As the weather slowly heats up, more people will be flocking to local pools, shorelines, swimming holes and neighborhood sprinklers for a respite. To shake things up, why not pay a visit to these natural, scenic swimming destinations?
Photo: M alansari/500px
Kravice Falls, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Situated in a nature preserve along the Trebižat River, Kravice Falls is one of Europe's hidden treasures. Because it's such an obscure destination, this spectacular spot hasn't been spoiled by any major commercial tourism infrastructure. The best time to visit is in the spring, when the flora is at its greenest and the water levels are at their fullest due to the rainy season.
Photo: Trail Sherpa/Flickr
Mooney Falls, Havasupai, Grand Canyon
After a long, grueling hike in the Grand Canyon, there's no better way to relax than with a dip in a gorgeous, cool waterfall. Mooney Falls is just one of five waterfalls located in Grand Canyon National Park along the length of the Havasu creek. The gorgeous blue-green stream is named for the indigenous Havasupai people who live nearby in Supai, Ariz.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Located in a lava field in Grindavík, this surreal swimming spot is formed from the wastewater of Svartsengi, a nearby geothermal power plant that vents superheated waters up from the ground. After generating electricity and providing heat for a municipal water heating system, the waters are fed into the lagoon for recreational use. The warm, mineral-rich waters are a boon to many people seeking temporary relief from skin conditions such as psoriasis. While the Blue Lagoon may not be naturally occurring, it certainly deserves a nod for its novelty and reputation.
Photo: János Tamás/Flickr
Skradinski buk, Krka National Park, Croatia
This stunning cascade of 17 individual falls is considered one of the most beautiful calcium carbonate waterfall systems in Europe. Located on the Krka river, the massive, crystal clear natural pool adjacent to the falls is a popular attraction for swimmers looking to cool off.
Photo: H. Michael Miley/Flickr
Sacred Cenote, Chichen Itza, Mexico
This stunning limestone sinkhole is found just north of the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. While the cenote is a beautiful destination for swimming, it also happens to be a fascinating historical site where Pre-Columbian Mayans would perform ritual sacrifices. In the last century, several dredging expeditions recovered gold, jade, pottery and even human remains.
Photo: Kevin Muncie/Flickr
Hamilton Pool Preserve, Austin, Texas
This natural pool was created thousands of years ago after widespread erosion caused the dome of an underground river to collapse. Located 23 miles west of Austin, Hamilton Pool has been an extremely popular summer swimming spot since the 1960s. Because the natural pool is not chemically threated, water quality must be monitored regularly, and sometimes swimming must be restricted.
Devil's Pool, Zambia
Situated at the edge of Victoria Falls, this precarious swimming hole is not for the faint of heart. Intrepid swimmers are able to jump in and splash around without being taken over the cliff thanks to a protective rock barrier that forms a low current pool. Although the unusual attraction is considered relatively safe, there have been occasional reports of deaths over the years, so if you visit, don't push your luck!
Photo: Andrew Hurley/Flickr
Palea Kameni, Santorini, Greece
The gorgeous Aegean archipelago of Santorini is actually an ancient caldera formed after a volcanic eruption that blew apart the island in 1630 B.C. Well known for the iconic white -nd-blue dwellings carved into rocky cliff faces, Santorini also boasts popular geothermal bathing areas on the uninhabited islet of Palea Kameni. While it's a gorgeous experience, be aware that the iron-rich, sulphurous waters can stain clothing and leave you smelling like eggs.
Jellyfish Lake, Eil Malk island, Palau
This surreal snorkeling spot is named for the millions of jellyfish that live there. Cnidarians are known for their painful stings, but these jellies were rendered stingless after evolving in an isolated marine lake environment without predators. Thanks to this evolutionary quirk, Jellyfish Lake is a completely safe place for divers to swim.
Photo: Tim Sackton/Flickr
Caldeira Velha, São Miguel Island, Azores
This dreamy, warm geothermal spring is the perfect place to kick back while journeying to Lagoa do Fogo, a volcanic crater lake located at the center of the island. The Azores is a Portuguese archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands, of which São Miguel is the largest and most populous.
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