Kuang Si Waterfalls, Luang Prabang (Dreamstime)
List 09 May

9 of the world's most spectacular natural swimming pools

Leave behind the crowded beaches and busy public swimming baths, as we highlight the best natural pools to plunge into in the wild

1: Devil's Pool, Victoria Falls, Zambia

Devil's Pool, Victoria Falls (Shutterstock)

Devil's Pool, Victoria Falls (Shutterstock)

Perched on the edge of Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Zambia, Devil's Pool forms each year when the dry season (June-October) reduces water levels.

It's a spectacular place to take a dip, with amazing views of the mile-wide falls – as well as the rather nail-biting 30m drop to the bottom.

2: Ik Kil, Chichen Itza, Mexico

Ik Kil, Chichen Itza (Dreamstime)

Ik Kil, Chichen Itza (Dreamstime)

Ik Kil, in Chichen Itza’s Eco-Arqueological Park, is a cenote: a deep natural pit which has resulted from the collapse of limestone bedrock. The groundwater pool at the bottom is an ideal spot for a swim.

You can access the 40m-deep pool, which is 26m below ground level, via a carved stairway down to a swimming platform.

3: Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon (Shutterstock)

Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon (Shutterstock)

This is a surprising find in one of the hottest and driest places in the world. Havasu Falls cascades into one large pool, and the water's vivid blue-green colour is caused by its high concentration of calcium carbonate.

The area is part of the Havasupai Indian Reservation, and is managed by the tribe. Visitors can swim in some pools, although numbers are restricted and permits (available online) are required.

4: To Sua Ocean Trench, Lotofaga, Samoa

To Sua Ocean Trench, Samoa (Dreamstime)

To Sua Ocean Trench, Samoa (Dreamstime)

Literally translated as ‘big hole’, To Sua is a 30m-deep ocean trench, which has been converted into a large swimming pool that is accessible by ladder.

Located in Lotofaga, on Upolu island's south coast, the pool is surrounded by lush jungle and greenery. There is a $15 entrance fee.

5: Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang, Laos

Kuang Si Falls, Laos (Shutterstock)

Kuang Si Falls, Laos (Shutterstock)

Located just south of Luang Prabang, Kuang Si Falls is a three-tier waterfall, starting on top of a steep hilltop.

The smaller falls and pools lead into one main 60m-high fall. At the bottom of the cascades there are several pools open for swimming, plus picnic benches dotted around the area.

6: Enchanted River, Mindanao, Philippines

Hinatuan River (Dreamstime)

Hinatuan River (Dreamstime)

The Hinatuan River is known locally as the ‘Enchanted River’ because the water seems to magically flow without any source. The salt-water river streams from a 50ft deep spring.

Why the spring runs with salt-water is unknown, but the cool blue waters and thick jungle surroundings make for a very tropical dip.

The FCO currently advises against all travel to western and central Mindanao.

7: Pamukkale Thermal Pools, Turkey

Pamukkale Thermal Pools, Turkey (Shutterstock)

Pamukkale Thermal Pools, Turkey (Shutterstock)

'Pamukkale' translates as 'cotton castle' in Turkish, referring to the white cascades of these spectacular thermal pools. This mountain of mineral baths formed over thousands of years, and is fed by rich thermal springs.

The water, which is thought to have healing properties, contains mainly calcium salts and carbon dioxide. It ranges in temperature from 36-57°C.

8: Las Grietas, Puerto Ayora, Galápagos Islands

Las Grietas, Puerto Ayora (Dreamstime)

Las Grietas, Puerto Ayora (Dreamstime)

Las Grietas is a canyon formed of two lava rock walls. Both fresh water and sea water flow into this pool, and temperatures can vary between 18 and 20°C – ideal for cooling off.

The pools get crowded from mid-morning onwards: take an early morning dip to make the most of this gorgeous natural spot.

9: Litchfield National Park, Batchelor, Australia

Litchfield National Park, Australia (Shutterstock)

Litchfield National Park, Australia (Shutterstock)

Litchfield National Park is found just south of Darwin, in Australia's Northern Territory. Bordering most of the Tabletop Range – a vast sandstone plateau – its waterfalls cascade into the many pools that are croc-free and ideal for swimming.

However, swimmers must check with park rangers before jumping in – crocs have been known to move in at short notice...