15 of the Most Incredible Natural Swimming Pools in the World

The Great Blue Hole, Belize

Mike Parker/500 PX 

There’s nothing like the sight of crystal-blue water to make us want to board a plane. When the mercury rises, the urge to dive right into a glimmering turquoise body of water is hard to resist. But while pools are all too common and beaches often get crowded in hot weather, here's another idea: natural swimming pools. Often more remote and pristine than popular coastal destinations, these bodies of water are hard to resist.

If you're thinking of a vacation, we thought we’d instill some of that “Where in the world is that?” wanderlust in you with these incredible natural swimming pools that you can actually take a dip in around the world. From a death-defying waterfall to a pool that’s Pepto-Bismol pink, these lakes, lagoons, caves, holes, and bays will stun you.

The Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

natural swimming pools in the world
Gerald Wolf/500px

Swimming in Zimbabwe’s Devil’s Pool, a small 328-foot-high lagoon abutting Victoria Falls, one of the biggest waterfalls in the world, is the epitome of “living on the edge.” One can only imagine the surrealism of looking down into Victoria Falls—and thankfully there are guides there to ensure you don’t slip.

Jellyfish Lake, Palau

Natural Swimming Pools
Lachlan Dunwoodie/500px

Located on the island of Eil Malk in Palau, Jellyfish Lake is a marine lake filled with millions of golden jellyfish that migrate across the lake daily. Jellyfish do have stinging cells (so avoid them elsewhere), but the jellyfish in this lake have a sting so mild that it’s harmless to humans and usually can’t even be felt. Snorkeling and underwater photography are popular activities.

Fingal’s Cave, Staffa, Scotland

Best Natural Swimming Pools
Christopher Plunkett/500px

This sea cave on the island in the Inner Hebrides (western archipelago) of Scotland is formed by hexagonally jointed basalt columns within an ancient lava flow (similar to Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland). Fingal’s Cave is known for its natural acoustics; thanks to its size and cathedral-like arched roof, the waves echo inside, producing eerie sounds. To access the cave, you can take a local sightseeing cruise to the entrance.

The Great Blue Hole, Belize

Best Natural Pools
Mike Parker/500px

About 60 miles off the coast and part of the Belize barrier reef, the Great Blue Hole is an underwater sinkhole that’s home to a number of distinct species of fish and other marine life. Encircled by an island of coral, it has a rich blue color and is close to 1000 feet wide and 400 feet deep—it’s believed to be the largest sinkhole in the world. Snorkeling and diving in it are popular, and it can also be seen from the air.

Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon, Arizona

Natural Pools
Francesco Riccardo Iacomino/500px

Located in the Grand Canyon, Arizona, within Native American (Havasupai) tribal lands, Havasu Falls is an oasis in the hot and dry Grand Canyon National Park. It consists of one waterfall chute that drops over a 90- to 100-foot cliff into a large pool. Due to high calcium carbonate content, the water has a vivid blue-green color that contrasts gorgeously with the surrounding red rocks.

The Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy

Natural Swimming Pool Capri
Lisa Lemmons-Power/500px

On the island of Capri in Southern Italy, the Blue Grotto is a sea cave that is illuminated by a magical blue (and sometimes emerald green) light from an above-water opening. It can be accessed by tiny rowboats.

The Dead Sea, Israel and Jordan

Natural Swimming Pool Israel
Ido Meirovich/500px

Technically, you can’t swim in the Dead Sea, one of the saltiest bodies of water on earth, which is bordered by Israel and Jordan; swimming in it is more like floating. The salt lake has attracted visitors for thousands of years, and the salt and minerals that create the milky blue-green color offer many health and beauty benefits.

Pamukkale, Denizli, Turkey

Natural Swimming Pool Turkey
Jayant Chauhan/500px

A natural site in Denizli, Turkey, the city of Pamukkale is marked by terraces of carbonate minerals left by flowing water from hot springs. The “cotton castle,” as it’s called, has welcomed tourists for thousands of years, and they bathe on its calcareous rocks in the hot, mineral-rich water.

Hidden Beach, Marieta Islands, Mexico

Natural Swimming Pool Mexico
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Located in the Marieta Islands a few miles off the coast of Nayarit, Mexico, Hidden Beach is an open, sun-drenched crater that can only be accessed when the tide is low. Technically, it’s actually artificial, as it was created by the explosion of a bomb that accidentally landed there during military trials, but nevertheless, it’s a sight to see.

Bioluminescent Bay, Vieques, Puerto Rico

Natural Swimming Pool Puerto Rico
Mucaron/Getty Images

Located in Vieques, Puerto Rico, Bioluminescent Bay is a national natural landmark that lights up at night thanks to microorganisms (dinoflagellates) that glow neon blue when movement occurs in the water. It is a mind-blowing sight, so much so that early Spanish settlers thought the bioluminescence was the work of the devil.

Lake Hillier, Western Australia

Pink lake hillier australia
Hasegawa Takashi/Flickr 

A saline lake off the south coast of Western Australia, Lake Hillier is notable for its Pepto Bismol-pink color, which is suspected to be caused by a type of microalgae found in sea salt fields. Like the Dead Sea, it is safe to swim in. However, tourists must book helicopter rides to admire this natural wonder, because the lake is closed to the public.

Crater Lake, Oregon

Natural Swimming Pool Oregon
Robert Harding/500px

Famous for its remarkably clear, deep blue water, Crater Lake in south-central Oregon was formed by the collapse of volcano Mount Mazama more than 7700 years ago. The lake is filled by snow and rainfall—there are no rivers flowing in or out of it. There are also two islands in the lake.

Öeschinensee Lake, Lötschberg, Switzerland

Natural Swimming Pool Switzerland
Janne Kaasalainen/500px

A pristine mountain lake fed by glacial brooks, Öeschinensee Lake in the Lötschberg region of Switzerland is a gem surrounded by green cliffs and snow-capped peaks. Part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn UNESCO World Heritage Site, it can be accessed via gondola lift. It's a great attraction for hikers, kayakers, swimmers, and all-around nature-lovers.

Hamilton Pool Preserve, Austin, Texas

Natural Swimming Pool Texas
The Morning Fresh

Thousands of years old, Hamilton Pool Preserve in Austin, Texas, is a natural pool that developed when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to erosion. It features a 50-foot waterfall that flows into a beautiful jade-green pool.

To Sua Ocean Trench, Lotofaga, Samoa

Natural Swimming Pool Samoa
Z Stock Photos/Getty Images

Located in Samoa’s Lotofaga Village on the island of Upola, which was formed by a massive basaltic shield volcano, To Sua Ocean Trench is an all-natural swimming hole with a visitor-friendly ladder and small dock. It is surrounded by lush gardens and filled with fish, crabs, and lots of other marine life.

Article Sources
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  1. Katz U, Shoenfeld Y, Zakin V, Sherer Y, Sukenik S. Scientific Evidence of the Therapeutic Effects of Dead Sea Treatments: A Systematic ReviewSeminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism. 2012;42(2):186-200. doi:10.1016/j.semarthrit.2012.02.006

  2. Valiadi M, Iglesias-Rodriguez D. Understanding Bioluminescence in Dinoflagellates—How Far Have We ComeMicroorganisms. 2013;1(1):3-25. doi:10.3390/microorganisms1010003

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