A select few lakes in the world — we’re featuring four below but there some two dozen others — have a hue of Pepto Bismol. That’s (usually) because their waters contain a large number of algae that excrete carotenoids. Algae are not the only life forms produce carotenoids. If, on trivia night, you are asked why salmon is pink or why lobster turns red when cooked, “carotenoids” would be your answer. But no animal can make carotenoids in the quality or at a level of pink-ness that the dunaliella salina algae can.
In case you are wondering, these pink lakes are all safe for swimming. (Indeed, both local folklore and some scientific studies have found that carotenoid-rich water is good for you). However, these lakes are also very salty — salt being a byproduct of all that carotenoids production.
Recherche Archipelago Nature Reserve, Western Australia
Australia has more pink-colored lakes than any country on earth. Most of those are easier to visit that is Lake Hillier†. None is more spectacular.
First, there is the pinkness. Lake Hillier is really pink. As in, God-just-had-a-girl-and-wanted-to-color-a-lake-to-celebrate pink. The coloring is entirely in the water, not a trick of light or somehow the result of the lake’s bottom — if you scooped Hillier water into a glass cup it would still look ridiculously pink.
Second, there is the setting. Lake Hillier is located on uninhabited Middle Island, which is part of the Recherche Archipelago and is densely covered in paperbark and eucalyptus trees. An areal view looks like an abstract painting of solid colors: a pink blob rimed by white salt surrounded by a solid green forest and the deep blue hue of the Southern Ocean.
“The lake is surrounded by a rime of white salt and a dense woodland of Paperbark and Eucalypt trees with sand dunes separating the lake from the Southern Ocean to the north.”
† If you’d like to travel to a pink lake in Australia, consider the uncreatively-named Pink Lake near Port Gregory on Western Australia’s Coral Coast.
[ ALSO ON SCS: Top 10 Reasons to Visit Hamilton Island, Australia ]
Lake Retba (Lac Rose)
Lake Retba is even more salty than it is pink-looking — its waters contain 50% more salt than does the Dead Sea’s! Locals harvest that salt by covering their bodies in shea butter (to protect their skin from prolonged exposure†) and scooping salt dredged from the lake’s bottom onto handmade boats. See the pics, below.
The lake, also referred to as Lake Rose, is in a rural, peaceful setting. Yet it’s only a 40 minute drive from downtown Dakar. That makes it easy to visit on a day trip, though it’s worth spending the night to experience the lake in differt times of day. The water is most pink around noon, more of a red-ish in the late afternoon and almost normal looking at sunrise/set. The best area hotel is Hotel L’Arc En Ciel, a two minute walk from the lake.
† To go for a simple swim you needn’t apply shea butter. Though your skin will feel dry afterwards.
Dusty Rose Lake
Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park, British Columbia
Oh, how we heart British Columbia. Is there any natural wonder western Canada doesn’t have? There, north of the pristine Bella Coola valley and east of Thunder Mountain, you’ll find Dusty Rose Lake. Unlike the other pink lakes in this review, Dusty Rose is a high mountain lake; its rich pastel color is not the result of algae but of mineral runoff from the adjacent glacier.
Though the Dusty Rose Lake is located within a provincial park there are no official hiking trails that lead to it. The easiest way to get a glimpse of the lake is on a flight between Vancouver and Terrace, BC — get a window seat on the east side of the plane.
Salina de Torrevieja
The town of Torrevieja, in south east Spain, is sandwiched between the Mediterranean sea and one of the world’s great pink lakes: Salina de Torrevieja. The town, in fact, was founded in 1802 to house workers harvesting salt from the lake for Swedish and Dutch companies.
Today, many Swedes and Dutch live in the greater Torrevieja area (and English and Germans and others too), attracted by the temperate climate and beautiful beaches. And salt is still the pillar (pun?) of the local economy and culture. Visitors to Torrevieja can tour the Museum of Sea and Salt and the Salt Industry Exhibition Centre. Local artists craft works out of salt. And every November the town crowns an official Salt Queen (pic to right) — a high blood pressure job if ever there was one.
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