According to research, being in close proximity with water can improve our mental state – making us happier, calmer, healthier and more creative.
Covering 70% of the Earth, scientists believe that when we’re near water, the sight and sound kickstart neurochemicals in our body that promote wellness, increasing blood flow to the brain and heart, all while making us relax. Even when looking at images of water, people can start to feel these effects as well, according to a study.
We are here to help you choose your next road trip destination by matching our nation’s stunning collection of waterways with color shades. We color picked more than 50 of the best bodies of water and found the nearest shade of blue to illustrate what vacation destinations our magnificent country has to offer.
Let yourself be inspired by these blue hues, matching up your love for aquamarine, dark sapphire or turquoise waters to determine your next vacation spot.
You can find the bluest bodies of water in the U.S. ranked below starting with New Mexico’s Blue Hole ranked as the #1 bluest water in the nation, followed by Alaska’s Chena Hot Springs coming in at #2 and Florida’s Las Olas Beach at #3.
Waimea Bay and Lake Tahoe offer some of the lightest and coolest blues of them all while gorgeous green-blue hues can be found in Hana Bay, Emerald Cave and Haulover Inlet. Find richer blue shades in the mystical waters of some of the country’s most beautiful lakes like Canyon Lake, Lake Michigan, Table Rock Lake and Onota Lake.
You can find the bluest bodies of water in the U.S. ranked below.
When it comes to states, California has some of the bluest water with stunning Latigo Beach, La Jolla Cove, Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay. Not far behind is Florida with beautiful blue waters off Las Olas Beach, Lake Conway and Clearwater Beach.
#1: Blue Hole
Santa Rosa, NM
A two hour drive from Albuquerque, this sapphire gem has incredible visibility and a steady temperature of 62℉ which attracts not just amateur swimmers but professional scuba divers alike. The magical Blue Hole is part of seven sister lakes all connected underground and came into existence by the Santa Rosa sink. A true desert oasis you can’t miss!
#2: Chena Hot Springs
Flanked by forest, this attraction has been popular for over a century with the Gold Rush putting a name to the relaxing and therapeutic waters of Chena Hot Springs. Open all year-round, people travel far and wide to take advantage of these moody blue geothermal hot springs, perfect after a day of hiking, canoe-ing or fishing in the region.
#3: Las Olas Beach
Fort Lauderdale, FL
In the heart of Fort Lauderdale, visitors can immerse themselves in the abundance of fashion, restaurants, and architecture whilst admiring the perfectly aligned palm trees towering over the area. Known for its magnificent views of mansions and super yachts, it’s the perfect place if you’re looking for a glamorous trip away.
#4: Grand Lake
Grand Lake, CO
Surrounded by majestic mountain peaks and a short drive from the Denver airport, Grand Lake is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, from boating and fishing to hiking and biking. Explore the tranquil waters of the lake, fish for trout, or simply soak up the serene surroundings.
#5: La Jolla Cove
San Diego, CA
Protected as part of a marine reserve, this scenic spot is home to boisterous sea lions, seals, cormorants and California’s bright state marine fish Garibaldi. With many seaside restaurants and a grassy lawn perfect for picnics, this breathtaking cove showcases the relaxed but elegant Southern California lifestyle anyone can enjoy.
#6: Sail Bay
San Diego, CA
Located in America’s Finest City, Sail Bay has everything a family could want: cool water, warm sand, volleyball nets and a playground right on the beach. With a paved walking path and nearby parking, the shallow sky blue water also allows for unprecedented views of sea life and if you’re lucky, you may even spot a seal!
#7: Lake Conway
Lake Conway offers a tranquil and scenic escape from the urban environment of nearby Orlando. The large freshwater lake is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and water sports, and is surrounded by residential communities and parks. It is known for its clear water, abundant wildlife, and picturesque views. The lake is home to a variety of fish species, including bass, bluegill, and catfish, making it a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts!
#8: Lake George
Lake George, NY
Perfect for thrill seekers and relaxation lovers alike, New York’s Lake George is the perfect destination for those looking to recharge. Tourists can enjoy this spot all throughout the year, with the winter months offering ideal skiing conditions, whilst the summer months are perfect for sightseeing, enjoying local amusement parks, or unwinding with a book by the lake.
#9: Coeur d'Alene Lake
Coeur d’Alene, ID
At Lake Coeur d’Alene, you will never be short of things to do. Visitors can make memorable experiences by enjoying the exciting water sports available or having a go on the world's only floating golf course. Renting a boat is the best way to tour the area, so you can sit back, relax and take in the scenery as much as possible.
#10: Glass Beach
Port Townsend, WA
Even though the only way to get to Glass beach is with a hike from North Beach, it’s well worth the work as this enclave is one of the few beaches in the U.S. still covered with sea glass! Sparkling with hundreds of different colors, this beach only accentuates the cerulean beauty of the Pacific Ocean and is the perfect serene getaway.
#11: Ditch Plains Beach
If you’re a lover of surfing, this is the destination for you. Known for its sandy beaches, cliffside views, and (more importantly) some of the best surfing terrain in the U.S. It’s the perfect spot for non-surfers too- as the sun sets, visitors can also relax and unwind with a drink or a bite to eat in one of the restaurants on the beach to end the day.
#12: Latigo Beach
Los Angeles, CA
With its golden sands and sparkling waters, this secluded beach offers the perfect escape from the city. Take a walk along the coastline or relax on the sand and soak up the sun. With fewer crowds than other LA beaches, Latigo Beach provides the perfect setting for a peaceful and intimate retreat.
#13: Betterton Beach
This family-friendly waterfront park is one of the larger in Chesapeake Bay and offers great access and amenities like restrooms, parking, and handicap access. Known for its bright yellow sand, this beach offers swimming as well as boat access with a public landing and pier. Not too far from Washington D.C., this beautiful destination has everything you and your family need to enjoy the beach!
#14: Monterey Bay
This breathtaking natural wonder offers a one-of-a-kind destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. With its picturesque coastline and translucent waters, the bay is home to a diverse array of marine life, including sea otters, seals, and dolphins. Take a whale-watching tour and witness the awe-inspiring sight of humpback and gray whales breaching the surface of the water, or explore the bay's famous kelp forests on a kayaking excursion.
#15: Maryland Beach
Ocean City, MD
This miles long stretch of beach along the cobalt Atlantic Ocean offers all the East Coast classics like boardwalk restaurants, arcades and more - perfect for families or even solo, for a fun day in the sun. When you need a break, rent a bike for a ride down the boardwalk or take a look around the countless shops.
#16: Great Salt Lake
Salt Lake City, UT
In the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere, swimming and sailing are the main attractions in the capital of Utah’s namesake. Beautiful white beaches are popular for sunbathing on Antelope Island State Park, with trails on Antelope Island for those looking for less passive activities around this serene salt lake.
#17: Corolla Beach
Located in North Carolina’s famous Outer Banks, this special beach has something you can’t find anywhere - wild horses roaming free! Spotting these wild Spanish mustangs on Corolla Beach only adds to the romantic atmosphere alongside the sweeping views of the gray-blue Atlantic. If sitting still isn’t your jam, this community offers countless boutiques and elegant restaurants.
#18: Poipu Beach
This family-friendly beach offers not only an incredible day at the beach, along some of the most beautiful water in the world, but has nearby parking! Actually two beaches in one, Poipu Beach has areas perfect for beginning bodyboarders and for small children with shallow waves. Endangered monk seals are also known to make an appearance, so if you spot one - keep your distance and avoid flash photography as this species is protected.
#19: Lake Tahoe
Known for its crystal clear water that surrounds breathtaking alpine peaks, Lake Tahoe is one of the most idyllic places to visit in the world. One for the bucket list, visitors can take a short drive looking out at the picturesque shores to other must-see destinations in Nevada. From museums and hot spring resorts in Carson Valley to delicious food spots in Reno, there’s plenty to see and do.
#20: Gulf Shores Beach
Gulf Shores, AL
Escape to the breathtaking Gulf Shores Beach, a serene and stunning destination that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Sink your toes into the soft, powdery sand as you bask in the warm sunshine and breathe in the salty sea air. Take a refreshing swim in the emerald waters or try your hand at paddle boarding or kayaking.
#21: Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
In just 30 minutes by car, you can reach the beautiful Hanauma Nature preserve. For those who love the water, the snorkeling here is excellent due to the 400 species of fish said to inhabit the area. Take your snorkel and relax in the turquoise waters- If you’re lucky you may even get to see a sea turtle!
#22: Clearwater Beach
Tampa Bay's Clearwater Beach is a tropical paradise, boasting crystal-clear waters and soft, sugar-white sands. Take a stroll along the pier and watch the sunset, or rent a paddleboard and explore the bay. Whether you're looking to soak up the sun, try some fresh seafood, or dance the night away, Clearwater Beach has something for everyone. Come experience the ultimate beach vacation in one of Florida's most beloved destinations.
#23: Coligny Beach Park
Hilton Head, SC
With majestic scenery and a plethora of fun activities, Coligny Beach Park is a great place for adventure lovers who enjoy a mix of outdoor activities and beach life. The park is known for its gorgeous sandy beaches, pristine blue waters, and recreational opportunities such as sunbathing, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and more. If you are looking for a destination to enjoy the sea, sand, and sun, Coligny Beach Park is the place for you!
#24: Crystal Lake State Park
With stunning scenery surrounded by forests and mountains and a wide variety of recreational activities, such as swimming, fishing, biking, camping, and boating, Crystal Lake State Park is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you're looking for a peaceful escape, a fun family outing, or a romantic getaway, Crystal Lake State Park has something to offer everyone.
#25: Table Rock Lake
Known for its crystal clear waters, and Instagramable hidden beaches, Table Rock Lake is definitely a bucket list destination. Enjoy endless water activities or simply relax and unwind by the waterfront. This spot is also a popular destination among fishermen, with an abundance of marine life to be found at the bottom of the lake.
#26: Galveston Bay
A beautiful estuary surrounded by marshes and prairies, Galveston Bay is a birdwatcher’s paradise - not only can you easily spot pelicans, gulls, and terns but if you’re lucky you may see Northern Gannets, Pomarine and Parasitic jaegers in the winter and Magnificent Frigatebirds in summer. When you need a break from your binoculars, visitors can also find countless beaches nearby to relax and unwind away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby Houston.
#27: Lake Powell
Lake Powell, AZ
Close to Las Vegas, Lake Powell is a popular destination for visitors to the area, known for its crystal-clear blue waters and towering sandstone cliffs, making it the perfect spot for boating, fishing, swimming, and other water-based activities. One its most popular attractions is the Glen Canyon Dam, which offers guided tours and provides a stunning view of the lake and surrounding area.
#28: Carbon Beach
If you’re a real estate fan, you have to visit this former private beach that also goes by “Billionaire's Beach” due to the larger than life mansions right on the water’s edge! Kissed by the gorgeous Pacific Ocean, this stretch of beach is calm, quiet and perfect for a long romantic walk on the beach.
#29: Rockaway Beach
An easy day trip from the heart of Manhattan, Rockaway Beach has something for everyone - food trucks, surf lessons, shopping and more! The 5.5 mile boardwalk is busy with walkers, strollers and skateboarders, as it runs along the beach offering great people-watching opportunities as you take in the cerulean waters of the Atlantic ocean.
#30: Lake Michigan
Grand Haven, MI
Nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan, the park boasts a stunning sandy beach with crystal-clear waters, surrounded by towering dunes and lush forests, providing an idyllic backdrop for relaxation and adventure. Whether you're seeking a romantic retreat or a family getaway, Grand Haven State Park has it all!
#31: North Beach
A short car ride from Savannah, this gorgeous little beach is on quaint Tybee Island and is home to light houses, historic landmarks and tasty restaurants. A long stretch of sand makes this Atlantic beach a peaceful, family-friendly destination where you can set up your umbrella, towels and chairs and just soak up the sun.
#32: Coronado Beach
San Diego, CA
Featured in the latest Top Gun movie and right next to the grand historic Hotel del Coronado, this wide, long, sandy beach hugging the Pacific Ocean offers something for everyone. There are countless volleyball nets and sand castle artists building intricate structures keeping both solo travelers and families entertained in the peaceful Southern California sun.
#33: Lake Ray Hubbard
This large freshwater reservoir is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, offering opportunities for boating, fishing, kayaking, and swimming. The shoreline of the lake features several parks and recreation areas, offering picnic areas, hiking and biking trails. The lake is easily accessible from the city of Dallas, with several boat ramps, marinas, and public access points available for visitors.
#34: Harris Beach
This rugged seascape offers picturesque views of Pacific Northwest’s signature sea stacks as well as trails and exposed bedrock to explore. A short drive away off of Highway 101 is the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, a 12-mile long park offering scenic overlooks, picnic tables and awesome indigo ocean views.
#35: Waianapanapa State Park
A scenic and short car ride from the Maui Airport, visitors can enjoy the picturesque black sandy beaches of Waianapanapa State Park, as well as short strolls across to the beach where you will find breathtaking views. If you’re up for venturing a bit further, you can uncover smaller pocket beaches that are perfectly secluded for rest, relaxation and even a little catnap.
#36: Glacier Bay
Home to more than 1,000 glaciers, Glacier Bay is one of North America’s best-known national parks. Visitors are likely to underestimate the feeling of seeing a glacier in real life, which is why it’s such a popular spot for tourists. Aside from witnessing its idyllic scenery, you may even be lucky enough to spot a puffin or humpback whale in its natural habitat as you take a boat ride around the bay.
#37: San Francisco Bay
San Francisco, CA
Nestled between the city's towering skyline and the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco Bay is a natural wonder that is sure to leave you in awe. The sparkling blue waters stretch for miles, dotted with sailboats and ferries that glide along the surface. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the distant hills and mountains, providing a stunning backdrop to the bustling city.
#38: Asbury Park Beach
Asbury Park, NJ
Known for its rich cultural history, Asbury Park Beach is an outstanding destination with plenty of recreational activities, including swimming, surfing, kayaking, bike riding, and more. With its historic boardwalk and vibrant music and arts scene, Asbury Park Beach is ideal for those seeking a beach vacation with a mix of culture and fun. Whether looking for a relaxing day on the beach or a night out on the town, Asbury Park Beach is a must-visit!
#39: Waimea Bay
In the winter, it's the perfect spot for surfers, and in the summer visitors will find beautiful white sand beaches and lagoon-like water - perfect for snorkeling! When you need a break, why not take the short hike to a hidden waterfall in a tucked-away botanical garden across the way?
#40: Havasu Falls
Truly one of the most unique and picturesque locations in the country. Tucked away in a remote location and surrounded by turquoise waters, Havasu Falls is the perfect hiking destination for those who enjoy an active holiday. Known to be a difficult climb, those who decide to embark on the challenge must be prepared for the strenuous (but very rewarding) hike ahead.
#41: Carmel Beach
Carmel by the Sea, CA
At the foot of Ocean Avenue, Carmel Beach is one of the most iconic spots on California's Central Coast and one of the most beautiful beach towns in the country. Locally renowned for its breathtaking sunsets, scenic pathway, and the surrounding cypress trees, Carmel Beach is perfect for swimming, surfing, and dog-walking. Enjoy a picnic while you admire the natural beauty and the contrast of the turquoise-blue water against the soft white sand.
#42: Haulover Inlet
Experience the thrill of the ocean and the beauty of the beach at Haulover Inlet in Miami, Florida. This man-made inlet is the perfect place to indulge in a variety of water-based activities, from boating and deep-sea fishing to jet skiing and other water sports. The clear blue water and tropical surroundings truly make this the perfect vacation destination.
#43: Santa Monica Beach
Los Angeles, CA
The ending of the legendary Route 66, Santa Monica is world-famous thanks to its aquarium, amusement park, restaurants, shops, and views of the stunning blue ocean waters. A popular landmark, this 3.5-mile long beach can often be busy but makes for fantastic people-watching and is a quintessential Southern California pitstop.
#44: Emerald Cave
Las Vegas, NV
This serene waterway has vibrant algae-tinted water which truly deserves the description of “emerald” and is only an hour’s drive away from the Las Vegas Strip. A stunning grotto only accessible via kayak, you can spot eagles, falcons and bighorn sheep on your way to the naturally glowing cave. Little known, this delightful attraction is the perfect adventurous addition to your next trip to Sin City.
#45: Little River Falls
You can find these beautiful waterfalls in the Little River Canyon National Preserve, where the outdoor activities are limitless or relax, sit back and cruise through the canyon’s 11-mile Scenic Drive. This watering hole is popular for swimming, cliff jumping and even has tables, perfect for a picturesque picnic.
#46: Delaware River
A short car ride away from Philadelphia, this area is known for its rich offering of waterfront activities and is the perfect spot for thrill seekers looking to spend their vacation in the water. For those looking for more relaxation, visitors can dine with a view of the river in the evening or visit one of the many riverside attractions and theme parks during the day.
#47: Good Harbor Beach
Whether you are an avid swimmer, a body surfer, or just like exploring the beach, Good Harbor Beach is a dream vacation destination. With its picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean, endless white sands, and calm waves, Good Harbor Beach is a great place to relax and soak up some sun! The beach is located near several shops, restaurants, and cafes, making it a convenient destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway.
#48: Chicago River
Flowing through the heart of the Windy City, the Chicago River is a magnificent sight to behold. From its stunning architecture to its rich history, the river offers an unparalleled experience for locals and visitors alike. Take a scenic boat tour and marvel at the skyscrapers that line the river's edge, or explore the riverwalk on foot and enjoy the lively atmosphere of the city.
#49: Captiva Pass
Fort Myers, FL
Captiva Pass is a picturesque waterway that connects the Gulf of Mexico to Pine Island Sound. The pass is known for its clear water, abundant marine life, and scenic views of the surrounding islands, where you can enjoy a variety of activities including boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing. Fishing charters and boat rentals are available for those who wish to explore the waterway. It’s a great tranquil and scenic escape from the hustle and bustle of the city in just a one hour drive!
#50: San Antonio River
San Antonio, TX
Often referred to as the #1 attraction to visit in Texas, the San Antonio RiverWalk isn’t one to miss on your travels. Enjoy the riverside walkable path with something for everyone, from public art, gardens to restaurants and bars, visitors are in for a truly unique experience here in Texas. You can even enjoy a romantic boat ride down the river, taking in all the offerings as you go by!
#51: Canyon Lake
Nestled in the arid landscape of Phoenix, lies the picturesque Canyon Lake, a sparkling oasis that beckons visitors to come and bask in its beauty. Whether you're seeking a leisurely day of fishing or a heart-pumping adventure on the water, Canyon Lake is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and prepare to be awed by the stunning scenery of this desert gem.
#52: Saguaro Lake
With its crystal-clear waters and majestic mountain backdrop, this hidden gem is a true paradise for nature lovers. The sprawling lake is surrounded by towering cacti and rugged terrain, creating a picturesque landscape that's straight out of a postcard. Whether you're looking for a peaceful day of fishing or an action-packed adventure on the water, Saguaro Lake is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. Not to mention it’s less than an hour away from Phoenix!
#53: Onota Lake
Home to some of the bluest water in Massachusetts, Lake Onota is the perfect place to visit for those who enjoy the beautiful natural scenery. From kayaking to picnicking by the lakeside, there is something for everyone here. It’s also a popular destination among fishermen, with reports of many varieties of sought-after marine life found here.
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Disclaimer: SIXT cannot guarantee a specific shade or color will be available when choosing a rental car. Renters can choose the exact car they want to drive by using the mobile check-in on the SIXT app on the day of pick-up.
We color-picked more than 50 of the best bodies of water in the U.S. and found the nearest color shade to illustrate the various colors of water available in the nation. Colors are accurate as of February 17, 2023.