From Mexico’s Instagrammable hidden beach - the Playa Del Amor, reputedly created by government bomb tests, to Croatia’s stunningly beautiful and crowd-free Elaphiti islands, we round up some of our favourite spots for your holiday swimming bucket list. Some are cute, some are terrifying, all are remarkable experiences.
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The best little swimming hole in Texas, this pool and grotto 30 miles west of Austin resulted from erosion processes, causing the collapse of the vault above an underground river. A 45-ft waterfall tumbles over the edge, filling the small lake at the bottom that’s perfect for cooling off on a sweltering Texan day. The water comes from a natural source, and is regularly monitored for quality and cleanliness. If there’s any pollution, you won’t be able to swim.
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Escape the heat, bustle and cruise ship crowds of Dubrovnik and take a boat or ferry out to the Elaphiti Islands
. There’s a total of 13 islands, only three of which are populated – Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan. They’re a paradise for swimmers, with shallow, crystal clear blue water and a mixture of sandy and rocky coves, backdropped by fragrant majestic pine forests and aged olive groves.
Swimmers on UNESCO Heritage Site Fraser Island are usually disappointed, as its entire Eastern Beach is a whole catalogue of hazards, from rip tides and undertows to sharks and jellyfish. There is one little swimming hole where you won’t get eaten or dragged away, though – the Champagne Pools by Indian Head. These safe, volcanic recreational pools are fed by the waves crashing into them, leaving a bubbly foam behind – just like being in a bath of champagne.
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Along Oman’s dry, dusty coast road is a welcome secret swimming spot – the Bimmah Sinkhole.
Previously a large underground limestone cavern, a roof collapse revealed the deep turquoise lake within. Concrete steps lead down to the azure waters where both locals and visitors escape the fierce Omani sun to take a cooling dip. If you feel your toes being nibbled, it’s just the lake’s tiny resident fish.
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In the central valleys of Oaxaca, you’ll notice spectacular white rock formations on the mountainside. These are the calcified waterfalls created by freshwater springs that make up the Hierve el Agua
. Climb up to the cliff top and you’re in for a real treat – a series of turquoise swimming pools, some natural, some artificial, reputedly containing healing minerals. Take in the magnificent panoramic views as you cool off in these pools - you may even spot a black vulture riding the thermals over the valley.
Possibly the world’s most perilous infinity pool, and not for the faint-hearted, the Devil’s Pool
at the top of the Victoria Falls is usable only when water levels in the Zambezi River drop. The pool, usually obscured by crashing water, reveals itself. Once you’re in, whether you choose to leap or creep, only a narrow rock ledge stands between you and a 100m drop. Water still rushes past and pours over the edge. Peer over if you’re brave enough, to see what explorer David Livingstone described as “…so lovely, it must have been gazed upon by angels in flight”.
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A bucket list isn’t complete without a swim (or rather, a float) in the Dead Sea - the lowest point on earth
. Go early in the morning and step into the surprisingly warm, oily, mineral-rich water. Avoid getting the water in your eyes or mouth – it stings! It’s impossible to sink – you can read a newspaper without getting it wet. Daub yourself in sticky, black Dead Sea mud – great for the complexion or health issues - and wallow in the world’s greatest natural spa.
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How do you fancy swimming to a beach so secret you have to paddle carefully through a narrow 80-ft rocky tunnel to reach it? Playa del Amor is a roofless, wide, sandy cavern fed by the warm blue waters of the Pacific. Rumour has it that military bomb testing on the uninhabited Marieta islands during the 1900s created this magical place. Who knows? Nowadays, the islands’ pristine waters are a protected haven for marine life.
Flickr CC-BY Matt Preston
Pristine white sand beaches gently shelving into warm turquoise tropical waters, coral reefs… and cute, friendly monkeys to swim with. What more could you want? The simian residents of Monkey Beach
spend their days beach combing for tasty scraps, paddling in the sea and playing with the visitors. The mischievous monkeys are naturally partial to a bit of thieving, so avoid leaving your bag and sunglasses within paw’s reach.
Most visitors to Iceland choose the Blue Lagoon
, close to Reykjavik, for their geothermal pool experience, and it’s crowded as a consequence. If you’re prepared to travel to the north east of the country for the opportunity to have a 5,000 m2 hot lagoon all to yourself, head to otherworldly Lake Myvatyn. The man-made, sulphurous Myvatyn Nature Baths
are next to the lake and offer more space to swim and daub yourself with white mineral-rich mud, within a beautiful landscape.