Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Blue Holes to Infinity Falls: 13 Natural Swimming Pools

Blue Holes to Infinity Falls: 13 Natural Swimming Pools: [ By Steph in Geography & Travel & Nature & Ecosystems. ]

As the mercury rises it’s hard not to daydream about taking a dip in the cool, crystal-clear blue-green waters of some imagined paradise. These photos of 13 absolutely incredible natural swimming spots around the world, from a deadly pool atop 360-foot falls to a mirage-like oasis in the desert of Arizona, will have you booking a flight or at least searching for a cool swimming hole close to home.

Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls, Zambia

(images via: oddity central)

Is the Devil’s Pool the most dangerous pool in the world? Some say yes, considering that it lies on the edge of Victoria Falls – and if you accidentally went over the side, there would be a long 360-foot drop before you reached the rocky base of the falls. That doesn’t stop people from swimming there – or parents from bringing their young children to catch a glimpse of the view from the cool waters. The images are so fantastic, people tend to think they’re faked. Swimming is only possible from September to December, when the river is low enough not to sweep people right over the falls, but at least one person does die every year.

Tat Kuang Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos

(images via: manymoonhoneymoon, yeowatzup)

Clear and beautifully blue-green, the waters of the Tat Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prabang, Laos are enticing, especially in the Laotian heat. You can either swim at the base or climb to the top and lounge in a swimming hole between tiers of the falls. The Tat Kuant Si Waterfall is located in a national park along the Mekong River,

Dean’s Blue Hole, Bahamas

(images via: national geographic, discover-eleuthera-bahamas.com)

Is this 1,000-foot-wide, almost perfectly round ‘blue hole’ in the Caribbean astounding or what? Especially when you learn that it’s 400 feet deep. Dean’s Blue Hole, located about 60 miles from Belize City, is the opening to what was once a dry cave during the Ice Age, which flooded when the ice melted and the sea level rose. It’s a favored spot for free divers, who plunge to great depths with no more equipment than their own two lungs.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

(images via: wikimedia commons)

Pleasantly warm at temperatures between 98 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit, Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spring, attracts thousands of bathers every year. The water is rich in minerals like silica and sulfur, reputed to help some skin ailments. The lagoon is actually fed by a nearby geothermal power plant; the water comes up from the ground near a lava flow and is used to power turbines before it ends up in the pool.

Ginnie Springs, Florida

(images via: city-data.com, oceansportsinternational.com)

Stunningly clear, refreshingly cold and full of vast underwater cave systems, Ginnie Springs is one of the most visually spectacular natural swimming spots in Florida. Found in a privately-owned park along the Santa Fe River in the town of High Springs, this collection of seven springs offers activities like tubing, snorkeling, scuba diving and cave diving. Jacques Cousteau reportedly called the water deep in the springs the clearest in the world. This spot is definitely bustling with visitors practically year-round, and it’s easy to see why.

Yangbajain Hot Springs, Tibet

(images via: j2trip.com, supertightstuff.com)

Even in the middle of winter, the water at Yangbajain Hot Springs in Tibet is 70 degrees. Just like Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, this pool is fed by natural hot springs which are harnessed to produce geothermal power, which provides much of the energy used by the capital city Lhasa.

Little River Canyon, Alabama

(images via: swimmingholes.org)

Within the deepest canyon east of the Mississippi River is the Little River, which plunges into the canyon and then meanders through it for 12 miles, offering up a number of beautiful swimming holes that are popular with locals in the heat of summer. Swimmers jump off sandstone rocks into the water both at the base of the falls and an area on the canyon floor known as ‘Hippie Hole’.

Havasu Falls, Supai, Arizona

(images via: wikimedia commons)

This is definitely an oasis in the desert, and if you were lost enough to stumble upon it and think it were a mirage, you’d have well earned a dip in the aqua waters of Arizona’s Havasu Falls. Located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation just south of the Grand Canyon National Park, Havasu Falls is only accessible by helicopter or a ten-mile hike attended by pack mules. Havasu Creek is fed by a spring, so the water remains at a steady level and is 70 degrees year-round.

Mabinay Spring, Negros Oriental, Philippines

(images via: waysabel, luis llanera)

On the island of Negros Oriental in the Philippines is Mabinay Spring, a shady spring-fed lake surrounded by ancient trees. With free admission and easy accessibility, the cool spring is understandably popular with local residents and visitors alike.

Sliding Rock, Brevard, North Carolina

(images via: parke ladd, mountain moose)

Zoom down 60 feet of smooth rock into an icy-cold mountain-fed swimming hole at Sliding Rock, located off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Brevard, North Carolina. A long-popular ‘natural water park’ for locals, stairs and a handrail leading to the top have been added in recent years and lifeguards keep watch during the summer for safety. The pool at the bottom is 6-7 feet deep.

Natural Saltwater Swimming Pools, Azores

(images via: wicked good travel tips, panaramio, azores whales, holiday-rentals.co.uk)

Hemmed in by rocks, natural saltwater swimming pools have formed all along the coasts of the Azores archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. Some of the pools are nothing more than that, while others have been given concrete walls, steps and handrails to make them official. The pools allow all the joys of swimming in the ocean, but none of the violent waves that can make laying back and relaxing a little difficult.

Jellyfish Lake, Palau

(images via: echeng, Sky Chick Adventures, National Geographic, meremail, National Geographic, National Geographic)

Over 12,000 years ago in the island nation of Palau, jellyfish were trapped inside a cove when a rock island joined with the mainland, and over time, the body of water became a marine lake. This lake basically turned into jellyfish heaven, a safe place with few predators where the marine creatures could multiply freely – and that they most certainly did. More than 10 million of them occupy Jellyfish Lake, and the best part (for us, at least) is that their ability to sting went away as it was unneeded, so humans can safely swim among them.

Zacaton Cenote, Mexico

(images via: geology.com, flatrock.org.nz)

The world’s deepest water-filled sinkhole reaches an amazing 1,112 feet into the earth. Fed by a freshwater thermal spring, Zacatón Cenote measures over 328 feet across and is a notable diving site and was explored robotically by NASA to determine the depth. It’s unclear whether it’s actually possible to get to this epic swimming hole and take a dip, but we can dream, can’t we?

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