When you’re looking for a way to beat the heat and go for a swim, it can also be nice to skip the crowds. Everybody has that one friend of a friend who always goes to the same secret swimming hole and is a little reluctant to tell you where it is—but chances are, someone else knows about the spot too. (In the Internet age, is anything really “secret” anymore?) Be that as it may, here are some of the best bets when it comes to natural swimming holes.
Devil’s Armchair – Zambia
This may be one of the coolest, if not most frightening at first, swimming holes you ever jump into. This naturally formed infinity pool at the top of one of the world’s largest waterfalls—Victoria Falls—is perfectly safe, even though it may look like nothing is stopping you from careening over the edge. But don’t worry: the rocky ledge underneath the water’s surface creates a back-eddy that stops the current.
Jellyfish Lake – Palau
Swimming with the jellyfish is, in general, not the greatest idea—unless, of course, you’re at Jellyfish Lake, where the jellyfish lost their ability to sting after evolving trapped inside a cove for 12,000 years. While not really too much of a secret, this may be the only place in the world you can swim with hundreds of the graceful marine creatures without threat of stings.
God’s Bath – California
If cliff jumping, waterfalls, swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling are your thing, then you’ll love God’s Bath. Also, if you love gorgeous scenery, then you’ll definitely love God’s Bath. The greenery, clean water, and sloping rocks are evident in the name, really. Basically, it’s amazing.
Dean’s Blue Hole – Bahamas
Dean’s Blue Hole is the world’s deepest underwater sinkhole with a depth of over 650 feet. Which means you can cliff-dive without fear of breaking your neck on a rocky bottom. Oh, and the water is crystal clear and warm and the beaches are white, so it’ll be an allover pleasant time.
Sooke Potholes – BC
The Sooke Potholes are a series of naturally carved pools connected by cascading waterfalls just southwest of Victoria. The shallower potholes are easier to access and a little more crowded, but they’re better for kids. For the deeper and larger holes, though, and to escape the crowds, take a little hike upstream.
Havasu Falls – Arizona
The waters may look Caribbean blue, but they actually get their hue from the minerals found in the Southwest desert. And though the Havasu Falls are well known, it’s a 10-mile hike in from Hualapai Hilltop, so you’ll only be surrounded by those as adventurous as you are. Oh, and it’s flipping beautiful, so that’s a nice perk.
Pamukkale Hot Springs – Turkey
Literally translating to “Cotton Castle” the Pamukkale as a very apt name. A series of white travertine rock and hot springs, the scenery definitely feels like something out of a science-fiction movie. The springs themselves range from lukewarm to boiling, so there’s plenty of variety for soaking and swimming—and the view of the Turkish landscape is phenomenal.
Marieta Island – Mexico
There’s a hidden beach along the Marieta Islands of Mexico that remains blocked off from the rest of the Islands. You’ll have to take a boat out from Puerto Vallarta and then swim through the cave to get there, but it’s absolutely worth it. The beach features an abundance of reef fish and, chances are, you’ll even be able to see some whales from your perch. Plus, the water is crystal clear and prime for swimming.
Makapipi Falls – Maui, Hawaii
Nothing makes your swim more worth it than a dangerous hike down to it. The Hana Highway crosses over the Makapipi stream right where the lava bed drops into a gorgeous crystal blue lagoon. It’s a great place to stop when you’re on your way to Hana.