From pools beneath waterfalls to hidden grottoes, swimming holes make taking a dip an intimate experience in their natural, dramatic surroundings. Away from the crowds and often an adventure to get to, they are great places to commune with nature. These peaceful places are often closely guarded secrets, jewels in the rough. If you want an experience like no other, here are some of the most breathtaking swimming holes around the world.
1. Sooke Potholes, Canada
The Sooke Potholes are a short distance away from the city of Victoria in British Columbia but make you feel like you are being transported much further away. They are a series of deep, polished rock pools connected by cascading waterfalls formed during the last ice age, by the movement of glaciers. The water here is beautiful and clear, and it is a wonderful swimming and picnicking destination. Access is easy through the Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, making it an excellent place to observe local wildlife.
2. Erawan Falls, Thailand
Regarded as one of the most stunning waterfalls in Thailand, Erawan Falls has seven waterfalls atop each other which give way to pools you can swim in. There are several paths to the top, making access easy. You can swim in the different clear waters that teem with fish, explore the caves around the area with their fantastical rock formations or make the climb to the very highest waterfall.
3. The Blue Hole, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
This secluded paradise is a perfect place to laze in the sun and have a drink with your feet dangling in the water. While here, visit the Dunn Rivers Fall and swing from the Tarzan Rope into the pool. Lush greenery, exotic plants and sapphire blue water enhance the experience. Ocho Rios is in the north east of Jamaica and there are several guides available to arrange tours.
4. Fairy Pools, Scotland
Enticing visitors from all over the world, the Fairy Pools, on the Isle of Skye, have clear blue and pink hued waters that are worth of a story book. Take note that no matter how clear and inviting the waters are, be prepared for some “wild swimming in the cold when you take a dip. Park your car in Glenbrittle and set off on a walk to the pools. Remember to wear walking shoes, because the streams and steeping stones along the path could be difficult to get past.
5. Dean’s Blue Hole, Bahamas
At 650 feet, Dean’s Blue Hole is the world’s deepest underwater sinkhole and is not for children or non swimmers. This wonder of the natural world has crystal clear, warm water and white beaches all year round and is an exciting place for divers and snorkelers. It is located toward the southern end of Long Island, about three miles north of Clarence Town in the always sunny and pleasant Bahamas.
6. Havasu Falls, USA
A ten-mile hike from Hualapai Hilltop, Havasu Falls is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Its cobalt blue waters are striking, lending the otherwise desolate landscape an otherworldly charm. Located in Arizona, on the Havasupai Indian Reserve, the waters are considered sacred, but even if you don’t believe in the stories, the wide pool and waterfalls are a place you will fall in love with. Go camping here or sit in the shade of cottonwood trees.
7. Jellyfish Lake, Palau
Swimming at Jellyfish Lake is a surreal experience. A set of isolated lakes that trapped jellyfish over 12,000 years ago, the jellyfish lost their stingers when they didn’t have any natural predators. You are allowed to swim in the lake but scuba diving is not allowed in order to protect the ecosystem. The Lake is on the island of Eil Malk and it takes a short hike to reach it.
8. Pamukkale Hot Springs, Turkey
Pamukkale is Turkish for ‘cotton castle’ and these springs are renowned for their mineral rich blue water and restorative properties. The series of white travertine rock and hot springs range from lukewarm to boiling, so you can always decide on whether you want to soak or swim. The scenery is phenomenal and the tourist hot spot and can be visited all year long. A short bus ride from Denizli, this is a highly developed spot.
9. Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Blue Lagoon in Grindavik is located between Keflavik International Airport and Reykjavik and it is easy to travel there. This tourist hot spot is crowded but the lagoon is worth it with its steamy and mineral rich geothermal waters. Once here, remember to get some beauty treatment as the mud here works wonders for your skin.
10. Devil’s Pool, Zambia
The ultimate infinity pool, this is possibly the most dangerous pool in the world. Located at the top of the world’s tallest waterfall, Victoria Falls, it is safe despite overlooking a deadly drop as a rocky ledge underneath the water’s surface stops the current. Open through the summer months of May to October when the water level falls, travelers are encouraged to visit this pool with guides and carry a waterproof camera. You can also sit right on the rocky ledge on what is known as the Devil’s Armchair.
11. Cyprus Lake Grotto, Canada
The most popular attraction in Bruce Peninsula National Park, Cyprus Lake Grotto in Ontario is an unbelievably beautiful location formed by waves from Georgian Bay. Its stunning beauty and turquoise coloured water are enough to keep any photographer happy. You can also try kayaking, fishing, camping or canoeing here.
12. IkKil, Cenote, Mexico
IkKil Cenote is a deep, natural pit formed by the collapse of a cave. This is a 130 foot deep pit that is a popular stopover for anyone traveling to the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza. It has a beautiful stairway carved into the limestone rock that leads to the swimming platform. Stop there either early or late in the day as it can get a bit crowded. It has harmless catfish in the water.