There is something incredibly appealing about the water effects in Ocarina of Time, and the ability to enjoy them in a massive setting such as Lake Hylia has been appreciated by many gamers for decades. Most areas in Ocarina are a joy to explore, and the lake distinguishes itself as the most serene.

When you enter the region for the first time, whether past the steel gates and through the main entrance, being swept downstream, or taking an underground passage, the scope of this wide-open reservoir catches your attention. The lake is surrounded by hills and forests, which help keep the lake secluded and protected. All the water in the lake comes from the Zora Fountain via the Zora River, and as such serves as a visual representation of how important Zora Domain is to Hyrule.

Tingle’s Maps is a series in which we explore the endless lands of Hyrule in search of our favorite places in The Legend of Zelda. We’ll explore everywhere: the beautiful landscapes that make us put down the controller in awe; the deadly terrain that threatens Link with the harshest of elements; the bustling towns that bring the game to life; and the abandoned grounds that evoke peace and sadness. As well as the grand locales, we’ll also discover all the secret caves and hidden crevices that lie between. Let’s adventure!

Lake Hylia is fascinating because despite how little is explained about it, its importance to Hyrule is apparent. The Hylians even built the Lakeside Laboratory to study and unravel the mysteries of the lake and the water. The Professor, an odd but helpful old man who spends his days within the lab conducting research, experiments with the water in order to create new medicines. Though in between his studies he has time to rate Link’s diving skills and keep a pet shark. Probably best not to question that second one too much.

Down past the laboratory you’ll find Bonooru and Pierre, two music-loving scarecrows. If you, as Child Link, play them a song of your own creation, and return to them as an adult and play it again for Bonooru, he will offer the services of his friend, who has since left the lake and is now roaming Hyrule. If you play the song in certain locations, Pierre will appear, and provide a grappling point for the Hookshot in order to previously unreachable areas.

It was never clear how much we as gamers needed something as seemingly trivial as fishing to be a thing in adventure games until the introduction of the Fishing Pond. Located at the back end of Lake Hylia, this quaint little fishing hole provides a much-needed source of R&R for Link and yourself. Catch some fish, let the Fishing Hole Man rate your catch, and earn some prizes. Or you can be like me and use the fishing line to snag the hat right off his head and taunt him with it. Whatever makes your break from the quest more worthwhile.

I guess I need to talk about it: There’s one more major inclusion in the area. Everyone’s favorite addition to the lake. Their favorite part of the whole game, really. That perfectly fine and properly-designed labyrinth, the Water Temple.

Sarcasm. I guess it is what’s expected of me, but if I’m being honest (sorry not sorry) the Water Temple is not that bad. Yeah, it can be bad, but not that bad. I myself have never had any problems clearing it (at least not more than any other dungeon), and I enjoy the layout, visuals, enemies, and music too much to let the gimmicks get in my way. I mean, you fight Dark Link in there, how can you not give the temple a pass just based on that alone?

Oh, and Lake Hylia is also where you get the Fire Arrows, by shooting the sun. You get magic arrows by trying to attack the rising sun. That’s always been funny to me. I guess Link just isn’t a morning person. Explains why he’s always asleep at the start of every game. I feel that.

Lake Hylia. It’s pretty, peaceful and an integral part of Hyrule. It’s where you can take a break from it all, or make your way further into Ocarina of Time’s amazing narrative. Regardless of what you’re doing there, the lake commands your attention.