It’s hard to find a spot on Lefkada Island that doesn’t have spectacular views of the crystal clear Ionian Sea, but Egremnoi (or Egremni) beach on the west coast is particularly stunning. The beach requires a steep hike down some ersatz stairs, which thins the crowds, but once you’ve made the descent, the white sand stands in stark contrast to the turquoise water making it ideal for spending the day relaxing in the sun.
Crater Lake, Oregon
The deep blue waters that fill the caldera of the sunken volcano Mount Mazama help make Crater Lake one of America’s most beautiful lakes. The deep blue waters are almost crystal clear thanks to the fact that there are no incoming streams or rivers to make the water turbid. All of this makes it ideal for scuba divers willing to brave the chilly water. Crater Lake, located in Southern Oregon, is also the deepest lake in the United States, plunging to depths of 1,943 feet, with sunlight extending 400 feet down.
Con Son, Vietnam
Granite cliffs outline the crystalline water on Con Son, the only inhabited island in the barely populated 16-island archipelago of Con Dao, one of the best secret islands on Earth. Located 110 miles off Vietnam’s southeastern coast, the unspoiled island’s beaches are lined with golden sand and gorgeous blue water. For the most breathtaking views of the turquoise sea, head to the remote Dam Tre Bay lagoon.
Devil’s Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Sometimes it feels like the best views are the ones you have to work for, and it does take some work to get to Devil’s Bay on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. After you scrabble through the gem-colored Baths, you’ll emerge on the tiny, picture-perfect slice of white sand known as Devil’s Bay. It’s worth the effort to get here just to snorkel in the clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean or simply sit back and admire the surroundings.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Two hours from the industrial capital city of Zagreb lies a natural wonder—Plitvice Lakes National Park. The woodsy park, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979, is dotted with 16 turquoise blue lakes that are a staggering display of some of Mother Nature’s best work. A wooden walkway winds through the parks upper and lower lakes giving visitors the chance to wander alongside and even over the tops of crystalline waterfalls, while boat tours give visitors a closer look at the deep blue waters.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
A short boat ride from the largest barrier reef outside of Australia, Belize’s Ambergris Caye is a scuba diver’s and snorkeler’s paradise. Head to Shark Ray Alley to snorkel among nurse sharks and stingrays; visit Hol Chan Marine Reserve to get up close with eels, turtles, and colorful fish; or explore the underwater caves of Blue Hole. When you’re not in the water, admire its warm glow from a hammock on the beach.
Five-Flower Lake, Jiuzhaigou National Park, China
Spectacular waterfalls tumble into the brilliantly blue lakes at this UNESCO World Heritage Site in China’s Sichuan province. The park’s most famous attraction is the crystalline Five-Flower Lake—the startling blue water offers a window-like view to the bottom where fallen trees make a lace-like pattern on the lake floor. The water is so still and clear it mirrors the surrounding mountains and trees as well as the sky above.
Havelock Island, India
This far-flung island paradise is part of the chain of Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal. It’s not easy to reach, but it’s worth the trip for anyone who craves snow white beaches, aquamarine waters, and snorkeling far, far from any crowds. Havelock Island is a great getaway for a tropical idyll that is completely off the grid. For true paradise among the palm trees, head to the translucent turquoise waters of Radhanagar Beach (Beach No.7) at sunset.
Islas de Rosario, Colombia
Off the coast of Cartagena lies a tiny chain of mostly-uninhabited islands called the Islas de Rosario. The white sand beaches are lined with mangroves and the brilliantly deep blue waters are home to the Colombia’s largest coral reef, which is home to over a thousand different tropical critters. Most hotels are located on Isla Grande and can arrange to have a boat take you island hopping to explore the wonders of this area.
Peyto Lake, Alberta, Canada
This lake in Banff National Park owes its brilliant blue hue to the icy meltwater and silt from the Peyto Glacier and the Wapta Icefields. The sapphire-blue lake is best viewed from the Bow Summit near Alberta’s Lake Louise, which is where most of the postcard shots of the gem-colored lake are taken. Intrepid visitors can also hike down to the lake and to the glacier. You can always rest off sore muscles at Banff’s natural hot springs.
As one of the world’s best islands, it’s no surprise that the Maldives are a favorite destination for celebrities. You can find this low-lying island nation in between the Indian and Arabian seas has luxuriously appointed bungalows set over dazzling blue waters and surrounded by talcum-soft white sand beaches—basically everything that bucket lists are made of. When not simply admiring the view, visitors can spend days exploring the coral reef, visiting an underwater playground, or relaxing in one of the world’s best spas.
Palawan, The Philippines
Although it’s just a quick flight from Manila, Palawan feels like it’s a world away. The sparsely-populated archipelago is made up of jungle-filled islands surrounded by stunning teal waters teeming with fish and coral reefs and an incredible array of lagoons, coves, and secret beaches. Explore the waters of El Nido, where tropical fish swarm around the coral reefs, go diving in the azure ocean off of Linapacan Island, or bravely swim through the world’s longest underground navigable river.
To Sua Ocean Trench, Samoa
Known colloquially as “The Big Hole,” this local swimming spot in the South Pacific is a natural wonder. To enjoy the translucent teal water, visitors must hike through a lush forest in the lava fields outside of Lotofaga village on Upolu Island in Samoa. From there it’s a long climb down a steep ladder—or for the bravest, a quick jump—into the hole that is almost 100-feet deep. The water comes in from lava tubes that connect to the ocean, making sure that this downright gorgeous swimming hole never dries out.