Discover 6 Of The Clearest Rivers In The World

Written by Jude Speegle
Updated: October 30, 2023
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Key Points:

  • The clearest rivers tend to have a neutral pH balance, flow very fast, or have very little pollution from humans.
  • The Blue River in Greenland changes shape yearly and is pristinely clear due to fresh water from glacial melt.
  • Jiuzhaigou, or “Nine Settlement Valley,” is a nature preserve, wilderness area, and national park in Sichuan Province in China. All of its rivers and lakes are crystal clear, and people are barred from swimming in them or boating to help maintain their near-perfect state.

Water is the lifeblood of our planet. Everything on the surface of the earth subsists off of water, from animals to plants. Seventy-one percent of the earth’s surface is covered in water, and not all of it is the same.

Some waters are sparkling blue and green, while others are more muddied and brown. Then there are waters that are crystal clear, everything visible straight to the bottom of their depths.

Water like this is clean and unpolluted, with none of the average human runoff that can make the water look less than perfect. Let’s discuss six of these clear rivers that are present globally. They include:

  1. The Blue River, Greenland
  2. Rio da Prata, Brazil
  3. Rio Sucuri, Brazil
  4. Verzasca River, Switzerland
  5. Rio Azul, Argentina
  6. Jiuzhaigou, China

These rivers are all prime examples of clear, beautiful water. Let’s dive into the clearest rivers in the world one by one!

What Makes A River Clear?

A river is clearwater when it has a specific chemistry.

©Rocknross52 / Creative Commons – License

You may wonder what can make a river clear and how the water ends up so stunningly clean. There are lots of reasons for this, but often when a river is a clearwater river, it is because it flows very fast.

Also, clearwater rivers tend to have a neutral ph balance, so they are not as acidic or harsh as other water. Most water has dissolved sediment and other debris, and clearwater rivers have much less of this.

Many mountain rivers and streams can be very clear because they are fed by cold natural springs, which are usually free of silica dust. Algae growth in these rivers and streams can be limited by chemicals that occur naturally in the water, as well as ultra-low temperatures. The lack of algae makes for water that’s free of the greenish tint found in most bodies of water.  

Being a clearwater river doesn’t necessarily mean it will be perfectly clear and pristine, but we will examine a few of these rivers that are. When the water rushes by on a calm day, it reflects the sky on it so that it is almost invisible.

1. The Blue River, Greenland

Blue River - Greenland

The water of the Blue River is gorgeous turquoise, and it is the runoff of a melting glacier.

©Daphne Nilsson/

The Blue River is located in Greenland, and it’s easy to see where it found this moniker. From above the river is a long blue liquid line, like your classic children’s drawing of what a river should look like.

This river is found on the Petermann Glacier in Greenland, which is why it is so clear. 

The glacier is melting, and the river can be found in a new intriguing shape every year. Glacier melt is clean and clear and fills up the base of the river, which is how it ends up immaculate.

People explore this exquisite river by kayaking along it, though reaching it can be its own exploration because it is not located near any settlements and is a bit of a trek to reach. This also means that it remains unspoiled by pollution and human touch, which is much of its charm, along with the turquoise shade it has.

2. Rio da Prata, Brazil

Clearest Rivers - Rio da Prata Brazil

The Rio da Prata is so clear because of underground limestone that assists in filtering the water.

©Rafaela Portela/

There are quite a few popular clearwater rivers around Bonito, Brazil. This is because high levels of limestone belowground filter the water free of sediments and help neutralize its acidity.

This means that the Rio da Prata is one of the clearest rivers to be found in the world and one of the most popular. Tourists and locals love donning a wetsuit and exploring the chilling waters.

From above, it is a glass mirror of the sky above it, reflecting everything back over layers of its own floor beneath. From below, it is like teleporting into an alternate world with multicolored fish and plants easy to spot and examine.

The Rio da Prata is home to crystalline waters and tropical fish, with monkeys and other animals bordering the lush jungle that follows it. Many love to snorkel and see a whole world we are not always privy to.

3. Rio Sucuri, Brazil

Clearest Rivers - Rio Sucuri

Rio Sucuri is a wonderful river to snorkel along and explore the depths of.

©Renato Zaar/

Rio Sucuri is a river also located near Bonito in Brazil. These springs are gorgeous, clear, and cool. Many people love taking a ride down the waters to experience the view, watching the fish and other river life twining between their legs as they float onward. 

From above, the waters shine in a bright cerulean blue layered with darker blues as the depths grow. Everything is visible, almost as if the water were glass. It is common for people to wear flotation devices and snorkel along the river, viewing the bottom in a way you just can’t view other rivers.

The Rio Sucuri is bordered by lush green foliage, and it feels as if you’ve escaped to a whole new world when traveling along it. Wildlife near Bonito includes capybaras and also hundreds of species of exotic birds.

4. Verzasca River, Switzerland

Clearest Rivers - Verzasca River

The Verzasca River is a gradient of jade green to blue.


The Verzasca River is in Ticino, Switzerland, and runs nineteen miles long. This river is a lovely gradient of jade green and deep blue when spotted from above, sometimes with a neat divide along it. When level with the water, it is a clear emerald along its length.

Running across stones polished over the years, the river is a beautiful testament to nature and is an idyllic spot for travelers to visit. There are natural jacuzzis where water powers through holes in the rocks into little divots where people can rest. The stones that follow the river are easy for traversing. 

The water is cool and clear to the bottom, so you can see the landscape of stones that make up its base. During the summer, this is a popular place for visitors or locals to swim and spend a day exploring.

5. Rio Azul, Argentina

Clearest Rivers in the World - Rio Azul

The Rio Azul is a deep blue clearwater river in Argentina.

©Alfredo Cerra/

The Rio Azul is hidden within the landscape of Argentina and can be reached by car, hiking, horseback, or bicycle. The water is a bright blue and clear to the bottom. It is a standard hiking destination for many, and the water is crystalline and cool. 

Rocky gorges circle the river and cause little waterfalls to flow. This, along with the rocky and pebbled bottom, leads to a captivating picturesque image.

The river is popular for rafting, and the waters can get rough in some spots. Exploring the landscape is a must when visiting the clearwater Rio Azul.

6. Jiuzhaigou, China

Jiuzhaigou is a series of lakes, rivers, and waterfalls that help make up a national park in China.


Last but certainly not least is Jiuzhaigou in China. Jiuzhaigou means “Nine Settlement Valley,” which is not just a river. It’s a nature preserve and wilderness area found in Sichuan Province in China. It is also a national park in China.

It is home to clearwater rivers and lakes that are a delight to explore. The charm of nature is as clear as the water visible. Jiuzhaigou has many waterfalls and lakes along with rivers that connect them all. There is no one river to be named, as the whole area is pure and unpolluted.

Nature is beautiful but untouchable, as visitors are not allowed to swim or kayak in the water to keep it pristine. Like other rivers mentioned earlier, forests and woodlands surround the water and originally came from glacial melts.

Jiuzhaigou’s waters come in shades of blue and green and are dammed in now by stones that came from rockfalls that secured their state. Many lakes come in different shades depending on the makeup of the soil and rock around them.

Nature truly is captivating when it comes to all the different ways we can view something as seemingly simple as water. Nothing in nature is simple, though, not when these complex systems sustain life so fully on planet Earth. Clearwater rivers are a natural phenomenon that is breathtaking, and it has been a treat to explore the six clearest rivers in the world with you.

Summary Of The 6 Clearest Rivers In The World

In summation, here are 6 of the clearest rivers you’ll find in the world:

1Blue RiverGreenland
2Rio da PrataBrazil
3Rio SucuriBrazil
4Verzasca RiverSwitzerland
5Rio AzulArgentina

In Contrast: An Image of One of the Most Polluted Rivers

Marilao River

The Marilao River in the Philippines is so polluted that it can’t sustain life.

©JFVelasquez Floro / Creative Commons – License

Honorable Mention: Other Clear Rivers in the World

Tara River Gorge, northern Montenegro.

The Tara River is part of the Durmitor National Park, which is listed as a


World Heritage Site.

©Milan B., CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

The world is filled with more than 165 major rivers, although there may be many more smaller ones that vary in size, length, and significance. While there are many rivers that may not be clean, clear, or even habitable, there is also an abundance of them that are and are so incredibly beautiful that they often appear too good to be true. The following rivers deserve an honorable mention and provide you with an opportunity to discover a bit more about additional breathtaking landscapes:

  • St. Croix River (Minnesota) – thought to be one of the cleanest rivers in North America, the St. Croix River, is a tributary of the Mississippi River, flowing between Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is a designated National Scenic Riverway. There are rigorous environmental protections in place, as well as regulations on the use of land, that help keep the water quality as first-class as it is.
  • Torne River (Sweden/Finland) – this river, known for its exceptional water quality, flows through Finland and Sweden, where it acts as a border between the two countries for half its length. As a result of the area’s strict environmental regulations, the waters are in perfect condition. The Torne River is surrounded by massive wilderness areas and depending on the section you find yourself on, you will encounter waterfalls, rapids, and excellent fishing.
  • Tara River (Bosnia-Herzegovina) – part of the Durmitor National Park, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this river flows through Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro and is often touted as one of the cleanest rivers in the world. The water is said to be so clean, that it is drinkable straight from the source. Its crystal-clear waters reflect the untouched natural beauty of the landscape that is surrounded by rugged canyons and abundant greenery. Like the Torne River, it also forms a natural border between countries – the last section of the river forms the border between Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Jude is a writer both by trade and by heart. They have been writing since a very young age and have eight years of professional writing experience. Passionate about animals, Jude has three birds and three cats.

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