With summer right around the corner, we’re craving some serious time in the outdoors and swim or two in inviting waters. So, today, we wanted to round up our list of the ten best lakes in the world to inspire some summer travel ideas for you. Get out that pen and start adding to your bucket list--we’ve got some bodies of water you’ll be dying to take a dip in by the time this one’s done:
1. Lake Louise: Alberta, Canada
An alpine lake situated at the base of some of Canada’s most iconic soaring peaks, Lake Louise is a community all to itself. Located in Banff National Park, Lake Louise is named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria). From its striking emerald water to the isolated alcove it sits in, this one feels like a world in and of itself.
Hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking and horseback riding are all popular activities during summer, while skiing is abundant during the winter months in the nearby Lake Louise Ski Area (and the lake itself can be used for ice fishing or even ice skating).
2. Lake Hillier: South Coast, Western Australia
A saline lake on Middle Island just off the south coast of Western Australia, there are few ways to access Lake Hillier (helicopter and cruise are your best options--and you’ll only be able to see it from above), but it’s certainly a sight well worth the trip. Known for its saturated pink hue, scientists still aren’t exactly sure what gives the lake its (pretty unbelievable) color, but a common theory suggests that it has to do with a presence of an organism called Dunaliella salina (Dunaliella produces a pigment that’s found in carrots as well).
One of the most interesting things about Lake Hillier is that the water remains pink when removed from the lake itself (i.e. it’d look exactly the same in a jar), a phenomenon that’s pretty uncommon. While the water is completely safe to swim in (though it might not look that way), it’s essentially impossible to do so, as helicopters can’t land on Middle Island. So, you’ll have to enjoy this one from above.
3. Dove Lake: Tasmania, Australia
Formed by glaciation (making for some seriously piercing blue water), Dove Lake is one of Tasmania’s more popular attractions. Situated in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, you’ll have a hard time finding a place for your eyes to rest at Dove Lake, as it's surrounded by some of the most breathtaking natural terrains in the world. We highly recommend taking a loop around the Dove Lake Circuit, a 6-kilometer walking trail that traces the edge of the lake and that takes about 1-2 hours to complete. You’ll also see the Ballroom Forest, a moss-covered rainforest that’s about as magical as it sounds.
4. Lake Tahoe: California & Nevada
Situated on the California/Nevada border, Lake Tahoe is North America’s largest alpine lake. Known for its water clarity (locals boast bumper stickers that read “Keep Tahoe Blue”), it’s one of those lakes that will have you yearning to jump right it at first sight. Surrounded by snow-capped Sierras and forests thick with Pines, it feels about as “Great American West” as you can get.
With a maximum depth of over 1,600 feet, it’s also the second deepest lake in the U.S. More than 75 percent of the lake’s watershed is national forest land, so the area’s pretty well protected (and development is highly regulated). That’s not to say the lake doesn’t see plenty of visitors, though. It’s one of California and Nevada’s most visited areas (and the Nevada side of the lake boasts plenty of casinos for gaming after a day on the shore).
On a still day, it’s a perfect spot for paddle boarding or kayaking and, on windier days, it sees plenty of windsurfers. It’s also home to plenty of different beaches, with each boasting its own personality and sand-makeup (some offer soft, white sand while others are more coarse and rocky). One of the most striking areas of Lake Tahoe is an area dubbed Emerald Bay (for its turquoise waters). Hidden beach is a local favorite, is dog-friendly and also offers some large boulders for jumping. Zephyr Cove is home to the lake’s party scene, with cocktail service brought right to your towels and college students playing beer pong on the sand.
5. Lake Como: Lombardy, Italy
We’re rounding out our list today with a spot that takes us all the way to Italy’s northwestern shores. Lake Como is one of those storybook spots that no bucket list would be complete without. Bordered by some of Italy’s most beautiful peaks and quintessential small Italian towns, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more charming lake anywhere in the world. At about 1,300-feet deep, it’s one of the deepest lakes in Europe (and one of its largest, too, boasting a surface area of about 56 square miles).
From above, the lake forms a near perfect Y shape, with the towns of Bellagio, Menaggio, and Lierna sitting right at the intersection of the three corridors. Lierna is one of the area’s most coveted spots and boasts a famous Italian medieval castle that sits right on a peninsula (giving it the impression of almost floating on the edge of the lake).
Have any lakes that you love? Share them with us in the comments section below.