Ten Wild Swims For Your Bucket List


ONE OF THE GREAT things about joining the wild swimming community is the fact that swimmers around the world all have their own favourite spots. Everyone seems to know a private sanctuary or waterway somewhere that they've grown to cherish. Gradually these new potential swim spots stack up and your bucket list grows and grows. Then you find yourself giving in to helpless outbursts of "but I can't swim all these" or "where the hell do I start?" 

Well, fear not - your friendly neighbourhood aqua-brothers have cut that long swimming list down to ten, choosing only our favourites from the mega-swarm of swimmable spots.

Be warned: some of these may cause an intense yearning to dive headfirst into your computer screen.

Please resist this urge...  


Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Commonly known as the Silfra fissure, this otherworldly spot features a rugged underwater gorge that tears through Thingvellir National Park. This is a very popular stretch for scuba and free divers, mostly because you can dive down between the walls of rock, which are actually the continental plates of North America and Eurasia. Each year these plates drift further and further apart. Expect some of the clearest water imaginable - around 100 meters of depth visibility - allowing you to sink into a rippling underwater world, with dappled sunlight cascading over the pristine glacial water, which seeps up from subterranean lakes. The temperature varies from 2°C to 4°C and you can even stop and have a drink if you get thirsty.

Swim Appeal: 7/10


Green Lake, Austria

Green Lake, or Grüner See, is an unusual lake in Styria, Austria. Encircled by the pale peaks of the Hochschwab Mountains, this luminous body of water glows emerald-green and is created by snowmelt from the mountains. In the winter the lake is only two metres deep and the lakeside becomes a park for the locals.

However, when the ice thaws and the snow melts in spring, this land basin is filled with water and the park is slowly submerged. This offers a surreal experience for any aspiring wild swimmers or divers. When you sink under the surface, during the spring, you'll find the rippling meadows, bridges, benches, trails and trees of the former park, all held in the quiet murk beneath the water.

Swim Appeal: 9/10

When you sink under the surface, during the spring, you’ll find the rippling meadows, bridges, benches, trails and trees of the former park...

Cenotes X’keken, Mexico

The Yucatán peninsula of Mexico is popular for its scattered cenotes, which are limestone sinkholes described in local legends as doors down into the underworld. Hell-holes or not, these water-filled caverns make for wonderful wild swimming pools, particularly the vaulted Cenote X’keken (pictured above), which houses a calm turquoise pool and features the overhanging roots of a slumped tree, dangling low over the water.

Swim Appeal: 6/10


The Blue Cave, Croatia

Another underground treasure, this rocky blue-hued grotto, found under the Croatian island of Vis, can only be accessed when the sea is especially calm. Sunlight seeps into the cave through a submerged side-entrance, giving the water a vivid, luminous gleam from below.

How could anyone resist donning their goggles and diving down into that?

Swim Appeal: 5/10


Havasu Falls, Arizona

So, arid Arizona isn't really known as the land of water, but it does have a rather well-known wee river flanked by the Grand Canyon. In this river you'll find your fair share of tall cascades and wild swimming pools. Just head to the Havasupai Reservation and seek out the turquoise cataracts, including the 45-metre tall Havasu Falls, which flows directly down amongst reddish travertine rock formations.

This would surely be a great one for a sunset dip!

Swim Appeal: 7/10


The Devil’s Pool, border of Zambia

Not for the faint-hearted, this gut-wrenching gem is less of a swimming spot and more of a restricted bathing pool. It's the kind of place where the Devil and his demonic pals would wallow if they needed a place to cool-off on Earth. During the dry season, a pool emerges beside the waterfall, protected by a rock wall, perched on the white-frothed precipice, overlooking the 360ft descent of roaring Victoria Falls. This spot is impossible to reach if the water is high. So far, no one has been plucked from the pool, although you don't want to be the first one to ride the powerful Zambezi River over the cascade.

Swim Appeal: 8/10


Gunlom Falls, Australia

Another perfect sunset swimming spot, Gunlom Falls features a series of cascades and pools with smooth infinity edges. The vista stretches far and wide ahead of you, so you can fold your arms and lie like a happy crocodile at the water's edge. Apparently this panoramic pool, one of thousands of elevated salties found across Kakadu National Park, also appeared in the film Crocodile Dundee.

Swim Appeal: 7/10


Kouang Si Falls, Laos

As anyone who's been to Laos will know, this rural, tropical country is a watery haven, replete with countless beautiful waterfalls, rivers and pools. To get to this particular beauty, Kouang Si Falls, you can either take a boat down the Mekong or hop into a rickety tuk-tuk and ride here from Luang Prabang. Make sure you work up a sweat because when you arrive you'll be privy to the many verdant tiers of a cascade spotted with lucid pools. The water is so clear you'll think you're skydiving.

Hit the lowest pool, which is great for swimmers and also has a nearby meadow that is home to a host of wild butterflies.

Swim Appeal: 9/10


Donsol, Philippines

If you're looking to get into the water with wild whale sharks, Donsol is the place to go. The tropical coastline is combed by one of the world's largest populations of whale sharks, offering you plenty of opportunities to take boats or canoes out and dive down over the deep with these spotted leviathans. Make sure you don't disturb the whale sharks in the water. They're peaceful filter feeders that often act like curious cows when you enter their environment. Also, keep an eye out for their long tails - they've been known to dish out an accidental flick or two.

Swim Appeal: 8/10

They’re peaceful filter feeders that often act like curious cows when you enter their environment.

Sua Ocean Trench, Samoa

Found in the Lotofaga village on the southern coast of the Samoan island, Upolu, this tropical hideaway is ideal for a quiet dip. Sua Ocean Trench roughly translates to big hole, so as not to confuse anyone. Visitors can use the ladder to descend down under the encircling walls of rock, draped in green foliage. At the bottom you'll find twin sinkholes connected by an ancient, cavernous lava tube. One of the holes is mostly dried-up, but the other is filled by this 30m deep pool of cool, glistening turquoise water.

There are plenty of nearby blowholes, sea arches and rock pools as well.

Swim Appeal: 8/10


San Diego, California 

We just had to sneak this in at the end. One of our greatest dreams is to one day share the water with the largest, most powerful animal to have ever existed on our Blue Planet. In the vast Pacific Ocean, off the coast of San Diego, California, there are expeditions launched every so often to see and study this colossal mammal in the wild.

Just imagine taking a boat out for several days and spending some time in the water with one of these awe-inspiring creatures!

Swim Appeal: 10/10