a boat in blue water in Exuma, Bahamas

There’s a reason we all dream of setting our eyes on the bluest waters in the world; the desire is baked deeply into our very being. According to study after study, merely being around the color blue — via a lakeside retreat, seaside getaway, or a balmy tropical paradise — helps us feel a sense of calm and can also help us reconnect with our primordial roots. 

Researchers asked more than 20,000 participants to record their sense of well-being, and discovered that both marine and coastal destinations helped people feel the happiest. As the researchers noted, the difference between being in a city and being near the water was the same as “the difference between attending an exhibition and doing housework.” (Don’t know about you, but we’d rather spend any day doing the former!)

“Part of ‘blue mind’ is what it gives us. A lot of it is what it removes: You can’t bring your desktop. Probably not going to bring your laptop. It’s questionable whether you should bring your smartphone,” Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and author of “Blue Mind,” shared with The Cleveland Clinic. “All day long, the world is demanding that bandwidth, with screens and traffic, email and people talking to you. That act of logging out, stepping away from the screens, starts you down the path of relaxing. It removes many kinds of stimulation.” 

Ready to feel its power? Pencil in a trip to any of these destinations where you can see and swim in some of the bluest waters in the world. 

Exuma, Bahamas

Aerial View of a Woman on a Boat With Silhouetted Sea Life Under the Water in Exuma, Bahamas, Where You'll Find the Bluest Waters in the World.

Exuma isn’t just one tiny place but rather a chain of more than 360 islands dotting the Caribbean sea. The islands have been largely left untouched with purposeful conservation, allowing visitors to swim in its gin-clear waters in peace and solitude. 

Where to Stay in Exuma, Bahamas

For accommodations, look to the biggest island in the archipelago, Great Exuma. There are plenty of luxury hotels, villas, and cottage accommodations to choose from, so you can find your perfect fit. One of our favorites is the Rosewood Baha Mar, a 5-star luxury resort that combines that easy sense of Bahamian leisure with refinement and tranquil natural beauty. 

When To Visit

High season runs from December to April and promises dry and pleasant weather. It’s a great time to take a dip in some of the clearest waters in the world. If you prefer thinner crowds, opt for the shoulder season of May and November. Weather is still good, though there’s technically a higher chance of rain.  

Travel Curator Pro Tip

Swim alongside the island chain’s most famous residents: the pigs of Big Major Cay. Guests can book tours to visit the pigs (who are the sole inhabitants of the island) for a swim and to feed the friendly creatures by hand. 


Aerial View of Overwater Bunaglows in Maldives, Which Boasts Some of the Bluest Waters in the World.

The Maldives, located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, is made up of more than 1,000 coral islands and some of the bluest waters in the world. The islands have become the “it” destination for honeymooners and those looking to go all out on a splurge-worthy getaway, which always comes complete with a boating, snorkeling, or diving excursion, so visitors can make the most of the crystalline waters. 

Where to Stay in the Maldives 

Make the most of a vacation here by booking an overwater bungalow at spots like Joali. The high-end villas have water access and private (equally blue) plunge pools for good measure. For an extra indulgent stay, book one of the incredible villas at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, which is one of the most stunning resorts in the Maldives

When To Visit

Plan your Maldives trip from November through April, where you’re apt to dive into crystal blue waters amid bright blue skies and calm waters. If you prefer shoulder season, aim for October or May when the weather’s still pleasant and crowds are thinner. 

Travel Curator Pro Tip

The Maldives are known for having the most beautiful snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities in the entire world. Many of the corals here are still vibrant, and the underwater sea life is as diverse as it is gorgeous. 

Blue Lagoon, Iceland 

Milky Blue Waters Steaming Across a Lava Landscape at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

Heat things up on your search for the bluest waters in the world with a visit to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. The soft-hued blue lagoon is naturally heated to between 98-104 degrees, thanks to the geothermal hot spring below the surface. It’s also located not far from Reykjavik airport, making it a cool day trip if you have a long layover or a way to start or end your Icelandic journey. 

Where to Stay in Iceland 

Guests can soak away their cares in the mineral-rich water for as long as they wish for a day visit, or can even choose to spend the night at the Retreat Hotel. The hotel comes with gorgeous, minimally designed rooms to let the outside world remain the star of the show. If you’re really on the hunt for something special, book the lagoon room, which comes with a private hot spring just outside. 

When To Visit

Iceland is best enjoyed during the summer months of June through August when the weather is temperate (still chilly!) and days are long. Winter brings complications like snow, ice, and very short days, which can make it difficult to pursue a road trip or see as much as you want to. However, this time of year is also the best time to see the Northern Lights.That said, if you’re popping into the Blue Lagoon on a wintry layover, the cold air against the steamy blue water is a nice contrast. 

Travel Curator Pro Tip

We strongly recommend pre-booking your reservation in order to ensure a spot the day you arrive. The Blue Lagoon fills up quickly. Also, while you’re there try to not get your hair wet. While the mineral-rich water is great for skin, it’s pretty harsh on your hair. 

Lagos, Portugal 

Yellow Rocky Cliffs Frame a Small Boat Sailing Bright Blue Waters in Lagos, Portugal

Portugal is definitely having a moment. Its wines are finally being appreciated for just how delicious they are, its food is gaining recognition the world over for its fresh takes on seafood, and its beaches are gaining major notoriety on social media for their absolutely drop-dead gorgeous views. None more than the beaches in Lagos, one of the nation’s southernmost towns. Here visitors will find craggy cliffs that drop vertiginously into the sea below.  Those willing to make the hike down the edge will be rewarded with soft sands lapped by inviting blue waters that reflect the soft blue sky above. 

Where to Stay in Lagos

Our favorite Lagos stay is at Soul and Surf Portugal, a hotel located just a few minutes from the beach that doubles as a surf and yoga retreat, too. 

When To Visit

Pencil in your Lagos, Portugal vacation anytime from mid spring to early autumn. June through August are considered the high season, boasting a vibrant atmosphere and plentiful waterside activities so you can get your blue water fix. 

Travel Curator Pro Tip

Though Lagos is known for its stunning beaches with some of the bluest waters in the world, its historic town center is definitely worth visiting, too. Also check out the Ponta da Piedade cliffs for breathtaking views and venture to nearby villages for a taste of local life and culture.

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Aerial View of a Pale Sandy Shoreline Against Turquoise Blue Waters in Zanzibar.

Zanzibar is one of those places that feels more like a fantasy than reality. Located off the coast of Tanzania, the island is known for its famed Stone Town, where travelers can learn about the island’s history, shop in the local boutiques, and get a taste of its delicious street foods. And, of course, it’s known for its surrounding ultra-blue waters too. 

Where to Stay in Zanzibar 

Pamper yourself with a stay at andBeyond, a private island in Zanzibar. Here, guests can swim off the private beach, go out for diving adventures, and even sail on a private boat to watch the sun sink into the sea.  

When To Visit

June through October is considered Zanzibar’s long, dry season and offers low humidity, less rainfall, and cooler temperatures. It’s a great time of year to go snorkeling, diving, and exploring.

Travel Curator Pro Tip

An ocean safari is an absolute must while visiting Zanzibar. You’ll spot adorable sea turtles, mysterious sting rays, splashing happy dolphins, and more fish than you can count.

Alberta, Canada

Aerial View of Snowcapped Mountains Some of the Bluest Waters in the World at Petyo Lake in Banff National Park

Who says you have to be in a warm-weather destination to spot the bluest waters on earth? Pack a few layers and a warm coat, and head to Alberta, Canada—home to the jaw-dropping Banff National Park—to see what we mean. Specifically, take a journey to Peyto Lake, which boasts a milky blue-green color that almost looks neon because it’s so bright. The lake gets its color from the glacial rock flour flowing through it, which means it’s an icy cold attraction too, and the color is only magnified by the deep green pine forest surrounding the lake. 

Where to Stay in Alberta 

Hotels near Banff National Park are few and far between here, but vacation rental accommodations are plentiful. Book a stay at a high-design home like this modern escape nearby to make the stay a little more spectacular. 

When To Visit

Alberta is a dreamy escape no matter when you visit. If you prefer to keep things icy—complete with skiing, snowshoeing, and iceskating—plan your trip between November and February. If summer weather’s more your speed, June through August is the way to go. The fall months offer beautiful foliage and spring is just as divine with its emerging flowers and plant life.

Travel Curator Pro Tip

Iconic spots like Peyto Lake, Lake Louise, and Moraine Lake are wow-worthy, but the rest of Banff is still worth exploring. Wandering through the trails less traveled offers some stunning viewpoints and some (crowd-free) tranquility. 

Lefkada Island, Greece 

A Bridge Against a Craggy Cliff Leads To Stunning Bright Blue Waters on Lefkada Island in Greece.

While all of the Greek Islands come with otherworldly beaches exhibiting sparkling blue shores, none may be as dazzling as those around Lefkada. Located in the Ionian Sea, the island is easily accessible thanks to a bridge that connects it to the mainland. Though all the water around the island is gorgeous, you’ll get a first-row seat to the bluest waters in the world on the western side of this Greecian island. 

Where to Stay

Take in some epic blue water views by booking a stay at Okeanos Luxury Villas. This hotel sits high on a cliff and provides panoramic views you’ll need to see to believe.

When To Visit

June through August are the most popular months to travel to Lefkada thanks to great weather. The water’s still warm in the shoulder seasons of Spring and fall, though, so consider visiting at this time to avoid hefty crowds.

Travel Curator Pro Tip

Lefkada is an aquatic sports lover’s paradise thanks to its ideal conditions for windsurfing and kite surfing conditions, and even a few spots with hidden swell for surfers willing to look a little deeper.