Top Ten Unique Swimming Destinations

Top Ten Unique Swimming Destinations


  1. Great Barrier Reef

    The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,600 km (1,600 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square km (133,000 square mi). The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in north-east Australia. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. CNN labeled it one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Queensland National Trust named it a state icon of Queensland. A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of human use, such as fishing and tourism. Other environmental pressures on the reef and its ecosystem include runoff, climate change accompanied by mass coral bleaching and cyclic population outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish. The Great Barrier Reef has long been known to and used by the Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and is an important part of local groups’ cultures and spirituality. The reef is a very popular destination for tourists, especially in the Whitsunday Islands and Cairns regions. Tourism is an important economic activity for the region, generating $1 billion per year.
    Links: Top Ten Australian Attractions,Top Ten Reefs,,
  2. Dan’s Cave, Bahamas
    blueholesFanghorn Forest - Dan's Cave - Abaco Bahamas Nov 2011
    Links: Top Ten Bahamian Attractions,
  3. Sistema Sac Actun, Mexico
    The Yucatan Peninsula is home to the longest underwater cave system in the world. Sistema Sac Actun was found to be connected to Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich, creating a system 154,783 m long, the longest underwater cave in the world. By comparison the previous record holder Ox Bel Ha measured a puny 146,761 m. The two have been exchanging the record for years as new, previously unexplored, sections are discovered. The whole system has been named Sistema Sac Actun, and is home to some of the most decorated and beautiful cave diving sites in the world. The most well known entrance is Grande Cenote. There is surprisingly little information about this incredible cave system, but we’ve shared what we could find. Once you get in to the system the water temperature is relatively constant, and some parts are very fragile and require perfect buoyancy. As you get deeper in the system there are incredible stalactites, stalagmites and other geologic features.
    Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions,
  4. Bioluminescent Bay, Puerto Rico

    Located in Puerto Rico, on Vieques Island, there is a shallow body of water with a narrow inlet known as Mosquito Bay. In each gallon of the bay there are 720,000 phosphorescent single-celled organisms that glow when they are agitated. It is a defense mechanism, the glowing is designed to daze whatever predator is bothering the tiny dinoflagellates. All together the bay, on a moonless night, will produce more than enough light to read. Swimming in Mosquito Bay will cause your limbs to be bathed in blue-green light. If you stop moving the light will dim, and eventually disappear completely, but each time you twitch it begins anew. Every time your kayak moves it too will be illuminated. It’s also easy to spot larger creatures; when manta rays or large jellies enter the mangrove swamps gentle rings of light form around them. If you scoop up a handful of the water you can watch individual glowing plankton roll down your arms and hands. And the salinity of the water, like the Dead Sea below, is high enough you can float sitting upright. Photographing Biobay isn’t easy, so there aren’t many high quality pictures of it, but enjoy the ones we found below.
    Links: Top Ten Puerto Rican Attractions,
  5. Jellyfish Lake, Palau
    12,000 to 15,000 years ago one of the limestone rock islands in the nation of Palau sealed itself off from the ocean and became a marine lake. A few jellyfish were sealed inside, and with virtually no predators, they began multiplying and evolving. Today more than 10 million jellyfish inhabit Ongeim’l Tketau, known as Jellyfish Lake to tourists. Their sting became evolutionarily useless, and has been lost over time, to the point that the jellies are completely harmless to swim with. Swimming in Jellyfish lake, surrounded by a translucent sea of rhythmically pulsing creatures, is known to be unbelievably serene. The jellies, varying in size from basketballs to blackberries, slowly undulate as they follow the path of the sun across the surface of the lake.
    Links: Top Ten Lakes, Top Ten Oceanic Lakes, Top Ten JellyfishTop Ten Palau Attractions,
  6. Great Blue Hole, Belize and Dean’s Blue Hole, Bahamas

    In a bay west of Clarence Town on Long Island, Bahamas, is the deepest underwater sinkhole in the world. It plunges 663 ft. to the ocean floor, making it vastly deeper than other blue holes (The Great Blue Hole in Ambergris Caye, Belize is 410 ft. deep, and the Blue Hole in Sinai, Egypt is about 420 ft. deep). Dean’s is known worldwide as the perfect spot for free-diving; it was the location over the last few years of numerous new world and national free-diving records. The blue hole is roughly circular at the surface, with a diameter ranging from 25 to 35 m (82–110 ft.). After descending 20 m (66 ft.), the hole widens considerably into a cavern with a diameter of 100 m (330 ft.). If you prefer marine life to extreme breath-holding, however, The Great Blue Hole in Belize is a better choice. Jacques-Yves Cousteau declared it one of the top 10 scuba diving sites in the world.
    Links: Top Ten Belizean Attractions, Top Ten Reefs,
  7. Cancun Underwater Caves, Mexico

    Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions,
  8. Devil’s Swimming Pool, Zambia

           The Devil’s Swimming Pool, or Devil’s Armchair, is a naturally formed infinity pool at the very top of Victoria Falls in Zambia. 420 feet above the river below, it is perfectly safe (in the dry season) to relax at the edge of one of the world’s largest waterfalls. From above the water it appears as if there’s nothing to stop one from being carried over the lip of the falls, but beneath the surface there is a natural rocky ledge that generates a back-eddy and stops the current. Looks scary, especially to jumping into, but the thousands of still-alive visitors can attest to its perfect safety record.
    Links: Top Ten Zambian Attractions, Top Ten Waterfalls,
  9. Zacatón Cenote, Mexico

    Zacatón is one of a group of five interconnected sinkholes, or cenotes, located in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, Mexico. It is the deepest water-filled sinkhole in the world with a total depth of 335 m. DEPTHX, a NASA funded project using an autonomous robot has measured the underwater portion to be 319 m deep (an air-filled 16 m drop from the surface to the water accounts for the total depth). In a 1993 dive Dr. Ann Kristovich set the women’s world depth record of 554 feet, and on April 6, 1994, explorer diver Jim Bowden and cave diving pioneer Sheck Exley plunged into El Zacatón with the intent of reaching bottom. Bowden dove to a men’s world record depth of 925 ft, but Exley (who invented/standardized use of the “Octo” or octopus safety regulator) died, probably from high pressure nervous syndrome (HPNS) at around 879~906 feet. The name Zacatón comes from the free-floating islands of zacate grass which move about on the surface with the wind. They are visible in the pictures as the surprisingly-large circularly symmetric islands. Because they aren’t connected to the lake bed they float with the wind. Besides swimming and diving in the cenote you can swim to the islands and suntan and picnic as they slowly drift on the surface of the sinkhole.
    Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions,
  10. The Dead Sea, Jordan and Israel

    The shores of the Dead Sea are the lowest land point on the surface of the Earth. Resting 1,385 ft. below sea level, the Dead Sea is also a hyper saline lake, one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water. It resides in the Middle East, between Israel and Jordan, and is mentioned in the Bible. Besides tasting awful, the sea provides exceptional levels of buoyancy.
    Links: Top Ten Jordanian Attractions, Top Ten Israeli Attractions, Top Ten Seas,
  11. Chuuk or Truk Lagoon, Micronesia

    Truk Lagoon, or Chuuk, is a sheltered body of water almost 50 miles long by 30 miles wide surrounded by a protective reef. It is composed of 11 major islands, along with 46 smaller ones inside the lagoon plus 41 on the fringing coral reef, today part of the Federated States of Micronesia. Its interest stems from its use in World War II as the forward anchorage for the Japanese Imperial Fleet. It was considered the most formidable of all Japanese strongholds. When the US Naval forces captured the Marshall Islands they launched an early morning attack on February 17, 1944 against Truk Lagoon. This was Operation Hailstone, a bombardment lasting three days that sent virtually everything of value, 60 ships and 275 aircraft, to the bottom of the ocean. Today it has turned into a diver’s paradise after being explored by Jacques Cousteau. It is full of ghostly remains; the waters are almost devoid of normal ocean currents so they are almost perfectly preserved. The waters are crystal clear, and some ships lie less than 15 meters below the surface. Divers can easily swim across decks littered with gas masks and depth charges and below deck can be found numerous human remains. In the massive ships’ holds are row upon row of fighter aircraft, tanks, bulldozers, railroad cars, motorcycles, torpedoes, mines, bombs, boxes of munitions, radios, plus thousands of other weapons, spare parts and other artifacts. Of special interest is the wreck of the submarine I-169 Shinohara which was lost when diving to avoid the bombing. The sub had been part of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The coral encrusted wrecks attract a diverse array of marine life, including manta-rays, turtles, sharks and corals.
    Links: Top Ten Micronesian Attractions, Top Ten Wreckage Diving Destinations,
  12. Yangbajain Hot Springs, Tibet

    The Yangbajing hot springs, in Tibet provides much of the electricity for Lhasa, the capital. A thermoelectric power plant on the edge of the Yangbajain hot spring fields, which cover 20-30 square km. These particular springs are so interesting because they are at an elevation of approximately 14,000 ft. (about the same as the peak of Mt. Rainier in Washington State). The water emerges from the crust of the earth at 84 degrees F, which is higher than the boiling point at that altitude. The springs themselves aren’t as beautiful as some of the other locations on this list, but they have a misty charm of their own.
    Links: Top Ten Tibetan Attractions,
  13. Bonus: The Seagaia Ocean Dome, Japan

    The Seagaia Ocean Dome is a massive indoor water park, located in Miyazaki, Japan. The Ocean Dome measures 300 meters in length and 100 meters in width, and is included in the Guinness World Records. It opened in 1993, and visitor numbers peaked in 1995 at 1.25 million a year. The Ocean Dome was officially closed on October 1, 2007. The Ocean Dome sported a fake flame-spitting volcano, artificial sand and the world’s largest retractable roof, which provided a permanently blue sky even on a rainy day. The air temperature was always held at around 30 degrees Celsius and the water at around 28. The sand was made from crushed marble, which doesn’t stick to skin as much as regular does.
    Links: Top Ten Japanese Attractions,
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