Whether it’s in the hills of Scotland or a jungle in Bali, floating on the water with a clear blue sky above you and the sound of a waterfall nearby is my idea of heaven. Anywhere I can swim is my happy place but add in the beauty of a waterfall and it really can’t be beaten. Here’s our guide to some of the most wonderful waterfalls perfect for wild swimming around the world.
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Wild swimming by waterfalls around the world
Dudhsagar Falls, Goa, India
Rs 20 per person (plus camera charges) | Toilets by car park if travelling from Mollem | No other facilities
My first experience of wild swimming by a waterfall was at Dudhsagar Falls in Goa. This four-tier waterfall is the tallest in India and is a staggering sight even in the dry season when I visited.
We had a private guide and the whole thing was very rushed so I’d recommend checking how much time you will have at the falls, on top of the time it takes to walk there from the car park. It was also very busy but wonderful nevertheless and there were quiet spots with smaller rock pools nearby where you could cool off.
Do plan your visit so you can get there early in the day. The car park was solid with cars when we returned and I couldn’t believe it was possible to get our car out again but they did! It was pretty impressive.
Dudhsaga waterfall is in the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary in the Sanguem Taluka region of Goa. You can catch a train to the Kulem railway station, or drive there, followed by a 7.5-mile hike to the waterfall. Alternatively, you can head to Mollem by car or bus and hire a jeep with a driver. This will bring you much closer to the falls but you will still need to take a relatively short walk through the jungle to reach them. There are toilets at the car park here but there are no other facilities.
The best time of year to visit is in November after the monsoons when the waterfall is flowing strongly but the peak holiday season hasn’t yet started. The images above and below were taken towards the end of the dry season. Just imagine what this looks like during the monsoons!
Fairy Pools, Scotland
By Cecily, Groovy Mashed Potatoes
FREE | £5.00 for parking | Onsite toilets | Suitable for families (although some pools are deceptively deep)
Make a trip to the rugged and remote Scottish Highlands and you will be rewarded with a magical swimming experience. On the west coast of the Isle of Skye, you will find a unique swimming spot called the Fairy Pools. These spring-fed waterfalls cascade down the Cuillin Mountains, forming crystal clear swimming holes.
The Fairy Pools Car Park is a 30-minute drive from Portree, the capital town of the Isle of Skye. Arrive early since it can fill up. If taking public transport, it’s a 45-minute bus ride from Portree. Take the T54 from Somerled Square to the Fairy Pools Car Park.
From the car park, it’s an easy 20-minute walk (1.2 km) to the first swimming hole. Don’t stop at the first pool, keep walking and pick out your favourite of the bunch. You may even be lucky to have one all to yourself. Don’t forget to bring a towel, your swimsuit and some walking shoes. The pools have a rock bottom, so water shoes also come in handy.
The Scottish Highlands get over 250 days of rain a year, so it’s important to plan your trip accordingly. The best time to visit is between May-July. These months have the least days of rainfall and warmer temperatures.
Spa Pool, Karijini National Park, Australia
By Tess, Tessomewhere
FREE | Hamersley Gorge, Karijini National Park | Moderate level of fitness required to reach the spa pool | Onsite toilets
The Spa Pool is a unique swimming spot found within Karijini National Park in Australia’s North West region. This naturally formed pool is created by the surrounding rock formation, featuring a waterfall that pours into the pool before flowing further downstream. This extremely picturesque spot is one of the most popular locations in Karijini for good reason.
To get to Karijini, visitors can fly to the country town of Paraburdoo and pick up a hire car, or drive about 14 hours north of Perth, the capital of Western Australia. The road into Hamersley Gorge is unsealed, a 4wd is recommended.
The spa pool can be found at the end of the Hamersley Gorge, located on the west side of Karijini National Park. Park in the car park at the top of the gorge entrance and begin your descent into the gorge. A moderate level of fitness and mobility is required to access the spa pool. It will take a short but challenging 15-minute hike along the gorge, navigating along a trail with some sections where you will need to climb up and down the smooth rockface.
Due to the remoteness of Karijini, there are very minimal facilities. Bring enough water and snacks to last your visit at the Spa Pool. You’ll likely spend at least a few hours exploring the beautiful gorge, enjoying the refreshing water and admiring this incredible natural attraction.
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Tibumana Waterfall, Bali, Indonesia
By Haley, Haley Blackall
15,000 IDR (about £1) | Strong current | Lifeguard on duty | Suitable for confident swimmers over 12 years old
Located deep within the central jungle region of the paradise island of Bali, is the gushing Tibumana Waterfall. Just 30 minutes scooter or car ride east from the yogi capital of Ubud, the waterfall is a must-visit on your trip to Indonesia.
A grand palm tree-lined road leads to the large dirt car park. Park your scooter or car here and make your way to the little information and ticket hut on the south end of the car park. A gradually sloping paved road leads down to the pool via a few stairs, two small wooden bridges and a couple of slippery sections (due to moss growth), so wear appropriate shoes. It’s approximately a 10-15 minute walk, depending on your fitness level.
If you haven’t packed your own water bottle and snacks, don’t worry, there is a small convenience stand on the right-hand side halfway down, where you’ll also find three individual washrooms for changing. After this point, there are no food or water on offer, although there is a further small changing room at the base of the falls.
Once you reach the 5-metre high Tibumana falls, a beautiful luxurious natural pool awaits you. Take a dip in the cool waters, and take a ride on the available raft for true jungle vibes. Make sure not to go too close to the falling waters as the current gets stronger. There will be a local life guide on duty to make sure you adhere to this rule.
Puente de Dios, Huasteca Potosina, Mexico
By Isabella, Let’s Travel to Mexico
30 pesos | Onsite restaurant, toilets, lockers, car park | Life-jackets compulsory | 380 steps | Deepwater and currents
Puente de Dios is one of many spectacular pools among the Huasteca Potosina network of lakes, rivers, and waterfalls, located in the eastern side of the Mexican State of San Luis Potosi, in the north of Mexico.
One of many interesting natural sites to visit in the area, Puente de Dios is a deep lake surrounded by high cliff walls, scattered with small waterfalls.
The water runs through a river into this lake and flows out again through a cave into another river where you can easily swim and let the current take you. Swimmers can hold on to cords to enjoy a natural massage in the current or swim back against the current into the lake. It’s a fun activity but not suitable for younger children.
To get here, stay in Ciudad Valles about 2 hours and 30 minutes drive away. If going by public transport the nearest bus stop is about 2 miles from the entrance to the park. Once in the park, 380 steps lead down to the bathing pool.
After your swim, when it’s time to climb back up, you will feel refreshed and ready for the exercise. Puente de Dios is a real gem in Mexico to include on your bucket list.
Gorges d’Heric, France
By Izzy, The Gap Decaders
FREE | Car park charge | Great for families | Swimming shoes recommended as the surrounding rocks can be slippery
In a deep ravine at the foot of the mountains of Haute-Languedoc is Gorges d”Heric. Forming part of the Massif du Caroux, the gorges runs for 3 miles from the village of Heric to Mons, where the sparkling water meets the powerful river Orb as it makes its way south to the Mediterranean.
The gorges itself is a rough and tumble of huge boulders, rocks, pebbles and the odd small sandy beach. Jumbled together over millennia and softened by weather and the rushing water of the Ruisseau Heric, the rocks create natural swimming pools, waterfalls, slides and jumping places – all surrounded by clear turquoise water perfect for paddling and bathing.
Park in the car park and wander up the paved track that runs alongside the gorge to find the best spot – it gets busy on hot days, but there’s always a free pool which no one else has claimed and more rocks than you could ever need to lie on!
The further up the track you go, the more dramatic the boulders become, with bigger waterfalls and pools to swim in. Here the cliffs surrounding the gorge become higher, with some reaching up to 600m, providing welcome shade in the sultry south of France summers.
There’s a small cafe bar with outdoor tables in the car park, as well as toilets and a freshwater supply, perfect if you’re travelling through France in a campervan and decide to stop for a swim!
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Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains National Park, Sydney, Australia
By Margarita, The Wildlife Diaries
FREE | Onsite toilets at the top of the trail | Children should be supervised at all times due to steep drops
With sandy beaches, forest creeks, and swimming holes there are plenty of wonderful places to swim around Sydney. But not many of them are as dramatic as a plunge pool underneath a 187-meter-high waterfall surrounded by 11,400 square kilometres of mountainous wilderness.
Located in the Blue Mountains National Park, less than 2 hours’ drive from Sydney, Wentworth Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in NSW. And getting to the plunge pool at the bottom of the falls is half the adventure.
From the top of the falls, the steep trail descends via hundreds of roughly hewn stone steps cut into the side of the cliff alongside the waterfall. This is one of the most jaw-dropping vantage points in all of the Blue Mountains. You may even encounter some native Australian animals as you labour down the steps – a flock of sulphur-crested cockatoos flying above the valley or a lyrebird calling from the surrounding forest.
After the challenging trail, the pool at the bottom of the second drop of the falls is a secluded oasis of rushing water and cool air. It is an extraordinary setting for a waterfall swim. The chill of the water, the rumbling of the falls and the sight of the surrounding wilderness leave room for nothing else – it is a fully immersive and rejuvenating experience. For an extra kick, you can dip underneath the falls and feel the immense force of the falling water.
It’s best to pack your lunch for this trial. But if you do get hungry, there is a café at the Conservation Hut just under a mile away. There is a car park on-site and a train station at Wentworth Falls from where it is about a 2-mile walk to the waterfalls themselves.
For more information visit, National Parks.
Livingstone Island & Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls, Zambia
By Sasha, Mog and Dog Travels
£80 per person | Can only be visited as part of an organised tour, Victoria Falls Tour | Confident swimmers | Children 12 years and over
For a swim with a guaranteed adrenaline rush, look no further than the Devil’s Pool, located at the very top of the majestic Victoria Falls in Zambia. Only accessible through a tour to nearby Livingstone Island on the Zambezi river, swimming in the Devil’s Pool should definitely be on all thrill seeker’s bucket lists.
To get to the pool, you first have to swim in the Zambezi River from Livingstone Island. Whilst there will be two guides to assist you, it is important to be a confident swimmer as you will be swimming against the current for some of the time and will only be about 80 metres away from the edge of the Falls. Weaker swimmers can link hands with other people and wade across the waist-high river.
Tours to the Devil’s pool do not operate during the rainy season (January to July) due to high water levels. During this time you may be able to visit the Angels’ Armchair pool which is also at the edge of the Falls, but during the height of the rainy season, both pools are inaccessible.
The Devil’s Pool itself is a deep, natural pool with a rock ledge right where the waters of the Zambezi river cascade over the cliff. Apart from its location, this ledge is what makes the pool really unique because you can swim right up to it and even lean slightly over it and not get swept over the edge. It also offers a breathtaking view of the 100-metre high gorge of Victoria Falls. Definitely the most thrilling infinity pool in the world! The adrenaline rush from the experience is likely to make you hungry and your bravery will be rewarded with a slap-up meal back at Livingstone island at the end of the tour.
Whilst the tour has a perfect safety record, swimming at the edge of a waterfall is dangerous and it is possible that accidents can happen. Usually, these involve cutting yourself on rocks or slipping and falling over. It is also important to have some swimming ability.
Maguk, Kakadu National Park, Australia
By Hayley, A Lovely Planet
Check prices for park entrance free | Not suitable for small children or non-swimmers | Onsite car park about half a mile from the pool
Maguk is a gorgeous natural swimming hole in Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory. Located at the bottom of a waterfall, the pool is also reached via a rocky 1-kilometre walk, that passes through monsoon rainforest and a bouldered river section.
You can swim right under the cascading water for a relaxing massage or just enjoy swimming and relaxing in the large pool.
It’s also worth bringing a snorkel or some googles, as below the surface are a number of fish species to spot.
There are no facilities at Maguk, so you need to bring everything with you (and take it away), but you will find toilets in the car park. Take notice of signs as saltwater crocodiles can inhabit the area, particularly in the rainy season. The best time to visit is in the dry season – particularly in the months of July and August.
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