When the summer sun is beating down, the best place to cool down is an old-fashioned swimming hole. Nature’s swimming pools can be found in rivers, streams, creeks or springs – as long as they are large enough, deep enough, and clean enough for people to swim, play and splash about.
Usually somewhat off the beaten path, swimming holes are the perfect remedy to crowded pools or beaches. They take us back to a simpler, more carefree time and bring out the children in all of us. So grab your swimsuit, a towel and your sense of adventure and jump into one of these sweet spots. Last one in is a rotten egg! Now – let us know: where’s the best place to get cooled off in Canada?
Sooke, British Columbia
The Sooke Potholes are a series of deep, polished rock pools, connected by rapids, waterfalls and gorges that run through the Sooke Hills forest. While these clear green pools are a popular swimming destination, there are still quiet spots where you can spend hours swimming and playing with family and friends.
The potholes were formed by pressurized meltwater and it carved a deep path through the rock during the last ice age, about 15,000 years ago – so it’s only natural that they’re a go-to spot for a cool dip on a summer day.
Quarry Lake is surrounded by a sand beach, picnic benches, hiking trails and gorgeous views of Mount Lady MacDonald and Ha Ling Peak. The lake is over 100 metres deep in some areas and fed by an underground mountain spring. Quarry Lake used to be a mining site. Now, it’s the select swimming hole for Albertans in July and August. Shh, we didn’t tell.
The Grotto at Bruce Peninsula National Park
Georgian Bay, Ontario
Feel refreshed after plunging into the crystal clear waters of The Grotto at Bruce Peninsula National Park. This lagoon-like cave was carved by the waves of Georgian Bay. Inside, sunlight pours into the cave, revealing a brilliant underwater tunnel. This is the ultimate retreat for the mind, body and soul. (Especially since many people do it naked.)
True to the name “swimming hole,” Sikome Lake is essentially a giant swimming pool surrounded by beach. On summer days, Sikome’s man-made beach and warm shallow water – approximately two metres at its deepest – is packed with children and families looking to escape the hot summer sun. Apparently, 10,000 people get the same idea on a weekend, so show up early.
The Elora Quarry is nestled in the center of the Elora Conservation. In the 1900’s, the area was an excavation site for limestone. Now, the Elora Quarry is a popular destination for cliff jumping. There is plenty to see and the locals advise that you bring a tube or an inflatable to explore around the cliffs.
Nanaimo, British Columbia
Adrenaline junkies from all over come to The Trestle to take on the infamous Trestle-jump. Do a quick YouTube search and you’ll see what I mean. Not hard-core enough for you? Bungee jumping is also offered further down the river. If you’re not Evel Knievel in training, and you prefer a more laid back approach to your summer, cool off in the river, or sun yourself on one of the smooth boulders.
Cascade Ponds is the best place to do it all this summer –that’s right; barbeque, play an outdoor sport, or take a dip. It’s a favourite local destination for family summer activities and fun. While the ponds boast awesome swimming –there are also some other neat features; outdoor picnic tables with fire pits; covered picnic shelter with a wood stove; and a generous beach area. Make a day of it at Cascade Ponds.
St. Marys Quarry
St. Marys, Ontario
St Marys Quarry is affectionately known as “Canada’s Largest Outdoor Freshwater Swimming Pool.” The water is clear, so clear in fact – that you can see the little fishies! There is a small cost to frolic in the Quarry, but word on the street is that it’s worth it. Cliff jump, practice your cannonball on one of the diving boards, or lounge on a raft. Come to the Quarry –you won’t be sorry.
Wahleach Lake, British Columbia
Jones Lake –also known as Wahleach Lake –is not only a great swimming spot, but a reservoir from which BC Hydro sources hydroelectric power. Historically, the reservoir has been used by First Nations people as a stopover while on summer hunting excursions. The reservoir is an active site, so you may notice a change in water level when water is released from the spillway. This is a great spot to swim, but make sure you’re in the designated zones. Wearing a lifejacket is always a smart idea!
Squamish, British Columbia
Grab onto the rope swing and test out your George of the Jungle-call. Take a dip after a hike or a jog on the trails surrounding Brohm Lake. The locals advise that you come on a weekday as this hot spot tends to be pretty crowded on the weekends.