The Pink Lake of Torrevieja – Torrevieja, Spain - Atlas Obscura
Our new kids' book is on sale! Shop now.

Torrevieja, Spain

The Pink Lake of Torrevieja

Bacteria and algae give the salty water its bubblegum hue. 

Two colorful salt lakes flank the northwestern edge of a small seaside city on Spain’s Costa Blanca. Together, they form a nature reserve called Las Salinas de Torrevieja. One lake in particular stands out, as its eye-catching bubblegum pink color overshadows its green-tinted neighbor.

When looking at Torrevieja from above, it looks as though a colossal strawberry milkshake melted and the gooey mess pooled just outside the city. But the odd sight isn’t caused by a slew of unnatural ingredients. It’s actually the work of bacteria and algae.

Halobacterium (also known as “salt bacterium”) thrive in salty places, as does a micro-algae called Dunaliella salina. These are the two magic ingredients that concoct the lake’s bizarre hue. Despite its funky color, the water is perfectly fine, though it can get a bit smelly.

Torrevieja relies on its salt lakes. People have been collecting the mineral from the waters for centuries. In the early 19th century, they officially became a hub for Spain’s salt industry. In addition to boosting the city’s economy, the lakes also act like a natural spa. Supposedly, the sludge of mud and salt at the bottom have healing properties than can relieve common skin and respiratory ailments. The water’s high salt concentration makes it a fun place to relax and enjoy floating around with ease.

Flamingos, much like the local people, also frequent the pink lake. Feasting upon the algae-filled shrimp that live there gives their feathers a rosy tint that almost matches the water.

Contributed by
Kerry Wolfe Kerry Wolfe
Edited by