Fancy a swim amongst cliffs, volcanoes or mountains? Over the centuries, and sometimes through human intervention, nature has shaped magnificent, open-air, natural swimming pools. From Mexico to Scotland, via Italy, Iceland and New Caledonia, discover five places where diving into the water becomes a magical experience!
1. Ik Kil Cenote (Yucatan, Mexico)
Nature is able to devise settings that are beyond belief. The Yucatan cenotes, are there to remind us of this. They are the result of a unique geological formation, giant sinkholes filled with freshwater which were formed millions of years ago. Located just a few kilometres from the former Mayan city of Chichén Itzà, the Ik Kil cenote (also known as the “sacred blue cenote”) is one of the most impressive. 40 metres deep, it provides a one-of-a-kind swimming area with huge vines swaying below the water!
2. Grotta della Poesia (Roca Vecchia – Italy)
In southern Italy, the Puglia region has perfectly preserved hidden chambers and caves. In Roca Vecchia, next to the Adriatic Sea, the Grotta della Poesia (“Cave of poetry”) hides one of the most beautiful natural swimming pools in the world. Legend has it that a princess regularly came to swim there to inspire artists and poets from all walks of life. If you dive into this near-30-metre chamber, you’re bound to discover turquoise water worthy of a tropical beach, and that’s no legend!
3. Blue Lagoon (Grindavik – Iceland)
Now a must-see destination, Iceland’s diversity is captivating – between glaciers, volcanoes, black sand beaches, and of course, its famous Blue Lagoon! This open-air spa offers temperatures of 39°C all year round! It has manmade rather than natural origins: it’s the result of excess hot water coming from the neighbouring Svartsengi power station. Surrounded by black lava rock formations, there’s something magical about this lagoon. Please note: given its popularity, you have to pay to enter and must book your ticket a few days or even a few weeks in advance.
4. Fairy Pools (Isle of Skye – Scotland)
The water there is a bit chilly, but the setting is well worth a little effort. To the Northwest of Scotland, the Isle of Skye is home to wild landscapes which take us back to the Middle Ages. Starting with the Fairy Pools, each linked by small waterfalls. Over the course of a hike accessible to all, you can make the most of the emerald waters in this enchanting place, completely surrounded by mountains.
5. Oro Bay (Isle of Pines – New Caledonia)
Another aquatic paradise, carefully guarded by the New Caledonians: Oro Bay. Surrounded by jagged rocks, this crystal-clear, natural swimming pool measuring nearly one hectare, is an incredible place to snorkel, amongst multicoloured fish and corals. A terrifying legend is associated with Oro: a certain Manghénine is supposedly hidden somewhere within the bay. Who is Manghénine? A giant serpent! But don’t worry: no one has ever actually come across him.
Formed over centuries or refined by human intervention, these natural swimming pools are unique places worth diving into for a while.