NEW YORK – No resort in the Maldives, Bora Bora and Tahiti is worth their salt if they don’t boast an incredible infinity-edge pool that dreamily melds into the azure sea.
But as beautiful as these man-made pools are, it is hard to compete with one that nature has created. From travertine terraces in Turkey to waterfall pools with a 355-foot drop, these are the world’s most beautiful natural infinity pools, as compiled by Conde Nast Traveler.
Otherworldly: The travertine terraces of Pamukkale, Turkey – a Unesco World Heritage Site – have been created by the carbonate mineral in flowing water building up
Travertine Terraces – Pamukkale, Turkey
These formations created by the carbonate minerals in flowing water look otherworldly – and contain hot springs that can reach up to 100°C.
As a Unesco World Heritage Site, most of the pools are protected, with just a few remaining open for the public to enjoy.
Don’t look behind you: Devil’s Pool is adjacent to Victoria Falls in Zambia – swimmers can look out over a 355-foot drop
Devil’s Pool – Victoria Falls, Zambia
Devil’s Pool is not for the faint-hearted! Put a foot wrong, and you’re facing a 355-foot drop into the thunderous roar of Victoria Falls. The shallow pool is directly adjacent to the waterfall, however a stone wall below the surface of the water protects swimmers from getting swept over the edge.
The pools are only safe to swim in during the dry season when water levels are lower, between August and January.
Heavenly: The tiered waterfall in Laos emerges from shallow pools which cascade into a 60-foot waterfall
Kuang Si Waterfall – Luang Prabang, Laos
The Kuang Si falls are a beautiful three-tiered waterfall near Luang Prabang. The waterfall emerges from shallow pools which lead to a 60 metre drop.
Like in Pamukkale, travertine terraces have been created by flowing water over the years.
Warm water: Natural hot springs feed into the ocean in São Miguel, Portugal, creating warm bathing water in this natural rock pool amongst black lava rocks
Ponta di Ferreira – São Miguel, Portugal
There are a number of natural tidal pools in the Azores Archipelago. At Ponta di Ferreira, natural hot springs feed into the sea, creating a warm natural pool.
Swimmers have to negotiate jagged black lava rocks to reach the pool, but the cosy swim makes it well worth the effort.
Pool with a view: It’s quite a hike up to the Top Ponds at Valley View Hot Springs, but the view is worth the effort
Top Ponds, Valley View Hot Springs – Villa Grove, Colorado
An easy hike will land visitors at Valley View Hot Springs, and another 1/4 mile higher up will take them to the Top Ponds, a series of three ponds that flow into each other.
The undeveloped hot springs are surrounded by beautiful wildlife, and naturally cleaned and heated.
While the ponds further down the trail are a comfortable ‘womb temperature’, the top ponds can reach 40°C.
To infinity and beyond: Sydney has many tidal pools along its coastline, but the ones at Coogee Beach are arguably the most beautiful
Coogee Beach Tidal Pools – Sydney, Australia
Sydney is home to dozens of tidal pools along the coast, but McIvors Pool and Wylie’s Baths at Coogee Beach is arguably the most beautiful.
At hide tide, when the sea washes over the edge of the walls, it is hard to tell where the rock pool ends and the ocean begins.
While most of Sydney’s pools started out as natural rock pools, many have been developed for bathers’ comfort, with ladders, reinforced concrete walls, and railings at some.
Into the wild: Geothermal springs make the warm mineral waters of the Caldeira Velha pleasant to bathe in
Caldeira Velha – São Miguel, Portugal
Also in Azores, these geothermal springs are hidden away down a path in the rainforest. A warm water waterfall cascades into a tepid creek.
The rock wall has been turned to a rust colour because of the mineral content of the water.