by Hadley Mendelsohn
We are officially in the dog days of summer, which means that we are basically puddles on legs. And though we may find ourselves melting into subway seats already slippery with another commuter’s sweat, our minds are away at sea. Since we’d so rather channel our inner mermaids in enchantings bodies of water (though we’d settle for being human in any body of water, really), we made ourselves comfortable by an AC unit and took a deep dive to discover beautiful places with the clearest water in the world.
From Malta to the Maldives, consider this travel bucket list of beguiling waters a curated siren song—if the siren was of the friendly variety, calling you to a destination that lives up to its breathtaking facade. If you want to hop aboard our mental vacation, or you want to plan an actual vacation, keep scrolling for 10 places with mesmerizing crystal-clear water. Ready to float away? Breezier locales with aquatic delights ahead.
Okay, wow. We would do pretty much anything if it meant diving through the computer screen to land in these tranquil waters. Located between Madagascar and Kenya, this string of islands is a real-life paradise. And though we came for the water, we’d stay for those otherworldly rocks.
More Places to Water Gaze: Busuanga Island, Philippines
Deep, moody greens punctured by vivid turquoise hues, bright sunlight, and jagged white rocks—we can’t think of a more blissful spot to be. Though Malta boasts a relaxed island pace, there’s also so much to do and see. The three islands, from biggest to smallest are Malta, Gozo, and Comino (go here to swim in the blue lagoon).
More Places to Water Gaze: Oludeniz, Turkey
In Lombok, Indonesia, pristine white sand beaches line the coast of this breathtaking island. Prepare for the best snorkeling expedition of your life. Though there’s much to do here, like exploring volcanoes and ancient ruins, we imagine it’d be pretty hard to leave this strip of sprawling pristine white sand that looks out onto the crystal-clear Indian Ocean.
More Places to Water Gaze: Koh Sumai, Thailand
Though Pakleni Islands translates directly to “Hell’s Islands,” we have no idea why. Maybe they were going for irony. When you aren’t frolicking in the dreamy water, you can explore the wooded forests and sleepy lagoons or go hang out in the bustling town centers.
More Places to Water Gaze: Porquerolles, France
For lakes, lakes, lakes and more lakes, head for a camping trip in British Colombia, Canada. After a challenging hike, cool off in the fresh springs and then fall asleep under the stars in the crisp mountain air.
More Places to Water Gaze: Laghi di Fusine, Italy
Blue on blue on blue. If we told you to close your eyes and imagine the most picturesque honeymoon retreat, you’d probably think of those over-the-water huts and the underwater realm of dazzling coral reefs at Madiavaru, Finolhu in the Maldives.
More Places to Water Gaze: Sua Trench, Samoa
No matter what time of year you visit Lake Tahoe and how many times you go, the beauty of the crystal-clear lake, mountains, and fresh air is always astounding. Hit the slopes in the winter for powder skiing and partake in water sports during the summer. Or go hiking and rock climbing if you’re more of a land person.
More Places to Water Gaze: Blue Lake, New Zealand
Climb along the rocky terrain and find yourself a private little corner of Mallorca to swim in. Get off the beaten path for quieter beaches or head to the bustling parts of the island for more lively, exciting beach vibes. When you have turned into a prune, head inland to the cobblestone street canopied in bright botanicals.
More Places to Water Gaze: Algarve, Portugal
This small island (it’s 3.5 miles long and just 1.5 miles wide) is painted in pastel buildings and golf carts, whimsical pale pink sand beaches, and lovely shades of topaz in every direction. So if you have a thing for color, this is where you should vacation next.
More Places to Water Gaze: San Blas, Panama
The largest of the Greek Islands, Crete is a sight to see. With cascading white mountains and fine sand beaches all around, there’s nothing not to love. Oh, and it’s the birthplace of Zeus.
More Places to Water Gaze: Paphos, Cyprus