8 Natural Pools to Visit For Ultimate Relaxation

There is nothing more relaxing and awe-inspiring than visiting a pool that has been carved from nature, untouched by the human hand and surrounded by breathtaking scenery. All over the world Mother Nature amazes us with superior swimming holes, towering waterfalls and beautiful lagoons. From the top of the largest waterfall in the world to crystal clear turquoise pools complete with spa fish; here are 8 natural pools to visit for the ultimate relaxation.

8. Havasu Falls -Supai, Arizona

This breathtaking waterfall/swimming hole is located way off the beaten path and requires a $40 permit to enter. It’s awfully hard to get to as it requires either a chartered helicopter ride, a 10-mile steep hike or a pack animal that you have hired. The price, the hassle, it is all worth it as you approach this magnificent natural oasis. A torrent of water streams across the rock face of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, cascading into a pool 100 meters down. The water stays about 72 degrees down in the pool and looks as turquoise as the waters of the Caribbean. Because this swimming hole is so hard to get to, plan on having this spot to yourself. Float on your back, gazing up at the surrounding crater and you will feel the ultimate relaxation.

Havasu Falls

7. Erawan Falls -Erawan National Park, Thailand

This seven-tiered waterfall spans over 1.5km and each tier falls into a wonderfully bright blue swimming pond, full of harmless fish. This waterfall is named after the three-headed white elephant of Hindu mythology, as the falls are said to resemble it. The first four tiers are easy to get to, while the final three require some fitness and good shoes. The cascading white waters, the lush tropical rainforest and the clear waters in the pool makes you feel as though this is heaven on earth. We suggest going during the week to avoid the crowds and starting with the highest waterfall and making your way down, stopping to swim at each pool. It is easy to find a quiet pool to sit in and relax while the spa fish nibble at your feet and enjoy the warm sun, the cool waters and the absolute stunning scenery around you.

Erawan Falls

6. Gunlom -Kakadu National Park, Australia

Gunlom is the magical combination of waterfall and serene plunge pool, surrounded by tall gum trees in Kakadu National Park. Climb to the top of this steep waterfall for some amazing views of the southern most parts of the park. At the top of this climb are amazing, clear rock pools just beckoning you to come in and swim. If you swim upstream at the top of this waterfall you will come across another secret hidden waterfall that many miss. The deep clear, green pools that feed the waterfall and large pool beneath are crocodile free and offer a great way to cool off after your hike. The plunge pool at the bottom of the falls has to be one of the most picturesque scenes in the world, and although this area receives many visitors, it never feels overcrowded.

Gunlom Pools Kakadu

5. Pools of Oheo -Maui, Hawaii

These famous pools that are often referred to as the seven sacred pools are found just south of Hana on the beautiful island of Maui. These beautifully tiered pools are fed by stunning waterfalls and weather permitting, visitors can take a dip in them. The stream enters into the mighty deep blue ocean while waves crash against the coastline. To avoid the crowds here you will want to explore these pools before noon, preferably on a weekday. Although these pools are often referred to as seven, there are in fact many more than seven pools in the gulch, each surrounded by the unique Hawaiian flora. You will see many visitors and locals jumping into the pools, although officials don’t recommend it due to the dangers. These pools are often closed due to flash flooding that occurs but if you happen to be there when they are open; this experience is on any bucket list for visitors to Maui.

Seven Sacred Pools

4. Kuang Si Falls -Luang Prabang, Laos

The amazing waterfalls and pools here look so serene you have to see them to believe they actually exist. The water is bright blue, clear and refreshingly cold and while the three-tiered waterfall is quite the site, it is the numerous blue pools that catch our eyes. Walkways and bridges guide visitors around the pools and although one is closed as it is a sacred site, the rest are open to visitors. The very top pool is our favorite, loaded with spa fish that love to nibble at your feet, taking the need away to get a pedicure when you get home. Make sure you hike all the way to the top of the falls for quieter, more relaxing pools. Visitors should make sure they come early in the day and pack a picnic lunch that can be enjoyed in the lush surrounding area.

Kuang Si Falls

3. To Sua Ocean Trench -Samoa

To Sua actually translates into big hole and that is exactly what this amazing, breathtaking natural pool is. The swimming hole is actually 98 feet deep and requires swimmers to climb down a ladder to reach the platforms to jump off into the water. The pool itself is tidal and the water goes in and out, taking swimmers with it so make sure you hang onto one of the ropes provided in the trench. During low tide you can actually swim from the trench into the ocean, an amazing experience that should never be missed. The surrounding sites are just as beautiful, lush tropical gardens, an incredible small beach, blowholes, lava fields and tidal pools. If you can close your eyes and imagine what paradise looks like, this is it.

Photo by: Amazing Places on Earth
Photo by: Amazing Places on Earth

2. Devil’s Pool -Victoria Falls, Zambia

It may just be the most dangerous natural pool in the world and is certainly not for the faint of heart, but that doesn’t mean soaking in this pool isn’t relaxing. Visitors will literally feel as though they are on top of the world, as the pool lies on the top of Victoria Falls, a drop of 360-feet to the bottom. Swimming here is only possible from September to December when the water is low, and at least one person dies going over the falls a year, but if you are a thrill seeker, the pictures and memories are priceless. This is indeed the ultimate infinity pool as the rock lip keeps swimmers from going over the falls. With the force of the Zambezi flowing past you and crashing over the edge, there is no place on earth you would rather be sitting. Just remember, make sure you are a strong swimmer and there are plenty of guides to make sure you aren’t swept off the falls.

Photo by: Flickr/Meraj Chhaya
Photo by: Flickr/Meraj Chhaya

1. Fairy Pools -Isle of Skye, Scotland

These beautiful crystal clear pools are located on the River Brittle and entice visitors from all over the world. Although the water is chilly, on a hot sunny day these pools with views of the Black Cuillins are hard to beat in terms of awesome experiences. Visitors here will need good walking shoes and at least an afternoon to spare to find these pools that form in the waterfalls. Hike from the bottom up and as you pass more and more crystal clear blue pools, you will wonder how they get any better. A natural infinity pool sits high on a grassy island bounded by a natural stone wall, and above that are two pools high up on the glen. One choppy from the current of the waterfall, the other prenaturally still, separated by an underwater arch. Although cold, these pools are great for hopping in and out of, enjoying a world away from your own.

Fairy Pool Isle of Skye

11 Things to See and Do in Kakadu National Park

Regardless of what time of year you get the chance to visit Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory, jump on that opportunity and enjoy what the park has to offer.  Dry season (May to October) will grant you more accessibility and activity options, but wet season (November to April) offers incredibly green, lush, verdant vistas and smaller crowds.  With no shortage of salt and freshwater crocs, waterfalls, boat cruises, walks, swimming, bird watching, and fishing, you are sure to have an unforgettable journey to Kakadu that will have you hankering after your next visit.  Get yourself a permit online before you travel to save yourself some hassle.

1. Yellow Water Boat Cruise

Take a journey through Kakadu’s expansive and magical wetlands on the Yellow Water Boat Cruise.  The Yellow Wetlands, at the end of Jim Jim Creek, are home to countless crocodiles and about a third of all the bird species represented in Kakadu.  Operating year round with a choice of a 90 minute or 120 minute experience and a knowledgeable and highly trained guide, this tour will get you up close and personal with the wetland.  If you want a more unique experience, book at dawn or sunset, check out the night time cruise, or explore their fishing packages.

Saltwater Crocodile, Photo by: Tourism NT
Saltwater Crocodile, Photo by: Tourism NT

2. Nourlangie

Nourlangie Rock, or Burrunggui, is a breathtaking rock formation.  On a 1.5 km walking loop of the outcrop, you can observe ancient mythological Aboriginal paintings.  If you are visiting during dry season, visit the nearby Anbangbang Billabong and enjoy the views of the Nourlangie.  If you feel up for a challenge, the 12 km Barrk Sandstone Walk over the outcrop presents a great opportunity for fitness enthusiasts to make it to the top and enjoy the spectacular views while sneaking in some exercise.

Nourlangie Rock, Photo by: Peter Eve & Tourism NT
Nourlangie Rock, Photo by: Peter Eve & Tourism NT

3. Maguk Gorge

Maguk Gorge is found in the southern part of Kakadu National Park, just over 10 km off the main highway.  If you are travelling with 4 wheel drive and have checked the road conditions, head to the trailhead, park your vehicle, and begin the 2 km walk to Maguk.  Walk through lush forest and thick vegetation – try to spot some birds and lizards – until the path opens up to a swimming hole and see the only waterfall in Kakadu that flows regardless of season.  Swim across the pool and let the water wash over you.  Feeling brave?  Try cliff jumping!

Barramundie Gorge, Photo by: Tourism NT
Barramundie Gorge, Photo by: Tourism NT

4. Jim Jim Falls

Accessible by 4 wheel drive in the dry season or by air in the wet season, be sure to catch a glimpse of Jim Jim Falls.  Or if you don’t want to drive yourself, join a tour group to make some friends and leave the driving to an expert.  Once you park, you will brave a short but challenging walk to the falls.  If you’ve got the time and energy, do the Barrk-Mariam Buswalk – a 6 km round trip walk that gives breathtaking views of the surrounding area.  Jim Jim Falls also has a nearby campground, so you can stay overnight (book this popular campsite well in advance).  If you have the time, check out the nearby and popular Twin Falls for some more epic waterfall action.

Jim Jim Falls, Photo by: Tourism NT
Jim Jim Falls, Photo by: Tourism NT

5. Explore the Yurmikmik Walks

If you feel like you’ve been cooped up in the car while exploring Kakadu, get out of the car and spend a day hiking at Yurmikmik.  Hikes from the Yurmikmik parking lot range from a 2km loop to a more challenging 14 km loop.  If you’re planning a longer hike, look into obtaining a camping permit to extend your hike overnight.  Check out the Yurmikmik lookout and explore the Motor Car Falls.  Keep an eye out for peregrine falcons, black wallaroo, and saltwater crocodiles!

Yellow Water Billabong, Photo by: Tourism NT
Yellow Water Billabong, Photo by: Tourism NT

6. Grab a Bite to Eat at Kakadu Bakery

Hungry from a long day in the bush?  If you find yourself hungry and close to Jabiru, be sure to drop in on Kakadu Bakery. Grab breakfast, meat pies, sandwiches, burgers and fries, or stock up on their famous pastries, meat pies or bread rolls to refuel before your next jungle adventure.

Aussie meat pie

7. Get a Bird’s Eye View of Kakadu

If you want a real sense of the magnitude and beauty of Kakadu, you absolutely must head to the air to get the full experience.  Choose from fixed wing or helicopter and a variety of itineraries to make sure you get the experience you are looking for.  Depending on if you are travelling in dry or wet season, different tours may be available.  If you’re near Jabiru, check out Scenic Flight Company (fixed wing) or Kakadu Air (fixed wing or helicopter) for the aerial trip of a lifetime.

Jim Jim Falls Arial

8. Take in the Sunset at the Escarpment

Grab some groceries, make a picnic, and head to the Arnhem Land Escarpment by Jim Jim creek to sit back, relax, and take in the view while the sun sets.  Be sure to bring your cameras to this memorable, breath taking view.  If you have the time, try and catch a free talk by the local Rangers to learn about the rich history of the area.

Kakadu Sunset, Photo by: Johan Lolos
Kakadu Sunset, Photo by: Johan Lolos

9. Bardedjilidji Walk

This gentle walk is suitable for the whole family! Accessible during the dry season, the Bardedjilidji (the Aboriginal word for walking track) Walk takes you on a 2.5 km loop and will take approximately 1.5 hours tops.  Explore the sandstone rock formations beside the East Alligator River, try to spot some Aboriginal stone art, check out the caves, and keep your eyes open for the unique plant and animal life that inhabit the area.

Aboriginal Rock Art, Photo by: Peter Eve & Tourism NT
Aboriginal Rock Art, Photo by: Peter Eve & Tourism NT

10. Animal Tracks Safari

Enjoy the bush experience of a lifetime by taking a dry season tour with Animal Tracks Safari.  Start in Cooinda at 1pm and head to a local buffalo farm, then let your Aboriginal guide lead you through the wilderness to gather food, teach you about bush medicine, and then make a feast at sunset!  Help make a campfire and learn about traditional cooking methods while you absorb the sunset jungle view with your tour group.  If you’re worried about roughing it – they provide plenty of water and access to bush toilets that will keep you comfortable even in the heart of the jungle.  You’ll be back in Cooinda by 8:15pm, and discounts are available for children 4 -16 and under 4 are free.

Bush Walk, Photo by: Tourism NT
Bush Walk, Photo by: Tourism NT

11. Warradjan Cultural Centre

The Kakadu area has been home to Aboriginal People continuously for over 50,000 years. This is evident throughout the park with many sacred sites and ancient aboriginal rock drawings. The Bininj/Mungguy are the traditional land owners and welcome you to experience their beautiful lands and learn about their traditional culture and the Warradjan Cultural Centre located near Cooinda Lodge offers visitors the chance to learn about aboriginal life while exploring the exhibit and also get an up-close look at some unique aboriginal art, many of which are produced by local artists and are for sale.

Warradjian Cultural Centre, Photo by: Tourism NT
Warradjian Cultural Centre, Photo by: Tourism NT