Watch: why Abu Dhabi's stunning salt lakes are a social media sensation

The emerald green lakes filled with giant salt formations are proving a huge tourist attraction

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It's the picture-perfect destination nestled away in the desert of Abu Dhabi that has taken social media by storm.

Visitors have been flocking to Al Wathba in their droves in recent months, smartphones in hand, to catch a glimpse of what has come to be known as Long Salt Lake.

Instagram feeds have been filled with stunning images of what are actually two lakes, with crystal-clear waters containing floating formations of salt likened to giant lily pads.

Seeing is believing and even those who take the latest internet trends with a healthy pinch of salt are sure to be suitably impressed.

Stunning scenes at the Long Salt Lake in Abu Dhabi

Stunning scenes at the Long Salt Lake in Abu Dhabi

The beauty spot is a little off the beaten track, about an hour's drive away from the city.

It is close to the popular fossil dunes, with the closest roads to it being the E65 and E30. There is some off-road driving required, so get behind the wheel of an SUV if possible.

Christine Eunice Santos decided to visit with her sister and two cousins.

Despite a little trouble finding the right spot, they were rewarded with an unforgettable experience that made up for the fact overseas travel was off the agenda this year.

And, of course, some treasured snaps to light up her Instagram account.

“We were looking for somewhere to go within Abu Dhabi only, as the [Covid-19] restrictions have become stricter,” said the 40-year-old quantity surveyor from the Philippines.

“We checked on Instagram and were enticed by the salt lake. We appreciated the view, especially the nice photos we have taken.

“It was amazing to see the salt formation white as ice and crystal-like water. It is something out of the ordinary, especially in the middle of the desert.”

Kebee Itong went along with his wife Toni, and son Whelan.

The 35-year-old dental assistant has been living in Abu Dhabi for three years, but said he had not heard of the lakes until a few weeks ago.

“My wife found it while searching online for places to visit in Abu Dhabi and I heard about it from a colleague,” said the Filipino resident.

After losing their way, they asked around a bit and were told the lakes area was near the fossil dunes.

“We went to the dunes and asked people there, who said 'follow the power lines'. We did and found it,” he said.

“It is nice to be here in the late afternoon. The breeze is a bit cooler than inside the city.

“We will definitely come back with friends who haven’t visited yet.

His son, a Year 8 pupil, said he was intrigued by the saline formations that looked like giant lily pads.

Ayaz Khan, 40, decided to visit with friends during the Eid break.

“We had seen stories posted by friends on social media of it and decided to go there," said the Pakistani logistics supervisor, who lives in Dubai.

"We were already staying in Abu Dhabi in Bab Al Nojoum, and headed the next morning to discover the famous Wathba lakes.

“The weather was good, not very hot. We took photos there because [the salt] looks like snow."

What is the secret of the salt lake?

John Burt, an associate professor of biology at New York University Abu Dhabi, said the lakes were formed using water released into the desert.

"The sharp crystals of salt started to form because of water evaporation. All the salts are slowly built up over time," he said.

Even if the answer to how this online phenomenon came to be may not wow many influencers, this striking tourist attraction is set to be a sure-fire hit for a long time to come.

Updated: August 26, 2021, 10:49 AM