Isle of Runde, Norway

South of Alesund on Norway’s west coast, many of the myriad islands are connected by long bridges like strings of pearls. Among those, the Isle of Runde dangles like a pendant into the sea west from the island of Remøy. There are 150 human inhabitants on Runde, but its bird cliffs, which are the southernmost in Norway, are the summer home for over a half million nesting seabirds. The island hosts the widest variety of birds in Scandinavia, but the showstoppers are its 100,000 pairs of Atlantic puffins. Large colonies of great skuas, gannets and shags (cormorants) are also present in season. Cruising beneath these cliffs, immersed in the white-noise calling of innumerable birds and the visual swirling of a sky filled with birds ceaselessly coming and going to and from their nests overhead is an experience of nature’s astonishing extravagance that you will never forget.