The magnificent dunes of Brazil’s Lençóis Maranhenses National Park are so vast and blindingly white that it’s not difficult to see how the park got its name — in Portuguese, "Lençóis Maranhenses" means “bedsheets of Maranhão,” Maranhão being the state in northeastern Brazil in which the park is located. Though it may look like a quintessential desert environment, Maranhenses actually gets around 47 inches of rain each year — and during the wet seasons, the rainwater pools in the valleys between the dunes, creating thousands of these brilliantly blue pools. Travel tip: Once the dry season returns, water levels drop dramatically, so try to visit the lagoons between July and September to see them at their fullest and most vibrant. (

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