Beaches and hotel swimming pools have their merits – bars, as one notable example – but there’s something about a natural pool that those of the man-made variety just can’t match. With alluring blue water, craggy cliffs, shadowy caves and waterfalls – a journey to one of these natural wonders will be nothing short of magical.
For an experience in the waves that’s nothing but relaxation with a side of gorgeous, look no further!
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Iceland is famous for its swath of natural hot springs, but none are quite as popular as the Blue Lagoon, an absolutely massive geothermal pool with cotton candy blue water. It’s about a 40 minute drive from Reykjavik in the town of Grindavik, but once you’re there, you’re basically in a resort. The Blue Lagoon is a big deal, sought out for miles for its warm, bath water temperatures.
Natural though the Blue Lagoon may be, it’s been amped up with modern amenities, ringed by boardwalks and steps into the water’s depths to make it feel like a giant hot tub. Spa treatments are available too, with fresh face masks and massages given right in the water so you can sit tight until your skin is nice and pruney.
Hoyo Azul, Dominican Republic
Slip into the clear blue water of the cenote known as Hoyo Azul and you’ll feel like you’ve found a crater on another planet – that’s sort of how it goes with natural sink holes surrounded completely by rock walls. They’ve got that otherworldly feel that adventurers and relaxation seekers alike are after.
The Hoyo Azul is part of the Scape Park in Punta Cana, a Dominican Republic resort that neighbours Bavaro. To access the pool, you’ll need to join a tour, but we’re not just talking your average stroll. There’s the path down windy stairs leading to the cenote, or you can choose to be adventurous and zipline over the treetops or explore nearby caves first, before descending into the water’s depths.
Grotta Della Poesia, Italy
This natural pool’s name in English says it all – ‘Grotta Della Poesia’ meaning ‘cave of poetry’, and we can see how this waterfront spot might inspire a few verses. Grotta Della Poesia – found in southern Italy’s town of Roca Vecchia – comes with some pretty spectacular views, carved right into the rock along the coast.
It’s a pretty deep carving at that, with high cliffsides that act as natural diving boards. Swim a little further in the direction of the ocean and there’s a cave too – excellent for a little exploration.
Ik Kil, Mexico
Mexico’s Ik Kil is another natural pool that’s so famous, it’s basically achieved legendary status. Found near the ancient Mayan ruins of Chican Itza just a two hour drive from Cancun, Ik Kil is a hole in the ground – that is, until you look down.
From there, it’s a 26-metre drop, but don’t worry. There are steps that lead down to a swimming platform and the pool itself, and with vines raining down from the centre and along the rock walls, it feels like a scene from the film Avatar. As for the pool itself, it’s 60 metres across and 40 metres down, open to the public and the black catfish swimming below.
Giola Lagoon, Thassos
The Giola Lagoon on the small Greek island of Thassos may be a little tricky to get to, but once you arrive, your pat on the back will be a circular green-blue pool of water carved right into the seaside. The pool is reachable via a dirt road and then a short walk, but consider it all part of the unique experience.
Giola might be connected to the sea by a narrow slice in the rock, but the water within the lagoon somehow manages to be a little warmer than the attached Aegean. The lagoon is a little small in size, but natural jumping platforms into the water below will ensure you’ve got plenty to do.
The natural pool known as Conchi in Aruba is a rocky little spot nestled within Arikok National Park, reachable by 4×4 or a hike from Daimari Beach. The pool itself is protected by volcanic rock, and needless to say is a quiet, secluded spot for paddling when the tide allows.
Aruba might be tiny, but in cases like Conchi, the island’s size comes in handy. It’s just a 20-minute drive to this part of the coastline from Orjanestad, though you’ll feel a world away. Just don’t forget to bring your snorkelling gear.
Erawan Falls, Thailand
Erawan National Park can be found a three-hour drive northwest of Bangkok. It’s laden with deciduous forests and wildlife, though the Erawan Falls are undoubtedly its biggest pull. Named after the three-headed elephant from Hindu mythology, the falls consist of seven tiers, the top of which is said to look like the elephant’s head.
Most of the tiers filter into natural fish-filled pools that make for incredible swimming spots. You can hike all the way to the top of the waterfalls, but be advised that the route gets a little hairy as you get higher.
Puertito de Lobos, Fuerteventura
Just a 20 minute boat ride from Corralejo on the island of Fuerteventura will get you to Puertito de Lobos, one of the most beautiful natural waters in the Canary Islands. It’s located on the Isla de Lobos, a practically undeveloped spot whose Puertito de Lobos pool has shockingly clear blue water that makes for a pretty peaceful swim.
Snorkelling gear is recommended here, as the water sweeps in from the sea just on the other side of the rocks. There’s not much else to do out this way, but look at it as a plus – the only thing here will be you and the waves, offering nothing but relaxation.
Got a favourite natural pool we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.