One thing that I always associate with travel – or more accurately, holidays – is swimming. Ever since I was a little girl, I have been obsessed with it. There is a photo of me, taken when I was about four years old, that is incontrovertible proof of this fact. I am wearing swimmers and a snorkel and I am standing in a field full of wildflowers. It is pertinent to note that I was in Katoomba and it was the middle of winter. Katoomba, for those of you who don’t know, is about two hours away from the nearest beach and is about five degrees Celcius at the best of times.
Now that it’s December (woo hoo!), we have three long, hot months ahead of us. It seems like a good time to tell you about my favourite swimming spots;
- Bendemeer Creek (about 45 minutes north of Tamworth, up the New England Highway) – I grew up in the country and therefore have a deepseated love of manky smelling rivers, fringed by willows and creaking with crickets. Bendemeer is particularly heavenly. Big, smooth granite boulders punctuate the clean spring water and honeysuckle grows on the banks. Even thinking about it makes me breathe a little easier.
- Barton Springs (about half an hour out of Austin, Texas) – Texas is a really, really hot place. A ‘breeze’ is not dissimilar to standing in front of a hairdryer the size of a house. Barton Springs is the antidote to this extraordinary heat. It is a natural spring and therefore joint-seizingly cold. For the first minute, it’s paralysing, for the next five minutes it’s reviving and in the final minute, it becomes unbearable.
- Phrom Lok Waterfall (Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, Southern Thailand) – Never before have I seen such beauty. Phrom Lok is a four tiered waterfall surrounded by tropical jungle. There are hundreds of pools that have been carved into the rock, many of which are filled with tiny silver fish that swarm around you, caressing your legs. Interesting fact: most Thai people swim fully dressed, especially women (for anyone who has ever tried to wriggle out of soaking wet jeans, you are aware of the challenges this presents).
- The Great Barrier Reef (off the coast of Airlie Beach, North Queensland) – Snorkelling on the reef makes you totally understand how the Beatles came up with the song, ‘An Octopus’s Garden’ . The Great Barrier Reef offers pure, transcendental psychedelia. So many colours, so many creatures, so much movement and magic. I followed the graceful progress of a sea turtle for what seemed like hours. Fifteen years later, it’s still one of the most spiritually moving experiences of my life.
- Mana Island (Fiji) – The water is bath tub warm and crystal clear; perfect for the temperature shy swimmer. The beach is lined with banana lounges and unbrellas – the very picture of cliched relaxation. I actually felt waterlogged when I left Fiji because I spent more time in the water than I did on land!
Where are your favourite swimming spots? Are you happy to share them with us?