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Swim in the World’s Clearest Water


Swimming and playing in clear, clean water is one of life’s great pleasures. When people think of ideal beach destinations, they visualize water so clear you can see to the bottom with crystal clarity.

Unfortunately, pollution and runoff are making such places increasingly difficult to find. Still a few precious locations continue to boast clean, beautiful water. Here’s five fresh and saltwater locations you might want to add to your travel plans. Just make those plans quickly—they may not be retain their beautiful water quality for much longer.

clearest water locations

1. The Maldives

Located in the India Ocean, the Maldives are a nation made up of twenty-six coral atolls. Surrounding those atolls is a blue ocean of exceptional clarity, making it one of the world’s most popular SCUBA diving destinations.

Why You Should See It Soon: With the highest point in the country only two meters above sea level, the Maldives are at serious risk of flooding due to rising sea levels.

2. Crater Lake, Oregon

Over 7,500 years ago the volcanic Mount Mazama collapsed, forming a crater which filled with the rain and snow that give the lake its deep blue color and remarkable clarity. Not only is Crater lake the deepest lake in the USA, it’s considered one of the most pristine freshwater lakes on earth.

Why You Should See It Soon: In a word, pollution. The rain and melting snow that feed the lake increasingly contains chemicals and pollutants capable of changing water quality and clarity.

3. Lake Mashu, Japan

Like Crater Lake, Lake Mashu in Japan’s Akan National Park was created by volcanic activity. Surrounded by 660-foot-high crater walls and often covered by summer mists, Lake Mashu’s transparency has been measured at 133 feet, making it the clearest water in the world. 

Why You Should See It Soon: Shorter winters and the introduction of kokanee salmon have decimated the lake’s water flea population, which kept phytoplankton in check. The phytoplankton blume is slowly reducing water transparency.

4. Jenny Lake, Wyoming

Located in the Grand Teton National Park, Jenny Lake was formed by glacial movement. The crystal clear water reflects the surrounding mountains and meadows like a mirror.

Why You Should See It Soon: Jenny Lake is a popular destination, which brings with it the risk of litter, erosion, and environmental damage.

5. Puerto Ayora, Galapagos

With water so clear boats appear to hover above the surface, Puerto Ayora is a town on the southern shore of Santa Cruz Island. Tortuga Bay, a short walk from the town center, features marine iguanas, white tipped reef sharks, birdlife, and a natural mangrove swamp.

Why You Should See It Soon: Like most of the Galapagos, the effects of eco-tourism are not always positive, and put pressure on the surrounding ecosystem. Water contamination from human dwellings may also become an issue.

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