If I'm being totally honest, it doesn't take much to give me the travel bug. Whether it's the promise of getting outside and exploring a gorgeous national park, experiencing the cultural delights, rich histories, and food of an international city, or even just taking a road trip to stumble upon charming small American towns, I'd like to see it all. So as you can probably guess that there are a lot of places on my travel bucket list.
But the places that land right at the top of my list, skipping every other gem ahead of them, have one thing in common: They're bodies of water in incredibly vibrant, bizarre colors. Maybe it's because they look like grown-up versions of my childhood dream of living inside Candy Land. Whatever the reason, these 13 colorful lakes around the world straight up stopped me in my tracks when I first saw them.
So if you love beautiful colors as much as you love traveling to watery destinations, you're going to lose it over these stunningly saturated lakes around the world. They're so striking that they seem fake. Keep reading to see for yourself.
Chott el Djerid, Tunisia
Behind the Hue: Depending on where you go in Chott el Djerid, you'll stumble upon beautiful shades of purple, green, blue, and red, though it's almost completely empty during the summer. Located in Tunisia, it's the biggest salt pan in the Sahara Desert.
Swimmability: The salt crust can be dangerous to trek on, as it varies in firmness throughout the year. It's safest and fullest during the winter when you can cross it by boat.
Zell am See-Kaprun, Austria
Behind the Hue: High up in the Austrian Alps and right outside the fairytale-esque town of Salzburg, lies this beauty. Depending on the light, Lake Zell in am See-Kaprun is crystal-clear or a gorgeous, milky shade of turquoise.
Swimmability: Yes! You can ski, fish, swim, and sail to your heart's desire.
Fuerteventura Island, Spain
Behind the Hue: Fuerteventura is one of Spain's Canary Islands, and you'll definitely find it to be the most beautiful if you're drawn to bubblegum-pink water. This pink water lagoon is pretty magnificent thanks to its unique position as a desert island.
Swimmability: When the tide is low, you can visit the nearby pink caves too.
Behind the Hue: Surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, Telluride, Colorado, is about as charming as it gets. From the authentic saloon-like bars, boutique gourmet eateries, and old-school chop houses, there's so much to do. But step outside the town center and you will discover even more breathtaking gems like the many striking mountain springs, including Blue Lakes, Hope Lake, and Navajo Lake.
Swimmability: It's extremely cold and at 12,000 feet elevation, so probably not.
Las Coloradas Yucatan, Mexico
Behind the Hue: Bubblegum-pink and bright orange water runs through the mounds of white salt and comes right up against iridescent turquoise water for a striking visual contrast. You'll almost feel like you've landed on another planet when you go to this river in Yucatan, México. The vibrant color comes from micro-algae.
Swimmability: Nope. You can touch with your eyes only.
Devil's Bath, New Zealand
Behind the Hue: Though murky green water doesn't exactly sound like a dream come true, there's something special about this opaque pastel lime green hue. Located in Waiotapu, near Rotorua in New Zealand, this little pocket of water is aptly named Devil's Bath.
Swimmability: Not likely.
Caño Cristales, Colombia
Behind the Hue: Caño Cristales is a breathtaking river that runs through Colombia. It hosts almost every color in the rainbow and then some. Locally, it's aptly called "the river that ran away from paradise" because as you can see, it's like an explosion of glorious colors.
Swimmability: Yes! Just don't apply sunscreen beforehand, as that can interfere with the natural balance of the ecosystem.
East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
Behind the Hue: Now that is a brilliant shade of blue (nothing against the one in back, but we're referring to the stunner up front). Located in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, the Kelimutu Lakes change colors depending on the volcanic activity around them.
Swimmability: Sadly not.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming
Behind the Hue: The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, is a truly mindblowing experience. This particular shot is of the Midway Geyser Basin, and it matches the pattern and hue of the rainbow exactly.
Swimmablilty: Nope! It's boiling hot.
Lake Hillier, Australia
Behind the Hue: If this makes you want to kiss a bottle of Pepto-Bismol, you are not alone. Located on a remote island in Western Australia, Lake Hillier is one of the most saturated bodies of water on the planet, all thanks to salt-loving algae.
Swimmability: You can reach it via a cruise boat. And while it's extremely salty, you can indeed swim in it.
Huanglong National Park
Behind the Hue: These gorgeous pockets of turquoise water look like magical dragon scales, only prettier. Located in the Sichuan Province of China inside the Huanglong National Park, it's a green lush mecca for nature lovers.
Laguna Colorada, Bolivia
Behind the Hue: Located in the Andean Plateau, you can thank a rich symphony of climates and geo-activity for these stunning saturated lakes and salt flats. Above is Laguna Colorada in Bolivia, where pink flamingos abound and red waters flow. Rumor has it that this landscape is the source of inspiration behind most of Salvador Dalí's work.
Swimmability: It's pretty shallow, so probably not.
Behind the Hue: Unbelievably tranquil and crystal-clear, the Havasupai falls in Arizona are better than anything we could think up ourselves. It's located inside the grand canyon, so if you're there already, this is definitely one destination worth adding to your watery itinerary.
Swimmability: Yes! You can splash around under the falls as long as you want, which will probably be all day long when it's hot out.