Spectacular swimming spots: The world's 10 most amazing places to take a dip

From floating underground to splashing around at the top of a precipice, are you ready to take on these dips with a difference? By Ute Junker.

Forget clocking up laps at your local pool. These extreme swims from around the world will plunge you into a different sort of aquatic adventure. From floating underground to splashing around at the top of a precipice, are you ready to take on these dips with a difference?

The jellyfish lake

No, it's not as bad as braving crocodile-infested waters, but we still don't savour the thought of diving into a pool full of jellyfish. For some reason, however, a swim in Palau's Ongeim'l Tketau – better known as Jellyfish Lake – has become one of the major tourist attractions of this archipelago. As the name suggests, thousands of jellyfish float through this water, ranging from tiny creatures to monsters the size of a basketball.


The long view down

It has become a favourite feature for high-rise hotels: the pool perched high up in the sky, giving swimmers the chance to take in the view while they do their laps. The Holiday Inn Pudong Shanghai has taken the rooftop pool to a new level. Not only is the pool 24 storeys up, cantilevered out past the edge of the building; its glass bottom lets you look straight down. Not for vertigo sufferers.


If you get lucky, you may even see lion or leopard come down for a drink.

The polar plunge

If you are heading to Antarctica, don't forget your swimmers. Visitors to the icy continent ae increasingly choosing to undergo the chill-inducing experience known as the polar plunge. Some cruise ships offer the chance to jump off the back deck (secured with a rope and under medical supervision); otherwise, many offer the chance for a dip in a protected bay at Deception Island in the South Shetlands. Be warned: the water is seriously frigid.


The no-sink swim

Non-swimmers will love Israel's Dead Sea, the super-salty lake which is so buoyant, anyone can float without effort. As an added bonus, the mineral-rich mud at the lake bottom is great for your skin, so slather it on. However, this unique experience has a downside: if you have any open cuts they will sting like crazy in the saline water.



The swimming safari

On a hot day in the African savannah, could anything be better than cooling down in an infinity pool? How about cooling down while spotting zebra, giraffe or buffalo? The pool at Tanzania's luxurious Sanctuary Swala Camp is perfectly positioned to allow swimmers to catch all the action at a nearby waterhole. If you get lucky, you may even see lion or leopard come down for a drink.


The effortless swim

Luxury resorts are all about doing as little as possible, so isn't it frustrating how many hotels position their deckchairs so far from the pool? When you are flat out relaxing, even 10 paces feels like a step too far. The good folk at The Sarojin in Khao Lak, Thailand, feel your pain, and have thoughtfully positioned their glamorous sunbeds in the pool. You don't even have to jump in to cool down: just dangle one foot in the water while you sip your cocktail. Bliss.


The death-defying drop

Some people admire it from the ground. Some take a chopper for an aerial view. Only a reckless few dare to take in Africa's mighty Victoria Falls from the top of the falls. During the dry season, a small pool of slow-moving water appears at the lip of the falls. Those with nerves of steel can swim to this so-called Devil's Pool, and perch on an underwater ledge as water rushes past and plunges to the ground 100 metres below.


The floating pool

Plenty of European cities celebrate the arrival of summer by opening "beaches" on the banks of their local river. In Berlin, however, they like to do things differently. How differently? How about anchoring a 30-metre barge in the Spree River and turning it into a floating swimming pool? A wooden bridge connects this floating waterworld, known as the Badeschiff (swimming ship), with the bank; between dips, you can play volleyball, enjoy a barbecue or catch a concert.


The underground swim

Picture yourself deep in the earth, looking up at the distant sky above as you float on your back. That's the magical experience on offer at the breathtaking cenotes, or sinkholes, of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. These natural swimming holes, formed by collapsing bedrock, dot the landscape. Each has its own character and appeal. Cenote Ponderosa's leafy surroundings belie its bloody history as a place of human sacrifice, while Cenote Samula sits eight metres beneath the ground, lit by a hole in the ceiling through which tree roots dangle dramatically.


The high-altitude swim

Swimming amid the snowdrifts is one of the highlights of a winter visit to Schloss Elmau, the stunning spa retreat in the Bavarian Alps. Elmau has four spas and a similar selection of pools: our favourite is the rooftop pool, where the towering alps feel close enough to touch. A summer swim, surrounded by forests and mountain peaks, is also mesmerising, but we love winter, when you feel adrift in a snowy wonderland.


Take a photo tour of these 10 spectacular swimming spots in the gallery above.

See also: The world's most spectacular waterfalls

See also: The home of Thailand's biggest hotel pool