Wherever your inner fish takes you, remember: not all swimming holes are created equal. Where some are barely worth the time it takes to belly flop into them, others will simply dazzle you with their extreme beauty and natural perfection. No pools here. You’ll have to travel far and work a bit to make these memories. But those moments will stick like anemones to your memories.
Jellyfish Lake, Palau, Micronesia — for those that want to take the “sting-ma” out of swimming with Jellyfish, check out this underwater wonder, where it is safe to dance through the water amongst millions of pulsating cloud-like creatures. Filled with two types of jellyfish, namely the golden jellyfish (known as Mastigias) and the moon jellyfish (known as Aurelia), this intriguing lake departs radically from convention. Over the course of millennia, growing in the safety of what became an enclosed body of water shut off from the neighboring Pacific, resident jellyfish have become virtually stingless, allowing adventure seekers a rare opportunity to swim amongst these truly unusual water creatures.
Pretty Girl Lake, Vancouver Island — An exclusive destination reserved for those that fly in on Atleo River Air Service, Pretty Girl Lake is only accessible by floatplane. At 1100 feet above sea level, this secluded locale is surrounded by old growth rainforest and boasts a small campsite, appropriate for an overnight. In addition to the private (skinny dipping-appropriate) “swimming hole,” couples can catch their own Rainbow and Cutthroat trout before snuggling up in the sun or for the evening. Part of the charm is the stunning floatplane ride over glaciers and Vancouver Island rainforests, but the real treasure is having the entire, intimate lake all to oneself and a special loved one.
Phi Phi Island, Thailand — Phi Phi’s beauty is a large chunk of the allure. The islands, when approached by boat, rise from the sea like a fortress. Sheer cliffs tower overhead, then give way to beach-fronted jungle. It’s love at first sight. The second part of the why-we-love-this-place story is attitude: few places on the planet are this laid-back. Of the two islands, one is completely free of human inhabitants (Phi Phi Leh), and the other is without roads (Phi Phi Don). There’s no schedule, no hustle-and-bustle, no reason to be in a hurry.
Crater Lake, Oregon — Crater Lake has inspired people for thousands of years. No place else on earth combines a deep, pure lake, so blue in color; sheer surrounding cliffs, almost two thousand feet high; two picturesque islands; and a violent volcanic past. It is a place of immeasurable beauty, and an outstanding outdoor laboratory and classroom.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland — This geothermal spa is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Iceland. The warm waters are rich in minerals like silica and sulphur and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is reputed to help some people suffering from skin diseases such as psoriasis. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 98–102 °.
Fallen Leaf Lake (South Lake Tahoe), California — A hidden treasure nestled only a few miles from the heart of South Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay, Fallen Leaf Lake feels like a throw back in time when families vacationed in traditional summer cabins. While water skiing and sailing are popular pastimes in the mountain-fed lake, swimming across the one-mile width is an invigorating experience worth the journey down the one lane road.
The Dead Sea, Jordan and Israel — One of the world’s saltiest bodies of water in the world, the Dead Sea is a hypersaline lake nestled between Jordan to the east and Israel to the west. At nearly 1,400 feet below sea level, the shores are the lowest land point on the surface of the Earth and the Dead Sea is the deepest hypersaline lake in the world with a depth of 1,240 feet. Due to the high salinity, a person is especially buoyant and can sit almost on the surface without sinking. The density of the saltwater is an awesome sensation.
The Devil’s Pool, Zimbabwe — A surreal location called The Devil’s Pool is a small lagoon enclosed by rocks yet on the very edge of falling into a gorge and it is located at Victoria Falls, one the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. At 5,600 feet wide and 360 feet high, the water plunges down the largest waterfall in the world and the drop-off is mere inches from The Devil’s Armchair. When the river is at a safe level, between the months of September and December, people can swim in The Devil’s Pond close to the edge of the falls.
Hulopoʻe Bay, Lānaʻi, Hawaii — The island of Lānaʻi is in itself a remote island, nine miles from the coast of Maui. As with everything in Lānaʻi, there is a unique kind of magic that lives in the Hulopoʻe Bay, including naiʻa (dolphins) that seem to always be on display, propelling out of the water. The beach is easily accessible, the water is warm and very clean, and the sand glistens.
The Grotto—Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario — About four hours northwest of Toronto, Bruce Peninsula National Park sits on a thin stretch of land between Lake Huron on the west and Georgian Bay on the east. Over time, the water has eroded the shoreline’s soft limestone, creating overhanging cliffs and deep sea caves, including the famed Grotto. After a 30-minute hike past fields of rare ferns and orchids, swimmers can lower themselves down through a natural rock chimney and into the turquoise water below. The truly adventurous can then hold their breath, dive underwater, and continue through a sunlit tunnel out to the bay.