You Know You Want to Take a Dip in These Crystal-Clear Waters

Lake Tahoe, Nevada. (Photo: topseller/Shutterstock)
The turquoise-tinted waters of one of the many beaches along the Florida Panhandle. (Photo: Cheryl Casey/Shutterstock)

You don't have to fly to Papua New Guinea or take a cruise to the Bahamas to admire some of the world's most crystal clear bodies of water. There are a handful of places within U.S. borders that offer the same aesthetic experience at a fraction of the price.

Some of the country's most notable examples of ultra clear waters can be found stretching out over hundreds of miles along the Gulf coast of Florida (as seen above). Whether you prefer the vibrant atmosphere of Panhandle resort cities like Pensacola or the laid-back vibes of Siesta Key in southwestern Florida, there's no shortage of crystalline turquoise waves.

Of course, white sand beaches aren't the only place you'll find these pristine waters. There are plenty of lakes, rivers and shorelines in the U.S. that boast surreal hues and astonishing visibility. And while some may be too chilly (or fragile) for swimming, here's just a few sigh-worthy destinations to add to your must-see list.

Lake Tahoe — California/Nevada

Lake Tahoe, Nevada. (Photo: topseller/Shutterstock)

The water quality of Lake Tahoe is legendary. Upon visiting this body of water in the 1880s, Mark Twain wrote "the water was not merely transparent, but dazzlingly, brilliantly so." Unfortunately, this startling clear visibility is experiencing a decline due to an increase in fine sediments as well as excessive nitrogen and phosphorus levels from car emissions that are accelerating the growth of algae.

As conservation group Keep Tahoe Blue explains, "consistent scientific measurements of water clarity started in 1968. At that point, one could see a white disk submerged to a depth of 100 feet. Today, clarity has dropped to around 70 feet. That means Tahoe is losing about one foot of clarity per year."

Hanauma Bay — O'ahu, Hawai'i

Hanauma Bay, Hawaii. (Photo: Sanchai Kumar/Shutterstock)

As one of the most popular and iconic beachscapes on O'ahu, Hanauma Bay has suffered from overuse and degradation over the past several decades. To preserve this natural treasure, local governments banded together in the '90s to establish it as a nature preserve and put restrictions on its daily use.

While visitors are still welcome to swim and snorkel in the bay's waters six days of the week, they must not harass wildlife or disturb the expansive system of coral heads.

Havasu Falls — Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Havasu Falls, Arizona. (Photo: Lucky-photographer/Shutterstock)

If you're looking for a challenging hike that yields a major reward, look no further than the 8-mile Havusupai Trail in Grand Canyon National Park. At the end of this sweltering trek lies Havasu Falls, a dramatic blue cascade with remarkably clear waters.

Lake McDonald — Glacier National Park, Montana

Lake McDonald, Montana. (Photo: Alexey Kamenskiy/Shutterstock)

Lake McDonald is the largest and deepest lake in Glacier National Park. It also happens to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing. Its chilly temperature and lack of nutrients are what makes the water so clear. According to the National Park Service, "the temperature [...] never gets above 50 degrees Fahrenheit at the surface, so plankton growth is minimal. It is not unusual to spot details on the bottom of lakes beyond 30 feet."

Frio River — Texas Hill Country

Frio River, Texas. (Photo: Richard A McMillin/Shutterstock)

Weaving south through Texas Hill Country, this river is a popular tubing destination in the summertime, and is celebrated for its breathtaking crystal clear streams. The name "Frio" means "cold" in Spanish, a nod to the river's chilly, spring-fed waters. The best way to enjoy a lazy float down the Frio is by visiting Garner State Park, the most popular state park in Texas.

Hanging Lake — Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

Hanging Lake, Colorado. (Photo: Zack Frank/Shutterstock)

Located within White River National Forest, Hanging Lake is one of the most beautiful sights in Colorado. The lake, which sits along a fault line, was formed after nearly 2 acres of land collapsed into the Earth after intense geological activity. The gorgeous blue-green tint of the water is the result of dissolved carbonates and minerals from the surrounding travertine limestone.

Jenny Lake — Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Jenny Lake, Wyoming. (Photo: Oscity/Shutterstock)

Formed by glacial activity more than 12,000 years ago, Jenny Lake sits serenely at the base of nearby Cascade Canyon. Although motor boats are permitted on the lake, a 2005 water quality survey revealed that Jenny Lake remains in virtually pristine condition. Planning a visit to Grand Teton and want to visit this glassy lake in person? You're in luck — it's the starting point for several popular day and overnight hikes within the park.