural style of choice at that time, and, as there were so many simultaneous projects, the city achieved a uniformity rarely seen in urban environments. Today, after Miami, it’s the best city in the world to appreciate Art Deco architecture and style. Read more about Napier’s best buildings >
The deep blue sea is probably the last great unexplored place on the planet — a dark, forbidding netherworld filled with beauty and mystery that has long held the fascination of mariners and landlubbers alike. Examine any map from the 1500s and you’ll see the oceans illustrated with ferocious sea monsters that terrorized sailors. Although many of the legends and myths surrounding those creatures have been dispelled or explained (mermaids don’t really exist, and the Kraken was most likely a giant squid), the sea and its myriad denizens still fascinate us.
Whether it’s the ferocious dragonfish or horrifying viperfish that could petrify even the bravest explorer, the perennially happy clownfish (thank you, Nemo), the vividly colorful mandarinfish, or the remarkably intelligent dolphin, life under the sea is an ongoing voyage of discovery. Thanks to aquariums around the world, we don’t have to plunge to the ocean floor to see and understand what lies beneath (although that’s fun, too). These are my top five aquariums in the world. Read more >