Our Favorite Swimming Holes in the Caribbean.

By Posted in - Caribbean & Islands & cruise on March 13th, 2017 A girl floating in the sea with her legs in front of her.

Some people travel for food. Others travel for art. We travel to swim.

It’s not a conscious thing, though. And by that, I mean we don’t plan our trips around swimming the way surfers do for waves. Truthfully, it’s a fact I never realized until sitting down to write this story. As I reflected on our travels, from Iceland to Italy to Greece to Baja to the Maldives, I realized swimming has been our one constant activity.

During the last few years, we’ve traveled closer to home, because we wanted to be near loved ones. Fortunately, we got to explore the western Caribbean aboard two Carnival cruise ships. We went to the islands to swim and that’s exactly what we did.

Along the way, we discovered so many refreshing swimming holes, some on our own and others via excursions. These are our five favorite places to swim in the western Caribbean.

West Bay Beach – Roatán, Honduras

A view of West Bay Beach in Roatan, Honduras, from the water.

It doesn’t really get any prettier than West Bay Beach in Roatan. Honduras’ Bay Islands have been luring divers for years, and after our visit, I can see why. Flush with flora and fauna, sugar white sand and jewel-tone water, West Bay Beach is pure paradise. We didn’t have a lot of time, but we made the most of it. Locals sell beer and rent snorkel gear on the beach, making for a cheap and easy beach outing. And the water is exactly what you would expect: Perfect.

Cheeseburger Reef – Grand Cayman

A Life Saver at the Lobster Pot Diving School in Grand Cayman.

Diving is something that’s been on our to-do list for so long, it’s almost embarrassing we haven’t gotten certified yet. So, when we discovered an introductory scuba excursion on our first Caribbean cruise, we signed up immediately. Really, that’s where our love of Grand Cayman started. Within an hour of getting off the ship, we were in the small lagoon outside of the dive shop preparing for our first lesson. Cheeseburger Reef is just a short swim from the lagoon. I can’t think of a better place for a first dive; the reef is vibrant and full of life.

Akumal Bay – Riviera Maya

In the Mayan language, Akumal means “land of turtles.” It’s an apt description for this secluded bay in the Riviera Maya, where sea turtles are still plentiful. We discovered the bay as part of a snorkeling excursion that left from Cozumel. With its light currents and shallow depths, Akumal Bay is one of the most accessible places on the planet to swim with these majestic marine animals. We saw several sea turtles in the hour or so while we were in the water, and I got the feeling this was the norm in the bay. It’s a surreal experience to swim alongside the turtles in their natural habit and something I think everyone should experience once in life. 

Seven Mile Beach – Grand Cayman

On the beach dining and drinking at Calico Jacks in Grand Cayman.

We love Grand Cayman. It has a familiar feel to it, kind of like a Caribbean San Diego. We discovered Seven Mile Beach after diving at Cheeseburger Reef. It is a quintessential island beach—tiki bars, white sand and warm sea water. Seven Mile is the perfect spot for a beach day. And on our return trip to Grand Cayman, that’s exactly what we did. We spread out our blanket on the sand, grabbed some food and local craft beers from Calico Jack’s, and spent the day playing in the warm Caribbean sun.

Dos Ojos Cenote – Riviera Maya

Travelers snorkling at Dos Ojos Cenote in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

I learned of cenotes (pronounced cey-No-tays) from Bethany after she returned from her first trip to Riviera Maya in 2011. Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has nearly 7,000 of these underground caverns. Cenotes are formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock, which often expose turquois pools of crystal clear water. Some are simple swimming holes, while others are part of a huge underground river system. Dos Ojos (Spanish for two eyes) is a system of underground caverns connected by two caves. It is a diver’s paradise and a great cenote for swimming too. We visited Dos Ojos before Akumal Bay and had a fantastic time snorkeling in the two different caves. The water is exceptionally clear and refreshing. When it comes to swimming holes, it doesn’t get any better than cenotes.

Do you have a favorite swimming hole or beach? Let us know about it in the comments below!

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over. As always, our thoughts and opinions are entirely our own.

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(9) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Jane -

    April 1, 2017 at 1:23 am

    I have the Caribbean on my hit list, especially after a self-drive trip down through Mexico and to Honduras then Belize and El Salvador where I was so close to absorbing all the Caribbean had to offer. Thanks for some great tips and plenty of images to add to Pinterest!

  • Janet -

    April 1, 2017 at 11:55 am

    I was in Akumal last week and absolutely lived it! Was also down in Belize and the water there is unbelievable!!

  • Emily Kydd -

    April 2, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Hi there,
    Excellent list, I am on your page that when I plan travel I almost always want to be by a swimmable sea! Or in the mountains, one or the other!

    I live in Jamaica right now and have been lucky enough to check out quite a few places to swim. They say one of the best places to swim in Jamaica is the Blue Lagoon, which was one of the locations for the movie. I was there last week and the water was clear and calm! Different but still awesome is swimming in the Glistening Waters at night, which is in Falmouth Jamaica. Swimming here you stir up the microplanktons in the water that then light up and glow all around your body!

    Thanks for the Caribbean coverage!
    Emily

  • Mel I TravelingMel -

    April 2, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    All these swimming holes look warm and inviting right now! Is it called Cheeseburger Reef because that’s what you look like if you get thrashed around on the reef? 😉 One of our favorite places to swim was in the Adriatic off the coast Hvar Island, Croatia. It was December and chilly, but we just had to jump in!

  • Karen -

    April 3, 2017 at 1:00 am

    I loved this. I need to head back to Mexico as I completely missed the cenotes as well as Riviera Maya last time I was there. I swam along turtles when I was in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and I’d love to do it again.

  • Justine Cross -

    April 3, 2017 at 8:07 am

    I haven’t yet been lucky enough to venture to the Caribbean (I hope to one day of course)! My most favourite swimming session was in Hawaii – perfectly warm water, clean, fresh and pretty wildlife to marvel at! Totally my idea of a good time 🙂

  • Trish -

    April 3, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    I’m SO glad you included a cenote in this list! I spent 3 months in the Yucatan last year and cenotes were the absolute highlight of my time there. (well, I guess the pyramids were okay too!).

  • Jolene Ejmont -

    April 4, 2017 at 1:59 am

    We are in chilly Japan at the moment, so this post is just way to enticing haha!! Would give up anything to go and sunbathe in the nice warm sun! West Bay Beach looks INCREDIBLE!!! Love the colour of the water tooo!!!! Hoping to get to the Caribbean one day! 🙂

  • Rene -

    April 4, 2017 at 2:31 am

    Everytime I see a pic of Seven Mile Beach my heart skips. I lived there for a wee bit and I love it so. These swimming holes are an inspiration. Thank you. xo