Swimming amid incredibly beautiful natural settings is as exhilarating as it is peaceful. Andalucía has over 24 nature reserves so you’ll be spoilt for choice in terms of unspoilt lakes, rivers, waterfalls and reservoirs, all of which you are free to swim in. But where to go? Here are five initial ideas:
Hedionda Roman Baths, Manilva
It’s wonderfully unique to swim in the underground chambers of this sulphurous spring, which fills the remains of an ancient bathhouse dating to the 1st century BC. Though not hugely popular with tourists, locals enjoy this natural spot, especially at weekends, making the most of the water’s healing qualities as well as slapping on the curative mud scraped from the surrounding streams.
El Padrón Rock Pools, Estepona
The rugged rock pools of the El Padrón River make for excellent al fresco dips after ambling through unspoilt green valleys crammed with pine forests, lemon, avocado and fig trees. You will soon come across these deep rocky pools, ideal for taking a dip well away from summer’s beach crowds.
Charca de las Mozas, Benahavis
Not far from the approach road to the gorgeous, restaurant-filled village of Benahavis, these lovely rock pools form a natural paradise, tucked within the valley and flanked by white rocks. The main pool is over four metres deep and popular for jumping into from the rocks above. Alongside it are two smaller pools if you like taking things a little easier.
Cueva del Gato, Ronda
An idyllic mountain spot to splash in the crystal clear, icy cold waters of the ‘Cave of the Cat’, named for its cat-face shaped cave entrance. The water shoots out from an eight-kilometre complex of limestone caves (you can explore them on a specialist guided tour). Take a picnic and plunge in to cool off after a visit to Ronda.
Embalse de Zahara de la Sierra, Ronda
This huge, incredibly turquoise reservoir stretches out below the mountain village of Zahara de la Sierra in Ronda’s highlands. During spring and summer, the water is perfect for swimming or jumping into from the branches of the trees that overhang the water. You can also hire a canoe and paddle along while marvelling at the views and the blueness of the water!
These are just a few of the inland lakes and natural pools that form a delightful alternative to the Mediterranean seaboard on the Costa del Sol.