Fly over Western Australia for a rare visual treat: nestled among dense emerald-green woodlands surrounded by the deep blue of the Southern Ocean are a series of lakes in a shocking shade of bubblegum pink. One of the most well known is Lake Hillier, a 600m-long lake on the edge of Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago off Western Australia’s south coast. Surrounded by a thin ring of sand and an expansive forest of paperbark and eucalyptus trees, the rosy pink lake punctuates a stunning landscape.
But even more surprising than its Pepto-Bismol shade is that “nobody seems to be able to definitively explain its distinctive colour,” according to Quora user Garrick Saito. Possible causes include the presence of green algae that can accumulate high levels of beta-carotene, a red-orange pigment; haloarchaea, a type of microorganism that appears reddish in large blooms; or a high concentration of pink brine prawn.
Most tourists admire the chromatic splendour of Lake Hillier from a helicopter or plane ride. For on-the-ground visitors, there’s an added treat: Lake Hillier is highly saline but the water isn’t toxic, so pack your swimsuit and go for a swim. Thanks to its high salinity, you’ll bob like a cork.