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The world’s most spectacular tidal and seaside pools

By Dana Ter on January 24, 2022 in Eboo's Trips

We might be in the throes of winter though we can still daydream of sunnier days ahead. Beaches and oceans come to mind, but ever tried swimming in a tidal pool? Carved into rocks, whether naturally formed over hundreds of years or man-made, it's possible to have the best of both worlds – pool and ocean – by swimming in a tidal pool. They are close to nature and marine life but without the worry of waves or currents. Go on – take the plunge!

1. Porto Moniz, Madeira, Portugal

Carved into volcanic rock in the Madeira islands are the natural saltwater pools of Porto Moniz. The stunning turquoise pools created by volcanic lava are constantly refilled with waves from the ocean. Take a dip and look out into the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean, at white foam crashing on craggy rocks that jut out from the sea, or skywards at the island's green mountains.

2. Treyarnon, Cornwall, England

A popular surf beach, Treyarnon Bay also has a tidal pool hidden within mussel and barnacle-crusted rocks on the sand. Waves crash over the sides during high tide, making it dangerous for swimming, but in low tide, it's a nice natural pool, almost two metres deep in some parts. Keeping swimmers company are limpets, starfish and other wondrous temperate-climate sea creatures.

3. Giola, Thassos, Greece

Also known as Aphrodite's Tear, the legend is that Zeus created this tear-shaped lagoon on a rocky cliff on the south coast of Thassos for Aphrodite to bathe in – or it was formed from millions of years of waves beating on a natural growing rock pool. Either way, a swim in this unbelievably turquoise pool by the Aegean Sea is a transcended experience. The most popular way of entering the pool is jumping in – somersaults are optional – though climbing out is a little more challenging.

4. Queen Joan's Baths, Sorrento, Italy

Called Bagni della Regina Giovanna in Italian, this swimming hole by Roman ruins is also the stuff of legends. It's believed that Queen Joanna I of Naples entertained her secret lovers in this pool in the 14th century, and indeed, the hike it takes to arrive at it makes the experience akin to discovering something magical. Trees with branches twisting in all directions shroud the cliffs around the lagoon, and the pool itself, which shifts from algae green to deep blue, is fed by an arched rocky opening to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Jump in, swim, then dry off the Italian way – sunbathing on rocks.

5. Plage de Bon Secours, Saint-Malo, France

On the north coast in Brittany, Plage de Bon Secours is the ultimate low-key but chic French summer bathing experience. The seawater pool unfolding into the English Channel opened in 1937, a period between the wars where seaside activities were in vogue. Make an entrance via the diving board or simply soak in the cold, clear waters and watch sailboats glide on the channel as Saint-Malo is also home to a sailing school.

6. Copenhagen Harbor Baths, Copenhagen, Denmark

Outdoor baths in the middle of a city might seem a curiosity but not in this Scandinavian country where work and leisure meld easily. An urban planning marvel, this series of pools along the city's waterfront opened in 2002. After work is a popular swimming time, as are weekends and long summer days. The main pool is Islands Brygge where a staircase to nowhere is often used as a diving board.

7. Azenhas do Mar, Sintra, Portugal

The land of fairy-tale castles has other sorts of magic, too. Azenhas do Mar, which means “watermill of the sea," rests at the bottom of a cliff with many white-walled, red-roofed houses. A popular summer retreat for Lisbon's wealthy throughout the 20th century, the natural saltwater pool refilled by the Atlantic Ocean is a must-visit. Wait until low tide to take a swim here – when the ocean pulls back, algae-covered rocks on a golden stretch of sand are revealed.

8. Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, Cliftonville, England

Underneath the chalk-white cliffs of Kent, Walpole Bay Tidal Pool covers a whopping four acres. Opened in 1937, Walpole is still the largest saltwater pool in the UK and it was also an engineering feat as each concrete block fastened in the sea to demarcate this pool weighed about one ton. The pool disappears at high tide and reappears when the tide is low. Walk the seaweed-covered footpaths around the pool and dive in the cold water – it doesn't get more refreshing than this.

9. Bondi Icebergs

Speaking of cold water, the world's most photographed pool also has one of the most freezing waters. Nevertheless, to swim in the Bondi Icebergs pool is a rite of passage for beach lovers – and it's a beautiful sight, especially when white foam from the South Pacific Ocean washes in, creating gentle ripples in the pool. Consisting of a 50-metre Olympic-sized pool and a smaller children's pool, the Icebergs is synonymous with the prestigious swimming club which began in 1929. Come during winter and watch the members brave the icy waters.

10. Kitsilano Pool, Vancouver, Canada

Lovingly called “Kits Pool" by Vancouverites, Kitsilano could easily be mistaken for an ocean. It's massive – nearly three times the length of an Olympic swimming pool and the largest saltwater pool in North America. Constructed in 1931, and opened from May to September each year, it has views of the ocean, mountains and Vancouver skyline. What's better is that it's heated so it's possible to swim in here for hours.

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