10 Places with the Clearest Waters

10 Places with the Clearest Waters

Close your eyes and imagine that you’re floating in warm, tropical waters. All around you, the shimmering water is crystal clear. It’s so clear, you can watch the colorful fish flitting and floating for yards around you. The bottom is several feet below you, but you can clearly see it, even from above the sparkling surface. Good news: this place actually exists. In fact, there are many places in the world that you can find waters clear enough to be a wood nymph’s swimming pool. Check out these top ten places with unbelievably clear water.

#10. Lampedusa, Italy.

Follow the tip of Italy’s boot out into the Mediterranean Sea, and you’ll discover the Pelagie Islands. The largest in this collection is Lampedusa, an ancient fishing community. Today, fishing is still a part of the island’s economy, but its shores are covered primarily with two types of visitors: migrants on their way to a new life, and tourists escaping theirs. The migrants come for hope, but the tourists come for the Lampedusa’s crystal clear waters and white sand beaches.

Lampedusa island, Mediterranean Sea, Italy

Lampedusa island, Mediterranean Sea, Italy © ChiccoDodiFC / Shutterstock, Inc.

Lampedusa island, Mediterranean Sea, Italy

Lampedusa island, Mediterranean Sea, Italy © Roberto Caucino / Shutterstock, Inc.

Pure crystalline water surface around an island Lampedusa

Pure crystalline water surface around an island Lampedusa © Wead / Shutterstock, Inc.

#9. Jiuzhaigou Valley, China.

Explore this hidden Asian gem when you have a lot of time to hike and appreciate your surroundings. There are over a hundred pristine lakes in the valley, all of them a little bit different and bursting with beautiful colors. Take a trip though Jiuzhaigou National Park and discover terraced lakes, waterfalls, and a whole lot of wildlife, including cute pandas.

Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area, China

Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area, China © Vadim Petrakov / Shutterstock, Inc.

Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area, China

Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area, China © huafeng207 / Shutterstock, Inc.

Beautiful waterfall and azure lake with crystal clear water among fall woods in Jiuzhaigou nature reserve

Beautiful waterfall and azure lake with crystal clear water among fall woods in Jiuzhaigou nature reserve © Efired / Shutterstock, Inc.

#8. Valley of the Five Lakes, Poland.

Here in northern Europe, you can enjoy not one but five stunningly clear lakes. The valley is an interesting place to visit in summer, but it’s actually even better in winter. When the glassy water is frozen solid, the ice is as clear as summer’s waters are. You can walk on the surface of the ice and look like you’re suspended in the air.

Mountain lake in 5 lakes valley in Tatra Mountains, Poland

Mountain lake in 5 lakes valley in Tatra Mountains, Poland © Curioso / Shutterstock, Inc.

Mountain lake in 5 lakes valley of High Tatras, Poland

Mountain lake in 5 lakes valley of High Tatras, Poland © Pawel Kazmierczak / Shutterstock, Inc.

Summer view on five polish lakes valley in Tatra Tatry mountains, Poland

Summer view on five polish lakes valley in Tatra Tatry mountains, Poland © lukaszimilena / Shutterstock, Inc.

#7. Boracay, Philippines.

Boracay is a tiny island in the Philippines, but it stands out from the thousands of other islands in the country. Once a small community of rice and goat farmers, today the island is a top tourist destination in Asia. Its beautiful beaches are world-renown, but we’re most fascinated by the crystal clear ocean waters surrounding the tiny island. Even for the Philippines, the water here is exemplary. Other people think so, too—the island has received a lot of press and recognition from media in the travel industry.

Willy's rock on a beach at Boracay, Philippines

Willy’s rock on a beach at Boracay, Philippines © haveseen / Shutterstock, Inc.

Aerial view of Boracay island, Philippines

Aerial view of Boracay island, Philippines © Elena Yakusheva / Shutterstock, Inc.

Filipino boats in the sea, Boracay, Philippines

Filipino boats in the sea, Boracay, Philippines © saiko3p / Shutterstock, Inc.

#6. Blue Lake, New Zealand.

When you see a kayak floating on the surface of Blue Lake, you’ll do a double take. It looks like the boat is floating on nothing but air! The lake is so clear that you can easily see the entire bed of the lake. Green plants and algae at the edges contrast with the teal blue reflection in the middle, making Blue Lake seems perfectly magical. This glacial lake is small, but it’s worth the trip if you ever find yourself in Kiwi country.

New Zealand, Rotorua, View of Blue Lake

New Zealand, Rotorua, View of Blue Lake © slyellow / Shutterstock, Inc.

Morning view in Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand

Morning view in Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand © RnDmS / Shutterstock, Inc.

#5. Lefkada, Greece.

Do yourself a favor and put this on the top of your bucket list. The Ionian Sea is known for having some of the clearest waters in the Mediterranean, and you don’t want to miss out. The stunning cliffs around most of the beaches rise high above the turquoise water, beckoning you into a place of sheer beauty and relaxation. On a breezy day, you can even try your hand at kitesurfing.

Sea at Agios Nikitas on Lefkada, Greece

Sea at Agios Nikitas on Lefkada, Greece © Monika Gregussova / Shutterstock, Inc.

Beautiful panoramic view on turquoise Katsiki beach, Lefkada, Greece

Beautiful panoramic view on turquoise Katsiki beach, Lefkada, Greece © Aleksandar Todorovic / Shutterstock, Inc.

Sunny day at the famous Porto Katsiki beach on the island of Lefkada, Greece

Sunny day at the famous Porto Katsiki beach on the island of Lefkada, Greece © Ljupco Smokovski / Shutterstock, Inc.

#4. Rio da Prata, Brazil.

Forget the Amazon. It might be the most famous South American river, but you don’t want to swim in there. For a safe, beautiful snorkeling experience, head over to the lesser-known Rio de Prata. Here, you can hike through the rainforest before you strap on your goggles and plunge in for a swim through Brazil’s most beautiful waters. Discover dourado, pacú, and other South American fish as you paddle through the rainforest’s most lovely river.

#3. Moraine Lake, Alberta, Canada.

Moraine Lake is so beautiful that its portrait once made it to the Canadian $20 bill. The lake is a glacially fed body of water way up in the beautiful (if chilly) Canadian Rockies. Its distinct mineral deposits, primary rock flour in the water, cause the lake to be an incredibly otherworldly shade of blue. Close up, the lake is less blue and more clear. Many visitors love to canoe over the glassy surface and watch the bottom of the lake pass beneath them.

Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Canada

Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Canada © Zhukova Valentyna / Shutterstock, Inc.

Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Canada

Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Canada © SGPICS / Shutterstock, Inc.

Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Canada

Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Canada © JT888 / Shutterstock, Inc.

#2. Laghi de Fusine, Italy.

On the other side of the world from Moraine Lake, Laghi de Fusine rests in another famous mountain range. This lake, like Moraine, is a spectacularly clear glacial lake. It’s also often crossed by boat and rarely used for swimming due to cold temperatures. The main difference between Moraine Lake and Laghi de Fusine is that instead of drinking Grizzly Paw beer in your boat, you’ll be sipping locally-sourced Italian wine.

Panorama mountain lake in the Julian Alps, Laghi di Fusine

Panorama mountain lake in the Julian Alps, Laghi di Fusine © Mike Mareen / Shutterstock, Inc.

Mountain lake, Laghi di Fusine, Italian Alps

Mountain lake, Laghi di Fusine, Italian Alps © Mike Mareen / Shutterstock, Inc.

Beautiful mountain lake landscape in autumn, Laghi di fusine, Italy

Beautiful mountain lake landscape in autumn, Laghi di fusine, Italy © tommaso lizzul / Shutterstock, Inc.

#1. Grand Exuma, Bahamas.

This island in the Caribbean is definitely one of the top tourist choices, but for reasons other than the clear waters. Grand Exuma is the place where you can take a cruise all the way to the Bahamas, just to go swim with some wild pigs. These cute little porkers are perhaps the luckiest pigs in the world—they live on an incredible island with waters so clear, you can count all the piggy toes swimming around in the shallows.

Swimming pig in water at beach on Exuma island Bahamas

Swimming pig in water at beach on Exuma island Bahamas © BlueOrange Studio / Shutterstock, Inc.

Swimming pigs of the Bahamas in the Out Islands of the Exuma

Swimming pigs of the Bahamas in the Out Islands of the Exuma © BlueOrange Studio / Shutterstock, Inc.

Wild, swimming pig on Big Majors Cay in The Bahamas

Wild, swimming pig on Big Majors Cay in The Bahamas © Nejron Photo / Shutterstock, Inc.

About the author
Breana Johnson is an American expat living on the Caribbean Island of Sint Maarten. She surfs, snorkels, and spearfishes when she’s not tutoring local kids or writing. If she could have any job title in the world, it would be Professional Hummus Taste Tester.