6 Dips With A Difference: Natural Swimming Pools

23 Feb 2015

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There’s just something about the deep blue that lures us to seek out beautiful beaches and iridescent pools on our holidays. Is it because our bodies are composed of around 50 to 65 percent water? Or because of the calming feeling that floating weightlessly in the ocean brings or the adrenalin-inducing thrill of whirlpools and surf?

No matter what the siren call may be, here are some of our favourite natural swimming pools to dip our toes in around the world.

1. Devil’s Pool, Livingstone Island, Zambia
Manmade infinity pools may bring the wow factor to your hotel stay, but they’ve got nothing on the Devil’s Pool. Located atop the thundering Victoria Falls on the Zambia side, daredevils can witness the 108-metre cascade of the world’s largest single drop waterfall from the swirling waters of this natural tidepool in the Zambezi River with just a rock ledge to protect you. From September to December every year, when the water level is just so, you can swim close to the edge of Victoria Falls within the Devil’s Pool for a truly life-affirming experience.

2. Cenote Ik-Kil near Chichén Itzá, Mexico
In the Yucatan Peninsula, a region of Mexico populated by 7,000 examples of the natural phenomenon of sinkholes or cenotes, the most famous is Ik-Kil close to the Chichén Itzá archaeological site. The circular well of Ik-Kil or ‘Sacred Blue Cenote’ is almost 40 metres deep and accessible via a 26-metre wooden staircase. Bathed in sunlight and complemented by cascading vines and trickling water with lush vegetation adorning the limestone cave walls, a swim in the crystal-clear waters of this fantasy spot is nothing short of magical.

Sacred sinkhole: Ik-Kil, Chichen Itza, Mexico.

3. Jellyfish Lake, Eil Malk Island, Palau
An otherworldly sight, millions of golden jellyfish bob silently and gracefully around the isolated Jellyfish Lake on Eil Malk Island in Palau. The ultimate sun seekers, the golden jellyfish follow the solar rays around the landlocked marine lake for food and avoid any predators lurking in the darker reaches. With no natural dangers to contend with, the jellyfish have thrived on this Micronesian island and lost their sting, making it possible for people to swim or snorkel with these translucent creatures for a must-do experience.

4. Blue Lagoon, Grindavík, Iceland
While swimming and Iceland may not immediately seem compatible, the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon spa near Reykjavik allow you to luxuriate in 40-degree heat in a stunning outdoor environment even in winter. The Blue Lagoon was formed near a power plant in 1976 and its mineral-rich waters and silica mud were found to have great effects on bathers’ skins. Marrying the age-old European tradition of natural hot springs and public baths, the onsite spa and clinic offers treatments including a volcano scrub, massage and algae wrap.

Hot spot: Blue Lagoon, Grindavík, Iceland.

5. Havasu Falls, Arizona, USA
Generally, the harder a location is to reach, the better it is likely to be. And this is never truer than of the beautiful Havasu Falls in Supai, Arizona within the confines of the Grand Canyon. The very definition of off-the-beaten track, the only way to reach this waterfall is by helicopter or a 16-kilometre steep hike accompanied by the last U.S. Mail mules. Havasu Falls is well worth the effort. Think turquoise water warmed to a cosy 22 degrees Celsius all year round and juxtaposed against the terracotta rocks of the Grand Canyon. Pure delight.

6. To Sua Ocean Trench, Upolu, Samoa
Another idyllic plunge pool to consider is the brilliant blue of To Sua Ocean Trench in Lotofaga village on the Samoan island of Upolu. Translating as ‘big hole’, leap 30 metres into the sparkling saltwater swimming hole, or take the steep wooden ladder into the crystal-clear waters. Groaning with lush green vegetation and surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens, this seemingly secret spot that’s actually well maintained has the feel of a hidden pool on an island paradise that’s just yours to enjoy.

Take the plunge: To Sua Ocean Trench, Upolu, Samoa.

Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.