I dived from a boat into the chalky water of Lake Sainte-Croix in France, spent my honeymoon on the peaks around Nahuel Huapi in Argentina, and woke up before dawn to see tropical birds fluttering on the shores of the Ruhondo lake in Rwanda. Lakes are where I go if I want to feel the tranquility of the water, married to a dramatic backdrop of mountains or beaches. Here is my choice of the most beautiful that the world has to offer …
Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
Winnipesaukee, the largest of New Hampshire's lakes, is the definition of New England's charm
Picture this: Winnipesaukee, the largest of New Hampshire's lakes, is the definition of New England's charm. Adventurous species can explore the 21-mile lake for wakeboarding and water skiing, while those with more relaxing activities have the option to lie on a towel on Weirs Beach and simply enjoy a swim.
Jump on the scenic railway at the Weirs Beach promenade or take a tour of the surrounding villages, including Wolfeboro, which claims to be the oldest summer resort in America. With 250 islands, the lake is also ripe for exploring by boat or paddleboard.
The best enjoyed: While the famous "fall leaves" of New England sweep over the surrounding forest in the fall.
Fly to: Portland in Maine, and head west to New Hampshire. Stay in Mill Falls, with four traditional inns, all with access to the boardwalk.
Stay: Inn at Mill Falls has rooms from £ 163 per night (millfalls.com).
Lago Nahuel Huapi, Argentina
Picture this: High in the national park of the same name, the crystal clear glacier waters of Nahuel Huapi are bordered by immaculate beaches and surrounded by the towering Andes. Playa del Centanario is the most important place to cool off in the summer, although swimming with the water is rarely above 14C swimming only for the brave.
Kayak trips offer the chance to explore Centinela Island and spend time on the Brazo Tristeza branch of the lake, one of the most biodiverse and undiscovered corners.
You can also walk to the top of Cerro Lopez for an unparalleled view of the water.
The best enjoyed: In April or May, when the summer heat has disappeared, but before the frosty winter comes.
Fly to: Bariloche, the basis for all adventures in this corner of Argentina.
Stay: Llao Llao Resort rooms cost from £ 181 per night (llaollao.com/en).
Lac Sainte-Croix, France
Boating on Lake Sainte-Croix in France, a & # 39; retreat for people who like to spend their holidays on and on the water & # 39;
Picture this: Provence usually does not evoke images of warm azure waters and towering limestone rocks. But Lac Sainte-Croix offers both in abundance. This artificial lake from the 70s is now a haven for those who like to spend their holidays on and on the water. Electric boats can be rented from the eastern beaches, with water lovers can sail to the Gorge du Verdon, the deepest gorge in France. The lake is best reached via the hairpin roads high above the gorge, and there are beautiful views down into the valley.
The best enjoyed: On a warm summer's day, when the chance to jump into the lime-rich water is too big to pass up.
Fly to: Nice, and then take the winding roads to the west.
Stay: Chateau de Trigance has rooms from £ 168 per night (chateau-de-trigance.fr).
Lake Ruhondo, Rwanda
Picture this: Close to the Ugandan border and surrounded by the peaks of the Virunga volcanoes, this is one of the most fascinating sights of Rwanda. Sharp ornithologists will find much on the water, with cranes, stems and herons finding their homes there. The view from the dirt paths high above the lake is impressive when the sun rises. The area is the perfect base for tracking gorillas in the rainforests of Volcanoes National Park, with the opportunity to also explore projects set up by countless lodges.
The best enjoyed: As part of a journey through Rwanda and Uganda, getting to know the varied flora and fauna.
Fly to: The Rwandan capital Kigali and take the scenic drive to the north.
Stay: Virunga Lodge has rooms from £ 453 per night (volcanoessafaris.com).
Lake Inari, Finland
Autumn glow: the polished trees on the shores of Lake Inari, which spreads over an area of 400 square miles
Picture this: High above the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, the lake spreads over an area of 400 square miles. Fishermen will be in their element – the waters full of salmon, Arctic char and pike. Swimmers can go for a swim in the summer, with the promise of a warming sauna when they stay in one of the summer houses or lodges along the banks. The area is home to the Sami, native Finns who are immensely proud of their heritage.
The best enjoyed: Because the fall colors occur in September. This is also the best time to catch a glimpse of the northern lights.
Fly to: Ivalo and go to Nellim. Isolated and beautiful, it is the ideal place to relax and recharge.
Stay: Nellim Wilderness Hotel rooms cost from £ 100 per night (nellim.fi).
Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
Lake Bled may attract all the headlines, but Bohinj (above) is just as beautiful. The largest lake in Slovenia, it lies in the Triglav National Park
Picture this: Lake Bled may attract all the headlines, but Bohinj is just as beautiful. The largest lake in Slovenia, it lies in the Triglav National Park. Hardy travelers can try climbing Triglav, although those who like something less strenuous can explore the paths along the lake, on foot or on a mountain bike. Don't miss the Savica waterfall or the village of Stara Fuzina.
The best enjoyed: At the height of summer when the water is warmer.
Fly to: Fly to Ljubljana and head to the village of Ribcev Laz, the ideal base for exploring the area.
Stay: Hotel Jezero has rooms from £ 128 per night (hotel-jezero.si).
Lake Hillier, Australia
The pink waters of Lake Hillier on Middle Island, Australia. It is said that its pink hue is derived from microalgae, although some scientists believe it may be due to bacteria in the salt deposits
Picture this: Hillier, found on Middle Island, off the coast of South Australia, is not your average body of water. It is said that its pink hue is derived from microalgae, although some scientists believe it may be due to bacteria in the salt deposits. The stark contrast to the blue of the Pacific Ocean, opposite the white sandy beach, is a feast for the eyes. The lake is best viewed from the air, with flights from Esperance.
The best enjoyed: On a clear day, when the blue of the ocean throws the pink of the lake into sharp relief.
Fly to: Esperance, via Perth. This remote city has access to some of the most alluring landscapes.
Stay: Esperance Island View Apartments costs from £ 107 per night (esperanceapartments.com.au).
Maligne Lake, Canada
Beautiful backdrop: Maligne Lake, Canada, is located in Jasper National Park and offers stunning views of the Rockies
Picture this: Famous for its azure blue water, Maligne Lake is the most picturesque place in Canada. Located in Jasper National Park, it offers stunning views of the Rockies, including Mount Paul, Mount Leah and Samson Peak. The famous Skyline trail departs from the Maligne coast and rises above the tree line, with camping areas for those who want to try a multi-day walk to the town of Jasper.
More saturated trails can be found close to the edge of the lake, but beware: grizzly bears and brown bears are often found in the nearby forest. Boat trips make Spirit Island, the tall pines perfect for framing a classic photo of the Canadian Rockies.
The best enjoyed: In the spring, when the mountains are green and birds flutter over the water.
Fly to: Calgary and rent a car for a dramatic ride through Banff and Jasper National Parks.
Stay: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge has rooms from £ 464 per night (fairmont.com/jasper).
Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan
Picture this: A beautiful, freshwater lake located in the Central Mountain Range, the lake is just as fascinating as it is beautiful. It is home to the indigenous Thao people, who believe they have been led to the water by a white deer, where they have found abundant fish. It is worthwhile to put on hiking boots and explore the well-marked trails. The annual Sun Moon Lake swimming carnival takes place in the middle of autumn – a two-mile race that is open to anyone over the age of ten.
The best enjoyed: During the annual cherry blossom festival, which takes place every year in February.
Fly to: Taipei for a city trip, before taking the train to Taichung. Sun Moon Lake can be reached by bus.
Stay: Fleur De Chine Hotel has rooms from £ 233 per night (fleurchinehotel.com).
Lago d & # 39; Orta, Italy
Picture this: Como and Maggiore are better known, but Lago d & # 39; Orta is an underestimated gem, the place for dreamers and lovers of the great outdoors. Arrive early to catch a glimpse of the mist that surrounds the surface of the lake and spend the morning exploring the photogenic village of Orta San Giulio before having an outdoor lunch.
The afternoons are best spent on the water, preferably on a boat trip from Orta to Isola San Giulio, a beautiful island with tumbling villas.
The best enjoyed: During a midweek in early summer, when there are few visitors and the light shimmers on the surface of the lake.
Fly to: Milan and then travel to Orta San Giulio. It is a 90-minute drive through some of the most beautiful landscapes in northern Italy.
Stay: Villa Crespi has rooms from £ 359 per night (villacrespi.it).
Breitling See, GermanY
Picture this: Breitling See, 90 minutes west of Berlin, is one of more than 3000 lakes in the Brandenburg region. The dark forest that runs along the banks has excellent cycle paths, ripe for exploration for those on a day trip from the capital.
The Havel River flows into the lake and forms an uninterrupted body of water with Moserscher See and Plauer See. Swimmers find numerous like-minded species entering the water in the summer, with some residents even breaking the ice in the winter.
The best enjoyed: On a summer's day to escape the heat of Berlin.
Fly to: Berlin and take the train to Brandenburg for an alternative view of one of Europe's most beautiful regions.
Stay: Marina Niederhavel has rooms from £ 124 per night (marina-hausboote.de).
Large and small Prespa
Picture this: With shores in Albania, Northern Macedonia and Greece, Great and Small Prespa, one of Europe & # 39; s oldest tectonic lakes of a million years old, offer the chance of a truly idyllic escape off the beaten track. The wetlands area is a mecca for bird watchers. Cormorants and herons are easy to spot, just like the huge Dalmatian pelican.
Agios Achilios, an island for the little Prespa, has the ruins of a church from the 10th century and an abandoned village. Visitors to Great Prespa should take a traditional boat, called a plave, to the moody water, with the mountains of the Balkans high above them.
The best enjoyed: While winter is coming, there is a chance to see a side of Greece that few tourists experience.
Fly to: Thessaloniki and travel on to Florina. A few kilometers east of Small Prespa, this beautiful city is an excellent base for exploring the lakes and the nearby national park.
Stay: Phaidon Hotel and Spa has rooms from £ 61 per night (phaidonhotel.gr).
Lagoa Azul, Azores
Double enjoyment: the two lakes of Sete Cidades in the Azores, above. It is best if the summer starts in the fall and the peak season gets busy
Picture this: The Azores are reminiscent of sand and the crash of Atlantic waves, but Lagoa Azul (which together with Lagoa Verde forms the two lakes known as Lagoa das Sete Cidades) offers the perfect alternative to the bustle of the beach. Azul, found on the island of Sao Miguel, is ripe for wild swimming, with the sound of birds that offer every reason to keep your head out of the water instead of plowing a neat crawl.
The best enjoyed: As the summer enters autumn and the high season decreases, the crowd disappears.
Fly to: Ponta Delgada, the main hub of the Azores, and runs along the coastal road to Lagoa Azul.
Stay: 7 Cidades Lake Lodge offers bungalows from £ 357 for three nights (7cidadeslakelodge.com).
AND DON'T FORGET THE BEST OF THE UK …
Foggy morning: a new day breaks over Loch an Eilein in Scotland
Llyn Cwm Bychan, Wales
Picture this: Llyn Cwm Bychan is located at the end of a winding path west of the village of Harlech and is one of the most beautiful lakes in Wales. The shallow eastern parts are perfect for swimming, and there is easy access to the surrounding mountains of Rhinog.
The best enjoyed: In the late summer when the holiday crowds decrease.
Drive to: Llyn Cwm Bychan is 25 minutes from Harlech.
Stay: Maelgwyn House, Harlech, has rooms from £ 80 per night (maelgwynharlech.co.uk).
Loch an EilEIn, Scotland
Picture this: In the Cairngorms National Park, Loch an Eilein is a little treasure and a great alternative to larger, busier Highland lakes. The area is located in the Rothiemurchus forest and is home to red squirrels and golden eagles. Swimmers can reach the ruins of a 14th-century castle on the small island of the lake, just a few meters from the beach and close to the parking lot and cafe.
The best enjoyed: In the early fall, when the midgies die.
Drive to: Aviemore is just three miles from Loch an Eilein and has excellent facilities.
Stay: Loch an Eilein Cottage offers one-week stays for £ 1500 (hiddenhighlandretreats.com).
- Joe Minihane is the author of Floating: A Life Regained (Duckworth Overlook).
. (TagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) travel (t) france