During hot summer days, there is nothing better than cooling off in cold water. Luckily, Mother Nature has blessed the planet with some fantastic outdoor swimming opportunities, both fresh water and salty. The shock of the cool water might take your breath away, but steering clear of chlorine has got to be better.
Havasu Falls, USA
Many assume Arizona and the region around the Grand Canyon to be mainly rocky and dusty. However, the Havasu Falls are one of a few lush aquatic oases in the Havasupai Reservation.
The unbelievable blue of the water contrasts against the red of the rock, creating a landscape that can only be described as other worldly. The falls plummet from a height of 45 meters and the turquoise water forms a swimming pool below. From the main pool, gravity pulls the water further down the Havasu Canyon, cascading into private plunge pools and shallows.
Kaitalampi Lake, Finland
Envisage a quintessential European swimming lake, complete with wooden pontoon and surrounded by alpine trees. You have just conjured up the exact image of Kaitalampi Lake in Finland.
Located in Espoo, just 30 minutes from downtown Helsinki, the lake is the perfect location for hiking, barbecues and swimming. It is exactly the sort of place where you could visualise spending lazy summer days and evenings. The lake is beautifully clean and, in the summer, swimmers can benefit from gently warmed waters.
The Devil’s Pool, Zambia
It takes nerves of steel to get to the Devil’s Pool. A rocky walk and a swim in the Zambezi River, before a jump into the pool itself. Swimmers are then gently pushed against the naturally formed rock wall, before clapping eyes on the vast 100 meter drop down to the base of Victoria Falls.
At the pool, swimmers could not be closer to the action. As the Zambezi swells behind you, watch as the 500 million litres of water cascade over the precipice every minute. Visitors are warned not to go alone however. Utilise the skills of the expert guides found at the entrance to the Falls on the Zambian side.
Cenotes Samula, Mexico
The Yucatan peninsula in Mexico is riddled with natural sinkholes and cenotes that are perfect for wild swimming. Cenotes are formed when limestone bedrocks collapse and reveal a secret underground pool and none are more impressive than Samula, located in the town of Dzitnup.
Artificial lights add ambience to the enclosed cave, with an opening at the top providing chinks of sunlight and adorned with the roots of trees above. The fresh water pool is cool and crystal-clear; swimmers are able to see every depth and every shallow. Float on your back to see the bats that peacefully call Samula home.
Refugio Frey, Argentina
High in the Argentinian Andes, on the well-trodden trail from Cerro Cathedral in the Nahuel Huapi National Park is Refugio Frey. The climber’s hut offers unrivalled views of the Andes. But take the opportunity to enjoy them in a unique way by swimming in the mountain lake which sits just below the hut.
During the winter months the lake ices over. However, during the summer months of January and February, there is no better feeling than swimming out from the shallows after experiencing one of Argentina’s best hikes.
Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island
The coastline of Vancouver Island is bejewelled with countless beautiful bays and beaches; the perfect retreats for a lazy afternoon spent catching some rays or swimming. For clear water and sweeping vistas, visitors should head to Qualicum Beach. You can paddle in the water, taking in the views of the Strait of Georgia and the Coast Mountain Range.
Qualicum can get a little busy in the summer, but arriving early will ensure you a perfect spot. If you don’t fancy swimming, take to the waters in a kayak or on a paddle board.
Erskine Creek, Australia
Outside of Sydney, in the Great Blue Atlas Mountains, is Erskine Creek. The idyllic stream offers a sandy beach, an ideal place to set up camp for the day. Aside from the creek itself, a natural 200-meter pool is available to take a dip in when the Aussie heat becomes too much.
Erskine Creek is one of the easier locations to descend to in the Great Blue Atlas Mountains, with just a 170 meter drop to navigate. The Jack Evans Track is also a great hike to include in a visit to the Creek, with a number of exotic birds to be found in the flora.
Cane River Falls, Jamaica
Everyone visits Dunn’s River Falls and Mayfield Falls in Jamaica. Whilst both are spectacular, Cane River Falls benefits from being tourist free. The hidden gem sits just nine miles outside of Kingston and is regular haunt for the local Bull Bay community.
The Bull Bay people are close-knit, but their energetic personalities will make visitors feel more than welcome at Cane River Falls. If staying in the area, you will undoubtedly hear music pulsating from their nightclubs on the seafront.
The secluded waterfall was a regular haunt for Bob Marley, who would go there to wash his dreadlocks. Despite its famous ties, Cane River Falls is the perfect place to relax and swim peacefully with the local people.