Distinguishing Lagoons from Lakes

Lagoon vs Lake

Water comes in various forms, such as rainwater, ice, snow, and through water bodies. Lakes are significant sources of water for humans, being bodies of water surrounded by land on all sides. Another type of water body, called a lagoon, shares many similarities with lakes, which can be confusing for some people. This article examines the differences between these two types of water bodies to clarify any misunderstandings.

Key Takeaways

  • Lagoons are shallow water bodies formed near coastal areas, separated from oceans by reefs or low sandbanks, and have a small link with the sea or ocean.
  • Lakes are still water bodies surrounded by land on all sides except one, fed by a river, stream, or other moving body of water, and are mostly freshwater lakes.
  • Lagoons are saltwater bodies near oceans, while lakes are mostly freshwater bodies far away from oceans.


A lagoon is a shallow water body formed near coastal areas. It has a small connection with the sea or ocean and is separated from the ocean water by reefs or a low sandbank. Water from these water bodies can be transported back to the oceans and vice versa through inlets that cut through the barriers, which are mostly sandbanks. Being shallow water bodies, evaporation and precipitation significantly impact the salinity and temperature of the water in lagoons. A lagoon is called “leaky” when there is unimpeded exchange of water from the ocean through wide tidal channels. It can also be a “choked” lagoon if it is connected to the ocean with a long and narrow channel.


A lake is a still water body surrounded by land on all sides except for the side where it is fed by a river, stream, or other moving body of water. Lakes are far away from oceans and seas and are inland water bodies that are larger and deeper than similar water bodies called ponds. Although still, lakes receive water and are drained by rivers or other streams. Lakes are found worldwide, and those close to mountains are natural lakes. Lakes can also be manmade. Most of the lakes globally are freshwater lakes.

Difference between Lagoon and Lake

  • A lagoon, although similar in appearance to a lake, is a shallow water body near coastal areas that receive water from the ocean and is separated from the ocean by barrier islands made of sand.
  • A lake is a still or slow-moving water body away from the oceans.
  • Lakes are mostly freshwater lakes formed at the foothills of mountains.
  • Lakes are surrounded by land on all sides, although they are fed and drained by a river or other stream.
  • A lagoon is a type of saltwater lake formed by ocean waves.
  • Lagoons are close to oceans, while lakes are far away from oceans.
  • Lagoons are saltwater bodies, whereas lakes are mostly freshwater bodies.
  • There are approximately 2 million lakes worldwide, while there are far fewer lagoons.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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