Apart from a brief few days in Rome, I've stayed as close as possible to water in the past few weeks to squeeze the last out of the Northern Hemisphere summer (I'm excited to be home for a second one soon.) It's had me thinking about other watery places I've visited. Here are 10 of my favourites:
1. Lake Bacalar, Mexico. The thing to do at Bacalar, just north of the Belize border, is hire a boat crewed by chilled out corona guzzling hombres. They'll take you to the lake's centre, where you can jump into the warm water and rub lake silt all over your body as your hosts giggle at the loco foreigners (it's truly very exfoliating.) It was refreshing to encounter an area of water so cared for by locals (hotels are strictly forbidden to pump any refuse into the lake.)
2. Long Beach, Ko Phi Phi, Thailand. I wish I could say the same for Phi Phi Island in Thailand. Unfortunately, resorts pump plenty of sewage into the sea all along the coastline (Ted and I found this out the gross way as we walked back along Long Beach one night following a huge storm.) But for now at least, the water remains clear and the reef life prolific. The coloured fish so entranced me that six hours in the drink went by like a flash.
3. Lake McKenzie, Fraser Island, Australia. If this sand ringed lake in the middle of the forest was gorgeous on the rainy day I visited, it must be a real pearler in the sun (and it is, judging from the pics I've seen.) The white sand acts as a filter for the rainwater, which means the lake supports little life, it's so pure. Except for the humans who float in its green, blue or turquoise depths - depending on the light. Just keep an eye on the dingos that roam the lakeside.
4. The Mediterranean. You haven't seen clear water (or seen through it) until you've swum in the Med. Of the places I've stayed on the water's edge, I can't single out a destination I liked best - they're all so good. Most recently we rubbed shoulders with the rich, famous and botoxed in Cannes. It's one of those places where the water is just cold enough to be refreshing, but warm enough that you never want to get out.
5. Lake Taupo, New Zealand. It'd be criminal to talk about water without talking about Aotearoa's splash worthy H20. If you're like me and take a yearly holiday at one of the bays around our largest lake (Kinloch represent), it'll hold a special place in your heart. It could be a controversial choice for South Islanders though which is why I'm including...
6. Lake Wanaka, New Zealand I'm sure Wanaka has taken the breath away from many of us and not just because of its stunning snow capped mountain views (although they certainly help). I visited in October, when the melt had just begun its journey, I presume, straight into the lake. I dived, I froze, I screamed, I got out (but I will go back when it's hotter.)
7. Cenotes, Mexico. Take your pick of Mexico's thousands of icy cenotes: holes of fresh blue water, created by ancient cave systems throughout the Quintana Roo province. A dip in here will cure the humid sweats in a moment. Try to avoid the ones occupied by alligators though.
8. Sava Lake, Belgrade, Serbia. It's not much to look at but Belgrade's manmade lake, where thousands flock on summer weekends, is an oasis on a 40-degree day. Especially because the two tantalising rivers that cut through the city aren't swimmable due to pollution - the big teases.
9. The Lake of Constance. Take your pick of countries, this sensational lake is surrounded by four of them: Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Lichtenstein. I've only visited the German part so I can't judge the others, but from what I saw I'd say the whole thing is pretty darned picturesque. Take a boat ride to get a closer view of the Swiss Alps, or visit one of the medieval towns on the lake's edge. My favs were Lindau and Meersburg. I was shocked that I had to pay to swim here (we're not in Kansas anymore) but it was totes worth my 4 euros.
10. And last but far from least, Summer Bay, aka Palm Beach, NSW, Australia. Where you can stone the flaming crows with dramatic Home and Away-esque beach fights that end with one or more parties glowering out to sea. Not only is it famous for Australia's (and N.Z's?) favourite soap, but the sand at Palm Beach is very lyable, and the water very swimmable. And if you get into trouble? You'll be saved by the Summer Bay Surf Lifesaving Club of course.
I'm not river-ist - I've just run out of room for them (Hawke's Bay's Ngaruroro is at the top of my list, and a friend recently shocked me by telling me he swam in the Amazon - with the piranhas. Carazy) So let me know your most loved watery places with a special emphasis on rivers (bear in mind there's a new comments system on Stuff that requires you to sign up with a user name you'll keep forever.)
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