12 of the World’s Strangest & Most Unusual Bodies of Water


Strange, deadly, beautiful and unlike anything else on earth: these 12 bodies of water, including lakes and bubbling geothermal hot spots, range from the dreamiest swimming spots you can imagine to places that literally look like hell. Glowing organisms turn a lake in Australia a stunning phosphorescent blue. Bolivia’s Laguna Colorada is bright red, spotted with white mounds of borax. Domimica’s Boiling Lake is just as it sounds, with its center swirling and steaming. And in Palau, you can swim with millions of jellyfish that have been isolated in a lagoon for centuries.

Boiling Lake, Dominica


(images via: wikimedia commons)

The steam rising from this lake on a cool day might be tempting, making it seem like one big hot tub. But slip inside, and you’ll be dead within minutes. The temperature of the water in Dominica’s Boiling Lake is typically between 180 and 197 degrees Fahrenheit. The center if the lake is actively boiling. The lake is actually a flooded fumarole – an opening in the crust of the earth.

Bioluminescent Lake, Australia


(images via: phil hart)

For a brief period only in the Australian summer of 2008 to 2009, Gippsland Lakes glowed a stunning phosphorescent blue, creating an eerie effect in the darkness. An unusually high concentration of a bioluminescent organism, Noctiluca scintillans, built up in the lake, accumulating at the shoreline. Photographer Phil Hart captured the beautiful blue glow and even made it more intense utilizing the organisms’ natural defense mechanism. When they sense a predator nearby, N. scintillans light up, attracting even bigger predators to eat the first. So, splashing around in the water activated the glow.

Pitch Lake, Trinidad


(images via: wikimedia commons)

The goopy asphalt in Trinidad’s Pitch Lake is so thick, you can walk on the surface of the water. Pitch Lake is the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world, with much of it mined to pave surfaces as far away as New York City. Sir Walter Raleigh discovered it in 1595, even using the asphalt to caulk his ship. Nobody is quite certain why this lake is so full of asphalt or exactly how it’s created, but scientists believe that it may lie at the intersection of two faults, allowing oil from a deep deposit to be forced up to the surface. The lighter parts of the oil are believed to evaporate, and then bacteria go to work on the thick remainders.

Laguna Colorada, Bolivia


(images via: wikimedia commons)

Red sediments and pigmentation from algae make Bolivia’s Laguna Colorada a striking red, which contrasts beautifully with white borax islands that dot its surface. Located in the Eduardo Abaroa Andean National Reserve, the lake is one of the highest on earth at 4,000 feet above sea level. The salt water lake is near Salar de Uyuni, the highest and largest salt flats in the world. In the summer, it’s packed with pink flamingoes.