There is no better way to escape the thrall of a summer heat wave than a cool, clear body of water. But finding a place you can really relax isn’t so easy—everyone has the same idea, so public pools can be an obstacle course of splashes, noodles, and flailing arms. Sometimes it takes a little effort, but if you can get to a more secluded swimming hole, you might get a little peace and quiet, in addition to some spectacular scenery.
The largely flat landscape of Qurayyat, Oman, is briefly interrupted by a 65-foot-deep sinkhole. Although locally attributed to a meteorite crash, the sinkhole was created from below, by water surging through underground caves. There, ocean water mixes with the groundwater to create a turquoise oasis, and a grand concrete staircase leads down to the water’s edge. In Fairfield, Australia, the Deep Rock Swimming Hole has a rich history. The Deep Rock Swimming and Life Saving Club first established the site in 1906, and in 1918, Alick Wickham broke the world record for a dive of 205 feet from a tower up above. From a long-forgotten Victorian swimming getaway to a natural pool amid ancient ruins, here are 20 of our favorite ways to beat the heat.