Swimming is so much more than doing laps in a pool. Open water swimming offers an experience like no other, each adventure along an untamed river or vast lake is unique and offers a special opportunity to experience a new destination. While exploring the world, you challenge your mind and body with a swimming holiday. Even if you find it frightening to swim in the open water many local operators and specialist tour companies offer safe and exciting swimming trips. Whether exploring an ocean coastline or a remote waterfall, tours cater to all abilities and interests. We've chosen 5 great places to explore from the water when you want to get away from your usual haunts and try something a bit challenging, new and exciting!
Slovenia’s rivers and lakes are idyllic settings for an unforgettable swimming holiday. Strel Swimming Adventures (www.strel-swimming.com) offers swimming holidays across the country, as well as nearby Austria, Croatia and Montenegro. The tour operator’s Slovenia Lakes and Rivers tour takes swimmers along crystal clear rivers and lakes amidst lush pine forests. The glacial lakes of Triglav National Park are one of the trip’s highlights, including the opportunity to swim at the Kozjak waterfall and the green River Soca. Swimmers also get the chance to visit a cliff-top 17th century church on Lake Bled and swim the length of Lake Bohinj, a challenging conclusion to the four-day tour. Tours include accommodation, coaching and guides, equipment, and local transportation. Swimtrek (www.swimtrek.com) also offers short breaks in Slovenia, as well as other open water swimming destinations in Central Europe and beyond. Trips include trips catered for beginners on Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj, as well as island-hopping tours along the picturesque Croatian coast.
For some of the most remote swimming adventures, head to Kimberley in Western Australia. The El Questro Wilderness Park (www.elquestro.com.au) offers over 1 million acres (4,047 square kilometres) of untamed wilderness to explore. Some of the waterfalls here were only discovered in 2010, and are only accessible by hiking through striking gorges or by helicopter. In addition to swimming, the park is a great spot for hiking and horseback riding. Accommodation options include safari cabins, bungalows, luxury rooms and suites, and campgrounds. Western Australia is also the place to go to swim with majestic and gentle whale sharks. Visit between March and July for the best chance to catch one of these rare sights. Oceanwise (www.oceanwise.com.au) offers day trips to swim with whale sharks at the Ningaloo Reef. Based in Exmouth, trips include training, equipment and lunch.
Swimming Without Stress (www.swimmingwithoutstress.co.uk) offers residential open water swimming courses at heated indoor pools near Cardigan, Pembrokeshire. Individual and small group lessons make this an ideal holiday option for beginners and those who are nervous about venturing out into the open water. A standard course features six to eight lessons and includes accommodation at Croft Farm and Brongwyn holiday cottages. While in Pembrokeshire, you can enjoy a number of local attractions including dolphin watching and coastal walks along the dramatic Welsh coast. In North Wales, Gone Swimming (www.goneswimming.co.uk) provides customised swimming weekends and multi-day trips to headlands, freshwater mountain lakes, waterfalls and hidden coves. Popular destinations include Anglesey, Holy Island, Snowdonia and the Llyn Peninsula.
More than just a tourist hotspot, the Spanish resort destination of Mallorca is an excellent place for open water swimming. Swimtrek offers coaching trips to help swimmers improve on their open water technique. Offered by qualified instructors, you can learn and improve skills that will serve you well as you explore the world’s best open water swimming destinations. Courses are based at the Colonia Sant Jordi resort south-east of Palma, and feature private sessions and instruction at a purpose-built pool. After the course, swimmers can venture out and try an open water crossing between islands or to a hidden bay away from holidaymakers.
Open water enthusiasts can enjoy a self-guided trip along the rugged western coast of Galicia. Culminating at Finisterre, the tour features seven days of walking and swimming. Once thought to be the end of the world, Finisterre was a destination for pagans before becoming part of a pilgrimage route for Christians visiting St. James’ tomb in Santiago de Compostela. Surfers will also enjoy opportunities to experience Atlantic breakers along the so-called Costa da Morte or Coast of Death. Secluded beaches along the route are also perfect spots to unwind and relax. Camino Ways (www.caminoways.com) offers self-guided tours with half-board, as well as other tour options along paths to Santiago.
Have you been on a great swimming holiday? Tell us about it below!