There are definitely pros and cons for each side. With an ocean you get huge waves and an incredible sense of wonder. With lakes, you get warmer water and a safer overall experience, though maybe a little less sense of adventure.
As a Michigan native, there’s always going to be a part of me that is partial to lakes—especially because our mental image of what a lake is pretty limited. In fact, some of the most incredible bodies of water this world has to offer come in the form of lakes.
1. Moraine Lake in Alberta, Canada
As far as mountain lakes go, it’s pretty hard to beat Moraine Lake in Alberta, Canada for scenic beauty. The lake is glacially fed and surrounded by gorgeous scenery. Perhaps even more noteworthy is that its water is striking light blue—this is actually a result of rock flour continually deposited in the water by the glacial flow!
2. The Dead Sea between Israel and Palestine
Despite it’s name, the Dead Sea is actually an enormous salt lake at the world’s lowest elevation (423 meters below sea level) which is 9.6 times saltier than the saltiest ocean. The extreme saltiness prevents most life forms from growing in it (hence it’s name), but it does result in some interesting effects for people who swim in it: floating is a cinch!
3. Lake Berryessa in Napa County, California
Lake Berryessa is the largest lake in Napa County, California with about 20,700 acres of surface area. Although the lake is enormous, perhaps most interesting is that it also houses an enormous spillway—the largest of its kind—which keeps water flowing through it.
4. Crater Lake in Oregon
As the name suggests, Crater Lake was formed in a crater as a result of a volcano collapsing some 7,000 years ago. Because there are no rivers flowing in or out of the lake, the water there is considered exceptionally pure. Through evaporation and local rain and snowfall, the water in the lake is replenished and replaced every 250 year—and yes, the scenic beauty is virtually unmatched.
5. Pehoé Lake in Chile
The strikingly beautiful Pehoé Lake in the Patagonia region of Chile. Apart from any notable facts or features, this lake is worth including if only for its otherworldliness and how gorgeous it is—the mountains in particular.
6. The Plitvice Lakes in Croatia
A lesser known attraction, the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia are widely considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful lakes. The entire surroundings are a national park and the lake itself is a series of cascades separated by little outcroppings of travertine, which serve as natural dams. For all its colors and incredible water features, this one is definitely worth a trip.
7. Lake Hillier in Western Australia
Of all the lakes on the list, Lake Hillier might be the most distinctive. Why you ask? Because the entire thing is colored an almost Pepto-Bismol pink! The lake’s unique coloration is a result of a microorganism called Dunaliella salina. Still, this one is pretty hard to visit: best to get there by helicopter.
8. Sleeping Bear Dunes at Lake Michigan
No list of scenic lakes would be complete without including Michigan’s incredible Sleeping Bear Dunes. The dunes themselves were voted “The Most Beautiful Place in America” in 2011 and continues to attract thousands of tourists throughout the year. For those who ever doubted that they could get the full beach experience at a lake, Michigan’s great lakes are in a category all their own.
9. Lake Baikal in Siberia
Though it’ll take a trip to Siberia to see it, Lake Baikal is noteworthy for many different reasons. For one, it is the world’s largest freshwater lake, holding a staggering 22-23% of the world’s entire volume of surface water. It is also the deepest lake in the world and contains an eight to 11 kilometer deep rift as well which is as of yet unexplored. Last but not least, it is also home to incredible biodiversity—nearly more than 1000 different species live in the area!
10. Laguna Verde in Bolivia
If this list has proven anything, it’s that lakes can come in a wide variety of different colors. Now we can add green to that list. Laguna Verde is a salt lake in Bolivia infused with lots of volcanic minerals, giving it a striking emerald color throughout the year. Even more incredibly, the lake also experiences icy winds which can lower its temperatures as low as -56 degrees Celsius, nearly -69 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite this, it’s unique composition allows it to stay liquid at these temperatures!