Right on Napier's sea front, Ocean Spa is a great place to spend a relaxing couple of hours. With the sea on one side and some of the city's best Art Deco buildings on the other, there are lots of distractions for swimmers doing their daily laps or for those simply taking it all in while having a hot soak. It's also an ideal spot to watch the sunset on a summer evening. If you've worked up a hunger after your swim, the onsite cafe does tasty snack food and good coffee.
42 Marine Parade, Napier, New Zealand
Phone +64 6 835 8553
Google map: tinyurl.com/2g79yg9
The ponds hidden among the trees on Hampstead Heath in North London are large natural pools complete with changing rooms and large decking areas which allow for confident dives into the water or possibly more graceful steps into the hidden depths. Once in, swimming amongst the lilly pads, reeds and low hanging branches make for the most beautiful outdoor swimming location where you can cool off and completely forget that you are anywhere near an urban setting let alone right in the middle of the countries capital.
The venue for the diving events at the 1992 Olympics, the Piscina Municipal is set into the Montjuic hillside overlooking Barcelona, so you get unbeatable views of the city while you're sunbathing. There's a large swimming pool, a separate diving pool and a small bar. A short walk away is another pool complex, the Piscinas Bernat Picornell, which hosts naked nights and 'film & swim' evenings during the Grec festival (Jul-Aug). Both cost €5.30 for the day and are a great way to cool off from the heat of the city.
Piscina Municipal de Montjuic: opposite the Parc de Montjuic funicular station. Piscinas Bernat Picornell: further up the hill on Avinguda de l'Estadi, almost directly under the spiral white tower of the Torré Telefónica.
Av. Miramar, 31, Barcelona - 08038
Google map: tinyurl.com/398nmvs
This salt water pool has been built into the Bondi cliffs overlooking Bondi Beach. The pool was created to service local life guards wanting to maintain their fitness during the winter months. You can swim in the open air pool while taking in the amazing views of Bondi beach and afterwards head upstairs to relax in the fabulous restaurant.
Kitsilano and Second Beach outdoor pools are all located adjacent to the ocean and New Brighton is not far away, and in fact the ocean is visible from the pool. All pools are clean, beautiful to swim in and really show off Vancouver's mountain to ocean scenery. I have swam at Second Beach pool in Stanley park since I was a child and when it was only full when the tide was high because it was a true salt water pool - it also had free entry then! There is a concession stand with chips etc across from the entrance. You can't beat it!
I have also swam at New Brighton Pool where the water is chlorinated but the lifeguards play jazz music from their stereo while you swim. Very relaxing atmosphere!
Kitsilano Outdoor Pool
2305 Cornwall Street
137.5 metres (150 yds x 60 ft wide)
Fresh water 25C (77F)
Zero depth entry to 9 feet
The Kitsilano pool is 137 metres of heated bliss. The water is a mixture of salt and fresh.
Open from the middle of May to the first week in September. The rest of the year, the seagulls enjoy it immensely.
Bus #2 or #22 south on Burrard to Cornwall
Second Beach Pool
Free form with 50 metre lanes
Zero depth entry to 5 ft Temp 27C (80F)
The beautiful Second Beach pool, like the Kitsilano Pool, is right on the beach. It is also in Stanley Park in a beautiful setting. This is a very kid friendly pool designed for maximum fun. If you're an early riser, Second Beach Pool is a wonderful early morning destination, even when it's closed because it's a serene sight in a serene location.
New Brighton Pool is located on North Windermere Street near 'Playland' and the Second Narrows Bridge.
For one of the best outdoor pools in cities, you can't beat the Tinside Lido in Plymouth. Beautifully & lovingly restored. A place for all ages to enjoy a swim, have a lazy relaxing time, as well as, meet and make new friends. It has those beautiful Art Deco lines you would expect and so much more. A must see sight for swimmers and Art Deco lovers alike.
Hoe Road, Plymouth, PL1 3DE
Google map: tinyurl.com/2wuun34
This public outdoor swimming pool complex is set below a raised promenade off Beach Road in Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa. Situated between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean it comprises an Olympic sized, filtered seawater pool, two splash pools and a diving pool.
Above and alongside the sea, the spray from breaking waves that occasionally land over the boundary railing reminded us of our location, at the southern end of the African continent.
The sound of seagulls overhead, the visual pleasure of seemingly limitless open ocean as you cool off on a hot Cape summer's day and the imposing yet restful backdrop of Table Mountain make this outdoor pool quite special.
The aromas from BBQs on the adjacent grassed area encourage locals and tourists from all walks of life and is the ideal spot to relax after a refreshing dip beneath blue skies.
Whatever your swimming level it is an affordable day out and costs adults around R9,50 while children pay R6,00. Die-hard swimmers meet in the winter months as it is open all year round from mid-April to mid-October (08:30 -17:00) and in the more popular summer season from mid-October to mid-April (07:00 -19:00) when swimming just prior to sunset and the onset of the evening precede a lazy stroll along the paved coastal path, ice-cream in hand.
Sea Point Pavilion, Cape Town
Address: Beach Road, Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa
Phone: (+ 27) 021 434 3341
Google map: tinyurl.com/32momns
It's got a spectacular view of Kowloon - both by day and also at night - when the neon signs light up the Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district. Part of the top floor health club for guests, this is a great place to relax, unwind and keep fit when enjoying a visit to Hong Kong, and it gives a fresh perspective on the place.
Saturday morning and a moorhen is busy repairing her nest. Nearby a new brood cluster, while one bravely ventures out over the still water. Trees overhang in heavy green and reeds, bushes and white flowers tussel for poolside seats - for this is Hampstead Heath swimming ponds and the swimmers are visitors to this natural wonderland. Brought up in nearby Archway, these cool waters drew me in after hot days at school and then later after work office. The secluded green fields around the ponds are perfect for laying out to dry in the sun with the weekend papers and a carton of juice. There are three pools, one for women, one for men and a mixed pond, all complete with showers, changing rooms, lifeguards and wooden decks to access the deep water. Each time I have brought a friend, its such a pleasure to see their glee as they swim with ducklings or float on their backs under the blue sky, worlds away from the bustling city that lies just across the park.
Arriving in Cairns we looked forward to our first swim, alas after checking out the signs about jellyfish, mudflats off the foreshore and talk from the locals about the two crocs that were found in the swimming nets a couple of days before our arrival, the sea seemed out of the question but not the swimming lagoon. In glorious sunshine, sitting alongside backpackers and babies we spent the day making the most of the water, changing rooms, lockers and lifeguards, strolling to one of the many close restaurants in the evening. There are also free early morning fitness activites run at the lagoon, like yoga and pilates. What a way to start the day!
Once in the city centre just follow the signs to the Esplanade - you can't miss it.
The view of the Kitsilano outdoor pool on Google Earth was enough to make me think about wearing my swimming costume under my clothes for the entire flight to Vancouver to save me time on arrival (I didn't!).
Kitsilano pool is located on the west side of Vancouver on the edge of the ocean in the vibrant neighbourhood of Kitsilano. It was originally constructed in 1931 and extends to a fantastic 137 metres, which means you only need to swim 11 lengths to complete a mile!! It is a heated salt-water pool with views towards Vancouver's high-rise West-End across English Bay and the North Shore Mountains beyond. The pool is large enough to accommodate all - roped off lanes for lap swimmers, a shallow section for families and a deeper end for casual bathers.
Post-swim you can head to one of the great organic cafes in the centre of Kitsilano or one of the growing number of micro-brewery bars and restaurants - it's a just reward for a few 137 metre laps!
2305 Cornwall Avenue, Kitsilano
Walkable from Kitsilano. Bus services regularly run from the centre of Vancouver to Kitsilano.
A fantastic, super modern, two-stage revolving cable car which whisks you up 1,660m from the olive groves at lake level to a very impressive top station. Great coffee, panoramic views north and west over the blue lake to the high snow-capped mountains of the Adamello and east towards the Adige Valley.
Take the Alta Via di Monte Baldo south along the ridge and climb through flower strewn meadows and along rocky winding paths to the highest point, Cima Valdritta at 2,218m. So many picnic sites it is almost impossible to select just one.
Return to the cable car for the descent. If you have the energy (and a bike) cycle north from Malcesine and take an early evening swim from one of the many pebbly bays. The water is crystal clear. Then eat in a lakeside restaurant. A perfect day.
Malcesine, Provincia di Verona
On eastern shore of Lake Garda.
Munich is the place to be when you like sauna. Most public swimming pools have a 'sauna landschaft', which means: an extensive sauna for very moderate prices. The one I like most is Dantebad: very modern and clean, and a pleasant atmosphere. From 7.30 till 23.00; Monday is for ladies only.
Cortona is a pocket sized town in northern Tuscany. It's a two and a half hour train ride from Rome and with a bit of searching, B&B and self catering accommodation are reasonable. The public swimming pool is located on the edge of the town and even in the heat of August is rarely busy. Prices change year on year but tend to be around 5E for an adult for an all day visit (sun beds are currently free). If you want an Italian holiday and can't afford a three-bedroomed villa with a pool, this is the place for you. The pool is a 15 minute stroll from the centre of town where many of the B&Bs are located. You can wander through the local park, plonk yourself on a sunbed all day and enjoy pizza and a jug of the local wine for under 10E in the charming cafe. Take your own swimming hat (you're not allowed to swim without one) and frolic in the cool, unchlorinated waters.
Parco Sportivo "G. Favilli" - just off Viale Passerini (behind Casa di Accoglienza)
Hidden away in an interior garden near Barcelona's city centre is a public paddling pool great for cooling off with kids. The Torre de les Aigues is also known as the Eixample Beach (Plaja del Eixample) and is very near Paseo de Gracia (Roger de Lluria with Consell de Cent). The park has shade, changing rooms and a sandy zone for fun with buckets and spades. Also further uptown in Gracia, the Parc Creueta del Coll located at Passeig de La Mare de Deu de Coll has a, cafe, playground, grass to lounge on and huge paddling pool open throughout the summer months. Entrance for both is two to five euros.
Family guide site to Barcelona www.kidsinbarcelona.com has information on these and other outdoor swimming pools in Barcelona
The best way to spend a hot day in Zurich is lake or river swimming. The state website lists the daily water temperatures and facilities available at each Seebad or Flussbad, and by night many turn into relaxed bars.
Long gone are the days of my childhood, spent hunting for huge, edible pink crab with my great-uncle on the rocks of West Pentire. However, Vugga Cove on Crantock beach still holds many delights for rockpoolers, young and old.
This archipelago of pools is a tapestry of oxygenating wispy lime green and the burnt umbers and siennas of bladderwrack. Skylarks sing overhead as you hunt with bucket and net for fish and crab. The tiniest of creatures await to be inspected; sea lice, baby translucent fish, shrimps. Two-inch long stickleback and little shore crabs lurk in crevices.
Later, hot and sticky from the chase, you can swim in the warmed waters of Peggy's pool before the tide sweeps in to cover it.
Crantock beach, near Newquay, Cornwall
Nothing wakes you up quicker than a dip in the icy glacier waters of Lac Bleu in Morillon, slap bang in the middle of the famous Grand Massif skiing area. The water is shockingly cold, but beautifully clear and refreshing, particularly during the hot summer months when a swim in the lake is much needed. The location is just like a scene from a postcard, with the Alps on one side and a recreational park and pine forest on the other. Even during peak season, the lake never seems to be overcrowded. This makes it ideal for family outings and picnics. My favourite part was plunging into the water from the jetty and scrambling back up, shivering, about ten seconds later.
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