The Best Places in the World to Swim

Whether you’re diving into the deep caldera of an extinct volcano or skimming along the top of crystal-clear waters, the world offers many truly awesome places for a beautiful swim. Here are the 5 best places that you’ll find anywhere on earth.

Manly Beach, Sydney

Reachable via what has to be the world’s most breathtaking ferry ride-the boat directly passes the city’s world-famous opera house and provides on-the-water views of the towering Sydney Harbour Bridge, Manly is everything that a beach should be-soft sand, lovely water, and beautiful sunsets. Swim or surf here ’til the sun goes down, then stroll The Corso, a pedestrian street lined with shops and restaurants.

Punta de Mita, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

Located in the heart of Mexico’s stunning Riviera Nayarit, the wavy Pacific waters that surround this peninsula afford some of the very best surf in the world for longboarders and stand-up paddle boarders (the bustling nearby beach town of Sayulita hosts an annual competition for both, one of the biggest anywhere). Celebs-including Lady Gaga-have come down here to learn, and often stay in one of the neighbouring beach houses, or the St. Regis and Four Seasons resorts on the peninsula.

Panama City Beach, Florida

While much of the good press goes to the sun spots further south on the peninsula (Miami, Tampa, Key West), Florida’s very best beach is up on the panhandle. With sugary white sand-composed of quartz, not the grainier, brown silica found in most of the state-Panama City Beach sits at the heart of the Emerald Coast, a stretch of very clear, very warm, very emerald Gulf of Mexico water. Walk the beach, then spend the evening at Pier Park, a remarkable shopping complex that’s steps from the sea and keeps up the beach theme.

Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Perhaps the best place in the world to be seen, this curving beach boasts some of Brazil’s very finest curves. While it’s perhaps most famous for the skimpy bikinis (and, yes, Speedos) that can always be found here on a sunny day, this it truly is a great place for a dip in the South Atlantic. Afterward, dry off with a game of foot volley, a form of beach volleyball unique to Rio and its cariocas, then bed down at a beautiful spot like the Sofitel Copacabana, which is perched on the prime spot where Copacabana meets Ipanema.

Long Beach, Tofino, B.C.

Although its waters can be chilly (even in the summer), Vancouver Island’s Long Beach-which is surrounded by the majestic, temperate rainforest of Pacific Rim National Park-is an almost mystical place. Mists roll in off the grey, crashing waters, the long span of sand is lined with driftwood, and people swim and surf to small, rocky islands that are only visible at low tide. Spend the day, then stay nearby at a luxe beach house like those at Pacific Sands Beach Resort, which sits directly on nearby Cox Bay.