The world is filled with the most stunning swimming spots – many of them hidden and often overlooked. From freshwater pools in remote regions of national parks and emerald green wadis in the middle of sparse desserts to turquoise waters on isolated beaches, we have created a list of our top 10 secret swimming spots we think you should visit at least once in your life!
1. Kawasan Falls, Badian, Cebu, Philippines
Kawasan Falls is a spectacular yet peaceful place where you can enjoy multiple waterfalls filled with cool natural spring water. From the entrance, you have to walk uphill for about 15km to get to the first waterfall. The first one is the largest of the three and usually the most crowded. Another uphill climb for 15mins will take you to the second falls, and another and another. The higher you go, the lesser the crowds.
2. Bonito, Mata Grosso do Sul, Brazil
One of the best water based activities to do in Brazil is to grab a snorkel and spend time floating down the crystal clear rivers of Bonito. The water here is amongst the three clearest river systems on the planet, offering stunning viability. The rivers teem with huge Pacu, Praputanga and the shining golden Dourado. Snorkeling with these huge fish is exciting, but this river system also home to giant otters!
3. Cala Mariolu, Baunei, Sardinia, Italy
A stunning pebbled beach overhung by a chalky hillside covered by unique Mediterranean vegetation. The ocean floor here is rocky, which makes it a great habitat for fish, and great for diving, and as this beach is so infrequented by travellers, the fish here are not yet afraid of you. With some rocks emerging from the sea creating tiny islands, for the more adventurous, and if the tides are right, there are also rocks to jump from into the glistening blue waters.
4. Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas
Plunging to a depth of 202m in a bay west of Clarence Town on Long Island, Dean’s Blue Hole is the world’s deepest known blue hole. A blue hole is a term that is often given to sinkholes that are filled with water, while the entrance to them is located beneath the surface. At the surface, Dean’s Blue Hole is roughly circular with a diameter ranging from 25-35m. After you descend 30m below the surface, the hole widens considerably into a cavern with a diameter of 100m.
5. Gruner See, Styria, Austria
Gruner See, literally ‘Green Lake’ is located at the foot of the snow-capped Hochschwab mountains. It is the lake where hiking and diving meet. During winter, the lake is only 1-2m deep and the surrounding area is used as a county park bursting with hiking trails. As the temperature starts rising in spring, the ice and snow on the mountaintops begins to melt and runs down into the basin of land below. During the summer, the lake swells up to flood the entire area including the park, reaching depths of around 12m! You can dive or take a leisurely swim through the park, with all the facilities including benches, trees and paths submerged in the crystal clear waters!
6. Calanque de Sormiou, France
Sormiou is a an amphitheatre of calcareous hills, a beautiful beach and a small port still bearing all its authenticity. The sandy seabed and seagrass give the sea a spectacular blue turquoise colour. During the summer, some of the roads are closed and the bay is only accessible by local boat keeping numbers down and giving you a stunning private bay to swim in.
7. Melissani Cave, Kefalonia, Greece
Witness the unique beauty of this lacustrine cave. At 3.5km long, 40m wide and 36m high, Melissanthi cave consitiutes a unique geological phenomenon. Lined by stunning forest and filled with numerous stalacitites and stalagmites, it has crystal blue water which is a mix of both fresh and sea water.
8. Kayangan Lake, Coron Islands, Palawan, Philippines
Kayangan Lake, dubbed the ‘cleanest lake in the Philippines’ is surrounded by the amazing scenery of limestone cliffs. Guarded and maintained by Tagbanua tribesmen, Kayangan Lake is one of only two lakes in Coron (out of 8 lakes) that is open to the public. At 70% freshwater and 30% salt water, the water is so clear you can see straight to the bottom.
9. Hidden Beach, Marietas Islands, Mexico
A hidden beach that seems to be aloof from the world outside. The hidden beach of Marieta Islands is an isle that has resulted from volcanic activity and has remained isolated ever since its creation. How has this beautiful beach remained so unspoiled? Well, besides being hoisted down from a helicopter, the only other way to access its sandy shores is through a very small opening on the tidal side of its cavernous walls.
10. Wadi Shab, Al Sharqiyah, Oman
A spectacularly narrow mountain ravine, hemmed in by sandstone walls with a ribbon of date plantations and banana palms. There is no road into the wadi, after the first kilometre, access is on foot. The gorge narrows, with a small footpath running along a small rock ledge just above the wadi floor. You will find pools at the end of the trail, and after walking for nearly an hour, they are a refreshing place to swim! Make your way further along, you will have to swim through some smaller pools, and you will to get to the main attraction – a submerged cave with waterfalls! There are even ropes in the cave which you can use to climb up the waterfall and jump in the pool!
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.