9 Most Beautiful Wild Swimming Spots

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Take the plunge into some of the most captivating wild swimming spots worldwide.

Swimming in the crystal-clear waters of a secluded lagoon surrounded by lush greenery is a serene and rejuvenating experience. Image credit: alvarez/Gettyimages

Is there any better way to reconnect with nature than by literally immersing yourself in it?

Wild swimming has enjoyed a huge boom in popularity in recent years, all over the globe. Answering our need for exhilarating physical exercise while also renewing our appreciation of the great outdoors, this wellness practice enriches the lives of countless people worldwide.

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Wild swimming: A recent history

Wild swimming, the practice of swimming in natural waters, traces back to ancient times when rivers, lakes, and seas were the original bathing spots. However, the trend saw a significant resurgence during the COVID-19 pandemic. As lockdowns took effect globally, open, natural spaces became not just recreational escapes but vital for mental and physical well-being. The Outdoor Swimming Society, an international organization with members in numerous countries, noted a remarkable increase in interest, with membership soaring by 75,000 since 2020. This global community has been instrumental in promoting and supporting safe practices in wild swimming across diverse environments. Social media platforms like TikTok have further fueled this movement, where the hashtag ‘#wildswimming’ has garnered nearly 30,000 videos and approximately 50 million views, illustrating a widespread and growing engagement.

The benefits of wild swimming are as vast as the waters themselves. For many, immersing themselves in the serene, rippling waters of a hidden lake or river is not only refreshing but transformative. It offers a unique blend of mental clarity, physical exercise, and a deep connection with the environment. The activity has been linked to improved mood, enhanced immune response, and a greater sense of community among swimmers, often turning these spots into lively meeting places for sharing experiences and forging friendships.

However, the allure of wild swimming does not come without risks. Swimming in unregulated natural waters requires awareness and preparation. It is essential to understand one’s limits, use appropriate equipment, and preferably swim in groups or with companions to ensure safety. Watch for natural hazards like undercurrents, sudden depth changes, and be mindful of the weather conditions.

Read on to discover our choice of the top 9 most beautiful wild swimming spots, each promising breathtaking views and unforgettable adventures that will make you fall in love with nature all over again.

Dos Ojos Cenote, Tulum, Mexico

Between sandy beaches and dense jungle, Mexico boasts some of the world’s most inviting landscapes and natural features. Among these are the cenotes—stunning natural pools carved from the limestone bedrock near the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. 

Dos Ojos Cenote, Tulum, Mexico. Image credit: Wikimedia

These pools are filled with dazzling, turquoise blue water, making them irresistible spots for wild swimming. The cenotes vary in size and shape, with some of the best located near the beautiful beaches and resorts of Tulum and Cancun.

Dos Ojos Cenote, meaning “Two Eyes,” is particularly special for several reasons. First, its proximity to the remarkable archaeological site of Tulum adds a historical dimension, with breathtaking Mayan ruins and stunning beaches nearby. Secondly, Dos Ojos connects to one of the world’s most expansive underwater cave systems, which stretches 80 kilometers into the subterranean world beneath the jungles—an enticing prospect for adventurous scuba divers with ample local support and infrastructure available.

For those who prefer to stay above water, exploring the crystalline surface waters beneath the rocky ceiling of Dos Ojos is equally captivating. The beauty of these waters is so profound that the Mayans believed cenotes were sacred spaces, serving as homes to the divine and gateways to the underworld.

La Jolla Cove, San Diego, USA

If it’s the ‘wild’ in ‘wild swimming’ that draws you, La Jolla Cove in San Diego is a must-visit. This picturesque segment of the west coast boasts a robust culture of wild swimming, framed by the rugged beauty of California. Above, palm trees stretch towards clear blue skies, while the ocean laps against a crescent of golden sand. Along the shore, clusters of rocks are a popular haunt for pelicans, sea lions, and other marine wildlife.

La Jolla Cove, San Diego, USA. Image credit: Wikimedia

The surf here can be challenging, so it’s advisable to check conditions before diving in; the area is better suited for experienced swimmers. However, La Jolla Cove also nurtures a community of passionate wild swimmers and water sport enthusiasts who are often on hand to offer advice and support. For those interested in community events, the annual La Jolla Cove Swim is a local highlight, drawing hundreds of swimmers to participate in a charity fundraiser, enhancing the communal and spirited atmosphere of this stunning location.

Crystal River, Florida, USA 

The aptly named Crystal River is a paradise for outdoor exploration, particularly for wild swimming. Warmed by the Gulf of Mexico and fed by natural springs, the waters here are not only pleasant for a dip but also offer visitors a unique chance to swim with a distinctive aquatic inhabitant.

Crystal River, Florida, USA. Image credit: Wikimedia

Easily accessible from nearby Tampa, Crystal River is renowned as the manatee capital of the world. Alongside Homosassa Springs, it’s the only place in the US where you can swim with these gentle giants in the region’s lush, clear waters. During the winter, up to 1,000 manatees, also known as sea cows, migrate to the area in search of warmer temperatures. Even during the hot, sticky summers, a small number remain, taking refuge in this natural sanctuary.

Given that manatees are a threatened species, experienced guides are always on hand to ensure swimmers learn proper ‘manatee manners’ before entering the water. This ensures not only the safety of the manatees but also enriches the swimming experience for visitors. Swimming with manatees in Crystal River promises to be a magical and truly inspiring experience that you won’t forget anytime soon.

Fjaerlandsfjorden, Norway

Some destinations are worth the extra travel, and the picturesque town of Fjaerland, located about four hours from Bergen, is one such gem. Known for its pristine, refreshing embrace of Nordic nature, Fjaerland offers an idyllic wild swimming experience in the local fjord—a narrow body of water shaped by glacial movement over thousands of years. Here, swimmers can enjoy breathtaking views of towering snowy mountains and traditional wooden houses, embodying the classic Scandinavian blend of epic and cozy.

Fjaerlandsfjorden, Norway. Image credit: Wikimedia

As expected, the waters of Fjaerlandsfjorden offer a brisk dip, peaking in temperature during July and August. However, the fjord remains icy for much of the year, so it’s wise to check the conditions before taking the plunge.

Enhancing the experience, Fjaerland hosts a floating sauna, perfectly perched over the water. It features a ladder for direct access back into the fjord, allowing for a warm-up session after your swim.

Additionally, Fjaerland boasts the unique charm of being a ‘book town.’ From May through September, an array of small bookshops spring up, utilizing everything from old post offices to ferry waiting rooms and waterside reading nooks. With some 4km of books available, visitors can dive into a good story just as easily as into the beautiful fjord.

Loch Morlich, Scotland, UK

Scotland’s natural beauty is breathtaking, and just a few hours north of Edinburgh, nestled close to the country’s largest mountain range, the Grampians, lies a prime wild swimming spot. Loch Morlich, located in the enchanting Cairngorms National Park, boasts the UK’s highest sandy beach. From this unique beach, you can dive into the cool freshwater loch for a bracing swim, surrounded by majestic mountains and nearby forested groves.

Swimming in Loch Morlich offers a humbling experience, where the sheer power and beauty of nature are palpable. The brisk water temperature might take your breath away, but fear not—cold water swimming is known for its health benefits, making this picturesque loch an ideal place to experience them. Just be sure to come prepared with the appropriate gear for cold water (such as wetsuits, neoprene gloves, and swim caps), and test the water before diving in to ensure comfort.

The area is also a haven for wildlife, home to otters, Goldeneye ducks, and red-throated diver birds, enhancing the feeling of embarking on a truly wild expedition.

Lake Lungern, Switzerland

Few places capture the casual picturesque essence of Switzerland as well as its serene lakes. If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing the tranquility of Swiss waters, a trip to Lake Lungern, just an hour from Zurich, comes highly recommended.

Lake Lungern, Switzerland. Image credit: Wikimedia

The waters of Lake Lungern are so pristine that, according to the local tourist board, you can drink directly from the lake. The view here combines regal mountains reflected in the lake’s deep blue waters, lush green foothills, and, if you’re lucky, fluffy clouds overhead on a sunny day. A sandy beach adds to the almost heavenly quality of this mesmerizing landscape.

Summer visits are particularly delightful, with temperatures reaching a balmy 23°C (73.4°F), ideal for swimming. Beyond the lake, the area teems with attractions and activities such as a spectacular waterfall, kayaking, canoeing, and a variety of spas and wellness centers in the nearby town.

Chenonceaux, France

Nestled about two-and-a-half hours from Paris, the River Cher—a tranquil tributary of the great Loire River—offers idyllic wild swimming near the French town of Chenonceaux. Winding its way through orchards, woodlands, and vineyards, the river presents numerous inviting spots for you to enter its gentle waters and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the French countryside.

Moreover, Chenonceaux allows you to interact with a remarkable piece of French heritage. The spectacular Renaissance arches of the Chenonceaux Abbey and chateaux stretch across the river, providing a unique opportunity to literally swim through history.

Be mindful, however: river swimming comes with its challenges, including currents, mud deposits, subaquatic weeds, and passing boats. However, with caution and by staying within your limits, a swim at Chenonceaux promises a truly special outing, combining the pleasure of wild swimming with a touch of historical exploration.

Dalebrook Tidal Pool, Cape Town, South Africa

Located just an hour from the vibrant heart of Cape Town’s iconic metropolis, Dalebrook Tidal Pool offers a breathtaking, family-friendly haven for wild swimming adjacent to the mighty South Atlantic Ocean.

Tidal pools, such as Dalebrook, utilize a barrier wall that separates the pool from the ocean. This wall not only tempers the ocean’s powerful waves but also keeps out marine life, creating a tranquil swimming environment. The result is a serene slice of relaxation set against the backdrop of the rocky African coast—an ideal spot for novice wild swimmers who seek comfort without losing their connection to the vast, powerful ocean beyond.

Dangar Falls, Dorrigo, Australia

What wild swimming world tour would be complete without a jaw-dropping waterfall? Situated halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, Dangar Falls offers travelers a lush swimming hole dominated by its namesake: a glorious, 30-meter high cascading waterfall.

Dangar Falls, Dorrigo, Australia. Image credit: Wikimedia

From the viewing platform, a wooden boardwalk and stairs lead down to the tranquil pool below. This gorgeous swimming hole, refreshed continually by the waterfall, provides the perfect respite on a hot day. Surrounding the pool, you’ll find plenty of rocks and dry spots ideal for relaxing after a vigorous swim.

If Dangar Falls captures your imagination, you’ll be pleased to know it’s a highlight of the region’s Waterfall Way—a 185 km driving route featuring numerous wild swimming spots. Just a short drive away, you can hike through a tropical rainforest to another remarkable waterfall, Crystal Shower Falls. With so many cascades to explore, choosing a favorite might be your biggest challenge.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

For sheer ‘wow’ factor, the emerald world of Ha Long Bay is hard to beat. This UNESCO World Heritage site is studded with leafy limestone islands, who’s cool, calm green waters provide plenty of safe and inspiring spots for wild swimming.

Halong Bay, Vietnam. Image credit: Wikimedia

Water temperatures here range from 19 to 24°C (66 to 75°F), allowing for comfortable swimming all year round. However, the best seasons to visit are spring, summer, and early autumn, when the vibrant colors of the bay are most resplendent.

Choosing which beaches to visit in Ha Long Bay is perhaps an even more important decision. The bay is enormous, with no shortage of pristine, white-sanded micro-paradises. For those staying close to Ha Long City, Tuan Chau beach is an excellent choice. However, for adventurers willing to delve deeper into the bay, Ti Top Island or Ba Trai Dao beach offer more secluded and wilder vistas.

For an extra magical experience, try wild swimming at sunset. As dusk falls, you might just be fortunate enough to catch sight of Ha Long’s phosphorescent plankton emerging, illuminating the water with millions of tiny, glowing creatures. Swimming amongst this natural light show is an unforgettable way to experience the bay’s unique nighttime beauty.

Onward to New Horizons

As you explore the realms of wild swimming around the globe, from the serene waters of Loch Morlich to the mystical glow of Ha Long Bay, each destination offers a unique embrace with nature. The thrill of discovery and the tranquility of natural waters await those ready to dive into the unknown.

For those seeking the epitome of seamless travel, Blacklane stands ready as your ultimate travel companion. Our world-class airport transfer services ensure that your journey begins and ends with elegance, whether you’re embarking on an adventure from an airport or bidding adieu to a destination. With Blacklane at your side, the journey doesn’t just take you to new horizons—it redefines them.


Nick Hagan

Nick Hagan is a freelance writer based in Oxford and Reading, UK. He runs Curio Books and Culture in Oxford, and enjoys writing about culture, travel, film, psychology and just about everything in-between.