Lounging poolside is one thing, but nothing beats the childlike allure of splashing around in a swimming hole. The lake near your parent’s home may top your typical list, but there are plenty of other swimming holes around the world that will capture your heart.
So, pack your swimsuit (and a sense of adventure), and check out 11 of our favorite swimming holes.
Ik Kil, Cenote, Mexico
Originally known as a cavernous sinkhole for Mayan human sacrifice to a rain god, Ik Kil in Cenote, Mexico, is recognized today as a must-do experience for visitors to the Yucatan Peninsula. The 40-metre-deep all-natural pit (formed by a cave collapsing), is a popular stopover for those travelling to the ancient Mayan city Chichen Itza. Travellers say it can get a bit crowded, so make it an early stop for the most serene dip.
Blue Lagoon, Grindavik, Iceland
Once again, Iceland defies its name with steamy waters in the popular Blue Lagoon, located in Grindavik, Iceland. The man-made Lagoon was created in the late 1970s, and is now composed of six million litres of geothermal seawater from deep inside the Earth (yep, that’s why it’s so warm). The waters are thought to have a “healing quality”, and are chock-full of minerals like silica and sulfur. Visitors can frolic in the water, or lounge in an on-site sauna or steam bath.
Hamilton Pool Preserve, Hamilton, Texas, United States
If you think Texas is just big hats and fancy boots, you’re sorely mistaken. It’s also home to some of the most beautiful swimming holes in the States — and they get all the more popular during hot Texan summers. The Hamilton Pool (about 48 kilometres from Austin, Texas) is an impressive natural pool hidden away in a cavernous space. You’ll see a 15-metre waterfall from Hamilton Creek above leading into the shaded waters.
The Blue Hole, Ochos Rios, Jamaica
There are plenty of places to laze on the beach and lounge poolside with a drink in your hand on the sunny islands of Jamaica, but don’t miss the Blue Hole on the White River. Travellers like to pair a visit to the hole with a bus ride to Dunn Rivers Fall. For the adventurous: Take the plunge from the Tarzan Rope swing overhead into the more-than-9-metre hole. For scared-y cats: Floating in the waters while inching your way in is OK, too.
Little River Canyon, Alabama, United States
Join others in the 19-kilometre-long Little River Canyon, surrounded by cliffs and gigantic sandstone jump-off points jutting from the waters. Most of the water runs along the top of Lookout Mountain from northwestern Georgia to the river’s end in Fort Payne, Alabama, making it one of the longest mountaintop rivers in the U.S.. Leap into the waters from one of three rope swings outside the hole.
Enfield and Lucifer Falls, Ithaca, New York, United States
Avoid the sweltering city heat and head into upstate New York. Just outside Ithaca, you can visit the Robert H. Treman Park and all the falls that come with it. While the main attraction may be the 35-metre Lucifer Waterfall, the lesser-known Enfield (or Lower) Falls is just as beautiful. Take a walk around the reservation and park to see about a dozen waterfalls in all before splashing in at the foot of Enfield Falls.
Fairy Pools, Scotland
We’re not sure anything truly magical happens when you enter the lakes and waterfalls of the so-called “fairy pools” on the Isle of Skye, but a visit to the blue- and pink-hued waters does conjure mental images of a storybook setting. You’ll find these mystical pools underneath the Black Cullins, but swimmers, take note: the waters are known to be frigid.
Cummins Falls State Park, Tennessee, United States
Situated halfway between Nashville and Knoxville, this swimming hole is not for amateurs. Visitors will have to hike, wade and climb to get to the rope that walks you down to the water’s edge. The waterfall reigns high above its visitors at 22 metres high. Though the hike is only 4 kilometres, the level of activity makes it one for adventure seekers.
Erawan Waterfall, Thailand
Talk about stunning. Seven waterfalls, one on top of the other, give way to pools with easy access for swimming in western Thailand. 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.
Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Devil’s Pool sits atop Victoria Falls. The natural swimming hole gives way to a 110-metre drop off. It’s only “open” during the drier months of the year – May through October – when the water level of Victoria Falls is 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 travellers’ safety and you’re encouraged to bring a (waterproof!) camera to document the plunge.
Cyprus Lake Grotto, Ontario, Canada
Cyprus Lake Grotto in Ontario is a stunning, turquoise-coloured watering hole surrounded by a large cave. Hikers love it — it’s by far the most popular attraction in Bruce Peninsula National Park, which sees thousands of visitors a year and spreads out over 97 kilometres. The cave was formed by waves breaking along the rock formation from nearby Georgian Bay over the course of time. In addition to swimming, try your hand at kayaking or visit another traveller favourite, Indian Head Cove.
(Main image: andrew_annemarie)