Deepest Lakes in the World Might Shock You
There is something mysterious and enticing about deep lakes. Even when they’re so deep you'll probably never see the bottom, it's exciting to experience them.
If you’ve ever wondered what the deepest lakes in the world are, where they are and just how deep they are, we’ve got answers for you. We’ve also identified the coolest closest town or city near the lakes. So when you’re itching for a lake getaway, you know exactly where to go.
These are the deepest lakes on Earth.
30. Lake Manapouri, New Zealand
Depth: 1,457 feet (444 meters)
Best nearby town: Manapouri
Bottom Line: Lake Manapouri
Considered one of New Zealand's most beautiful lakes, Lake Manapouri is located within the breathtaking Fiordland National Park. The lake is a popular center for commerce and tourism.
There are 33 islands on the lake, as well as several sandy beaches. This makes it a popular place for fishing, kayaking and swimming in the summer.
Boat tours are also available.
Where to stay: Cabot Lodge
29. Great Bear Lake, Canada
Depth: 1,463 feet (446 meters)
Best nearby town: Deline
Bottom Line: Great Bear Lake
It is difficult to get to Great Bear Lake, a large body of water located within Canada's Arctic Circle. But the few outsiders who make it there are treated to a quiet, almost brutal beauty.
The lake is of great importance to the Deline First Nations people, who have worked to protect it from industrial exploitation. Adventure travelers are called to the region for a multitude of extreme sports activities, including dog sledding, snowshoeing, Arctic fishing tours and helicopter tours.
Even in the summer, we would not recommend trying to swim here.
Where to stay: Grey Goose Lodge
28. Fagnano Lake, Southern South America
Depth: 1,473 feet (449 meters)
Best nearby town: Tolhuin, Argentina
Bottom Line: Fagnano Lake
This Tierra del Fuego lake is located on the southern tip of both Argentina and Chile, though most of it is in Argentina. The lake is also called Cami Lake. On the Chilean side, it is located near the impressive Alberto de Angostini National Park.
Despite its proximity to the South Pole, the lake still experiences marked seasons and is breathtaking in the fall. Unless you want to do ice trekking, this is the season that we recommend, given the beauty of the bright leaves against the snow peaks that surround the lake.
Hiking, horseback riding, boating, fishing and mountain biking are popular activities.
Where to stay: Cabanas del Michay
27. Lake Poso, Indonesia
Depth: 1,476 feet (450 meters)
Best nearby town: Tentena
Bottom Line: Lake Poso
Lake Poso is in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. It attracts national and international tourism with its beautiful beaches, many of which boast soft, yellow sand.
Numerous endemic species have made their home here, including fish, crabs and shrimp. If you are one to appreciate unique animals, you'll have fun trying to spot different species in the lake.
The lake is not only deep, but also quite long, so it's possible to spend a few weeks going from town to town and visiting the communities that have been set up along its shores.
This is not the last Sulawesi lake that will appear on here, so if you love the idea of deep lakes, you know which Indonesian island to visit.
Where to stay: The Bali Cottage & Spa
26. Lake Van, Turkey
Depth: 1,480 feet (451 meters)
Best nearby town: Van
Bottom Line: Lake Van
Lake Van is not only Turkey's deepest lake, but also its largest, containing about 38 percent of the country's water. It is also one of the few lakes of comparable size that has no outlet.
Its self-contained beauty is enhanced by the fact that it very rarely freezes due to its high salinity. Its still water contrasts the snow peaks of the surrounding mountains in the winter.
Most tourists come to the region to visit Van, a Kurdish territory that has been a center of culture and commerce since the first century B.C. A visit to the city is the perfect excuse to spend some time on the shores of the lake.
Just beware that legend tells of the Lake Van Monster, a reptilian creature with brown skin and flippers that many locals swear actually exists.
Where to stay: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Van
25. Lake Chelan, Washington
Depth: 1,486 feet (453 meters)
Best nearby town: Stehekin
Bottom Line: Lake Chelan
Long and slim Lake Chelan is located around three hours east of Seattle. The region that surrounds it is surprisingly still a bit of a secret, probably because of the limited roads that prevent hoards of tourists from passing through.
This is great for fishing enthusiasts, who love to come to the lake for bull trout, mountain whitefish, rainbow trout, Chinook salmon and many other species. The lake is surrounded by forests and mountains, which are protected in different state parks and natural recreation areas.
The small town of Stehekin, located on the northern shore of the lake, is also a gateway to North Cascades National Park, one of the least visited national parks in the U.S.
Where to stay: Cabin on Lake Chelan
24. Adams Lake, Canada
Depth: 1,499 feet (457 meters)
Best nearby town: Chase
Bottom Line: Adams Lake
The rocky shores of Adams Lake have prevented villages and towns from being built along its shores. And while this means that getting here is not necessarily easy, it also means that you'll get wild, rugged beauty when you visit.
Most people come to Adams Lake Provincial Park to enjoy at least some amenities and facilities, including camping grounds and beaches. But if what you want is to get away from it all, there are plenty of spots that you'll have all to yourself.
The lake is popular for the sockeye salmon run, which brings curious visitors to see the migration. Fishing is the preferred activity, though people also come to enjoy camping, water skiing, hunting and boating.
Where to stay: Adams Lake waterfront cabin
22. Lake Tinn, Norway (Tie)
Depth: 1,509 feet (460 meters)
Best nearby town: Gransherad
Bottom Line: Lake Tinn
Of the three Norwegian lakes that are in the top 30 deepest lakes in the world, Lake Tinn is the easiest to visit. You can get there in less than two hours by car or in three hours by train and public transit.
The lake boasts clear, cold water that often reflects the hills that surround it. Kayaking tours are popular with nature lovers, but also with history enthusiasts who want to see the lake site where the Norwegian resistance sunk a Nazi ship during World War II.
Where to stay: Large Gransherad house
22. Cochrane/Pueyrredón Lake, Southern South America (Tie)
Depth: 1,509 feet (460 meters)
Best nearby town: Cochrane
Bottom Line: Cochrane/Pueyrredón Lake
Known as Cochrane Lake in Chile and Pueyrredón Lake in Argentina, this beautiful glacial lake is at the very end of the Andes Mountains. Some claim it is one of the clearest lakes in South America, and while it's hard to prove the claim, it's certainly easy to believe them.
The deep lake and the surrounding mountains offer a number of excursion opportunities, including boat cruises, hiking and fishing.
In our opinion, the coolest thing to do is chase some glaciers.
Where to stay: Loft Kalfu Patagonia
21. Lake Hauroko, New Zealand
Depth: 1,516 feet (462 meters)
Best nearby town: Tuatapere
Bottom Line: Lake Hauroko
New Zealand's deepest lake, Hauroko is within the incredible Fiordland National Park. The lake is nestled within mountains and sits in between two other large lakes, making it a truly special place, even in a country as beautiful as New Zealand.
Another factor that sets Lake Hauroko apart is an interesting burial site found on Mary Island, the lake's largest island. The remains of a Maori woman can be visited and seen from a distance.
Boat tours around the lake often make this a stop.
Where to stay: Aunt Tui's
19. Nahuel Huapi Lake, Argentina (Tie)
Depth: 1,523 feet (464 meters)
Best nearby town: San Carlos de Bariloche
Bottom Line: Nahuel Huapi Lake
This beautiful glacial lake is located in Argentine Patagonia and is part of the Nahuel Huapi National Park. The lake was formed by glacial valleys, and its name comes from Mapudungun, the language of the Mapuche people, and means the "island of the puma."
As is common with glacial lakes, the water is almost impossibly clear and also incredibly cold. Brave souls still swim in it, but most people prefer to hop on a kayak and explore the lake's natural surroundings without getting wet.
Interestingly, the lake has been the location for Hitler-related conspiracy theories, after writer Abel Basti wrote a book claiming the Nazi leader and mass murderer escaped to Bariloche after the war. The wild theories continue to be believed by many, despite being debunked.
Where to stay: Nido del Condor Hotel & Spa
19. Salsvatn Lake, Norway (Tie)
Depth: 1,523 feet (464 meters)
Best nearby town: Namsos
Bottom Line: Salsvatn
Norway's and Europe's second deepest lake, Salsvatnet is quite isolated. The lake is located close to the sea, but the ruggedness of the land around it has kept significant settlements from popping up on its shores.
The village closest to it is Salsnes, a tiny village where you are not very likely to see many other people. If you want to get away from it all, this is where you'll want to stay. However, if you want a bit more movement, you can stay in the municipal capital of Namsos town, which is about 40 minutes from the lake.
Norway's harsh weather limits the activities you can do in Salsvatn Lake, but Norwegians still come to the lake to fish and kayak.
Where to stay: Cozy cabin in Salsnes
18. Lake Kivu, Central Africa
Depth: 1575 feet (480 meters)
Best nearby town: Karongi, Rwanda
Bottom Line: Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu isn't only one of the deepest lakes in the world, it is also one of the coolest to visit. Sitting in between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it is one of the African Great Lakes.
For decades, the lake has been a popular place to enjoy water activities in landlocked Rwanda, and numerous settlements around range from industrial cities to lakeside resorts and small fishing villages. The lake is unique in that it has volcanic activity, which has resulted in volcanic islands and interesting mountainous surroundings.
Most visitors come to the Rwandan side, but both sides offer numerous activities for adventure and leisure travelers. Those who prefer to relax on vacation can visit one of the many sandy beaches on the lake's shore and eat fresh fish. If you like being more active, you can take boat tours, kayak, fish, mountain bike, hike and go bird-watching.
But one of the absolute best things to do is to hear the fishermen sing at night as they paddle their handmade wooden boats to the center of the lake. The rhythmic singing is a unique ritual you won't get to witness anywhere else.
Where to stay: Delta Resort Hotel
17. Lago Argentino, Argentina
Depth: 1,640 feet (500 meters)
Best nearby town: El Calafate
Bottom Line: Lago Argentino
Its name might not be original, but Lago Argentino is still pretty impressive. You’ll find it in Argentine Patagonia’s Los Glaciares National Park. It also borders Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, making it is a perfect spot for a multinational nature adventure.
This is the largest freshwater lake in Argentina, and fishing aficionados come here for its abundant trout and perch populations.
Other activities include hiking around the national park, taking boat or kayak tours to get up close with the glaciers, and ice trekking.
Where to stay: Calafate Parque Hotel
16. Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
Depth: 1,645 feet (501 meters)
Best nearby town: South Lake Tahoe, California
Bottom Line: Lake Tahoe
We probably don't have to introduce Lake Tahoe, one of the most incredible destinations in the United States. It is the largest alpine lake on the North American continent, and Tahoe is famous for its seethrough waters that reveal the large smooth boulders dwelling at the bottom.
Both the California and Nevada sides receive visitors year-round. Summer brings in swimmers, kayakers and boaters. The winter brings in avid skiers who hit the nearby slopes and then cozy up with lake views in the early evening.
At any season, the surrounding alpine forest provides countless hiking opportunities.
Where to stay: The Landing Lake Tahoe Resort & Spa
14. Lake Toba, Indonesia (Tie)
Depth: 1,657 feet (505 meters)
Best nearby town: Parapat
Bottom Line: Lake Toba
Located on the island of Sumatra, Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the entire world. It occupies the caldera of a supervolcano, whose monstrous eruption more than 70,000 years ago led to a worldwide volcanic winter and spouted ash as far as Lake Malawi in Africa.
But despite its scary history, the lake today is one of Indonesia's most underrated natural wonders. It is part of the UNESCO Global Geoparks and is the land of the Batak tribe of Indonesia.
Travelers enjoy kicking back and relaxing at the towns and villages on the shores of the lake, or on Samosir Island, which is within it. There is a relaxed party culture that attracts many backpackers, but there are also many quiet villages where you can eat fresh fish, hike and learn about the region's local culture.
Where to stay: Lakeside Villa
14. Lake Sarez, Tajikistan (Tie)
Depth: 1,657 feet (505 meters)
Best nearby town: Barchidev
Bottom Line: Lake Sarez
The youngest lake on this entire list, Lake Sarez was formed by a 6.5 to 7 magnitude earthquake in 1911. But despite its young age, the Sarez has managed to get itself within the top 15 deepest lakes on the planet. That's an impressive achievement.
Because the lake is near a landslide dam that formed during the earthquake, the area is deemed unstable and dangerous. Because of this, the government of Tajikistan did not allow foreign travelers to visit the lake from 1999 to 2015. Now, intrepid travelers who want to see the lake must get a permit and can only visit with an accredited tour group.
It's not the easiest lake to visit, but if you're ever in Tajikistan, we definitely recommend making the effort to go.
Where to stay: Sarez Travel tour will arrange accommodations
13. Quesnel Lake, Canada
Depth: 1,677 feet (511 meters)
Best nearby town: Likely
Bottom Line: Quesnel Lake
Quesnel Lake is one of British Columbia's most beautiful lakes. It is also the world's deepest fjord lake, a fact that brings pride to the communities that live on its shores.
Winter brings in ski aficionados who enjoy the beautiful scenery, even if they can't enjoy the water itself. Summer is quite popular for fishing, boating, kayaking or paddleboarding around the large lake.
If you've ever wanted to enjoy the Canadian wilderness without suffering the ruggedness of the Arctic Circle, the town of Likely — yes, that's really its name — has more trees than houses.
Where to stay: Likely Lodge
12. Lake Hornindalsvatn, Norway
Depth: 1,686 feet (514 meters)
Best nearby town: Grodas
Bottom Line: Lake Hornindalsvatn
Hornindalsvatnet is the deepest lake in Europe and provides an idyllic Norwegian lakeside experience. The region has numerous fjords, glaciers and mountains that rise from the waters like natural cathedrals.
The lake is filled with snowmelt from the nearby mountains, which guarantees its clearness — as well as its coldness. Not that Norwegians seem to mind, since they still come to the lake during the summers and swim in the few beaches that have small shores. Other activities include taking boat cruises or renting canoes and rowboats. You can even water ski if you're used to cold water.
But if you plan to stay dry and cozy, the landscape still will fulfill all the promises of Norwegian travel brochures.
Where to stay: Havila Hotel Raftevold
11. General Carrera Lake/Lake Buenos Aires, Southern South America
Depth: 1,923 feet (586 meters)
Best nearby town: Chile Chico, Chile
Bottom Line: General Carrera Lake/Lake Buenos Aires
Known as General Carrera Lake in Chile and as Lake Buenos Aires in Argentina, this marvelous lake is one of the most visited in Patagonia.
Despite the region's usual cold weather, the lake has a relatively warmer microclimate, which makes it a popular spot to explore the region. Swimming is basically impossible, but salmon fishing is a favorite activity, as are boat and kayak tours.
The Chilean side is home to the very famous and absolutely astonishing marble formations. These formations include the Marble Caves and the Marble Cathedral — marble monoliths that have been carved by the water and given swirls of blue and green.
Where to stay: Hosteria de la Patagonia
10. Lake Matano, Indonesia
Depth: 1,936 feet (590 meters)
Best nearby town: Sorowako
Bottom Line: Lake Matano
Travelers who love going where other foreigners almost never go should definitely plan a visit to Lake Matano. Very isolated, the lake is located on the island of Sulawesi and the foreigners it usually sees are business people coming to make deals in the mining communities along the lake.
But those few tourists that actually come here for leisure are pleasantly surprised by everything there is to do at the lake. You might even find that the lack of tourist infrastructure is a plus.
Swimming beaches allow for refreshment in the spring-fed water and experienced divers can explore the numerous underwater caves that are hidden within the lake. The mountainous region provides opportunities for birders and has beautiful waterfalls.
But the coolest thing to do is to rent a handmade raft from a local and explore the lake. These rafts are used as a daily source of transportation by locals who want to go from one lake community to the other.
Where to stay: Grand Mulia Hotel
9. Crater Lake, Oregon
Depth: 1,949 feet (594 meters)
Best nearby town: Klamath Falls
Bottom Line: Crater Lake
The crown jewel of the national park that bears its name, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States. As its name suggests, it is situated in a caldera. Its distinct feature is its two small islands, which make for absolutely amazing pictures and even more amazing experiences.
Numerous trails and campgrounds surround the Oregon lake, and it has one of the most beautiful national park lodges in the country. Activities include cross-country skiing, hiking, canoeing, fishing and biking.
You can even swim in the water at specific designated areas.
Where to stay: Crater Lake Lodge
8. Great Slave Lake, Canada
Depth: 2,015 feet (614 meters)
Best nearby town: Yellowknife
Bottom Line: Great Slave Lake
Located in Canada's Northwest Territories, Great Slave Lake was named after the Dene First Nations peoples, who were called Slavey by other tribes. The lake is the deepest in all of North America, and it is also the 10th-largest lake on Earth.
Its northern location means that it is frozen for about eight months of the year. Even when it is not frozen, it is much too cold to swim in. But you'll be too busy taking in the beauty of this remote region to even care.
Visit Wood Buffalo National Park. If you visit from November to May, cross your fingers, and you could witness the northern lights.
Where to stay: Lakeside Cabin
7. Issyk-Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan
Depth: 2,192 feet (688 meters)
Best nearby town: Cholpon-Ata
Bottom Line: Issyk-Kul Lake
Issyk-Kul Lake has been a popular tourist spot since the days of the Silk Road. Located in the Tian Shan Mountains, the large lake is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve because of its numerous endemic species.
The lake is unique in that it never freezes, despite being in a region of low temperatures and snow peaks. This is why it was given its name, which translates to "warm lake."
Visitors to Kyrgyzstan come to the lake for a relaxed getaway at the shore, which has several beaches. But you can also sprinkle in excitement by planning a hike into the snow-capped mountains of the region.
Even better, join a tour that lets you visit the country's nomadic tribes, some of which spend part of the year by the lake. This way, you will witness a different way of life. You may even get to ride a horse or see an eagle hunt.
Where to stay: Panorama Hotel
6. Lake Malawi, Southeastern Africa
Depth: 2,316 feet (706 meters)
Best nearby town: Cape Maclear, Malawi
Bottom Line: Lake Malawi
Most commonly referred to as Lake Malawi, this body of water is also called Lago Niassa in Mozambique and Lake Nyasa in Tanzania, the other two countries that share its shores.
The massive lake is famous for having the most species of fish out of all the lakes in the whole world. That's certainly a noteworthy accomplishment. Besides fish, the lake has crocodiles and hippos and its shores see a fair share of monkeys. In Malawi, the lake is part of the UNESCO-listed Lake Malawi National Park.
But don't let this deter you from visiting. The magnitude of its size and depth means that its ecosystems vary widely. If you visit one of its resort towns, like Cape Maclear, you'll find nice beaches and plenty of places to swim safely.
Where to stay: Mgoza Lodge
5. O'Higgins/San Martín Lake, Southern South America
Depth: 2,742 feet (836 meters)
Best nearby town: El Chalten, Argentina
Bottom Line: O'Higgins/San Martín Lake
Yet another Patagonian lake to make it onto the list of the world's deepest lakes, O'Higgins (as it is known in Chile) or San Martín (as it is known in Argentina) is fed by rivers and glaciers.
It is known for its milky waters that offer soft shades of blue, almost as if the snow of the surrounding mountains mixed with the deep blue of the sky to make the color.
On the Argentinean side, the lake is within Los Glaciares National Park, one of the country's most lauded natural destinations. The landscape is somewhat extreme, and the weather can be unforgiving.
But if you love unique experiences and want to get close to the South Pole, this is one of the best places to go.
Where to stay: Patagonia Eco Domes
4. Lake Vostok, Antarctica
Depth: ~3300 feet (~1000 meters)
Best nearby town: N/A
Bottom Line: Lake Vostok
We've got a bit of bad news for you. You probably won't ever get to see the fourth deepest lake in the world. Located in Antarctica, Lake Vostok is actually subglacial, meaning that it is underneath the ice and can therefore be seen only through satellite imagery.
Subglacial lakes form between ice sheets and the bedrock that is underneath them. This particular lake happens to be the largest of its kind in Antarctica and it is right beneath the Vostok research station that belongs to Russia.
3. Caspian Sea, Central Asia
Depth: 3,363 feet (1,025 meters)
Best nearby town: Baku, Azerbaijan
Bottom Line: Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea may only be the third deepest lake, but it is the largest inland body of water on the entire planet. This massive lake is located within five countries: Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakstan, Russia and Turkmenistan.
Because of its size, it's difficult to describe what the lake is like (it's called "sea" for a reason). Geography, temperature and surroundings change drastically depending on where you are.
Luckily, there are several beautiful small towns along its shores, including Baku in Azerbaijan, which has a picturesque medieval walled city as well as futuristic modern buildings.
Where to stay: Atropat Hotel
2. Lake Tanganyika, Central Africa
Depth: 4,823 feet (1,470 meters)
Best nearby town: Kigoma, Tanzania
Bottom Line: Lake Tanganyika
LakeTanganyika is the second-oldest freshwater lake as well as the second-deepest lake. It is one of the African Great Lakes, with a slim but long body that takes it through Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Zambia.
The lake is so long that it is the entire border between Tanzania and DRC. These two countries also have the majority of the lake within their borders.
Another thing the lake can boast about is being one of the world's oldest, which explains its hundreds of endemic species and great biodiversity.
Tanganyika is an amazing place to do a water safari, no matter which country you visit. But we suggest visiting the Tanzanian side and doing an excursion to Katavi National Park, which lies on its shores.
Where to stay: Kigoma Hilltop Hotel
1. Lake Baikal, Russia
Depth: 5,387 feet (1,642 meters)
Best nearby town: Irkutsk
Bottom Line: Lake Baikal
Not content with being the world's deepest lake, Lake Baikal is also the oldest lake in the world and the largest freshwater lake by volume. This collection of superlatives have earned it UNESCO World Heritage site status and put it on many traveler's bucket list.
But don't make the mistake of thinking visiting will be easy peasy. The lake is located in Siberia, which means you'll have to put in some work and planning to see it. Don't be discouraged though. Its status has meant that tourism infrastructure exists on its shores.
The lake is home to Buryat tribes, which sometimes allow foreigners to come and share their lives as sheep, camel, goat and horse herders. If you're able to find a tour that allows for this experience, we highly recommend it.
Where to stay: Park-Hotel Baikal Seasons