For swimmers who appreciate nature, finding the best lake, river or coastal stretch is what life is all about. There are amazing wild swimming spots all over the world, tucked away, off the beaten path or past a lush jungle.
While many of the world’s best wild swimming spots are now discovered or famous, they still maintain a mysterious charm. We’ve compiled a list of some of them for you to put on your bucket list this summer.
These stunning locations may not always be easy to reach, but once you’ve arrived and taken in the sights, you’ll know the trek was worth it.
Here are 10 of the best freshwater swimming spots around the globe.
Cenote Yokdzonot, Mexico
If you’ve ever wondered what paradise might look like well, just hop on a plane to Mexico!
Formed from the erosion of limestones many years ago, Cenote Yokdzonot is located in a small hidden town only 9 miles west of Chichen Iltza. One of the things that make this cenote so special is the fact that it’s run by Mayan women.
But what really puts this swimming spot on top of my list is the lack of attention it gets from tourists making it a calm, quiet and relaxing spot for your dip.
The water is 250 ft deep and has a platform about 5 ft above the water offering you the choice of using the ladder or taking a big jump.
There’s everything you need to stay comfortable: a restaurant, bathrooms, life jacket, rappelling and you can even rent a mountain bike to visit the other connotes nearby!
How to get there.
Cenote Yokdzonot is located 140 miles east of Merida city. You can take the Mérida – Chichen Itzá highway until you get to the center of the town of Yokdzonot. You’ll then need to head 980 feet south until you reach 20th street between 27 and 29.
You can easily rent a car and drive there or even catch a bus from Chichen Itza if you aren’t in a hurry. Buses usually pass by once every hour or so.
Lower Ddwli Falls – Brecon Beacons, Wales
Some of Europe’s most amazing scenery lies in the Brecon Beacons in Wales, where Britain’s elite troops, the Special Air Service (SAS) train. In the southwest hills of the Brecon Beacons, near Ystradfellte, stand some of Britain’s most breathtaking waterfall plunge pools.
The swim spot hosts over 20 pools strung along five miles of the Fechan and Mellte rivers. That means you could plunge into each on a leisurely day’s walk.
“Lower Ddwli Falls is my favourite, a huge open pool with a great arc of a waterfall. Spray lifts up through the leaves and on a sunny day there are rainbows everywhere,” writes Guardian reporter Daniel Start.
Start adds that just downstream, Horseshoe Falls has a nifty jump and rope swing. When you get to the area, you might want to head to the Waterfalls Centre in Pontneddfechan for more intel about the area and the wider Geopark.
Erawan Waterfall – Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Thailand in Southeast Asia is awash with stunning waterfalls. Erawan stands in a 212 square mile park in western Thailand in Kanchanaburi Province. It consists of seven waterfalls bundled on top of each other, all with plunge pools for swimming.
As World of Waterfalls writes, Erawan has it all, “the scenery, the swimming, and the exercise,” and it takes about 3.5 hours to visit all the waterfalls.
Aptly, the monumental landmark is named for the Erawan: the three-headed white elephant of Hindu legend. The seven-tiered falls are said to resemble the mysterious beast.
Clue d’Aiglun – Sallagriffon, France
If you visit France’s famous Côte d’Azur, you will probably be sucked in by the famously vibrant stretch of sea. Don’t forget to go inland, however, or else you will miss out on a hidden landscape of gin-clear rivers and frothing freshwater whirlpools.
The king of all the area’s open air water parks is the Clue d’Aiglun north of Cannes, where the Estéron river running from the Alpes-Maritimes has cored out canyons and rock passages in the limestone.
According to Active Azur, this spot offers a string of tantalizing pools that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
The natural swimming holes are ringed by marble ledges where you can picnic before you hop into the water. “What’s really astonishing is that so few people venture to these wild hills so close to the coast that you’ll probably have them all to yourself,” Active Azur said.
You may also enjoy the sight of soaring buzzards and the scent of pines as you arrive at the striking bridge that spans the gorge.
Havasu Falls – Supai, Arizona
While Europe is famous for its freshwater swimming scene, there are beautiful swimming holes in the U.S. as well. Look no farther than Havasu Falls.
The striking blue water contrasts with the dramatic red rocks of the canyon walls as the falls plummet almost 100 feet into an aquamarine pool.
Better yet, the waterfall widely recognized as the most arresting in the Grand Canyon boasts a sandy beach and shady cottonwood trees to relax under.
“The water, so turquoise it looks like it’s on loan from the Caribbean, stays about 72 degrees year-round and is perfect for lazy floating or practicing your belly flop,” says Travel and Leisure.
The reason for the piercing blue hue is the concentration of magnesium, according to Western New Mexico University.
How to get there
The epic landmark lies a mile and a half outside the Havasupai Indian village of Supai, at the foot of the Grand Canyon and getting there takes extreme commitment.
You must hike 10 hard miles uphill, hire a pack animal or charter a helicopter. According to Travel and Leisure, the U.S. Post Office still uses mules to make mail deliveries to the village.
Cumming Falls – Cookeville, Tennessee
Another statuesque American swimming spot lies midway between Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee. Cummins Falls plunges 50 feet over broad stair-stepped rocks into a cavernous cold-water pool.
To reach the bottom, you must hike to the overlook, wade across the ankle-deep stream, climb up the ridge and grab a rope guide so you can walk yourself down to the water.
“This is not a swimming hole for lightweights. Translation: expect a younger crowd. But if you’re agile (and sure-footed), the descent into the cavernous pool is worth the effort,” Travel and Leisure says. Cummins Falls has more depth than you might think.
According to Tennessee State Parks, buffalo once wallowed in the area, and the arrowheads at the site show that many were hunted. The property’s long forested streamside shields quail, turkey, eagles and other birds.
Turtles, fox, mink and a spectrum of insects including dragonflies and damselflies help make Cummins Falls a diversity hotspot.
Kuang Si Waterfalls, Laos
This utterly beautiful and overwhelming turquoise blue water is in Northern Laos, located 18 miles south of Luang Prabang. It’s an exhilarating 165 ft drop and is surrounded by thick, green jungle all around the limestone pools.
There are a number of pools to swim in, but before doing so, make sure to check the signs before excitingly leaping in. Some of the pools are considered holy by the people of Laos and therefore, swimming isn’t allowed in those areas.
You can find changing rooms, a picnic area, and luckily, they’ve got rope swings for you to jump from. It’s vital to choose your timing wisely when visiting Kuang Si falls. Best time to head there would be from December to April.
How to get there
There are a number of ways you can easily get to this paradise. You can use a shared or private tuk-tuk. There are also public vans that shuttle between Luang Prabang and Kuang Si falls.
But if you’re looking to spice things up, you can easily rent a scooter and ride your way through the city.
The Cracks – Las Grietas – Puerto Ayora, Ecuador
“The Cracks” is an exceptionally beautiful and captivating place for a wild swim. Las Grietas are a number of volcanic crevices that were formed allowing water to run down. They’re a mixture of fresh water from the highlands and sea water running in from the ocean.
Swimming in Las Grietas is a bit rough since you’ll have to swim over rocks at the end of each pool, so I’d recommend using flippers and snorkels to make your swim much more enjoyable. The long trail of cactus forest adds a magnificent view to the canyon.
How to get there
Las Grietas is extremely close to town so getting there isn’t hard at all. All you need to do is head to the main Pier in Puerto Ayora, you’ll find many water taxis that run across the harbor.
The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland
These beautiful crystal blue pools attract people from all over the world. They’re the perfect spot for wild swimming. Water is incredibly cold but the excitement and rush you feel is worth it! It’s a brisk 1.5 mile walk from the main waterfall to the pool.
How to get there
The closest village to the Fairy Pools is Carbost on the West of Skye, the walk starts on the road to Glenbrittle.
To-Sua Ocean Trench – Samoa, South Pacific
On the south coast road of Samoa, you’ll find the most adventurous and breathtaking iconic 100 ft deep swimming hole there is, To-Sua – which literally means ”
big hole with water coming out of it” in Samoan.
This almost symmetrical round swimming hole sits in the middle of an ancient lava field and is surrounded by lush green vegetation. Being here gives you the feeling that you’ve stumbled onto the set of a new Tomb Raider movie.
The only way down into this breathtaking hole is via a ladder.
Just a word of warning. If you’re the adventurous type, you may be tempted to skip the ladder and just leap right into the cool blue water. DON’T DO IT!!!
I’ve read too many reports of impatient tourists who make the leap and end up in the hospital with neck and back injuries for the rest of their vacations (and possibly lives).
It’s hard to judge the water’s depth from up above, so before you jump in from the platform, do yourself a favor and climb to the bottom, swim around to check the depth…
Then by all means leap away!
How to get there
It’s a 2-hour drive from Apia. There are public buses that take you there if you’re willing to extend the drive another hour or so. You can also easily rent a car and spend a night at To Sua, there are plenty of hotels and hostels there that are very reasonably priced.
NOW GO SWIM!
Did I leave out an awesome wild swimming hole? Leave a comment below and let me know…