Dreaming of a never ending swimming pool and clear blue water. The natural swimming holes is the dream for all the sea lovers.
Roca Vecchia, Italy
According to legend, a stunning muse once bathed in this constellation of limestone pools, known ever since as the Grotta della Poesia (Grotto of Poetry). To bards from miles around, both lady and lagoon were an inexhaustible source of inspiration; one of them still is. Summer visitors to Puglia’s Salento Peninsula flock to these Adriatic waters, 15 miles east of Lecce (dubbed the Florence of the South for its superabundance of more-is-more Baroque monuments). Stay at the Patria Palace Hotel, a 67-room eighteenth-century aristocratic mansion opposite the Basilica di Santa Croce (39-08-322-45111; doubles from $270). At Roca Vecchia, dive into the Italian beach scene. When you’ve had your fill of sun, sand, and the requisite ledge-jumping, head two miles south to the seaside town of Torre dell’Orso to cool off with a gelato at Pasticceria Dentoni (Piazza della Chiesa). But resist (if you can) the bakery’s warm cornetti—it is, after all, swimsuit season.
YOU’LL SHARE THE WATER WITH Blooms of gentle rhizostome jellyfish, which appear during the summer months. Fear not: They rarely sting.
Near Chichén Itzá, Mexico
The Mayans once used the inky waters of this ancient sinkhole for human sacrifice to the rain god Chac. Thankfully, it’s a different scene today. Visitors to the Yucatán Peninsula indulge in this 130-foot-deep pool on their way to Chichén Itzá, the UNESCO World Heritage Site two miles away. The Lodge at Chichén Itzá has 39 thatched-roof bungalows set amid 100 acres of landscaped gardens, with three pools of its own and a private entrance to the ruins. Load up on fresh fruit from the property’s garden before attempting the precipitous 85-foot staircase leading to the cenote’s surreal depths (800-235-4079; doubles from $250).
YOU’LL SHARE THE WATER WITH Small, quick-swimming catfish that you’ll only see not feel.
The country’s economy may have cooled, but at the Blue Lagoon, the phosphorescent, geothermal waters run hot year-round (354-420-8800; admission, $40). Book a room at Reykjavík’s 101 Hotel (354-580-0101; doubles from $459) before boarding one of Reykjavík Excursions’ Blue Lagoon motor coaches that wend for 40 minutes past lava fields painted a vivid green by lichen and moss (354-580-5400; round-trips from $25). Back in Reykjavík, the new Ólafur Elíasson–designed Harpa concert hall, home to both the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera, is a ten-minute walk from the hotel (Austurbakki 2; 354-528-5050). For a cutting-edge culinary experience, book ahead at Dill, where the locavore menu is in constant flux but regularly includes both reindeer and moss (354-552-1522; three-course dinner, $59).