Take a Free Audio Tour of the World’s Most Relaxing Destinations

From bird songs in an Indian jungle to the flowing waves of a Sardinian beach, a new tool spotlights 50 soothing soundscapes

Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon
The website identifies Iceland’s Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon as one of the world's most relaxing soundscapes. United Nations Photo via Flickr under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Armchair travelers waylaid by the Covid-19 pandemic can now embark on a virtual vacation featuring the sounds of 50 tourist destination around the world.

As Ellen Gutoskey reports for Mental Floss, personal development website Unify Cosmos recently launched a free soundboard that enables users to experience aural landscapes ranging from the bird songs of Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, India, to the flowing waves of Abu Dhabi’s Corniche beach.

To curate the collection of calming sounds, Unify Cosmos combed through search volume data that identified the “most searched for relaxing spots in the world,” per Andrea Romano of Travel + Leisure. Then, the team selected YouTube sound bites to pair with photographs and brief written descriptions.

The result, writes Romano, is “a unique experience that’s like a combination of jet setting to your favorite destination and taking a spa day all at once.”

According to Unify Cosmos’ rankings, the most relaxing spot featured is Yosemite, California. The national park’s audio comes from a relaxation video of waterfall sounds and bird calls. Onda Beach in the Dominican Republic ranks second, followed by Iceland’s Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, Greece’s Aegean Islands, Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the Philippines’ Siargoa Island Beach, Japan’s Mount Fuji, Canada’s Nova Scotia Shores, Hawaii’s Makena Beach and Poland’s Tatra Mountains.

For Minnesota news site Bring Me the News, Melissa Turtinen points out that the selection of the Boundary Waters, featuring the sounds of a canoe paddling across gently flowing water, comes not long after the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) certified the wilderness area as the largest Dark Sky Sanctuary in the world. Per the IDA, these sites boast “exceptional or distinguished quality of starry night and a [protected] nocturnal environment.”

Mike Mishkin of I Love the Upper West Side notes that Central Park just missed a spot in the top ten. Coming in at number 11, the audio track for the park features raindrops, crunching leaves, a bagpipe and other sounds of city life.

Though the majority of Unify Cosmos’ audio clips focus on natural sounds like water and birds, some also feature human-made noises. A recording of Bruges, Belgium, for instance, features passersby’s voices and gentle traffic sounds. Other clips spotlight train journeys through the Alps and across Russia’s Winter Forest; Manhattan street noise; flute music playing over a waterfall in Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai; and even a track from a video by KB Kid ASMR that replicates the experience of getting a haircut from a heavily accented Boston barber.

As Unify Cosmos’ owner, David Foley, says in a statement, “Take a second to close your eyes, pause, breathe in these sounds of nature, and dream a little, regardless of where you are—because listening to crashing waves, or birds in the trees can bring many other things to your life.”

The newly released soundboard is one of many digital resources designed to support would-be travelers in search of distraction from the pandemic. Among other offerings, the list includes a website highlighting views outside windows across the world, free video tours of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and free audio tours of internationally renowned museums.

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