So, pack your swimsuit – and a sense of adventure – and check out our 11 favourite swimming holes.
Cenote Ik Kil, Mexico
Located on the Yucatán Peninsula in southeastern Mexico, Cenote Ik Kil is originally known as a cavernous sinkhole for Mayan human sacrifice to a rain god. But don’t worry; there won’t be any sacrifices – just pure bliss!
The 35-metre all-natural pit – formed by a cave collapse – is a popular stopover for those travelling to the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza. You reach the water by walking down a stairway carved into limestone.
It can get a bit crowded, so make it an early stop for the most serene dip. After your swim you can fill up on a traditional Mexican lunch buffet at the restaurant on site.
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Blue Lagoon, Grindavik, Iceland
Already one of the best tourist attractions in the world, the Blue Lagoon and its steamy waters makes for an energizing and scenic swim.
Located in Grindavik, just a 50-minutes drive from Reykjavik, the man-made Lagoon was created in the late 1970s, and contains 5.6 million litres of geothermal seawater from deep inside the Earth. At a temperature of 38° Celsius, you are guaranteed a relaxing – and toasty – swim all year round.
The waters are thought to have a “healing quality” and are full of minerals like silica and sulphur. There are luxurious offerings here: put some silica mud on your face for softer skin, pay a visit to a waterfall that can heal shoulder pains or get an in-water massage. Relaxation is the key word at the Blue Lagoon!
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Hamilton Pool Preserve, Dripping Springs, Texas, United States
If you think Texas is just cowboy hats and boots, you’re sorely mistaken. It’s also home to one of the most beautiful natural swimming pools in the States, the Hamilton Pool. Located about 37 km from Austin, Texas, this impressive natural jade green pool features a 15 metre waterfall and is surrounded by huge slabs of limestone.
Reservations are required to enter Hamilton Pool, so make sure to register on their website before you go. The pool is very popular during the hot Texan summers, with queues up to 1 hour. In order to access it, you’ll need to take an 800-metre steep hike. But once you’re in, you are guaranteed one of the most splendid swims in Texas.
If you didn’t bring a picnic basket, you can always grab a bite at the nearby It’s All Good BBQ restaurant.
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The Blue Hole, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
It might be hard to leave Jamaica’s sandy beaches behind in order to drive inland, but once you jump into this natural swimming pool, you’ll never want to leave. The road to the Blue Hole is quite rough, so make sure you have a sturdy car. You can pair a visit to the hole with a quick stopover to Dunn’s River Fall.
For the adventurous: Take the plunge from the Tarzan Rope swing overhead into the more-than-9-metre hole. For the cautious: Floating in the waters while inching your way in is OK, too.
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Little River Canyon, Alabama, United States
The name might be misleading – Little River Canyon isn’t little at all. This stunning sinkhole is 19 km long, and surrounded by cliffs and gigantic sandstone jump-off points jutting from the waters.
Considered one of the cleanest and wildest waterways in the South, the river runs along the top of Lookout Mountain from northwestern Georgia to the river’s end in Fort Payne, Alabama. Leap into the pristine waters from one of three rope swings outside the hole and get that unique feeling of freshness one can only get in natural waters.
If you’re planning more than a one-day excursion, you can book one of the rustic cabins in the area and have a relaxed weekend in the nature.
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Enfield and Lucifer Falls, Ithaca, New York, United States
Avoid the sweltering city heat and head into upstate New York, where you can visit the Robert H. Treman Park and experience waterfall heaven.
Start the day with a hike along the Gorge Trail and you will pass 12 different waterfalls including the impressive 35-metres Lucifer Waterfall on your way. When you reach Enfield Falls, also called Lower Falls, you’re ready to start splashing. Jump in the stream-fed swimming lake at the foot of Enfield Falls and swim around in these peaceful surroundings.
There are grill and picnic facilities on location, so remember to pack a basket of goodies to enjoy after your hike and swim.
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Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Whether or not anything magical happens when you enter the clear blue lakes and waterfalls of the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye is unknown, but a visit to the blue- and pink-hued waters conjures up mental images of a fairy tale land.
Located at the foot of the Black Cuillins near Glenbrittle, the mystical waters of the Fairy Pools are great for swimming. Though the waters may look warm, they are rather on the frigid side of the thermometer. You are after all in northern Scotland!
After a refreshing swim, you might be ready for a warm beverage. A visit to the Wee Tea Room, a small personally run café located in the middle of the moorlands by Eynort, might be just the answer.
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Cummins Falls State Park, Tennessee, United States
Situated halfway between Nashville and Knoxville, this swimming pool is definitely a hidden gem. This area was a popular hunting ground for Native Americans as large populations of buffalo used to roam around, so it’s not so out of the ordinary to find arrowheads along the river.
Cummins Falls is not for amateurs. You will have to hike, wade and climb to get to the rope that walks you down to the water’s edge. Though the hike is only 4 km, the level of activity makes it one for adventure seekers. Remember to pack your hiking shoes alongside a swimming suit and flip-flops and be mindful of the weather as sudden rainfalls can cause flash floods.
Cool off by jumping in the forest green water and taking a swim beneath the spectacular waterfall.
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Erawan Waterfall, Thailand
The clear waters, the gleaming light breaking through the lush trees and seven waterfalls, one on top of the other, will make for one of the most enchanting swims of your life.
On foot, it will take a little less than four hours to visit the entire site, named for Erawan, a three-headed white elephant featured in a Hindu legend. Take your time lounging in the waters that teem with fish, and venture to explore the accompanying caves.
If you’re planning to explore Erawan over several days, there are plenty of hotels to choose from in the area.
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Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls, Zambia
Devil’s Pool sits atop the famous and breath-taking Victoria Falls. The natural swimming pool gives way to a whopping 110 metres drop off. It’s only “open” during the drier months of the year – May through October – when the water levels of Victoria Falls are low enough for the pool to appear.
From farther away, travellers can see the “Smoke that Thunders,” the name given to the fall’s cascading waters, which are the largest in the world. But not to worry, guides are on hand to ensure your safety and you’re encouraged to bring a (waterproof!) camera to document the plunge.
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Cyprus Lake Grotto, Ontario, Canada
Cyprus Lake Grotto located in Bruce Peninsula National Park is a gorgeous, turquoise watering hole surrounded by a large cave. This unique place is a favourite amongst hikers and nature lovers.
The cave was formed by waves breaking along the rock formation from nearby Georgian Bay over the course of time. Sunlight will reveal the sparkling underwater tunnel as you walk along massive boulders. Once inside you can enjoy a relaxing swim in clear waters.
In addition to swimming, try your hand at kayaking or visit another traveller favourite, Indian Head Cove, where you can scuba dive in the Caribbean-looking waters.
If all the activity is making you tired and hungry, not to worry – there are plenty of restaurants and cafés nearby.
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