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.
Visit Spain with Atlas Obscura Trips
Barcelona Behind the Scenes: Cabaret and Carnival
Catapult yourself into Barcelona's complicated and colorful past for a week filled with unique historic tours, private musical performances, and an evening of performance in a private atelier.