There is something bewitching about the clear and limpid water of a lake: it captivates with its serenity and its immaculate beauty. If you have ever been able to admire one in real life, you know how pleasant it is to swim in it. If you weren’t so lucky, let yourself be carried away by these breathtaking photos! Here are the 15 lakes with the clearest water in the world.
Why are some lakes so clear?
The location of a lake will affect the clarity of its water: in the heights of the mountains, the runoff, which brings impurities and dead algae into the water, is less. Glacial lakes, created by melting glaciers, contain what is called “glacial flour” or “rock flour”. It is a powdery mixture of silt and clay that appears turquoise when light reflects on it. A brilliantly colored lake may also contain certain types of algae that will make it look heavenly.
Did you know that clear water lakes do not contain as many fish as brown, swampy lakes? This is because cloudy water tends to contain more organic matter and algae, which fish love. Thus, they are home to more aquatic creatures.
Moraine Lake, Alberta, Canada
Canada is renowned for its beautiful lakes, as its alpine regions lend themselves to creating crystal clear mountain waters. Lake Louise, in Banff National Park in Alberta, is one of the most popular, and it is “clearly” beautiful.
Nearby Moraine Lake is a glacial body of water nestled in the Valley of Ten Peaks. The color of the water, slightly bluish, varies depending on where you are, the time of day, and even the time of year. It is unsurprisingly in summer that it is most spectacular.
Note that the lake is so remarkable that it appeared on the Canadian $20 bill in the 1970s.
Five Flowers Lake, China
This lake in Jiuzhaigou National Park in southwest China is a real mirror! It reflects the surrounding landscape, which is particularly impressive in the fall. The lake also has a mythical story: a goddess would have dropped her mirror, breaking into several pieces, forming the lakes of the park, including this one. Another legend says that “where the water of the lake is poured, flowers will grow in abundance”. For the local population, the Lake of Five Flowers is none other than a sacred lake.
Lake Baikal, Russia
This Siberian lake is the oldest, largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world. It is 1.6 kilometers deep and contains 20% of the earth’s fresh water — which comes from the melting of the Siberian mountains.
In addition to its massive size, Lake Baikal is also one of the clearest, with the ability to see up to nearly 40 meters deep. “The water of Lake Baikal is turquoise in color, even more transparent than the Black Sea,” writer Anton Chekhov wrote in a correspondence in the 19th century.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
The water in these lakes is not only crystal clear, but flows over a series of waterfalls, lending even greater beauty to the national park. The lakes were formed by deposits of tufa — a type of stone similar to travertine — that accumulated along the river, creating natural dams that led to the formation of the lakes over time.
Sixteen of the lakes are named, but there are many other small basins. Add underground caves, moss-covered rocks and endless forests, Plitvice Lakes National Park seems like something out of a fairy tale.
Crater Lake, Oregon, USA
The deep blue waters of this lake are a good reflection of the mountains surrounding the rim of the crater. It is the deepest lake in the United States, formed more than seven thousand years ago by a volcanic eruption, creating a caldera — a large depression formed by the collapse of the cone of a volcano following intense and rapid eruptions.
Considered by the US National Park Service to be one of the clearest lakes in the world, Crater Lake is fed solely by rain, snow, and glacial springs! The water there is so pure that the visible depth is estimated at around 40 meters!
This body of water is also home to Wizard Island, which has a crater called “The Witches’ Cauldron” as well as a small rocky island called Phantom Ship. There is definitely something mythical about this lake!
The Blue Lake, New Zealand
This lake in New Zealand‘s South Island is scientifically the clearest lake in the world! In 2011, scientists from the country’s National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research found that the clarity of the lake is only surpassed by very clear seawater.
Also called Rotomairewhenua, Blue Lake is located in Nelson Lakes National Park. This body of water is actually fed by another glacial lake, Lake Constance — both free of runoff debris, which keeps the water clean and extremely cold. Its purity also makes the lake sacred to the surrounding indigenous people.
Lake Blausee, Switzerland
Mountainous Switzerland is another country known for its abundance of crystal clear lakes, including Lucerne, Brienz and Oeschinen. Fed by underground springs, Lake Blausee is completely transparent, with beautiful blue and green reflections.
The Blausee, German toponym literally meaning in French “blue lake”, is a mountain lake in the Bernese Oberland. It is located in the Kander Valley, 887 meters above sea level. With the clarity of the water, tree trunks and rocks at the bottom of the lake are visible there at a depth of 12 meters.
According to legend, a blue-eyed girl was heartbroken when she drowned in the lake. Her tears would have dyed the water an azure color.
Dead Sea, Israel / Jordan
Although it bears this name, the Dead Sea is a saline lake surrounded by desert. With a salt content five to nine times higher than that of the ocean, the clear water of the Dead Sea is said to have medicinal properties. It also bears its name from its salinity, since no fish can survive there.
The Dead Sea has only one main source, the Jordan River, and the only way water can escape there is through evaporation. Although the lake is rich in minerals, the water retains its clear properties.
Lake Mashu, Japan
Lake Mashû is another lake created from a caldera thousands of years ago. This dazzling body of water on the Japanese island of Hokkaido is part of Akan-Mashu National Park. According to legend, seeing the surface of the water brings bad luck to the spirit that lives in its depths. This is why it has the nickname “Lake of the Gods”, since it is often covered in fog and mist.
For the less superstitious among you, Lake Mashû is crystal clear, with visibility of around 30 meters. Here again, no river flows into it to leave behind sediments and debris.
Nearby, Kaminoko-ike Pond is fed by the underground springs of Lake Mashu, which is why the pond is named after the “Child of the Gods.”
Bacalar Lake, Mexico
Mexico has some beautiful waters on its east coast, and Lake Bacalar is one of them. It is a freshwater lagoon, located on the Yucatan Peninsula near the Belize border. Fed by a series of underground rivers, its white sandy bottom allows the clear water to change color throughout the day, from turquoise to indigo, earning it the nickname “Seven Colored Lake”. .
Attabad Lake, Pakistan
This newly formed lake is a beacon of hope for the region. In 2010, a landslide in northern Pakistan leveled the village of Attabad, killing 26 people. This disaster created a natural dam on the Hunza River, which led to the formation of a whole new body of water, Lake Attabad.
Attabad Lake (or Gojal Lake), which has become a tourist attraction, is now one of the most beautiful places in the region. Like other glacier-fed lakes, the crystal clear water of Attabad acquires a vivid blue color in spring and summer when the glaciers melt.
Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
A playground for the rich and famous, Lake Tahoe offers exquisite natural scenery, thanks to its sparkling cobalt blue waters. It is the second deepest lake in the United States, after Crater Lake, and its ideal location in the Sierra Nevada mountains provides it with clear, pristine waters.
Some research has shown that the striking color of the lake, however, is not correlated to the clarity of the water, but rather to the level of algae present in it. Indeed, it would seem that the higher the algae content, the less blue the lake. This discovery could have implications for the conservation of the lake’s ecosystem, as well as its current beauty…
Lac Malawi, Malawi / Mozambique / Tanzania
Running along much of Malawi, and also touching Mozambique and Tanzania, this large deep lake is ‘meromictic’. This means that surface water and deep water do not mix. All the sediment therefore remains at the bottom and the water is completely transparent.
Unlike some other crystal clear lakes, this one is home to a huge population of endemic fish, many species of which are found nowhere else on earth. For this reason, the lake is of crucial importance for the conservation of biodiversity, which is abundant there.
Lake Pehoe, Chile
This bright lake in remote Patagonia, southern Chile, often mirrors the surrounding thorny mountains, the Cuernos del Paine (the “Horns of Paine”). Located in Torres del Paine National Park, the lake is fed by glacial waters. In addition to the turquoise and blue of the water, shades of lavender, and even orange can sometimes appear.
The area around the lake is also home to some of South America’s most interesting wildlife, including the guanaco, a llama-like camelid.
Lake McKenzie, Australia
Located on Fraser Island in Queensland and bordered by white sand beaches, this lake owes its purity to its location. Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and has half of the world’s rain-filled sand dune depressions, including Lake McKenzie.
Lake McKenzie has no rivers feeding it and it does not drain into the ocean. The purity of the lake is such that no fish can live there. The water therefore remains sparkling blue at all times!
Photos : Getty images