Sometimes, when I’m trying to find the dreamiest places on earth to feature here, my astonishment is a bit more reserved and polite. You know — in that way where you’re like “wow, I can’t believe this place exists on earth,” but it’s not entirely a sublime experience and you’re also like “well, of course it would.” Like, “this place is amazing, but not stretching any realms of possibility — it’s just really beautiful.”
That is so not the case here. There is nothing reserved about the pinkness of the Pink Lake. It isn’t politely pink. It isn’t “pink when you fiddle with the hue/saturation levels.” It is real, honest to goodness, cotton candy pink — “naturally fuschia,” which is a strange and beautiful phrase. It literally seems like a figment (pigment?) of the imagination, but there is a “pink lake” on this green earth, and the water is legitimately this Barbie-Dream-House, cupcake-icing, nauseatingly cute shade of pink.
find out how in the world this happened in real life:
LAC ROSE: THE PINK LAKE
Officially, the site is called Lake Retba, but the locals call it “lac rose” — wonder what that means in French, huh? It’s located in Senegal, not very far from the capital city of Dakar. But it has a number of notable qualities (in addition to the obvious aesthetics) that make it well-known in various parts of Western Africa. Additionally, the only thing separating it from the Atlantic Ocean? Golden sand dunes. Picturesque and all-around adorable, right?
BUT WHAT MAKES THE PINK LAKE PINK?
The lake may look cute, but it’s also a little scary. The answer? Algae. Algae gives the pink lake its color, specifically the algae known as Dunaliella salina. The algae produces a red pigment as part of its process of photosynthesis. This pigment isn’t restricted just to the lake — the samphire bushes that grow on the shores are stained magenta, rather than green, and the sand dunes can sometimes look like a terracotta color.
However, that’s not the only interesting feature of the lake. Notice the salina in the algae’s name? Not much else besides this beautifying algae can really survive the lake, because it has a ridiculous high salt content. In fact, if you visit, that’s what you’ll see — people from all over the nearby region, harvesting the endless amounts of salt from this lake. The salinity is so high that you can actually become buoyant, like in the Dead Sea. So not only can you visit a pink lake on this planet, but you can actually float on it. This world is a dream.
- “Swim a Pink Lake in Senegal” via the Wall Street Journal
- Lake Retba
- “A Bizarre, Naturally Occurring Pink Lake in Senegal” via Inhabitat
- Lake Retba on Wikipedia