Photos That Look Fake But Are Completely Real

By: Alec Donaldson | Last updated: Nov 06, 2023

It’s okay to be skeptical of fantastically-shot photos. Especially with the mass adoption of Photoshop and AI.

Understandably so, as no one wants to be the butt of jokes on the internet. However, you should trust the authenticity of the photos you are about to see. They may look fake, but that’s only because they are some of the most amazing juxtapositions of nature and human imagination.

Massive Ship Hanging on a Cliff

No, it’s not what you think. Neither is it a daring work of photo editors. This is a hotel built to look like a cruise ship. Located in South Korea, the Sun Cruise Resort and Yacht was built to give visitors a cruise ship-like experience.


Source: Frank Kraeh/Pinterest

To complete the experience, visitors also get to hear the sounds of crashing waves and noisy birds from the speakers.


Climbing the Stairway to Heaven

If you come across this photo online, don’t be too quick to hiss and look away. It’s a real staircase—only its infinite appearance is an illusion.


Source: Colossal/Pinterest

It’s the work of super-talented artist, David McCracken, titled, Diminish and Ascend. With the correct angle and lots of cloud overhead, this welded aluminum stairway may seem likely to take you to the moon if you are patient enough.

Is This a Giant Beer Mug?

This picture looks edited to depict a gargantuan beer mug behind the sea. But it’s actually a photo of a massive dust thunderstorm.


Source: WordlessTech/Pinterest

This huge dust storm was spotted off the coast of Australia. The storms, which are pretty common around drylands, cause widespread power outages, flooding, and bushfires.

The Salar de Uyuni Looks Too Beautiful to Be Real

The photo below looks like a beautiful wallpaper design that could never be real—but it is. It depicts the Salar de Uyuni, more than four thousand square miles of salt flat.


Source: POPSUGAR/Pinterest

Ancient lakes evaporated, leaving behind a thick layer of salt. To form these beautiful reflections, the salt flat only needs a thin layer of water from the overflow of nearby lakes.

Boats Appearing Like They Are Flying

If you come across the picture below, or any other that seems to show boats floating in the air, don’t scroll past. It is likely a picture of boats on the La Tabaccara water in Lampedusa, Italy.

Source: TRAVEL JAPAN 47/Pinterest

The boats are actually on the clear and transparent turquoise blue water. The sight is so out of this world that pictures like this are hard to believe.


Nature Shows Her Art Skills on a Frozen Pond

The photo below is of a frozen pond in Switzerland. Nature shows her superior artistic ability once again with these exquisitely perfect patterns that look like broken shards of glass.

Source: Cookieforeo/Reddit

Their blue color makes them all the more beautiful and ethereal. The bluish mountains in the background complete this perfect sight.


Picturesque Frozen Abraham Lake in Canada

Abraham Lake in Alberta, Canada is another popular site where frozen lakes provide some of the most adorable sights—so adorable that their existence is hard to believe.

Source: Jennexplores/Pinterest

In case you are wondering, those bubbles are trapped methane gas. As soon as the weather becomes sunny, the ice will melt, and the methane bubbles will explode with glee into the atmosphere.


Another Magnificent Body of Water

This frozen pond doesn’t form beautiful patterns of glass or bubbles. Instead, it exercises a different superpower—the ability to change color.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Shirogane Blue Pond in Japan can turn green and back to blue again, depending on the weather, and maybe its mood. The waters aren’t the only attraction—the beautiful trees in the surrounding area are also a sight to behold.


We've Heard of Paris Burning, But Melting?

If you have ever placed a piece of rubber in a fire, you may find it difficult to believe this is a real building in France. It seems to be melting from the rays of the sun.

Source: eduardoratier/Pinterest

Sitting on George V Avenue in Paris and nicknamed “The Melting Building,” this edifice was built to keep the eyes of passersby glued and their imaginations intrigued.


A Lake Full of Strawberry Milk

The picture below isn’t a digital creation—it’s an actual lake in Africa. The surreal-looking Lake Retba, or Lac Rose, meaning “pink lake,” is a three-kilometer-square lake about 22 miles from the country’s capital, Dakar.

Source: Pinterest

The lake’s color looks like any other until a rare kind of algae changes its water to dark pink during January through March.


This Photo From the Maldives Shows a Sea of Lights

Here is another aquatic wonder, this time from the waters of the Maldives. At night, blue lights shine brightly and beautifully along the coastline of a Maldives lake.

Source: Myglobetrotting/Pinterest

These lights aren’t a reflection—they are actual lights from beneath the water generated by a special kind of algae that emit light as beautiful as those colorful neon signs on the streets.


The Literal Fountain of Knowledge

What looks like a computer-created image of books pouring out of a window into a stream on the streets is real. It is a sculpture made by super-talented Spanish artist Alicia Martinis.

Source: andreagagostini/Pinterest

In person, the books look real, but in actuality aren’t real books—they are made of metal frames and a bit of chemical hardeners called epoxy resin.


The Photo That Could Easily Pass As a Painting

At first glance, this picture looks like a painting of two fishermen in action. Even after a second look, your perception isn’t likely to change. That’s because it does look strikingly similar to an impressionist painting.

Source: Zetret/Reddit

This photo is of the Chaohu Lake in China’s Anhui Province. The water looks like green paint due to the presence of blue-green algae.


Floating Tap Fountain Seemingly Supplies Water From Nowhere

This picture is one of the most amusing and confusing on the internet. It’s depicts a massive water faucet that seems to be suspended in the air.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the photo, water flows from its opening into a large stream from seemingly nowhere. That’s enough proof that the picture could be fake. Yet, it is real. The water flows from a transparent tube that is blocked from view by the water stream.


Massive Sinkhole in Guatemala

This photo shows a pretty wide sinkhole in Guatemala, right in the center of what looks like a residential area. No, it isn’t a computer creation. It’s the result of a natural disaster.

Source: mideysmith/Twitter

The sinkhole was a natural disaster that hit the city in 2010, boring a large hole in the ground and swallowing a three-story factory in the process. The hole is 100 yards deep and 60 feet wide.


Pine Trees in Poland Get the Attention They Deserve

Photo editors can do a lot of things, including bending the image of trees. But this photo is 100% real.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Pine trees in a Poland forest decided to take a different posture, maybe because they wanted more attention than a crowded forest could provide. Since this photo came onto our radar, seems like their plan has worked out just fine.


Phone Line That Has Survived the Odds

The photo below is yet another contender for most convincing manipulated image—except that there was no alteration. It shows the remains of a burned wooden telephone line pole somewhere in Russia.

Source: Knwer/Pinterest

The miracle here is that the cables, which should have naturally drooped due to the lack of tension, seem intact. This one we can’t explain!


Mirrored Shelter Somewhere in the California Desert

This house isn’t digitally-engineered by any means. It is a real structure developed by brilliant architect Phillip K. Smith.

Source: Improvisedlife/Pinterest

He has transformed a decades-old desert shelter into an artistic wonder using glass. He replaced its windows, doors, and part of its body with mirrored glass, creating a structure that partially takes the appearance of its surroundings.


Floating Tennis Court in Qatar

Our last photo is of two tennis greats, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, playing a match on what looks like a tennis court built on the sea. The court, which looks fake, is an actual court built on the Persian Gulf.

Source: Jbledivelec/Twitter

It was the beginning of the 2011 Qatar Open, and this photo captured a scene that was planned to promote the event. However, the wet floor, which prevented any balls from bouncing, still produced loads of amusement for the tennis champions.


A Painter's Paradise

Have you ever seen an image that you were so certain it had to be painted because it couldn’t possibly be real? We certainly felt the same way when we stumbled upon this image of the Zhangye Danxia Landform In Gansu, China. 

Source: Pinterest

This landform is widely known for its unbelievably breathtaking view and its vibrant colors, which are primarily shades of red, orange, and yellow. Just looking at this image, you would think an artist got a color palette and went crazy on it.


Nature's UFO in the Sky

We bet when you first saw this image, you thought, “Oh! That looks like a spaceship.” Well, it’s, in fact, not a spaceship. This seemingly strange occurrence is what is called a “Lenticular cloud.” It happens when there is cloud formation and it takes a lens-like shape with smooth, saucer-like outlooks. 

Source: Wikipedia

What makes them look even more realistic is how they appear suspended in time. If you ever spot one, you should definitely take a picture of it. 


Lifelike Cartoon Sculpture

Looks unreal right? No, it’s not a scene from a cartoon or animated movie. This is a very real sculpture. 

Source: Pinterest

At first glance, it looks like a gigantic rumpled piece of cartoon paper that can be blown away if the breeze is strong enough. However, in reality, it is actually a sculpture made of metal and painted to give off the look of a two-dimensional cartoon drawing of a three-dimensional piece of paper, depending on how close you are standing to it.


Undulatus Asperatus: Wave of Clouds

This is not an image of the gods descending on the earth, about to devour it. This is what we call an Undulatus Asperatus, which translates as “roughened waves.” Undulatus Asperatus is a very rare cloud formation that tends to form during morning or midday hours, especially following convective thunderstorms. 

Source: Pinterest

This cloud formation was included in the International Cloud Atlas in 2009; this marked the first addition since cirrus intortus in 1951. 


The Illuminating Cave

If you ever find yourself in need of a great location for a romantic getaway, we are sure this illuminating cave is top of the list. This image offers a glimpse into the beauty of the Glow Worms cave and glowworms at work.

Source: Getty Images

While it might seem fake, it is a very real place located in New Zealand, and people have been visiting the cave for more than 100 years. You should definitely think about adding it to your bucket list; it is quite a sight!