10 of the best swimming holidays around the world
With water temperatures of 27C, the Sea of Cortez is so warm that, as SwimTrek puts it, “you’ll feel like you’re swimming in the bath”. Expect to feel comfortable out of the water too, spending a week sleeping in glamping-style bell tents with solar-heated showers, and enjoying fresh local food and cocktails rustled up by your team chef. Each day the swim covers 6km, passing the cliff faces and beaches of this Unesco-protected area, with plenty of opportunity to borrow sea kayaks, paddleboards or snorkels and immerse yourself in the diverse marine life.
• Seven days from £1,170, swimtrek.com
The Minoan Trail, Crete
The Big Blue Swim spent two years planning this series of swims that involves a six-day sea safari along the wild coastline of south Crete: a landscape that forms the backdrop to well-known myths and history. Starting in the village of Sfakia the journey is eastwards along rugged coastline, exploring caves and remote beaches and passing ancient ruins and churches – loading up on energy with delicious meals at local tavernas. There’s also the option of receiving filmed swimming analysis and coaching sessions, as well as the chance to hone your breathing technique with the help of a yoga specialist.
• Six days, £660, thebigblueswim.com
Snorkelling in Sri Lanka
Diveworld’s 10-day “liveaboard” tour offers the chance to swim in Sri Lanka’s tropical waters and get a close-up view of sea life, including whales and dolphins. The trips, which begin in September, use the newly built Sri Lanka Aggressor, a 44-metre yacht that has air-conditioned cabins, a dive-deck lounge, barbecue area and swim deck. The inaugural whale and dolphin snorkelling trip will set sail from the historic port of Trincomalee in eastern Sri Lanka and sea-life spotting will be under the watchful gaze of renowned naturalist Howard Martenstyn.
• 10 days from £2,455pp, including return flights from the UK, accommodation, transfers and diving, 01962, 302087, diveworldwide.com
Swim camp holiday, Poros Island, Greece
Casual dippers need not apply because one of the main rules of this swim camp is that it’s about putting in the hard lengths. Actually, this trip is aimed at those training for events and those new to open-water swimming who want try it in the warmer ripples of the Mediterranean. The seven-night break is based on the Saronic island of Poros, 50km south-west of Athens, and includes seven swims under the guidance of a professional trainer, as well as two video analysis sessions focusing on technique. Daily breakfasts are provided, as well as five lunches and four evening meals. Don’t worry about not enjoying the island’s scenic splendours as the sessions start from Askeli beach or, after a water taxi trip, from the uninhabited islands of Modi and Castle Island.
• Seven nights from £950pp (excluding flights, transfers and ferry to Poros), 020-3750 2455, vidados.com
Weekend swim trip in Lago d’Orta, Italy
The motto of this weekend break – based at the Locanda Riviere hotel on the shores of Lago d’Orta in northern Italy – is “good food, beautiful surroundings and glorious, relaxed swimming”. It sounds a perfect mix. The swimming aspect comes with one-to-one coaching, video analysis, plus guides (and a safety boat) on hand. Swimming distances are increased over the duration of the trip, from 800m up to 2km and the weekend finishes with a swim around the island of Orta San Giulio: the Basilica di San Giulio and the mid-19th century seminary on the island were transformed into a Benedictine monastery in 1976.
• 7-10 October 2016, £670pp including BB accommodation, swimquest.uk.com
Swimming adventures in Oman fjords
The Musandam peninsula in the Persian Gulf is a glorious wilderness, with dramatic red rock formations and dark blue waters, and has earned the nickname “the Norway of Arabia”. This adventurous tour explores that wilderness, with its many sea inlets, where you’re more likely to run into a dolphin than a fellow tourist. And how many swim tours come with your own dhow to have lunch on?
• Six days from £1,140, swimtrek.com
Wild swimming, north Wales
Anglesey, the lakes of Snowdon, or “anywhere in north Wales” might be the location for your time with Gone Swimming, a small company with big ambitions for tailoring its outdoor swimming holidays and day trips to your ability level and interests. Spaces are still available on its Wet Weekend three-day swimming break from 19-21 August (£250pp including expert guides, accommodation and food) but the company also offers group days out and private booking options. The first of these, open to anyone and branded Adventure Together, is aimed at groups of no more than seven, and the £60pp covers transport, a guided swim, changing robe, wetsuit hire, lunch, snacks and hot drinks. The Just Us private booking allows you to decide as much or as little of the excursion and costs £275 for up to four, then £65 per additional person.
• 07547 652821, goneswimming.co.uk
Fjord and cove swimming, Montenegro
The coastline of Montenegro is stunning and this tour takes in the Unesco-protected Gulf of Kotor, the clear waters of the Blue Grotto cave and Mamula island, known as the Montenegrin Alcatraz. There are also visits to picturesque towns found among the mountains on this week-long trip, which offers 4km of swimming a day and accommodation in a four-star hotel. Non-swimmers can join in a kayak, and beginners can combine shorter swims with walking and sightseeing. With this in mind, it’s a great compromise if you or your partner is less keen to commit to a holiday that’s completely swim-focused.
• Seven days from £786, strel-swimming.com
Lake swims and relaxing stays, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
Plunge into Fritton Lake and the choice is yours: have a fun dip or challenge yourself to put in proper distances, like some of the swimmers who use it to prepare for triathlons or swimming the Channel. Fritton Lake Outdoor Centre is in the grounds of Fritton Lake country park, itself part of the 5,000-acre Somerleyton Hall estate, and hosts weekly swim sessions – year-round, for those who want a winter swim. Pay-as-you-go swim sessions cost £6 once you’ve paid a £10 registration fee (which includes one free swim), but pre-pay for multiple sessions and the price drops. Effort expended, it may be a tempting book into the Fritton Arms at the lakeside (doubles from £130 BB). The hotel has nine bedrooms, is surrounded by parkland, and holds out the promise of an Italian wood-fired oven, which the kitchen says can roast anything from fresh pizza to Porterhouse steaks.
Glacial lake challenge, Annecy, France
Swimquest has a range of indulgent swimming holidays, including six days swimming around islets in Thailand and a swim tour around the coral reefs of the Maldives with a 32-metre yacht as a base. A bit more accessible, with perhaps a chance to meet more like-minded people, is its trip to Lake Annecy in France, where on this four-day trip you’ll take on the 14.6km swim across the huge glacial lake, either as a solo swimmer or in a relay, depending on your ability. And there’s time to relax in the tranquil Alpine surroundings either side of the marathon swim.
• From £595, swimquest.uk.com