There are many ideas as to why some bodies of water around the world are so clear and stunning, but there really isn't just one answer that causes a lake or river to be basically transparent. Some of these areas are located among the rainforests; while others have been created by volcanoes or mountains. Some people prefer to go S.C.U.B.A. diving in crystal-clear waters to see the marine life, and many people spend their entire lives trying to find that perfect spot.
Even though there is not enough room on this list to mention every single lake or river around the world that is flawless, this is only mentioning forty bodies of water that appear to be an ideal spot for one who is hoping to see what lies beneath the land. These may not actually be the top 40, but it is nearly impossible to find out which ones truly are the clearest. A few on the list have won awards for their cleanliness, and the ones here are in no particular order.
40 Cozumel - Mexico
Having visited Cozumel first hand, I can personally assure you that Mexico has some of the clearest water that you could possibly imagine. While on a quick stop from a cruise ship layover, Cozumel is one tourist attraction that enables visitors to go S.C.U.B.A. diving while being able to see in the water in which they are swimming.
39 Jardines de La Reina - Cuba
If swimming with sharks is your preference, then Jardines de La Reina in Cuba is the perfect place for you to visit. Even though it is not recommended, photographers who like to dive can get as close to the creatures as they wish; just as the man who bravely snapped this amazing picture.
38 Wakatobi - Indonesia
The beautiful colors of wildlife in the deep seas of Wakatobi are easily seen; as the water allows you to see the vivid, brightly-colored fish, without having to go too far down. Wakatobi is a park, as well, situated on an island located in Indonesia.
37 Lake Baikal - Russia
When thinking of clear waters, Russia isn’t really the first place that comes to mind. However; Lake Baikal in Russia contains almost 20 percent of the water supply for the entire world. Being over 25 million years old, the lake is around 2500 feet deep, and is frozen throughout the majority of it. When standing on a completely iced spot, you can see right through the water, and it is absolutely breathtaking.
36 Red Sea - Egypt
Did you know that there are dolphins in Egypt? The Red Sea has them, and you can register to swim along with the beautiful mammals in crystal-clear waters that flow throughout the Azores (but only on certain holidays that allow it). Make sure you plan ahead, because there are also giant turtles that get in on the event, as well.
35 Playa Blanca – Canary Islands, Spain
The name alone says it all. Playa Blanca means “white beach” in Spanish, and the sand along this part of the Canary Islands lives up to its name. The beautiful turquoise waters surrounding the beach are a perfect complement to the clear waters that encompass the island.
34 Sipadan Island – Malaysia
The bright colors of the fish being seen prove why Sipadan Island earned the top spot of Rodale’s Scuba Diving Magazine Gold List for “The Top Dive Destination of the World.” Just off of the coast of Malaysia, divers and tourists can enjoy swimming in the clear waters surrounding the island. Just beware of hammerhead sharks and barracuda that are known to frequent the area.
33 Fraser Island - Lake McKenzie, Australia
Located off of the coast of Queensland, Australia, lays a beautiful island with rainforests and eucalyptus. Fraser Island has been termed the “largest sand island in the world,” according to the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment. This means that it is made entirely of sand, with dunes throughout the entire island.
32 Dog Island, San Blas – Panama
The Caribbean has many islands that are beautiful, and Dog Island in Panama is one that is included. With water so clear, it looks like you can drink from it; the San Blas Islands are the top tourist destination in Panama, according to their website. The natives are known for their culture, so be sure to read up on the Kunas or Gunas (names they go by) before you visit.
31 The Hinatuan River, AKA “The Enchanted River” – Island of Mindanao, Philippines
As you can see in the picture, the Hinatuan River has water that is nearly invisible, with fish easily seen without having to observe closely. It has been given the nickname of “The Enchanted River” since it has the overall feeling of being charmed by some higher power. In all actuality, it is believed that the minerals in this rainforest are what caused the beautiful blue color.
30 Mabul Island - Malaysia
Another small island off of the coast of Malaysia is Mabul Island; which is also beautiful. For years, it was a top spot for those who were looking for fish, but eventually people found out how close it was to another Malaysian island, and it attracted more tourists. People soon found out how beautiful this island was, as well, but has yet to take over the top spot for the number one diving area. That title belongs to Sipadan, which is mentioned earlier in this list.
29 Corfu – Greece
With temperatures ranging from the 60s to the 70s all year round, it is inevitable that Corfu, Greece, is high on the list of tourist destinations. Perhaps the weather on the island is the reason for the lovely, clear waters that visitors love to go on vacation. Or maybe it’s the atmosphere; Corfu is the home of the first Philharmonic Orchestra. The original School of Fine Arts was also founded in this astounding location.
28 Tobermory - Ontario, Canada
Tobermory (a peninsula off of the coast of Ontario, Canada), has had over 50 shipwrecks; and the reason it is so well known is that you can visibly see the ships at the bottom of the water. Tourists can pay to swim in the harbor, but only during certain hours. Tobermory is the perfect place to go if you are interested in old ship wrecks and S.C.U.B.A. diving, but probably not so much for those who love to sail.
27 Bonito - Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil
Bonito, the municipality, is located in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Bonito has water that flows through the river that is so clear; that photographer, Franco Banfi was able to capture a photograph of people feeding a school of fish above the water, by snapping the picture while he was underneath a boat.
26 Kanawa Island - Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Kanawa Island is part of Komodo National Park, and is listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. You can rent a bungalow on the stunning island for around $70 a night, but good luck getting in. The rooms on the island are fully reserved all year, even though their website states that you should book early. The “fully booked” problem probably explains the exceedingly inexpensive rates.
25 Arnensee – Switzerland
Not too many people know about the nearly invisible waters of Arnensee, Switzerland. When most people think of the Swiss, they think of mountains (or maybe cheese?), not a lake that makes boats appear to be floating. Perhaps the fact that it is virtually tourist-free keeps this lake nearly perfect and essentially transparent.
24 Cala Corsara Cove at Maddalena Archipelago – Sardinia, Italy
There are images galore on the internet focusing on the snorkelers that frequent Cala Corsara Cove in Sardinia, Italy. It’s no wonder that George Clooney has found his residence in Italy, and if you can find it, Lake Como (the apparent home of Mr. Clooney) is only a fifteen hour trip from Sardinia. Although, it would be a bad idea to pay a visit to the award-winning actor; the last person who tried to “visit” George’s Lake Como home was threatened with a fine of $600, and was warned to stay away (along with everyone else who attempts it).
23 Ternate Island, Indonesia
Ternate Island is home to many volcanoes, and it has had its share of eruptions throughout the years. It is very possible that they may have had something to do with the natural beauty of the island and its gorgeous waters surrounding it.
22 Rio da Prata – Brazil
South of Bonito is an area called Rio da Prata, which is another part of Brazil’s rainforests and natural, clear waters. The area is ideal for hiking, and the waters are clear enough for snorkeling and seeing the many fish along the way. A true paradise for divers.
21 Bora Bora – Tahiti
If you’re looking to go where the famous travel to get away from it all, Tahiti is the place to visit. Celebrities such as Orlando Bloom and Nicole Kidman have spent their vacations in the South Pacific Island known as Bora Bora. Many newlyweds spend their honeymoon in the Tahitian paradise, as well. In addition, Christina Applegate and her then-newly-wed husband decided to use Bora Bora as their honeymoon destination in 2001.
20 Koh Phi Phi Don – Thailand
Thailand is home to many lovely places, and numerous movies have been filmed in the striking country. The largest of the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand, Koh Phi Phi Don, has the clearest waters of all of the islands in the country. It is free of volcanoes, but it is made purely of limestone. In 2005, a tsunami ruined many of the buildings on the coastline, but it still didn’t make a difference in the magnificence of the water.
19 Whitehaven Beach - Whitsunday Islands, Australia
If you’re searching for kangaroos and want to visit Australia, why not visit “the most photographed beach in Australia,” while you’re at it? Whitehaven Beach was voted the “South Pacific’s Best Beach,” and won the 2015 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Award. With white sands and seemingly changing colors of the water when the tide comes in, it is sure to be breathtaking.
18 To Sua Ocean Trench – Samoa
Samoa, an island west of Hawaii and northeast of Australia, is an extremely popular tourist attraction. The entire island has clear water and white sands on the beaches; but for a truly unique experience, the To Sua Ocean Trench is a large swimming hole that the ocean empties into; where people can swim and see deep into the vibrant waters.
17 Spiaggia dei Conigli – Lampedusa, Italy
If the “most beautiful beach in the world” (according to the list on TripAdvisor in 2015) sounds enticing, then Spiaggia dei Conigli would be the place to go. Spiaggia dei Conigli, or “Rabbit Island,” as it is translated, is surrounded by perfectly serene, clear waters that people come to visit from all around the world.
16 Cayo Arena - Dominican Republic
When visiting the Dominican Republic, make sure to snorkel at Cayo Arena. The sands are pure white and the waters are so clear you’ll feel like you’re one of the many fish swimming alongside you. Be prepared for a long bus ride and quick boat trip to get to the island, though. It is said that visitors are sent from Puerto Plata to Cayo Arena from a bus, and it takes two hours along very rough and bumpy roads. Nevertheless; it appears to be well worth the effort.
15 Silfra Rift, Iceland
If you’re searching to dive in “the clearest water on Earth,” then you need to go to the Silfra Rift. Iceland earned this title by being a crack that divides two continents, the North American and the European/Asian continents (also known as Eurasia). Divers can swim in the large fissure, and can see down as far as 100 meters; which converts to 328 feet, or almost 360 yards. To put that in perspective; you can observe the sea life as far down as about two thirds of a football field, just by standing on the pier.
14 The Maldives Islands – Indian Ocean
Officially known as The Republic of Maldives, the Maldives Islands are located in the Indian Ocean and are made up of 26 atolls that stretch from the north to the south of the islands. The atolls are made up of coral, lagoons, or reefs; and some are thought to be formed from volcanoes erupting underneath the islands.
13 Lake Tahoe, Nevada – U.S.A.
If you live in the United States and don’t have a passport, don’t worry; your home country has Lake Tahoe. The water is so clear in this lake that you can even see the fish on a foggy day. If you are in Nevada and you get tired of gambling in Las Vegas, try spending the weekend at one of the clearest beaches in America, instead.
12 Cayos Cochinos – Honduras
Located in the Northern Caribbean is a set of two islands entitled Cayos Cochinos. Cayos Cochinos is a Marine Biological Reserve, which belongs to Honduras; the second largest country in Central America. While visiting, you may come across octopi in the shallow waters, or a pink boa constrictor that is native to the island.
11 Bodrum – Turkey
If you visit anywhere on the peninsula of Bodrum and are on the beach, you will be able to see the pure waters that surround it. Bodrum happens to have another one of the Seven Wonders of the World, The Mausoleum; so it’s no surprise that many celebrities have visited and vacationed in the beautiful area. It is also rumored that Cleopatra and Mark Antony had stayed there, as well.
10 Molokini, Hawaii – U.S.A.
Even though you may not need a passport to visit the Hawaiian Islands if you live in the United States, you may have the sensation of being in another realm. All of the Hawaiian Islands were formed by volcanoes, and Molokini is a moon-shaped area that is the top of a volcanic crater. Many divers brave the area, as volcanoes may lay dormant for years; but could erupt at any time.
9 Bili Boci Beach, Proizd Island - Croatia
Bili Boci is a beach with entirely white rocks located on a small island in the beautiful country that is Croatia, in the Mediterranean Sea. Croatia is also home to many beautiful islands with clear waters encircling them.
8 This Beautiful Lagoon, Polis City, Cyprus
This gorgeous lagoon’s destination is Polis City, Akamas Peninsula National Park, Cyprus. It’s not actually in the National Park, but it is off of the peninsula in Cyprus, that is home to the baths of Aphrodite. Just in case you’re not sure where Cyprus is located, it is located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, east of Greece.
7 The Seychelles - East Africa
Visit anywhere in Seychelles, and you are likely to happen upon a sandy, white, clear-watered beach. They even have a website dedicated entirely to their beaches, with all of them having stunning, vibrant waters. I couldn’t pick just one, so the entire island is one entry on this list.
6 Menorca Island - Spain
If you plan to visit the Balearic islands in Spain, be sure to visit Menorca Island. It is the very first place to see the sunrise early in the wee mornings. Make certain that you are visiting the right place; as there are two islands with very similar spellings that are fairly close to one another. One is Menorca and the other is Minorca. Better yet, take someone with you who lives in Europe.
5 Lake McDonald, Montana – U.S.A.
Lake McDonald was formed by glaciers thousands of years ago in Montana. At first glance, it may look as though the lake is polluted, but it is, in reality, so clear that you can see the rocks that are resting at the bottom. The lake is also surrounded by beautiful mountains, which gives it an even more impressive view from the beach.
4 The Verzasca River, Switzerland
The Verzasca River is a 19 mile-long river that flows from the mountains and is clear and turquoise all the way to Lake Maggiore; the lake to which the river empties. The average temperatures in the area vary from the 40s to the 50s (Fahrenheit), so it isn’t a popular area for swimming; although diving and bungee jumping is popular in the summer.
3 Melissani - Greece
Greece has a renown cave that is popular for swimming, and with good reason. Melissani is a cave that was created from eroding rocks, and sightseers go through an underground tunnel to get to it. There is a myth that goes along with the beautiful, clear waters of the cave. It is believed that Melissanthi had gotten her heart broken by Pan, and she fell into the lake. Pan’s sanctuary, containing a statue of the “God of the Wild” was found in the cave in the 1950s.
2 Grenada – Part of the Caribbean Islands
Almost the entire island of Grenada is covered in white, sandy beaches and clear water. Many celebrities have spent their vacations on this tropical island; visiting the lovely tourist attractions and the waterfalls located throughout the area. Michelle Rodriguez (from the Fast and Furious films) was spotted on the beach in Grenada with friends, celebrating the upcoming new year in 2012.
1 Giola, a Natural Swimming Pool in Giola, Thassos - Thassos Islands, Greece
It appears that just about everywhere in Greece would be an amazing place to visit, and there is one stop that you simply must travel if you are an avid diver. Giola is a natural-made swimming hole, located in the Thassos Islands. Visitors can visit the swimming hole, although it is said to be a tough trek through rocks, and is a little over a mile from the main hotel in the area. Once you are there, feel free to dive in from the highest part of the rocks, which is about 8 meters (or 26 feet) from the water. If you are scared of where you will land, at least you will be able to see exactly what will be underneath you in the lake.