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11 Swimming Holes in Southern California Everyone Should Visit

11 Swimming Holes in Southern California Everyone Should Visit

California's hot summer days are best spent taking refreshing dips in a cool bodies of water. These are SoCal's best swimming holes.


5 min read

June 07, 2024

California, it’s that time of year again—the weather is relentless, the sun is so bright, and the summer heat seems inescapable. The hot summer days are best spent enjoying the sweet relief of cold water and taking refreshing dips in natural outdoor pools. Luckily, swimming holes in Southern California are aplenty, and discovering them is half the fun.

Whether you’re planning a cute outdoor date, a fun family road trip, or a solo adventure, don your California swimwear and head to one of the best swimming holes in Southern California.

Secret Swimming Holes in Southern California

Colby Canyon features some of the best hidden swimming holes in SoCal. These granite bowl pools are the perfect spots to cool off.

1. Hidden Swimming Holes of Colby Canyon

If you’re looking to escape the crowds and the heat, the swimming holes in Colby Canyon are the perfect destinations for you. The “hidden” label of this spot is not to be taken lightly. You’ll likely realize this as you attempt to traverse the rugged paths leading to the holes. We’re warning you beforehand—wear the right shoes. 

If you do have a bit of hiking experience and are ready to tackle challenging trails, you’ll find fabulous swimming holes right around the section where Colby and Daisy Canyons meet.

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2. Under the Bridge to Nowhere

Outdoor enthusiasts—especially hikers—love going on adventures at the Bridge to Nowhere. But not many people know that right underneath this awesome hiking trail is one of the coolest secret swimming holes in Southern California. Trek the renowned trail and reward yourself with a refreshing dip in the rapids before you head back.

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3. Red Rock Pool

A not-so-hidden swimming hole with unique properties and amazing views is none other than Red Rock Pool. The trail to one of the best swimming holes in Southern California is just a short half-mile that anyone can easily trek. If you get there and find that Red Rock is a little too crowded for your taste, continue further down the trail to find more swimming holes. The deeper you travel, the less crowded the swimming holes are.

Deep Creek Hot Springs are located in a large bouldered riparian zone, surrounded by a rich habitat ecotone of the xeric shrublands.

4. Deep Creek Hot Springs

Located in the beautiful San Bernardino National Forest, Deep Creek Hot Springs is definitely worth visiting. The geothermal springs offer both cold and hot water pools and are accessible via a number of hiking trails. But be aware, dunking your head into the pools is not recommended due to a rare and occasionally fatal disease found in the waters. So float at your own risk, but try not to completely submerge yourself underwater.

Waterfalls in Southern California You Can Swim in

5. Switzer Falls

Besides being one of the best waterfall hikes in Los Angeles, Switzer Falls is also an incredible Southern California waterfall you can swim in. The trail to Switzer Falls begins at the Switzer Picnic Area. The first mile of the hike is more shaded, and you’ll find yourself looking at the falls from above before heading down to the creek. Many hikers take a deep dive in the creek before heading back, so be prepared to share the waters with other hikers.

Cedar Creek Falls is about 100 feet tall. The water falls into a large pool, making it the perfect spot for people who want to cool off.

6. Cedar Creek Falls

Is there anything more magical than coming across a majestic waterfall after a rigorous hike? We can’t imagine a better reward. Avoid the beaches on your next trip and splash around San Diego's waterfalls, instead, for a more unique experience. Start the trail at Thornbush Road in Ramona and you’ll be on the right track toward this cool water hole in Southern California.

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7. Hermit Falls

A seasonal swimming hole by nature, Monrovia's Hermit Falls is only accessible during the summer months. To get to this swimming hole in Southern California, you need to hike a two and half-mile trail featuring a couple of stream crossings. But fear not, the crossings only involve a few skips and hops and are easily accomplished with the right shoes.

This swimming hole in Southern California is divided into two main pools—however, the lower one requires ropes to access. If you don’t have any, the upper pool is still just as fun and features rocks at varying heights to jump from.

Water Holes in Southern California

One of the most popular destinations in Malibu Creek State Park is the Rock Pool, a picturesque place easily accessible for all.

8. Malibu Creek Rock Pools 

Located in Malibu Creek State Park, Rock Pool is a natural swimming hole you just can’t miss. Plus, the hike to get to the pool is less than three miles roundtrip, so it can’t get any easier. For obvious reasons, this swimming hole in Southern California has become extremely popular. So, if you fantasize about escaping to a tranquil and serene water hole, Rock Pool in Malibu may not be your best bet. 

9. Solstice Canyon Swimming Hole

Another cool pool in Malibu is Solstice Canyon Swimming Hole. While this water hole in Southern California is not as popular (or as big) as Rock Pool, it can still get rather crowded, especially on weekends. Go on a weekday afternoon, and you’ll have a good shot at having the spot all to yourself.

Unfortunately, it is temporarily closed at the moment. After the river storms in February, the canyon was closed until the repairs can be completed.

The Santa Paula Punch Bowls are alluring pools and cascades located between two Los Padres National Forest Campgrounds.

10. Santa Paula Punch Bowls

Also known as Santa Paula Canyon Falls, these popular swimming holes in Southern California are worth the trek. The Santa Paula Punch Bowls are located between Big Cone Camp and Cross Camp in Los Padres National Forest. The main swimming hole has a beautiful 30-foot cascading waterfall—this is where most people stop and take a dip. But, if you continue further upstream, you’ll find even more holes that are gradually less crowded.

11. Devil’s Hole

Don’t let the name of this Southern California water hole discourage you from going for a swim. Devil’s Hole in the San Bernardino Forest is, in fact, a very pleasant place to be—and dare we say it's heavenly? 

The trail to Devil’s Hole is a gradually sloping three-mile stretch along the Pacific Crest Trail. You’ll catch glimpses of several smaller swimming holes along the way, but trekking all the way to Devil’s Hole is definitely worthwhile. This spot doesn’t get too crowded either, so enjoy spreading your wings and swimming in any direction your heart desires.

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