The world is full of inviting water-based wonders – as a stunning new book makes abundantly clear.
Lonely Planet’s The Joy Of Water is a celebration of the world’s most jaw-dropping aquatic attractions, with spots featured including tropical beaches, lakes, geothermal spas, waterfalls and hidden bays.
Here MailOnline Travel reveals a few of the locations in the awe-inspiring book, which handily, given that most of the planet is in lockdown, serves also as a visual cornucopia for armchair voyagers.
Anse Source D’Argent – Seychelles
Anse Source D’Argent in the Seychelles is often reckoned to be one of the most idyllic beaches in the world. With its crystalline waters and striking boulder formations, it’s a sight to be reckoned with
Think of the world’s most idyllic beaches and this boulder-strewn stretch on the banks of the shimmering Indian Ocean would be near the top of any list, the book says.
The beach is 1.7 miles away from the nearby marina on La Digue, one of the 115 islands that make up the Seychelles archipelago.
Lonely Planet says this beach – a constant in best beach of the world round-ups – is perfect ‘for a day of paradisaical beach lazing’.
Devil’s Pool – Zambia
This pool almost hangs on the edge of the staggering Victoria Falls – so it’s one for thrill seekers
This is one for adventurous souls who like to take a dip on the wild side.
This small pool on the edge of Victoria Falls, which is considered to be the largest in the world (it stands at 108m/354ft) and is a Unesco World Heritage Site, provides bathers with a thrilling experience, the book says.
It explains: ‘There are many vantage points to take in the spectacular views of this majestic beauty, but none quite compare to those from Devil’s Pool.’
Semuc Champey – Guatemala
On the Cahabón River in Guatemala, these pools have been carved by the currents to form a unique, tiered system. It’s perfect for an otherworldly swimming experience
These unique swimming pools in the heart of Mayan country may be tricky to get to, but the effort is worth it, Lonely Planet says.
The book describes this spot in Central America as a narrow chasm carved by currents into a limestone bridge above the Cahabón River.
It says the pools are an ‘idyllic, otherworldly spot to swim, laze, enjoy the scenery and marvel at the natural world’.
Blue Lagoon – Jamaica
The Blue Lagoon in Jamaica was made famous by the movie of the same name, starring Brooke Shields
This stunning aquamarine lagoon near Port Antonio was made famous by the 1980 movie, starring Brooke Shields.
The book says it’s ‘surrounded by lush green jungle’.
The stunning colours are due to natural freshwater springs mixing with waters from the Caribbean Sea.
Dos Ojos Cenote – Mexico
This ancient sinkhole was once used by the ancient Mayan civilisation, but is now a gorgeous place to swim
This stunning natural waterhole boasts some serious history – the book explains that the ancient Mayans used cenotes like this for practical and spiritual reasons.
These days, it’s used for swimming and diving, and the book says: ‘Named for the eye-like appearance of two neighbouring cenotes from above, Dos Ojos is widely considered to be the most beautiful cenote in the Tulum area.’
Crater Lake National Park – USA
The crater of a volcano is the backdrop for this stunning lake, the deepest in the US
The book says that the waters in this lake in Oregon are so clear and deep it ‘resembles a blue mirror’.
What’s in a name? The lake – the deepest in the US – sits inside a volcanic crater, and is rimmed by verdant forests.
A hotspot for hikers, snow shoers or cross-country skiers, the book recommends a boat tour to really experience the lake’s majesty at first hand.
Lake Powell – USA
This vast man-made reservoir stretches across both Arizona and Utah and boasts all kinds of attractions for water lovers
Among the deserts of Utah and Arizona sits Lake Powell, a ‘labyrinthine water wonderworld’.
The second-biggest man-made reservoir in the US, the lake stretches for 300km (186 miles) across both states and provides a cornucopia of sights, the book proclaims.
‘There are natural bridges to be visited, ruins from Ancestral Puebloan civilisations, side hikes, swimming and waterskiing, and enough adventures to fill a full week with family or friends,’ it says.
Sac Actun – Mexico
This Mexican wonder is the longest underwater cave system – it stretches for over 215 miles
The book calls Sac Actun the world’s ‘longest underwater cave system’.
Northeast of Tulum, the network of caves stretches 215 miles and boasts stalagmite and stalactite-festooned hollows.
‘Most are gently lit for extra effect,’ the book says, ‘but there’s no dampening the sense of having stepped into another world, just as the Mayans thought they had.’
Raja Ampat – Indonesia
The island of Raj Ampat is slap bang in the middle of spectacular coral reefs
Part of Indonesia’s array of paradisaical islands, Raja Ampat stands out. And that’s saying something.
Surrounding these jungle-covered islands are ‘pristine’ coral reefs, the book says.
It also says that ‘it’s not surprising that many experienced divers consider Raja Ampat the planet’s best dive destination’.
Bimmah Sinkhole – Oman
This natural swimming hole in Oman is filled with inviting, mineral-rich water
There’s a hole lot of love for this natural swimming sinkhole on the Arabian peninsula.
This pristine spot has been created, says the book, by ‘groundwater eating away at sandstone and carbonate’ and is now filled with inviting, mineral-rich deep blue-green water.
The pool can be reached by descending a concrete staircase.
Big Lagoon – Philippines
Use a kayak to explore this enormous lagoon in the Philippines, but be sure to stop off and relax on one of its tiny beaches
Surrounded by imposing limestone cliffs, Palawan Province’s Big Lagoon is exactly what it says it is on the tin.
The enormous lagoon boasts a channel that runs to the ocean, and the book recommends that visitors kayak around the interior lake.
It also says that this gorgeous lagoon has handfuls of tiny beaches, which are perfect for launching yourself into the water from for a dip.
Wadi Sahab – Oman
Oman is a pretty dusty nation – but it’s not without the odd wondrous water feature
This desert oasis on the Arabian peninsula – an almost two-hour drive away from Oman’s capital Muscat – is worth finding, the book says.
After a further 40-minute trek, you’ll find this wadi (or valley) studded with inviting, freshwater pools and lined with palm trees.
The book calls it ‘idyllic’.
Pamukkale – Turkey
Tiers of snow-white rock filled with deep blue water gives Pamukkale a unique look and feel
This stunning, almost alien landscape looks like it’s come straight out of a sci-fi movie.
Tiers of almost snow-white, calcite travertines are filled with stark blue water and are a huge hit with tourists, Lonely Planet says.
The book also says that a visit to Pamukkale provides ‘fantasy bathing at its best’.
Bad Gastein – Austria
For the ultimate spa day – complete with geothermal hot springs and baths – this stunner has it all
For some restorative, thermal healing, Austria’s Bad Gastein is an Alpine retreat that provides stunning views of the peaks as well as radon-rich waters, the book says.
‘Arriving in Bad Gastein is like drifting gently back in time to the belle époque and the dawning era of European spas,’ it adds.
The hot springs here are used for outdoor thermal baths, private baths and medical centres, giving visitors anything but a Bad experience.
Lantic Bay – England
Cornwall is one of the UK’s favourite tourist destinations, and hidden in the county is this stunning cove
The book calls Lantic Bay one of Cornwall’s ‘favourite hidden coves’.
Located between Polruan and Polperro, the bay is a ‘sheltered sandy pocket’ that is as quintessentially English as it is stunning.
Down from the rolling green hills and craggy cliffs, this little spot boasts ‘a patch of sand and shingle, and green-turquoise waters,’ the book says.
Llyn Cau – Wales
This Welsh lake has plenty of mythical history and overlooks one of the most stunning landscapes in Britain
In the heart of Snowdonia, this fabulously icy-looking glacial lake boasts quite a view, the book says.
In the shadow of mountain Cader Idris, the lake, says the book, was believed to be a volcanic crater for centuries.
‘Icy this teal tarn is,’ it says, ‘but after the ascent to get here you may well be hot enough – and wowed enough – to plunge in.’
Saturnia – Italy
Hot stuff: For a restorative experience in the middle of the Tuscan countryside, Saturnia is the place to visit
These world-famous sulphuric waterfalls are hewn into the verdant landscapes of Tuscany.
In among the wheat fields and cypress trees, Saturnia provides a jolt – think ‘phosphorescent turquoise waters’ and hot springs.
With temperatures of 37.5C, the book says that ‘everyone who makes it here raves about their beauty, and how their healing waters can ease aching joints and make the skin baby-soft’.
Lake Bled Island – Slovenia
The Baroque church on Lake Bled island gives this Slovenian lake a real fairy-tale feel
Unbelievably, Lake Bled Island is Slovenia’s only island. But what an island.
Like something out of a Gothic fairy tale, the island houses a centuries-old Baroque church and, with forests and the Julien Alps surrounding it, it’s quite a sight.
The book says you can reach the island by ferry or your own rowboat.
Jellyfish Lake – Palau
This Palauan lake – in the middle of an islet – hosts a colony of colourful jellyfish, which makes diving and swimming in it a unique experience
The Pacific island of Palau boasts many fabulous paradise locations, but none more jaw-dropping than Jellyfish Lake.
The ‘unique’ lake – hidden in the middle of an islet – is home to a colourful colony of jellyfish that don’t have a sting – thanks to centuries of living there without predators.
The book says taking to the lake ‘feels like you’re bathing in blancmange’.
Drift River – Australia
The North Queensland Mossman River is on the way to the Great Barrier Reef
Lonely Planet says if you visit Drift River in North Queensland, you’ll come face-to-face with platypuses, turtles and tropical fish as they make their way towards the Great Barrier Reef.
With inland swimming beginning to catch on, Mossman River – or Drift River – boasts ‘gin-clear water’ and fantastic rainforests flanking it.
Not only is it beautiful, but it also supplies nutrients to the Reef, the book says.
To Sua Ocean Trench – Somoa
This Samoan sinkhole is popular with tourists and is perfect for a dip under the Polynesian sun
The book calls it Samoa’s ‘most instagrammable natural swimming hole’.
And it’s no wonder.
This natural saltwater pool is surrounded by lush vegetation and accessible via a long bamboo ladder, while a beach awaits after swimming through a ‘semi-submerged lava tunnel’.
Lonely Planet’s book compiles 68 gorgeous and awe-inspiring locations for the ultimate aquatic experiences
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