From outer space, the Earth looks fairly blue. The oceans make up about 75% of the surface of the globe, and, as everyone knows, the oceans are blue! In fact, most people believe water is blue. Take a trip to see almost any lake, pond, or sea, and you’ll likely confirm this belief.

Except, of course, if you book a trip to see one of these fantastic bodies of water. If you pick any of the 25 lakes on this list, you’ll quickly realize water isn’t always blue. It can be almost any color of the rainbow, from shockingly pink to bright green.

Water is actually clear, so the “color” we see in lakes, oceans, and other bodies of water is actually the refraction of light off various particles within the water. (This is the same effect that makes the sky blue during the day, and then allows it to “change” colors when the sun rises and sets!) Different bodies of water are home to different particles and organisms, which in turn gives us a stunning array of out-of-the-ordinary water.

In some places, the reason for the rainbow-hued water is well known. In other cases, the hues we see are something of a scientific mystery! You can still definitely appreciate the bright hues of these 25 different bodies of water around the world.

25 Yellowstone National Park Has Another Geyser-Formed Wonder

You’re probably familiar with Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA. The park is famed for its hot springs and geysers, including Old Faithful. Perhaps even more stunning than the reliable geyser is Grand Prismatic Spring, which is both the largest hot spring in the US and one of the most colorful bodies of water anywhere on Earth.

The spring’s colors are caused by bacteria, which have varying pigments. The water itself can range from red to blue, although oranges, greens, and yellows are also seen as well. If you have to choose just one colorful trip, pick this rainbow-tinted one.

24 This Japanese Hot Spring Boils Red

Travel to Oita Prefecture on the Japanese island of Kyushu, and you’ll be in for a bit of a surprise. The hot springs at Beppu are a multicolored spectacle to behold. The area, known colloquially as the “Hells of Beppu,” is home to 8 different hot springs, and each one has a differently colored pond.

The ponds range in color from a pure and soothing shade of turquoise to a more shocking rust color. Perhaps most surprising of all is the Chinoike Jigoku, or “Bloody Hell Pond.” This body of water boils a bright red, as its name might suggest.

23 These Californian Salt Ponds Form A Rainbow

At the southern end of San Francisco Bay, near Fresno, you’ll find the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. This area is a natural wonder to behold, with plenty of trails heading through marshlands and forests. Wildlife abounds, so be sure to bring a camera.

To truly see the beauty of the area, however, you’ll need to get up into the clouds. The 30,000-acre park is home to many salt evaporation ponds. The ponds can take on just about any color of the rainbow, depending on their salinity level and which microorganisms are living in them. Since the ponds are separated by wide swaths of forested paths, different ponds can have different colors as well.

22 The Laguna Colorada Lives Up To Its Name

Take a trip to Potosi, Bolivia, to witness the Laguna Colorada. In English, the lake’s name means “Red Lagoon,” and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. This shallow salt lake is full of brackish water. The lake has a distinctive rusty hue thanks to both algae and reddish sediments on the bottom. This forms a beautiful contrast with the white borax islands rising within the lake.

The Laguna Colorada is located within the Eduardo Avaroa Andrean Fauna National Reserve, near the border with Chile. You’ll want to bring your camera, since flamingos flock here en masse. The park is home to another colorful lake as well.

21 Meet Australia’s Mysterious Pink Lake

If you travel to Middle Island in Australia’s Recherche Archipelago, you’ll likely do a double-take as you pass over Lake Hillier. This stunning lake, surrounded by verdant forest, white sand beaches, and the deep blue sea just a few miles away, is a study in contrasts. In the middle of all this natural beauty, Lake Hillier is shockingly pink!

The bubblegum hue of the water is still something of a mystery. Most scientists say it’s caused by a salt-loving bacteria, which thrive in the salty waters of Lake Hillier. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying Lake Hillier is an amazing display of natural color.

20 Lake Pukaki Makes The Sky Jealous

New Zealand is renowned for its natural beauty. From the oceans to the mountaintops, the island nation is certainly one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Various attractions add to that reputation, including the South Island’s Lake Pukaki.

Lake Pukaki is so vibrantly blue that it often washes out the sky above. While blue may not be an unusual color for water, Lake Pukaki certainly displays some next-level shades. The reason? This body of water is an alpine lake, meaning it’s fed by the glaciers of the surrounding mountains. The spectacular color comes from the mineral particles in the glacial melt.

19 A Rose-Colored Lake By Any Other Name

Senegal likely isn’t a top entry on your travel bucket list, but you may be intrigued by the body of water known as Lake Retba. Also known as the Lac Rose, this lake is—you guessed it—pink! The high salinity of the water attracts the salt-loving Dunaliella salina algae, which gives the water its rosy hue.

The best time to see this Cape Vert wonder is during the dry season, from late November to June. The lack of rain and increased evaporation tends to increase the salinity level of the lake. The algae thrive in this environment. And, unlike many other salt lakes, Lake Retba is safe to swim in.

18 Tunisia Has Three Unusually Hued Lakes

It’s almost impossible to pick one of Tunisia’s 3 salt lakes and leave out the others, so consider this a 3-for-1 deal. Located at the edge of the Sahara Desert, Chott el Fedjedj, Chott el Djerid, and Chott el Gharsa are all multicolored lakes.

These 3 bodies of water are all salt lakes, and they’re often dry. When they do fill with water, they can take on any number of colors. Red is one of the most common hues to witness, although green, purple, and white also occur. The best season to see the chotts is during the winter, as the summer heat evaporates all of the water and leaves the basin dry.

17 Visit A True Blue Lake In Tibet

High up in the Tibetan Himalayas, you’ll find the gorgeously blue Yamdrok Tso, whose name literally translates to “turquoise” in English. The Samding Monastery is located on the shores of the lake, which is considered sacred. With waters this blue and pure, it’s not hard to see why.

The lake is located at an elevation of around 4,750 feet, and it’s surrounded by Himalayan peaks. According to local legend, the lake is the transformed body of a goddess, Dorje Gegkyi Tso, who guards its waters to this very day. Many people, including the Dalai Lama himself, make pilgrimages to Yamdrok Lake.

16 These Volcanic Lakes Are A Natural Kaleidoscope

When you think about volcanoes, you probably think of fire and lava. Yet many volcanoes have lakes in their summit craters. This is true of Kelimutu, a volcanic peak in Indonesia. There are 3 lakes atop this volcano, but they couldn’t be more different if they tried.

The Kelimutu lakes have actually baffled scientists for quite some time, since the lakes spontaneously change color! The color changes are thought to be mineral reactions to volcanic activity, but no one can explain why the lakes turn different colors. A trip here could let you glimpse a red, green, blue, white, or even black lake.

15 These New Zealand Lakes Are Pretty From Afar

There are several reasons you should consider visiting Tongariro, New Zealand’s oldest national park. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is the most popular single-day hike in the country. You can also go for a more challenging multi-day hike through the area.

If you opt for the 1-day adventure, you’ll have a chance to see the shimmering green waters of the Emerald Lakes. The lakes get their color from minerals leaching into the rocks around them, but you probably won’t want to get too close. The lakes are located on an active volcano, and the nearby steam vents allow strong-smelling sulfur to escape into the air.

14 Visit Japan’s 5-Color Pond

You’ll need to climb up Goshiki-dake, a tuff cone of the Mount Zao volcano complex, in order to get a look at this next lake. Located on the border of Yamagata Prefecture and Miyagi Prefecture on Honshu, Lake Okama is a sight to behold.

This is a crater lake, which was created by a volcanic eruption in the 1720s. It’s known as the 5-color pond because it’s said to change color depending on the weather. It can be bright green, light blue, or even gray, in addition to its usual turquoise hue. The lake is a popular tourist destination, but it is highly acidic.

13 Algae Give This Lake Its Characteristic Hue

Tanzania’s Lake Natron is a rather inhospitable climate for most critters. The lake’s waters are high in salinity, and unusually hot temperatures make the area around the lake unpleasant as well. The heat causes water to evaporate at a faster rate, which in turn increases the salinity of the remaining water. The lake is actually named for the natron (sodium carbonate decahydrate) that gets left behind!

Certain types of algae thrive in these conditions, however, and the dominant one in Lake Natron is responsible for the lake’s reddish hue. The cyanobacteria that live here are also a major food source for flamingos, who arrive on the shores of the lake in droves.

12 These Pale Blue Pools Are Almost White

Turkey’s Travertine Pools are a sight to behold. The unique rock formation seems to create a cascading staircase of individual ponds, each filled with a pale blue water. The peculiar shade of the water here is thanks to the surrounding rock.

Travertine is a kind of limestone formed in mineral springs. As water evaporates, the calcium carbonate is left behind, forming a white residue known as travertine. The remaining water thus takes on a whiteish color.

The Travertine Pools are also a hot spring, with water temperatures reaching around 97 degrees Fahrenheit. As you might imagine, this natural spa is also a popular tourist destination!

11 Colombia’s Caño Cristales Is A Multicolored Delight

We’re cheating a bit here, but who could leave the technicolor Caño Cristales off a list like this? The Colombian river is known among travelers the world over, and locals have dubbed it the “Liquid Rainbow.”

Every year during the dry season, from July to November, Caño Cristales’s plant life turns a stunning array of vibrant colors, from yellow to blue, to green and red. Also known as “the river of 5 colors,” the plants are so bright you might think the water is changing color too. Optimal sunlight absorption happens during the dry season, when the water level is low, leading to this spectacular show.

10 Quilotoa Makes Being Green Look Easy

Ecuador is home to several Andean volcanoes, including the westernmost one. Atop this dacite volcano is a water-filled caldera, known as Quilotoa. Quilotoa was created during an explosive eruption around 800 years ago. Today, the resulting lake is about 250 meters deep.

The lake is notable for its greenish hue. The color comes from volcanic activity, which has left dissolved minerals and deposits in the lake’s waters. The lake is also home to fumaroles, which emit steam, sulfur dioxide, and other gases. To get here, you’ll need to hike around 10 kilometers up, but the sight is definitely worth it.

9 This Spotted Lake Has An Array Of Colors

Osoyoos, in British Columbia, Canada, is famous for being home to Canada’s only true desert ecosystem, the Nk’Mip Desert. It’s also home to a very colorful lake. Sometimes called Khiluk Lake, it’s usually known as the “Spotted Lake.”

This natural formation occurs because of the minerals in the lake. When the heat of summer arrives, most of the water in the lake evaporates. The water left behind is in about 365 smaller lakes, all connected by a hardened mineral path. The spots can be blue, green, and yellow, and they shift in size and color as the summer wears on.

8 Irazú’s Famed Crater Lake May One Day Return

Costa Rica’s Irazú Volcano, near the city of Cartago, has several craters near the summit. Unfortunately, the stunning Diego de la Haya lake has dried up due to a lack of rain. As of 2018, the only way to see this jade-green lake is to look at pictures.

That doesn’t mean the lake won’t one day return, and it may even be a different color when it does. Depending on the gases being released from the volcano, the lake is known to change colors from green to pink, gray, and red. The colors are caused by the mineral byproducts of the volcano, which get picked up in rainwater runoff.

7 China’s Jiuzhaigou Valley Is Home To Dozens Of Beautifully Colored Lakes

If you choose to visit the Jiuzhaigou Valley in China’s southwestern Sichuan Province, you’re in for a treat. This area is home to the bodies of water known to the locals as “Haizi,” or “son of the sea.” Dozens upon dozens of blue, green, and turquoise-colored lakes dot the landscape here.

The lakes are the result of glacial activity, which also means the landscape is rife with waterfalls spilling into the pristine lake waters. In many cases, you’ll be able to see right to the bottom of the lakes, because the water is that clear. Scientists still aren’t quite sure what causes the gorgeous colors of the lakes, but one thing is for sure: they’re stunning.

6 These Lakes Are A Top Tourist Attraction In Croatia

The Plitvice Lakes are located near Croatia’s border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are 16 lakes in the complex, and they rank as one of the top tourist attractions in the country, as well as being a stunning display of natural beauty.

The Plitvice Lakes are noted for their unique colors. These colors can change, depending on a number of factors, such as mineral deposits and organisms living in the water, or even how the sunlight is hitting the surface. Each lake takes on its own hue as well, meaning you’ll be treated to an array of blues, greens, turquoises, and even grays!