5 Hidden Swimming Holes You Need to Find Now

From Mexico to the Ionian Sea, here are the world's best hidden swimming holes.

Thanks to a combination of TV, the Internet and progressively lower airfares over the years, many of the world's formerly remote beaches have started to seem strangely accessible. From Phuket to Bali and the islands of the Maldives, the lost paradises of the past have been found many times over, to the point where finding a beach that's actually deserted is a luxury reserved for survivors of South Pacific shipwrecks.

The good news is that the world is much bigger than the Travel Channel would have you believe – there are many, many more secluded swimming holes just waiting to be discovered. The bad news? We're about to blow the lid off five of them, so make your way there fast!

  • 01 of 05
    View of Maranhenses national park against blue sky and sand.
    Nilton Sergio Ramos Quoirin/Getty Images

    Sandwiched between the Amazon Rainforest and Brazil's northern coast is Lençóis Maranhenses, a strange sand dune landscape that remains desert-like year-round, in spite of heavy rainfall during the yearly monsoon. Although said rainfall has failed to homogenize the Lençóis Maranhenses with its adjacent jungles, it does result in brilliantly-colored freshwater lagoons between June and December, forming hundreds of delightful oases that deserts like the Sahara can only dream about.

  • 02 of 05
    Hidden Beach
    Christian Frausto Bernal/Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/CC-BY-SA-2.0

    It's pretty obvious from the name of "Hidden Beach" in Marietas Islands, Mexico that it's difficult to reach, especially if you ignore the fact that this word is absent from the beach's Spanish moniker "Playa del Amor." You'll need a permit Mexico's SEMARNAT agency to access this national park, which is off the coast of Nayarit and plays habitat to animals as diverse as manta rays, whales, and the blue-footed booby.

  • 03 of 05
    Hamilton Pools in Austin Texas
    WIN-Initiative/Getty Images

    Hamilton Pool Preserve formed thousands of years ago when an ancient grotto collapsed under the weight of an ocean that covered what is now Texas. The aesthetic of Hamilton Pool is not entirely unlike that of Mexico's Hidden Beach, although the fresh water here makes for a more cleansing swim, especially on hot, Texas summer days. Note that swimming at Hamilton Pool is often at your own risk and sometimes, due to natural bacteriological activity, it simply isn't safe.

  • 04 of 05
    Beauty of the beach at Pasir Timbul of Raja Ampat Island, West Papua, Indonesia
    jokoleo/Getty Images

    If there's one reason whose once-hidden beaches have been exposed in recent years it's Southeast Asia, which is part of why the existence of Raja Ampat in the country's remote West Papua province is so delightfully surprising. The other part probably has to do with the idyllic beauty of the coral islands, which take 24 hours to reach even from Jakarta, and are heavily protected by local conservation authorities using a combination of legislation and stiff entrance fees – over $100 per person, per entry as of November 2014.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05
    Greece. Kefalonia. Sami. Melissani Cave is a picturesque underground grotto on the Ionian island of Kefalonia (Cephalonia).
    Steve Waters/Getty Images

    You could argue that the Greek island of Kefalonia, part of the Ionian island chain in a sea of the same name off the west coast of Greece, qualifies as being an awesome hidden swimming spot all on its own. The water at beaches such as Myrtos Beach, for example, is so blue and fluorescent that photos of it seem altered. But Melissani Cave, whose look and feel are not entirely different from Mexico's Hidden Beach or Hamilton Pool in Texas, is in a totally separate class.