We learned to dive a few years ago with Nature Island Dive in Soufriere and have since been back every year. The diving is sensational - really unspoilt (not that many tourists) with lovely corals and fantastic sealife. Turtles on almost every dive, seahorses, frogfish, huge shoals of creole wrasse, jacks etc and occasional sharks. The best sites are the least dived - with pristine reefs. All dives must be guided as it is a marine reserve. There are divers from the cruise boats but they are taken to limited sites so if you stay for a few days/weeks ask to go to other sites such as Scotts Head Pinnacle, West End, Craters Edge, Condo as well. The boat rides are short from Soufriere.
Dominica is a wonderful island - the Atlantic coast is amazing for views and walking. The Dominican people are really friendly and proud of their country although you can see and feel the changes happening on the island.
Getting around is, er, interesting. Cars/jeeps can be hired but driving isn't easy due to the poor roads, enormous potholes and other drivers. We have preferred to use the little cheap and interesting buses where possible.
You can buy fish from the fishermen in Soufriere and Scotts Head - they don't sell reef fish fortunately.
The Saturday market in Roseau is great fun - and good value. The fruit on the island is amazing - pineapples have a totally different taste than when eaten in Europe.
I'd recommend staying outside of Roseau - not the prettiest place on the island. Dive shops will arrange accommodation according to your budget and preferences.
If you stay in the south, walk up to Galion village and the top of Scotts Head for the best views in the Caribbean.
A peninsula linked to the mainland by a causeway, with a lovely taverna, a sunken city, a byzantine mosaic, and lovely small beaches to enjoy.
Take the sharp turning to the east when driving to Elouda, drive along the causeway by the venitian salt flats, over the hump backed bridge, and enjoy.
Google map: bit.ly/kUoBVM
I grew up in Portugal and one of my fondest memories is escaping the crowded beaches around Lagos and heading inland to Bravura. The summer months bring thousands of tourists to the coastal areas of the Algarve, desperate for sunshine and a chance to sample the local cuisine and culture. For those who cannot stand a packed beach and want a place to swim where you aren't diving to avoid over-enthusiastic children on their boogey boards, I suggest taking the drive up to the reservoir. Once there you are presented with quite literally a plethora of dirt roads leading into the unknown but which invariably end up taking you to some deserted cove that for a day you can claim as your own. During the summer months the waters catch the light and are often a vivid green. You can swim to your heart's content surrounded by Eucalyptus forest and the smell of the local 'sticky bush'. You won't hear cars or shouting but instead the occasional splash of a black bass or carp playing in the shallows. Once you have satiated your desire for seclusion you can continue along the mountain roads all the way to Monchique, the extinct volcano and eat piri-piri chicken in one of the many restaurants and watch the sun drop over the horizon.
Approx 15-40 minute drive from Lagos depending on the time of day and how lost you want to get.
It is sign posted although once of the main roads you are on your own.
A tranquil green oasis where you can float indolently in the soft translucent waters of the Rio Ceira. Explore up stream beneath the overhanging trees in the deep water above the weir or slosh in the shallows at its foot. Cross a plank bridge and spread your picnic blanket on one of the small shady islands and snooze in the heat of the day. Later, wander along the riverside boardwalk to the small town to find a cafe or an ice-cream.
Gois, 20km west of Lousa in the Beira Baixa region of Portugal
Google map: bit.ly/g1PVg9
As far as I know, British weather doesn't really allow us to have outdoor waterparks like Aqualand but it's worth heading to the continent just for them. In particular, Aqualand St Cyr is a great way to spend a hot summer's day if you want to be away from the chaos of Med beaches. There are rapids, pools of all sorts for over excited kids but also a great creperie and 'espace détente' where parents can rest.
Mas des capellans, 66750 St Cyprien
Google map: bit.ly/dLPDm9
ZAC des Pradeaux
83270 ST CYR SUR MER
tél : 0044 4.94.32.08.32
fax: 0044 184.108.40.206.02
On a week's holiday in Reykjavik last November, I went swimming every morning outside(!) in the thermal pool at Vesturbaejarlaug.
The pool is in a suburb of Reykjavik and filled with all the local grannies gossiping in the (very) hot tubs and school children doing lengths. There is a sauna and steam room and it's a fabulous way to mix with the locals and get a real taste of Reykjavik life. So refreshing. It's great to walk around outside in just your swimming costume, you don't feel cold, but if you do, the hot tub will cook you up like a lobster.
Hofsvallagata, 107 Reykjavik
+354 411 5150
Google map: bit.ly/hj16Fw
Open Mon-Fri 06.30—22.00
Entry 360ISK adult, 110ISK for 6-18 years, free for seniors and under 6
Sauna 450ISK extra
Entry, towel, swimming costume 850ISK
Entry, towel, swimming costume, sauna 950ISK
Outdoor heated pool close to the railway station in this Peak District village. We enjoyed a lovely, semi-private family swim on a drizzly early July weekday morning, followed by fabulous fish and chips in the pretty cafe. There's a grassy area for relaxation on warmer days. Explore Hathersage and arrive by the scenic rail route for a relaxing outing for all. Not suitable for total non-swimmers but fine for a five-year-old happy in the water.
The 50-metre outdoor pool at Eriksdalsbadet in central Stockholm was built for the 1962 European Aquatics Championships and is an oasis in the summer heat for children and adults alike. But what makes this pool so special is what happens the last weekend before it closes for the summer, when it’s transformed into Popaganda; a two day festival with an impressive line-up. Artists this year include Robyn, Hot Chip, Elle Goulding, Belle and Sebastian, The Concretes and Shout Out Louds. Where else can you go for a cool swim whilst watching some of the hottest bands around, all in the heart of a capital city?
This is an amazing pool in Stockholm. It's got a roof, so whether it can be officially classed as outdoor could be debated. However, as it's built on a pontoon floating on the Hornstullstrand in southern Stockholm, it definitely feels like an outdoor pool. However, it comes with one overriding advantage: the water is maintained at a balmy 30C, so perhaps it's more of a bath. You can certainly swim in it though, at nearly 20 meters in length. It's as popular as ever, despite being over 80 years old and is still maintained in the original late-20s style. They also have regular sessions with classical music accompaniment. Very Swedish and very civilized.
Bergsunds Beach 2
117 38 Stockholm
Bristol's Lido, tucked away in the heart of Clifton, predates the nearby famous suspension bridge and is more than just an outdoor pool. Since its stylish transformation you can also relax in the poolside bar, savour food from the Italian wood-fired oven in the restaurant in the former Victorian viewing gallery, or be pampered in the spa. It's a perfect place for a swim all year round in the solar panel-heated pool. But go at night, under the stars, and you're in heaven.
There is nothing so wonderful and bizarre as walking outside in February in your bathing suit and getting into an outdoor thermal pool. At Szechenyi you can swim, relax or even play chess on the tops of stone pillars. It is open from 6am to 10pm every day, but the thermal pools close an hour earlier. A variety of fitness and spa treatments are available but it is rejuvenating just to be there.
The bath is situated in the City Park, on the Pest side of the capital. By public transportation, it is easy to reach on metro line 1 (yellow line). By car, it is close to where the M3 freeway runs into town. From downtown, the Andrassy Boulevard stretches out to Heroes Square, and the bath is a few hundred metres beyond the square.
Address: H-1146 Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 11.
Google map: tinyurl.com/3ye5dak
Swimming in the inky dark pool at Bristol's recently renovated lido is a delicious winter's evening pleasure(summer lovers may disagree). If the chill air gets too much, jump into the hot tub or sauna for heat then plunge back into the dark pool to start the cycle again. Deckchair-striped, curtained shower/changing rooms line one side of the pool and a tasty glass fronted caff borders the other. All in all sublime.
Swimming in the inky dark pool at Bristol's recently renovated lido is a delicious winter's evening pleasure(summer lovers may disagree) if the chill air gets too much, jump into the hot tub or sauna for heat then plunge back into the dark pool to start the cycle again. The gaily, deckchair striped, curtained shower/changing rooms, line one side of the pool and a tasty glass fronted caff borders the other. All in all sublime.
Converted from an old barge, the Badeschiff pool in Berlin floats on the river Spree. Open air in summer the wooden decks heave with sun and fun seekers. In winter the pool and decks are covered with cocoon like white canvas pods. You can chill on loungers, indulge in a sauna and dive into the cool blue in the nude if that takes your fancy.
Jesus Green Swimming Pool is situated in the heart of Cambridge alongside Jesus Lock on the picturesque River Cam.
Built in 1923, this is Cambridge's oldest pool and is one of the 50 or so remaining examples of the lidos which were built during the 1920/1930’s. With a 100 yard lane length and 15 yard width, it is also one of the largest such pools still in operation today.
The pool is unheated with daily temperatures chalked on a blackboard at the entrance gate. For my visit today, the pool temperature was a heady 20 deg C but be warned temperatures can be much lower out of season.
Surrounded by trees, this is a great place to visit on a summer’s day. When you have had enough swimming, there are grassed areas with benches for picnicking, reading and sunbathing. The lifeguards are friendly and accommodating which gives the pool a laid-back, relaxed atmosphere.
On cooler days, you can almost have the pool to yourself – ideal for serious lane swimmers.
There are spacious changing rooms with hot water showers and a basket room for storing clothes. The daily entrance fee covers multiple entries so it is possible to venture out into Cambridge for lunch or a spot of shopping and return later in the day.
Chesterton Road, Cambridge, CB4 3PX
Phone: (01223) 302579.
Google map: tinyurl.com/38paas8
A little slice of heaven in the middle of Hyde Park. The lido is part of the Serpentine - a whole 100 metres roped off in the lake itself, just for swimming, be it a leisurely paddle or energetic workout. You can spend the whole day here for £4 which has to be the capital's best bargain! The lake water is cool and refreshing on a hot summer day so much better than chlorine or salt water. There is a little area to bask in the sunshine, a cafe, changing rooms and even a paddling pool for kids, but the real star is the refreshing dark lake water. If you are lucky it will just be you and the ducks - bliss!
I can't think of any place I would rather be on a warm summer day than jumping into the cool clean water of the outdoor pool in Oslo's lovely Frogner Park. You can admire the statues by Gustav Vigeland while dangling your feet in the water, and watching your children splashing about in the children's pool one level down. The pool is a full 50m long and there are also diving boards at 1, 3, and 5 meters. Entry is by single admission or "klippkort". Can't wait to get there!
Entry to pool on Middelthunsgate, in Majorstuen
Take tunnelbane to stop 5 min walk away.
Google map: tinyurl.com/2wod6kr
Most idyllic place for early morning dip, watching London come alive with a memorable view.
A beautiful Art Deco lido to be found across the Cornish moors, on the tail of the country. It was reopened on the 25th of May and is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Sat among its whitewashed walls it’s easy to forget which country you are in and equally hard to care. With a poolside café that looks to St. Michaels Mount and the route of the passenger ferries bound for the Scilly isles. I lay at its reopening, eating bread and cheese and imagined I was on Tracey Island.
When the sun shines the Danish really know how to enjoy it. If you manage a trip to Copenhagen in the summer months, do not miss this outdoor swimming spot which pretty much sums up the Danish attitude to design: simple, effective and beautiful. Kastrup Søbad literally meaning sea bath, is a large wooden pavilion leading from the beach. The structure undulates and curves creating a buffer from sea winds and various points for sitting, sunbathing and diving into the Baltic Sea. The lowest level steps down into the water and contains showers and lockers. The highest point gives fantastic views of the beach and Sweden across the sea. The surroundings are brilliant for walking, biking and roller-skating. There is also a marina and facilities nearby for wind surfing, kite surfing and canoeing.
An easy ten minute walk from Femøren underground station along the beach. The station is on a line between Copenhagen and Copenhagen airport, it takes a maximum of 15 minutes from the centre of town and trains are frequent.
Amager Strandvej 301, 2770 Kastrup
Google map: tinyurl.com/3xnu6ge
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