World's Most Beautiful Places For Open Water Swimming

This swim on the beautiful south shore of Oahu in Honolulu starts under the Diamond Head volcano. People then swim across Waikiki Bay over coral reefs to reach the finish at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The distance is just about 2.5 miles. As its name would suggest, the race is very competitive. Strong wind and high waves are a sporadic obstacle. About 1,000 people sign up every year.

Cole Classic at Manly Beach in Australia

This swim in the ocean is one or two kilometers (0.6 or 1.2 miles). It is scheduled for February 7 so you still have time to sign up. The swim started in 1983 with 101 participants as a challenge for people to see how much they can do physically and mentally. It has grown to 4,000 swimmers (a record 4,500 in 2010). The race is now one of the most anticipated community events in Sydney.

La Jolla Rough Water Swim in La Jolla, California

If you plan a vacation to San Diego around Labor Day in September, why not look into participating in America's Premier Rough Water Swim? You can join the 250 yards race or the one or three miles ones. You will enjoy the majestic view of the La Jolla Cove, around which the marine life is plentiful. The water is pristine and the temperature is around 60 degrees. The race began in 1916 with seven men. It has grown so much that organizers put a cap of 2,000 swimmers.

Vansbrosimningen in Vansbro in Sweden

The event in this difficult to pronounce city is actually Europe's largest open water swim. Women participate in a separate race. Around 10,000 people sign up for river swim that can be 1, 1.5 and 3 kilometers long, up from 10 in its first edition in 1950. The swim takes place in July. So far 5,927 have already registered.

Sun Moon Lake International Swimming Carnival in Taiwan

This is the world's largest open water swim in terms of mass participation. People swim across the lake (Jih Yueh Tan in Taiwanese), the largest freshwater lake, for 3.3 kilometers (2 miles). About 22,000, which is the maximum allowed) people take part. Separate groups based on ages and abilities start at different times. Swimmers are attracted to the beautiful view as well as the always calm water – 2,493 feet in altitude. Eligibility is open to everyone aged 10 or over.

Lake Travis Relay in Austin, Texas

This 10-12 mile, open-water swimming race's purpose is to promote clean water, conservation, awareness while having fun. The relay in the most popular lake in the state is recognized by the Austin American-Statesman as one of Austin's top ten recreation events. Six swimmers in each team have to complete a 20-minute leg, then a 15-minute leg, then 10-minute to finish the course. Only 12 solo swimmers are allowed each year.

Open Water Classic at Maracas Bay in Trinidad & Tobago

This popular swimming beach is just 30 minutes from the Port of Spain. This Out-and-back course is in a spectacularly gorgeous stretch of beach along the Caribbean Sea. The competition is one of the oldest in the Americas. The surrounding environment is quite exotic due to the jungle that expands all the way from Maracas Bay to the top of the hills on the north coast of Trinidad.

Open Water Swimming in Acapulco, Mexico

Fancy a swim in the tropics? This old coastal tourist destination has a lot to offer. Everything is beautiful in this Mexican resort.  Seeing it from the water makes it look even more picturesque. Every January the town hosts elite swimmers and beginners in a swimming spectacular. Organizers often put a limit to the number of participants due to a huge demand.

Outdoor swimming in Lake Willoughby in Vermont

Why not swim in a beautiful glacier lake? What you'll see is deep (320 feet), clean lake surrounded by steep Mountain Pisgah and Mountain Hor. Lake Willoughby has been nicknames the "Lucerne of America," the state's answer to a fjord. You can find beaches on both the north and the south end of the lake.

Midmar Mile in Midmar Damin Kwazulu Natal in South Africa

The race made the Guinness Book of World Records in 2009 for the largest competitive open water swimming event when 13,755 people finished it. The numbers haven't changed much – about 20,000 people register every year.  The course is straight-forward across Midmar Dam – one mile.

Percé Rock in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec, Canada

Perce Rock is one of the world's largest arches over water. Other than people swimming, only a small boat could pass through and only during low tide. Swim there while you still have time. Due to erosion, it won't be long before the hole disappears. The rock itself will take a few thousand years to erode completely.

Liffey Swim in the Liffey River through Dublin, Ireland

This swim is not huge when it comes to participants. Only about 400 people enter. But it's just as beautiful. Image swimming through the heart of Dublin for 1.3 miles. The event was originally held in 1920, making it among Europe's oldest, when Dublin Corporation employee Bernard Fagan wanted to prove that it was safe to swim in the river. You'll be passing through Four Court, the Hal'penny Bridge, under O'Connell Bridge. The men start at the Guinness brewery.

Open Water Swimming in Lake Atitlan, in Panajachel, Guatemala

Lake Atitlán is the deepest lake in Central America. The average depth is 720 feet. The lake is absolutely gorgeous. Everywhere you turn you see mountains, volcanoes, wildflowers, water and sunlight. San Marcos is a not so touristy town you can visit so you can swim in the lake.

Great North Swim in Lake Windermere, England

Lake Windermere is the largest lake in England, in the Lake District. Swimming there is absolutely stunning. The Great North Swim was first held in 2008 with 2,200 participants. Now that figure has grown to nearly 10,000. The lake is surrounded by green beauty but the water is cold. Wetsuits are mandatory.

Flowers Sea Swim in the Cayman Islands

Pristine water, sugar sand and friendly stingrays...Who wouldn't want to swim in the Caribbean Sea by the Seven-Mile Beach on the Grand Cayman Islands. The race is often called the world's flattest and fastest. It's only one mile. The organizers have expanded the swim to make sure there are events suitable for everyone such as the Walk-and-Watch event along the tropical beach.