If swimming’s your thing, plan your next vacation around one of these refreshing hot spots.
Whether it’s fresh or salt water, bracingly cold or bathwater-warm, a fun place to swim is the family-friendly highlight of many warm-weather vacations. But how do you choose the right destination? We asked our friends on Twitter and Facebook about their favourite places in the world to go swimming and created this completely unscientific best-of list. Did we miss your favourite?
1. Rooftop Infinity Pool, Singapore
The 55-floor, three-tower Marina Bay Sands Hotel is the largest in Singapore and home to the rooftop Sands SkyPark, a 1.2-hectare complex housing amenities including landscaped gardens, a ticketed public observation deck and the guest-only 150-metre infinity pool, the world’s largest swimming pool at that height (200 metres). Best for those without a fear of heights, a swim in this pool is a serene beginning to a busy day in the city.
2. Gran Cenote, Mexico
Near the town of Tulum, south of Cancún in the Mayan Riviera, Gran Cenote is a highlight of many trips to the region. Pack snorkelling gear and a long-sleeved shirt for protection (sunscreen harms the wildlife) to explore the mouth of the cave system and underground river. The water is chilly, but extremely clear. For the more adventurous (and not claustrophobic), local diving companies offer tours deep into the caves.
3. Muri Beach, Cook Islands
Rarotonga is the most populous (a whopping 14,000 at last count) of the 15 islands of the south Pacific’s Cook Islands and the most popular spot for tourists. The island is circled by a coral reef, creating an ultra-calm and warm lagoon that’s perfect for swimming, snorkelling or wading. Muri Beach is relatively dense in visitor population but offers a beautiful beach with several small islands close by and accessible by kayak or even walking. Head south (but nearby) along the road or in a kayak to Fruits of Rarotonga, a fantastic snorkelling spot dense in fish and so-named because of the smoothie stand on the road across the street. Grab a pawpaw (papaya) smoothie to replenish your energy after your swim.
4. Dead Sea, Israel
Among the world’s saltiest bodies of water (and saltier than the ocean), the Dead Sea boasts numerous health benefits-the dry air is rich in minerals, high in oxygen and almost completely free of allergens; and the medicinal black mud (recently indulged in by Israeli model Bar Refaeli) is said to benefit the skin and improve circulation. Best yet, especially when it comes to kids, is the well-known way the mineral-rich water makes it easy for people to float.
5. La Sagesse, Grenada
This secluded horseshoe-shaped Caribbean beach has calm as its theme, both in the people and on the water. A coral reef and “rock perfect for a mermaid” are part of the charm, as is the 12-room La Sagesse Nature Centre and its adjoining open-air restaurant featuring fresh fish, fruit smoothies and rum punch.
6. Gemstone Bay Snorkel Trail, New Zealand
On the North Island’s Coromandel Peninsula and near the well-known Cathedral Cove, this prime snorkelling destination is part of Te Whanganui a Hei Marine Reserve, one of the few such reserves in the country, which allow no fishing within their boundaries, allowing species to flourish unmolested. The “trail” is really a series of four buoys with interpretation panels attached and handles for snorkellers who need a rest-perfect for children or nervous adults. The area is also ideal for sea kayaking and diving.
7. Ko Tao, Thailand
Also spelled Koh Tao (which translates as “Turtle Island”), this island in the Gulf of Thailand is a popular and affordable diving destination, though its white-sand beaches and clear, warm water make it attractive to anyone. Stay on the surface or sign up for one of the many diving courses and explore the coral reefs and accompanying wildlife, including whale sharks and bull sharks.