For swimmers who appreciate nature, finding the best lake, river or coastal stretch is what life is all about. There are amazing wild swimming holes 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 DO:MORE 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 five of the best freshwater swimming holes around the globe.
Lower Ddwli Falls, Waterfall Woods, Brecon Beacons
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 (Namtok Erawan), 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, 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, according to Daniel Start.
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 epic landmark lies a mile and a half outside the Havasupai Indian village of Supai, at the foot of the Grand Canyon. Be warned: getting there does 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. 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.
Cummins 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.
Ready to get involved in wild swimming? Share some leads by heading over to WildSwim, a sports social network for swimmers created by the Outdoor Swimming Society. Check out their awesome swim map, designed to help you find, add and share outdoor swimming spots around the world.
Cover Photo Credit: RebexArt – Wikimedia Commons