A women cools down in a river.

Appalachian Trail, Connecticut © Aurora Photos / Offset

A swimmer wades in the water of a sea cave in Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, California.

Sea cave, Sunset Cliffs, San Diego, California © Robert Benson / Aurora Photos / Offset

There’s something special about swimming holes. They’re private, secret, and mysterious in a way that borders on the clandestine. A telling entry from Urban Dictionary defines “swimming hole” as the following: “A natural body of water used by all the cool kids in a given area. Uncool kids aren’t welcome there.”

Whoever penned that humorous description was onto something. Do a quick internet search of swimming holes around the world, and you’ll see the ones that appeal the most to travelers are those that are hidden from preying eyes. The ancient Hawaiians understood it. The Queen’s Bath in Kauai was for many years the sole territory of the royals, who were thought to have been born from a divine and sacred line. The allure of swimming holes lies in part in their exclusivity.

It’s easy to see why swimming holes are among the most coveted places on earth. Some of them are so bewitching they look like they’re from an entirely different planet. In Havasu Falls, for instance, the water is rich with magnesium and calcium carbonate, which set it aglow with an uncanny turquoise tinge. At Wadi Shab mountain ravine in Oman, the nearby date and banana trees make the hot air as fragrant as the deep green waters are beautiful. Others were carved from igneous rock formations, forged from hot lava.

We combed through Offset’s collection of work by international photographers to find the most exquisite depictions of the world’s swimming holes, from Italy to California, Iceland to Puerto Rico. Some are well-known, and others are a bit more low-key and hidden. At the risk of exposing all their secrets, we present them here, for your enjoyment.

Havasu Creek

Havasu Creek, Arizona © Gabe Rogel / Aurora Photos / Offset


On the river bank © Tom Fowlks / Offset


Resting by the lake © Elijah Solomon Hurwitz / Offset


Tanama River Cave, Puerto Rico © Galeries / Offset

Young woman standing in the water of the river Soca on the Alpe-Adria-Trail / Boca, Tolmin, Slovenia

The River Soca on the Alpe-Adria-Trail in Boca, Tolmin, Slovenia © LOOK / Offset

good vibes

Sunset, Elektrenai, Lithuania © Karolis Janulis / Offset

Swimming in Queens bath Kauai

Queen’s Bath, Kauai © Kyle Ledeboer / Aurora Photos / Offset

Lone woman sitting in hotspring in California.

Hot spring, Eastern Sierra, USA © Aurora Photos / Offset


The Guatemalan rainforest © Axel & Berg / Offset

Wadi Shab, Oman.

Wadi Shab, Oman © Jacob Maentz / Offset

A young woman enjoys a calm swimming hole, the Blue Hole, near Wimberley, Texas.

The Blue Hole near Wimberley, Texas © Aurora Photos / Offset


A river in the Scottish Highlands © Format Selects / Offset

High angle view of a woman bathing in a cave pool in Hawaii, USA.

A cave pool in Hawaii, USA © Mint Images / Offset


Diving into a tidal pool along the coast of Tenerife, Spain © Dana and George / Offset

Offset is a curated collection of commercial and editorial photography and illustration from award-winning artists around the world. Photographers who wish to join the Offset artist community are welcome to apply here.

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