10 Most Unusual Lake-based Businesses Around the Globe | LakeWizard

Key Takeaways

  • Unusual lake-based businesses are thrilling and innovative.
  • From underwater post offices to floating vineyards, these ventures redefine traditional lake use.
  • These businesses demonstrate local ingenuity and a new approach to natural resource utilization.

Lakes have always been a backdrop for tranquility and nature's beauty, but how about business?

Imagine receiving mail from an underwater post office or studying in a floating school!

Lakes are not just for leisure; they're innovative hubs for some of the most unconventional businesses you'll ever encounter.

You're probably well-acquainted with the standard lakeside operations, but around the globe, entrepreneurs are taking lake-based businesses to another level.

Imagine waking up in a hotel made entirely of ice, watching a movie on a floating cinema, or sipping wine from a vineyard that floats!

These unique ventures are not only fascinating but also showcase the adaptability and creativity of local communities who turn their natural resources into economic opportunities.

Table of contents


Underwater Post Office, Vanuatu

Ever fancied sending a postcard from under the sea?

In Vanuatu, you can!

This isn't your typical postal experience; it's a unique underwater adventure at the world’s only Underwater Post Office, nestled in the waters of Hideaway Island.

Location and Accessibility

  • Situated within Hideaway Island marine sanctuary
  • Approximately three metres beneath the surface

How it Works:

  • Obtain a special waterproof postcard
  • Dive or snorkel down to the ocean floor
  • Post your card in the submerged postbox

Imagine the look on your friends' faces when they receive a postcard stamped from an actual underwater post office!

Created by Vanuatu Post in 2003, this submerged postal service is a fascinating merge of tourism and mail delivery.

Did You Know?

  • The post office is a part of a marine sanctuary
  • Launched as a novel idea during the 2003 Vanuatu Tourism Awards

Unique Features:

  • Exclusive Stamp: Your postcard gets a unique stamp, evidence of its underwater journey
  • Marine Life Galore: Surround yourself with vibrant marine life as you send off your greetings

Send a message to loved ones that's truly unforgettable—lace up your fins, grab a mask, and dive into an extraordinary postal experience.

Your waterproof message from the deep will be a keepsake like no other.

Ready for the plunge?

Floating School, Nigeria

Have you ever imagined going to a school that floats on water?

Well, in Nigeria, students in the Makoko community don't have to imagine it—they live it!

Dubbed the Makoko Floating School, it's a real-life marvel of innovation on Lagos's lagoon.

Why a floating school?

Makoko is no stranger to water.

Due to frequent flooding, a school that rides the waves isn't just clever, it's essential.

This floating school isn't just any old raft, though.

It was a smartly built structure resting on a foundation of plastic barrels, showing off the resourcefulness of local material usage.

Here’s what makes this school so special:

  • Adaptability: The school floats on Lagos's lagoon, adapting to tidal changes and varying water levels. This means students can learn without fear of being interrupted by Mother Nature's moods.
  • Space Efficiency: Despite being on water, it packs a punch with its neat 3-storey A-frame design.
  • Sustainability: Are you thinking about the carbon footprint? Worry not! The school is recognized for its cost and energy efficiency, a truly remarkable feature for such an inventive structure.
  • Community Impact: Every day, nearly 100 children take boats to this iconic school-on-stilts for an education that's literally making waves.
  • Architectural Ingenuity: The design is a collaborative effort involving Dutch and Nigerian architects, who tackled the challenge of Lagos's unpredictable climate head-on.

So there you have it, your very own glimpse into one of the world's most unusual lake-based businesses.

With its blend of functionality and forward-thinking, the Makoko Floating School is indeed a beacon of hope and innovation on the waters of Nigeria.

Fancy a boat ride to class?

Ice Hotel, Sweden

Have you ever fantasized about sleeping in a real-life winter wonderland?

Then pack your warmest clothes, because the Ice Hotel in Sweden will transform your dreams into a frosty reality!

Nestled in Jukkasjärvi, a quaint village dotted with snow-capped pines, this hotel is more than just a place to stay—it's a masterpiece sculpted anew each year from the crystalline ice of the Torne River.

What's it like to stay here?

  • Temperature: Yes, it's cool—literally! The rooms stay at around -5 to -8 degrees Celsius.
  • Unique Art: Each room is individually carved by artists from around the world, so no two stays are ever the same.
  • Activities: Dog sledding and Northern Lights tours are just the tip of the iceberg.

Quick Facts:

  • Location: Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, just over 10 miles from Kiruna.
  • Established: In 1989, originally from a single art exhibition.
  • Availability: Open for visitors from December 12 to April 15, between 10am - 6pm.
  • Entry Fees: For a day visit, adults pay SEK 349.

Imagine yourself sipping a drink at the ice bar, where even the glasses are made of ice, or tucking into a bed of reindeer hides.

Remember though, staying overnight is not the only option; you're welcome to explore the art, attend events, and take a tour during the day.

So, who's ready for an ice-cold adventure in Sweden?

Just don't forget your camera; this hotel melts back into the river come spring, ensuring each year's design is a once-in-a-lifetime sight!

Lake Retba Salt Harvesting, Senegal

Ever wondered where the pink-colored salt on your dinner table might come from?

Well, you could be looking at the handiwork of harvesters from Lake Retba, Senegal.

Lake Retba, affectionately known as Lac Rose due to its distinct pink hue, is not your average lake; it's a bustling hub of salt harvesting.

What's the Deal with the Pink?

  • Algae: It's thanks to Dunaliella salina algae that the lake sports its vibrant color, which becomes particularly visible during the dry season. Pretty neat, right?

How Do They Harvest Salt?

  • Wading In: Harvesters wade into the shallow waters to gather salt from the lake’s bottom.

Here’s a quick snapshot of Lac Rose’s intriguing salt business:

Statistic Detail
Depth About 10 feet deep
Harvesters Approximately 3,000 laborers
Annual Salt Harvest Roughly 24,000 tons
Main Use Fish preservation
Export Over 70% to West Africa regions

Just imagine, thousands of workers are out there daily, immersed in the lake's otherworldly pink water up to their knees, collecting salt that's destined to preserve fish or perhaps end up as a curious item in a speciality gourmet shop.

Did You Know?

While Lake Retba is one of the saltiest lakes around, its salt harvesting is so efficient that much of it is exported around West Africa!

So next time you sprinkle some salt, think of Lac Rose - a place where the uniqueness of nature meets the enterprising spirit of Senegal!

Floating Cinema, Thailand

Have you ever imagined watching a movie surrounded by the gentle sway of waves?

In Thailand, the Archipelago Cinema turns this dream into reality.

Nestled among towering rocks and lush jungle, this cinema floats tranquilly on the sea.

Key Features:

  • Open-Air Venue: A screen set between natural beauty provides an unforgettable backdrop.
  • Floating Auditorium: Comfortable seating on a raft, drifting on the water.
  • Unique Experience: Watching films while surrounded by an ocean landscape.

Designed by Beijing-based architect Ole Scheeren, this floating marvel was initially launched for the Film on the Rocks Yao Noi Film Festival in 2012.

The concept drew inspiration from local fishermen's lobsters rafts, blending seamlessly with the environment.

Imagine being ferried by boat to your seat, under the stars, with sounds of the sea mixing with movie soundtracks.

It's not just a screening; it’s a blend of culture, nature, and art.

The Floating Cinema embodied:

  • Architectural innovation: A testament to creativity and local inspiration.
  • Natural fusion: A synergy of human ingenuity and Thailand’s stunning landscapes.

No ordinary cinema, the location off the island of Kudu Noi, near the Yao Noi area, provides a mesmerizing escape from the typical movie theater experience.

Mark your calendar, because this isn't just about the movies you watch; it's where you watch them that elevates the entire experience.

Crannog Living, Scotland

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to live on a lake, not by it, but literally on it?

Welcome to the unique world of Crannog Living in Scotland, where the mysteries and ingenuity of Iron Age life come to light.

What's a Crannog?

A crannog is an ancient, artificial island, once built and inhabited by resourceful Scots during the Iron Age.

These feats of old-world engineering were predominantly found in the lakes—lochs, as they say in Scotland—and provided not only safety but also a distinct way of living.

The Crannog Centre Experience

  1. Location: Kenmore, Loch Tay, Scotland
  2. What to See:
  1. Reconstructed Crannog: Immerse yourself in a full-scale replica.
  2. Artifacts: View the tools and trinkets of ancient loch-dwellers.
  3. Demonstrations: Watch experts showcase traditional crafts.

As you step onto the Scottish Crannog Centre, you're transported back to a time when community life thrived on these man-made islands.

With exhibits and tours, the Centre provides rich, educational content that tickles your curiosity.

Dive into History Ever tried your hand at ancient woodworking or fire-starting?

Here, you can.

Interactive demonstrations bring the past to life, and best of all, you get to be part of the action.

A Journey of Discovery From the moment you walk in the original crannog dwellers' footsteps to the time you spend exploring the artifacts they left behind, the Scottish Crannog Centre offers an engaging peek into a world unlike any other.

So, why not add a splash of ancient history to your next Scottish adventure?

Lake Kivu Methane Extraction, Rwanda

Ever wondered if a lake could power up your home?

In Rwanda, Lake Kivu isn't just a picturesque destination; it's a powerhouse, quite literally!

Nestled along the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, this vast body of water is unique because it contains large quantities of dissolved methane.

So, how do you tap into such an underwater treasure trove?

Well, it's quite a spectacle!

Companies in Rwanda have developed techniques to carefully extract this methane from the depths of Lake Kivu.

Imagine bubbles of gas, rising up to the surface, then being captured and transformed into valuable electricity.

Here's a bit more depth on the numbers:

  • Methane Capacity: Estimated to generate 700 MW of electricity over 55 years.
  • Rwanda's Share: About 350 MW, with the remainder harnessed by the Democratic Republic of Congo.


  • Methane is extracted from the lake.
  • It travels through a pipeline to an onshore facility.
  • Finally, it's converted into electricity.

Concerned about the environment while indulging in this energy bonanza?

Don't worry; the process is eco-conscious.

Removed carbon dioxide is carefully pumped back into the lake, minimizing the ecological footprint.

This initiative is not just innovative but also promising for the nation's energy future.

It's fascinating, right?

You're harnessing a clean energy source, giving back to the community, and all this, from a lake that was once feared for its potential to unleash an environmental disaster!

Floating Vineyards, Thailand

Have you ever taken a vineyard tour on a boat?

If not, you're in for a treat when you explore Thailand's floating vineyards.

Siam Winery, nestled near Samut Sakorn, just 50km southwest of Bangkok, is one of the pioneers in this extraordinary type of viticulture.

Here's why it stands out:

  • A Unique Approach to Wine-making: The vineyards sit comfortably between two rivers, Tha Chin and Mae Klong, resting on platforms that quite literally float on water.
  • Accessible by Boat: Imagine rowing between rows of grapevines – it's a twist to traditional wine tourism that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Noteworthy Aspects:

  • Location: Floating Vineyards are located roughly 60 km south of Bangkok on the Chao Phraya Delta.
  • Fruit Abundance: The region is also known for a bounty of fruits like dragon fruit, papaya, pomelo, lime, and lychees.

A Cultural Melange:

  • It's a blend of unique agricultural practices with a touch of Thai ingenuity.
  • Sampling these wines offers a slice of Thailand's adapting flavor profiles, suitable for both local and international palates.

Experience Offered: Ever thought you'd learn about viticulture on water?

You can indulge in tastings right from the tank or barrel, paired with a lunch that features Thai delicacies that might include items like curry, chili-and-lemongrass soup, and pad thai.

The expansion of Thailand's wine industry has put a spotlight on these floating vineyards.

While you're there, you'll see firsthand how they capitalize on local climate and innovative techniques to produce varieties such as Malaga Blanc and Pokdum.

These wines are crafted to complement the vibrant flavors of Thai cuisine, which is known for its fiery spices.

So, next time you're in Thailand, why not float on over to where the wine grows?

It's a phenomenal combination of sightseeing and wine tasting – a kind of adventure that your taste buds and Instagram feed will thank you for.

Cheers, or should we say, Chok Dee!

Lake Titicaca Reed Boat Building, Peru/Bolivia

Have you ever imagined yourself gliding across a high-altitude lake in a boat made entirely of reeds?

On the shimmering waters of Lake Titicaca, which straddles the border of Peru and Bolivia, this can be more than just a dream.

Here, reed boat building is not just a craft; it's an ancient tradition kept alive by the indigenous Uros people.

Why are these boats special?

Traditionally, the Uros construct their boats using totora reeds found on the lake's shores.

These boats aren't just quaint artifacts; they are vital to the Uros' way of life, even today.

  • Dimensions: The boats vary in size, usually measuring 2-7 meters in length and about a third of that in width.
  • Purpose: Originally employed for fishing and transport, these reed boats now offer unique tourism experiences.

Can you imagine yourself basking in the sun on a boat that dates back to pre-Inca cultures?

You, the traveler, can hop on one of these reed constructions for a ride that's steeped in history.

The Uros people offer more than just a paddle across the lake; they provide a glimpse into their culture.

By stepping onto one of these projects, you're not just a tourist; you're part of a living narrative.

Building Process: The reed boat builders, with deft hands and generations of knowledge, weave the totora reeds into sturdy vessels.

It's a technique that has been refined over centuries, and to see these boats come to life is to witness a dance between the artisan and the natural materials.

Did You Know?

  • Lake Titicaca is 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) above sea level, making it the world's highest navigable lake.
  • The reed boats play a significant historical role in the Andean cultures, particularly the Tiwanaku state, with the lake once considered the center of the cosmos.

So, next time you find yourself in Peru or Bolivia, remember that a ride on a reed boat isn't just a tick on your bucket list—it's to sail through history itself!

Lake Baikal Ice Marathons, Russia

Ever imagined running on ice, with the world’s deepest lake below your feet?

Well, you can turn that into reality at Lake Baikal in Russia.

Each winter, this unique body of water transforms as temperatures plummet, turning the surface into an icy racetrack.

The Challenge: Eager for an exhilarating challenge?

The Lake Baikal Ice Marathon is not for the faint of heart.

Freezing conditions meet with the thrill of a 42-kilometer race across the pristine ice.

  • Temperature: Expect anything from a nippy -10°C to a bone-chilling -25°C.
  • The Setting: A vast expanse of ice surrounds you, with the stunning Siberian landscape as your backdrop.

Preparation & Safety: Concerned about running on ice?

Safety measures are in top gear for this event.

Skilled organizers scrutinize the ice to ensure it’s robust enough, while aid stations pepper the course providing warm drinks and encouragement.

When & How: Don your warmest gear and join the race when winter is at its peak – usually February or March.

Remember, the cold isn’t just a challenge; it’s a part of the charm!

Why Run Here?

  • Unmatched Beauty: It's the sheer, untouched beauty of Lake Baikal that adds to the allure.
  • Unique Experience: How many can say they’ve run atop the largest freshwater lake, by volume, in the world?

Lake Baikal awaits.

Are you ready to lace up your running shoes and claim your place among the brave souls who've conquered the ice marathon?

Running enthusiasts, this is one for the bucket list!