If you’re Canadian, chances are you’ve stood in the water, wiggled your toes, gazed at the fish swimming around your ankles, and thought, “Wow—that water is so clear.” It’s a pretty magical moment.
Well, that’s a little harder to do in the winter here, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the world’s clearest lakes, which will have to do until the ice melts.
Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia
With visible depths of up to [TK], Lake Baikal used to be considered the clearest lake in the world. Although it’s been supplanted by New Zealand’s Blue Lake, never fear—Lake Baikal is still the world’s oldest (25 million years) and largest by volume (containing 20 percent of the world’s unfrozen fresh water).
Lake Mashū, Japan
Like Blue Lake and Lake Baikal, Lake Mashu has also been called the clearest lake in the world. Located on the island of Hokkaido, Japan, the lake is formed in the caldera of a potentially active volcano—though this doesn’t stop visitors from hiking around the crater rim high above the water. Access to the lake itself is prohibited by Japan’s environment ministry.
Torch Lake, Michigan
Torch Lake is Michigan’s second-largest inland lake, with startlingly turquoise waters that can resemble the Caribbean sea.
Five Flower Lake, China
Part of the Jiuhaigou World Biosphere reserve, Five Flower Lake is both clear and multi-coloured. Its defining feature is the ancient tree trunks that criss-cross its bottom.
Crater Lake, Oregon
Noted for its deep blue colour and clear waters, Crater Lake is a caldera lake formed after the collapse of volcanic Mount Mazama. Because there are no rivers flowing into the lake, its waters are replenished by snow or rainfall. It is the deepest lake in the United States.
Jenny Lake Wyoming
Located in Grand Teton National Park, Jenny Lake is still considered to be pristine, despite allowing motorboat traffic. The lake is named after a Shoshone woman who married Englishman Richard Leigh, then died of smallpox in 1876.
Blue Lake, New Zealand
Blue Lake, known in Maori as Rotomairewhenua, is actually the clearest lake in the world. Science says so. With visible depths up to 80 metres, it’s almost as clear as distilled water. Because the lake is sacred to the local Maori tribe, no humans are allowed to enter the lake.
Lake McKenzie, Queensland, Australia
Lake McKenzie is a perched lake, which means its elevation is considerably higher than the bodies of water around it. Surrounded by pure white sand, Lake McKenzie’s water is so pure that it’s actually unsuitable for most types of life.