8 incredible ocean pools

These oceanside pools give you the best of both worlds: safe, serene waters with sea-and-sky views. If you’re looking for an alternative seaside experience, these could be right for you.

Meaning "cave of poetry," this 100ft-wide natural sinkhole is certainly worthy of verse. Leap from the limestone cliffs into the water, and then swim under the archway into the Adriatic Sea.

Grotto della Poesia, Salento, Italy

Arrive early in summer to avoid the crowds; the rest of the year it’ll be just you and the seabirds. There are several archaeological sites nearby, including Grotto della Poesia Piccola.

Clamber up the rocky hillside on this laid-back Bahamian island to find the series of shallow, sun-warmed pools known locally as the "Queen’s Baths" or (the slightly less fancy) "hot tubs."

Queen’s Baths, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Visit at low or medium tide to spend an hour or two soaking, splashing and looking for shells as the navy-blue Atlantic churns below.

Tiptoe through cliff tunnels, built by Welsh miners in the early 1800s, to reach the hidden beaches. At the "ladies beach" (now coed), a tidal pool appears for three hours before and after low tide.

Tunnels Beaches, Devon, UK

The pool’s retaining wall was man-made by the same miners using boulders and lime mortar. Don’t expect any sugar-white sands; these beaches are pure English pebble – slippery, chilly and delightful.

From above, this gemstone-green swimming hole looks like a giant’s eye blinking up from the lava landscape. It's accessible by a slightly terrifying wooden ladder, though the brave simply jump.

To Sua Ocean Trench, ‘Upolu Island, Samoa

The trench is fed by an underwater lava tunnel that leads out to the South Pacific – skilled divers can swim through it, but all levels of swimmer should be aware of the undertow.

Built into the cliffs just above the crashing Tasman Sea, the Bondi Baths at the edge of Sydney’s most famous beach have been iconic for more than a century.

Bondi Icebergs Pool, Sydney, Australia

Because the pools are concrete, the water here is actually colder than the sea, and in rougher weather you might get pummelled by a rogue wave. Nothing like a soothing dip, eh!?

Fancy a dip in a national monument? Plunge into the two saltwater swimming pools of Piscina das Marés, sunk into the rock of Leça da Palmeira beach, Matoshinhos, a fishing village north of Porto.

Piscinas das Marés, near Porto, Portugal

After a swim to work up an appetite, follow the coastline north to his Boa Nova Tea House, an alluring Michelin-starred restaurant with wraparound views of the fuming Atlantic.

Porto de Galinhas, south of pulsating Recife, manages to stand out thanks to a scattering of turquoise and aquamarine inlets a short boat ride from its fine, white sand.

Porto de Galinhas, near Recife, Brazil

Fisherfolk ferry visitors to these natural pools, formed between the beach and the sheltering reef, in distinctive triangular-sailed jangadas (small sailing vessels) for R$25 per person.

Sea Point Pavilion is a splashy, noisy, summer-long swim party. It’s got a lap pool, a diving pool and two kiddie pools – all saltwater, with some refreshingly fed directly from the adjacent ocean.

Sea Point Pavilion, Cape Town, South Africa

Then spread out on the lawn with a picnic and watch the clouds floating above the peak of Lion’s Head. It’s hard to imagine a more scenic public pool in either hemisphere; not to mention – no sharks!

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