Nature’s diversity is awesome! Take lakes, for instance. Ordinarily, folks think of a body of water – and that’s about it. In some places, nature has jazzed things up by adding not only a complex biological cocktail but a dash of flamboyant pink, to boot. Throughout the world, there are a few rare examples of pink salt lakes that have to be seen to be believed.
While scientists have yet to attribute the cause, there are two theories as to how pink lakes are formed. Firstly, the water is host to a specific salt-tolerant alga which proliferates in conditions ten times saltier than the ocean.
Secondly, it may be due to certain bacteria and archaea, frequently found in conjunction with the algae. Both the algae and the bacteria produce pigments known as carotenoids, which have a reddish hue, hence the pink colouration. Finally, climatic factors such as temperature affect the salt concentration, and hence the shade of pink will vary over time. Pink lakes are best viewed on sunny days. And if you love birds, an added incentive is that in many of the locations, great flocks of pink flamingos which feed on the algae may be found.
- 20 Pink Lakes Around The World
- Pink Lakes In Africa
- Pink Lakes In South America
- Pink Lakes In North America
- Pink Lakes In Europe
- Pink Lakes In Asia
- Pink Lakes In Australia and New Zealand
20 Pink Lakes Around The World
Pink Lakes In Africa
1- Lake Natron
With water temperature exceeding 140°F/60°C, only life specifically adapted to these conditions can thrive.
The stunning Lesser flamingo is one such creature, also able to stand the extremely caustic waters that can burn human skin.
The benefit to the flamingos of being able to survive these conditions is that it allows them to breed in relative peace, with flocks of up to three million visiting over the breeding season, from August to November.
Location: Near Arusha, Tanzania
Coordinates: 02°25′S 36°00′E
2- Sandwich Harbour
If surreal landscapes and vibrant colours are your thing, Sandwich Harbour offers rich material – pink water, sand dunes and pink flamingos.
The pink lakes form part of a salt refinery, and the saline evaporation is so intense it is said to colour the air a pinkish hue.
Salt production here is so intense that it supplies most of the salt in sub-Saharan Africa.
The world’s tallest dune, Dune 7 (1256ft/383m), is also nearby.
Location: Walvis Bay, Namibia
Coordinates: 23.3501° S, 14.5029° E
3- Lake Retba (Lac Rose)
With water so saline, it has caused the resident fish to average only a quarter of their typical size, Lake Retba’s colour is at its best in the dry season, with locals saying the pink tone peaks in January.
Salt collectors who wade into its salty depths first coat their skin in shea butter to protect it.
The salt is used predominantly by Senegalese fishermen who use it to preserve fish for market.
Location: Cap-Vert Peninsula, 25 miles from Dakar, Senegal
Coordinates: 14.8388° N, 17.2341° W
Pink Lakes In South America
4- Laguna Colorada, Bolivia
Folklore says the lake’s colouration is actually the blood of the gods.
Situated high up in the Andes, this important wetland is a vital breeding ground for endangered James’ flamingos that visit between December and April.
The landscape is vast and the colours at altitude incredibly sharp, making the two days of travelling required to get there well worth the effort for intrepid photographers and travellers.
Best visited in winter (May to October).
Location: Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, Bolivia
Coordinates: 22.2083° S, 67.7735° W
Pink Lakes In North America
5- Las Coloradas
Ingeniously created by the Mayans to harvest salt, the lakes lie on private land for which there is a nominal entrance fee.
For a little extra, you can climb a viewing platform to appreciate the beautiful pink water and get that special selfie.
While swimming is possible at some pink lakes, it is strictly prohibited here, and your visit will be limited to just 30 minutes.
Location: Rio Lagarto, Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
Coordinates: 21.6083° N, 87.9913° W
6- Great Salt Lake
The causeway that divides the lake is one of the best places to view it, as, on one side, the water is clear, while on the other, it is pink in certain conditions.
Alternatively, head to the Spiral Jetty art installation, where you will find one of the best places to swim (or bob around) on the lake.
Shoes are recommended due to the sharp salt crystals.
The lake is best visited in spring and fall when low rainfall makes the colour pop.
Location: Utah, United States
Coordinates: 41.1158° N, 112.4768° W
7- Dusty Rose Lake
Unlike the other lakes mentioned, this lake owes its colouration to factors in the surrounding environment.
When nearby glaciers melt, the water flushes a particulate from the earth, which has a lavender hue.
When this enters the lake, it creates a unique purple-pink tone.
Interestingly, the lake water is devoid of oxygen, meaning there is no life within.
The lake is incredibly remote, with no official roads or trails leading to it.
Location: Tweedsmuir Park, British Columbia, Canada
Coordinates: 52.5608° N, 126.3424° W
Pink Lakes In Europe
8- Pačir lake
As with the previous lake, salt and algae do not give this lake its colour. And no one knows quite what causes it.
What is known is that it is geothermal, and the water is rich in minerals like bromine and iodine.
One theory is that the combination of minerals, sunlight and temperature results in the deep pink colour.
The lake is part of a health spa, with visitors flocking for the proven health benefits.
Location: Bačka Palanka, Serbia
Coordinates: 45.9027° N, 19.4277° E
9- Les Salins d’Aigues-Mortes
Salt has been harvested at this historic location since Roman times, and visitors can experience a fantastic insight into how this was, and still is, done by joining tours by train, electric vehicle, or bicycle of this expansive lake.
Tours are only available between March and November, when the summer heat speeds evaporation, resulting in the beautiful pink hue of the water.
A well-preserved mediaeval commune nearby adds to the charm of the location.
Location: Camargue, France
Coordinates: 43° 30′ 54.864″ N 4° 09′ 0.252″ E
10- Las Salinas de Torrevieja
This pink lake was created in the 1200’s when a canal was built to allow for the ingress of seawater, to harvest the salt left by evaporation.
The presence of D. salina turned the water pink, creating what is now an important habitat for waterfowl.
Lavender and orchids occasionally proliferate on the shores, making this a most colourful destination at certain times.
Visitors use the black mud and white sand for therapeutic skin treatments.
Locations: Torrevieja in Alicante, Spain
Coordinates: 38.0245° N, 0.6580° W
11- Lake Lemuria
Legend has it that this lake was formed by efforts to retrieve the remains of a crashed aircraft.
Groundwater rich in D. salina flooded the resulting crater, and to this day, the waters are pink.
The lake has since become a healing centre, with visitors benefiting from the minerals and chemicals in the water.
Naturally, salt is also collected here, and it is a popular spot for birds and bird-watchers.
Location: Kherson, near Grygorivka, Ukraine
Coordinates: 46°14′29″N 33°44′10″E
Pink Lakes In Asia
12- Lipar Pink Wetland
This seasonal lagoon is best visited on clear days between June and September.
Situated near the Sea of Oman, the colouration of the lake is affected by a causeway that segments part of the lagoon for salt harvesting.
Subsequent evaporation results in the lake’s colour turning darker shades of pink, and this is thought to be further enhanced by organic run-off from the monsoon.
It is a significant area for migratory birds to rest and feed.
Location: Chabahar, Sistan, Iran
Coordinates: 25° 15′ 20.88″ N 60° 49′ 43.21″ E
13- Maharloo Lake
Best visited between July and September, the lake’s colour is determined by the concentration of salt and other organic elements, which create a so-called “red tide”.
The less rainfall there has been, the pinker the lake gets.
To visit the lake, it is recommended that you hire a driver in nearby Shiraz.
The lake does dry out periodically, so be sure to find out if there is water before setting off.
Location: Shiraz, Iran
Coordinates: 29.4734° N, 52.7670° E
14- Koyashskoye Salt Lake
Fringed in part by natural salt sculptures, the terrain around the lake has a distinct otherworldly atmosphere.
Couple this with the pink to scarlet tinged water of the lake, and the impression is deepened further still.
The locals will tell you that bathing in the lake has certain therapeutic benefits, but these reports are unconfirmed by science.
Historically, the lake has seen few tourists, which makes a visit all the more special.
Location: Kerch Peninsula, Crimea, Ukraine
Coordinates: 45.0493° N, 36.1838° E
15- Masazir Lake
Covering some 10 km² (3.861022 mi²), this lake, sometimes red in colour features a high content of sulphate and chloride and is the site of a large salt works.
The annual yield of salt is about 1.7 million tons, rendered in liquid or clay form.
Due to the industrial operations at the lake, it is fenced off in its entirety and can only be seen from a distance.
Location: Baku, Azerbaijan
Coordinates: 40.5081° N, 49.7708° E
16- Lonar Lake
Once thought a volcanic crater, the lake lies within a meteorite collision crater thought to have occurred 35 to 50 000 years ago.
Minerals found around the lake are similar to those found on the moon.
The lake’s pink waters have led to various myths about their origin, as attested to by the abundance of temples surrounding it.
It is a protected Ramsar site and geological monument threatened by human activity.
Location: Maharashtra, India
Coordinates: 19.9758° N, 76.5069° E
Pink Lakes In Australia and New Zealand
17- Lake Grassmere
Supplying roughly half of New Zealand’s salt requirement, this shallow lagoon covers 17 km² (6.56 mi²).
With no natural inflow, water is pumped in by the salt factory for salt to be later extracted through evaporation.
As the water level recedes, concentrated levels of iodine and the presence of D. salina give this lake a varying pink hue, dependent on water levels and rainfall.
Tours are available, and Marfells beach is excellent for long walks.
Location: Marlborough, New Zealand
Coordinates: 41.7333° S, 174.1667° E
18- Lake Hillier
With no salt works, it’s an ideal place to visit.
Safe for swimming, surrounded by lush vegetation and close to the beach…
What more could you want?
The only problem for those who would like to see it is that it can only be viewed from the air, as the island is a closed research site.
On the plus side, the water remains pink, even when bottled.
Book a flight from nearby Esperance.
Location: Recherche Archipelago, Western Australia
Coordinates: 34.0950° S, 123.2028° E
19- Hutt Lagoon
The six-hour drive from Perth will be well worth it, particularly if you coincide your visit with the local wildflower season from July to September.
Better yet, time your visit from midday to sunset (on clear days only), when the colour of the water is most vivid, and you won’t regret it.
Aerial charters let you appreciate the contrasting colours of the lagoon and the ocean.
Alternatively, take a buggy tour to an elevated viewpoint.
Location: Yallabathara, Western Australia
Coordinates: 28.1621° S, 114.2450° E
20- Lake Bumbunga
Thanks to its accessibility (less than two hours from Adelaide), the (usually) bright pink water and Instagram, this lake is possibly the most photographed of all those mentioned.
Be warned, though, that the pink colour varies depending on the lake’s salinity – and the presence of water.
The locals say this pink lake is best viewed in late autumn or early spring, especially on a clear day after rain.
Look out for the Loch Eel, the bizarre sculpture meant to look like a sea monster.
Location: Lochiel, South Australia
Coordinates: 33.9274° S, 138.1645° E