5 Brightly Coloured Bodies of Water

by Will McGough

Despite the typical image that comes to mind when we hear the word “lake, ” these bodies of water come in all shapes, sizes—and colours! For example, some glacial lakes take on a milky appearance and, as you’ll see below, there are even bodies of water that appear black, red or green. Red? Black? I know, it’s hard to believe.

Here are five of the most spectacularly brightly coloured bodies of water. Have you visited any? Let us know in the comments below.

Laguna Colorada, Bolivia

This lagoon will make you earn your visit—it sits at an altitude of more than 13, 000 feet! I’m sure you’ll find every step worth it, though. Red sediments and algae pigmentation produce its unique red colour, and the white borax islands spotted throughout add striking contrast. Laguna Colorada is part of the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve in Bolivia and is a common roosting spot for three different flamingo species.

Laguna Colorada

Credit: Will McGough

Lake Pukaki, New Zealand

Glacial erosion has filled Lake Pukaki with glacial flour, or finely ground rock particles, resulting in a frosty, cloudy blue colour. This mixture is sometimes referred to as glacial milk—and it does rather look like someone spilled more than a few gallons of milk into the lake. Lake Pukaki is no slouch; its surface area is approximately 179 square kilometres. While walking all the way around it might pose too great a challenge, there are plenty of options for approaching the lake on foot. I urge you to try them all if you find yourself in New Zealand.

Lake Pukaki

Credit: Will McGough

Moraine Lake, Canada

Glacial flour is also responsible for the cloudy blue colour of Lake Moraine, located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks in Banff National Park. This one is close to home, so there are no excuses for not visiting. You can get great photos and perspective by hiking up into the hills surrounding the lake.


Credit: Will McGough

Kelimutu Lakes, Indonesia

Kelimutu is a volcano that contains three crater lakes at its summit, each strikingly different from the others in colour: one’s blue, one’s green and another is typically either black or red. Two of the lakes are separated by a crater wall, creating a stunning distinction when viewed side by side, especially when they are green and black, as seen in the photo. Don’t be surprised if the colours are slightly different when you go; the lakes’ colours fluctuate due to chemical reactions of volcanic gases that drive nutrient-rich water to the surface. You can see another great series of photos of these tri-coloured lakes here.

Kelimutu Volcano

Credit: Will McGough

Jiuzhaigou Valley Lakes, China

Jiuzhaigou Valley is a nature reserve in the Sichuan province of southwestern China, home to numerous crystal-clear Caribbean-esque lakes. You’ll see stunning shades of blue and green, and some of the lakes are so clear you can see to the bottom of them. Be sure to check out some of your other surroundings, as well. Jiuzhaigou Valley is also home to a bounty of waterfalls, nine Tibetan villages and spectacular wildlife including the giant panda and the Sichuan golden hair monkey.

Jiuzhaigou Valley of China

Credit: Will McGough


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