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May 1, 2016

8 Great Escapes

Today we visit 8 GREAT ESCAPES and reveal some of the Big Swings App’s staff favorite swimming and adventure destinations around the globe.

#8  Summersville Lake- West Virginia

Long Point

West Virginia’s largest lake, Summersville Lake, is a true adventurers sanctuary. No matter what you’re looking for, this 28,000-acre lake with 60 miles of shoreline has it. Towering sandstone cliff faces, scuba diving, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, fishing, swimming, boating, and hunting are just a few activities over a million visitors enjoy every year. 

Big Swings took a trip here in the summer of 2015 and found incredible accommodations for any kind of camping- right in the center of the action at Mountain Lake Campground.  We drove seven hours through the night, and with little to no sleep-our hearts pounding with anticipation- we headed right to the first location.

A colossal beast of a ledge, Long Point rises 58 feet above the crystal clean, 300 foot deep water. The pristine water quality and its consistent 70-degree temperatures make Summersville Quarry a popular destination among scuba divers and cliff jumpers alike.

Long Point is just one of many amazing swimming locations accessible at Summersville. Bastards Cove is another location close to Long Point that is a true spectacle; offering the most scenic swimming someone could find in West Virginia. Check in the Big Swings App for easy navigation to all of these locations.

#7  Nelson’s Landing- Arizona

Nelson’s Landing

Just an hour or so from Las Vegas, this water-filled oasis lies deep in the heat of the Southwest American dream and offers a diversity in ledge sizes. Rushing southbound, the Colorado River makes a natural territory line between Arizona and Nevada. The shorelines may be in different states, but they both offer up the same grand views of timeless cliff faces and natural beaches. Traveling the road in, you pass through an arid desert region along Placer Cove Road; cacti fill an old deserted mining town that seems preserved in time. At the end of the road, a lookout point introduces Nelson’s Landing, and the pavement disappears. At which point you should be prepared for hiking under the rays of the 100-degree sun.

Venturing out around the coves, you will discover a number of cliffs at various heights where you can cool off.  

We were stopped by National Park Rangers here who told us that cliff jumping is allowed, but they work hard to keep this destination free of alcohol and contraband. Their patrols have drastically minimized injury and broken glass along the paths helping return the area to nearly pristine condition.”  Bring a trash bag with you to help in the effort of keeping these spots clean. 

Wear water shoes to prevent burning your feet and getting cut from broken bottles. Bring sunscreen to this hot destination. Arm yourself with water and plenty of it.  Beware of the current and waves from passing watercraft. Keep in mind that the water is very deep so wear a safety device on this journey; there are swimming related deaths here every year. If you wear a device, like the Kingii Safety Floatable, you can easily prevent drowning. Nelson’s Landing is an absolute must-visit if you are anywhere near the area and love cliff jumping and swimming.


#6  Wasabi Sailing- St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Wasabi Sailing

Explore paradise in St. Thomas and St. Johns with Wasabi Sailing!  A beautifully restored 1981 Stiletto 27’
Catamaran offering day sails on the island of St. Thomas in the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands. WASABI is a high performance catamaran that offers plenty of space for never more than six passengers with her spacious cockpit and forward trampoline. The Stiletto catamarans were designed for speed, and WASABI is no exception- easily sailing faster than most other day sail vessels on the water. This speed advantage also enables them to offer a wider choice of beautiful destinations to explore.

Sail Wasabi is a must-do, Great Escape! If you love swimming and snorkeling, reach out to Eric from Wasabi Sail, and book a trip today. While Wasabi is known to be the fastest catamaran around town, the Captain and crew know how to slow it down at those picturesque breathtaking views of St. Thomas and St. John. Personalize your adventure and find out more on their website! Time to kick back, have a cocktail, and let someone else drive.


#5  Calangute & Baga Beach- Goa, India

Baga Beach

A seaside town in Bardez, Goa, India. Goa Beach comes in at number five on our list of 8 Great Escapes.
Offering up a gorgeous beach and a nightlife that lasts all day. Big Swings first made this long journey in 2005, but little has changed at this oasis getaway.
We were lucky enough to attend a “full moon party” on New Year’s Eve on this particular trip. Words don’t do justice to the madness that became Goa. We swam in the warm water as the sun rose on the Arabian Sea.

Tourists were catered to drinks mixed with fresh coconut and pineapple that made the time slip by too fast in this beach paradise. Riding banana boats, playing beach volleyball with fellow travelers, scooter rides to tour old churches, and tasting new dishes in the market- Goa is an experience worth experiencing.  


#4  Hamilton Pool Preserve- Travis County Parks, Texas

Hamilton Pool Preserve Photo Credit: Travis County Parks

This picturesque location is remarkable. A pool of turquoise water, overhanging cave walls, and a perpetually flowing waterfall make up this pocket of natural perfection. Wading in these waters takes you to a place you wish you could stay forever. The massive cliffs encircling the large pool are a reminder of the past with bedding of sedimentary rock exposing forgotten times. Swim under the waterfall, and let the cascading water be a memory you never lose. Hamilton Pool is a great place to just relax and escape the everyday hustle of life.

Swimming and hiking are only allowed at certain times of the year, and the park can be closed on occasion due to weather conditions. If you are planning a trip here, be sure to visit their website for pictures, daily information, and reservations- Travis County Parks, or give their information line a ring at- 512-264-2740 | 5122642740


#3  Havasupai Indian Reservation- Grand Canyon, Arizona

Havasu Falls

Possibly one of the most spectacular waterfall and canyon systems America has to offer, Havasupai Reservation is steeped in beauty and history. Havasu offers a unique journey for those of you who are looking for a challenging adventure. With no real roads leading in, it’s an 8.5- mile hike over a fifteen hundred foot descent just to reach the lodge. The trip is a minimal 20 -mile hike round trip. The canyon holds three waterfalls ranked first, second, and third for best waterfalls in the United States by The Travel Channel.

Havasupai means the people of the blue-green water. The water of the Havasu Creek is colored bright turquoise by lime deposits which forever burns itself into your memory bank.

Big Swings had the opportunity to travel to Havasu in April of 2015. Standing in front of these waterfalls and basking in life itself made the four-hour flight, five-hour drive, grueling hike, and flash flood a thing to be treasured forever. We befriended other travelers from all over the world, tasted new and exotic foods, and experienced the American Indian culture in a way not many get to see.

You need to reserve camping ahead of time if you are planning to visit this location. Get all the information you need about permits and expenses on their website:


#2  Koh Phi Phi Island- Thailand

Koh Phi Phi Island

Colorful and vibrant, this pristine island holds what some say are the best beaches in the world. Pure sands stretch against the blue water. Hidden from existence, cliff sides reach out to the sea enwrapping you in beauty. This is an amazing place to visit, though it can be crowded in peak season. Particularly Maya Bay where the movie The Beach was filmed.

In 2015, Big Swings was able to visit Phi Phi Island-

One of six small islands that lie about an hour ferry ride from Phuket, Thailand.  Anticipation intensified as the islands grew larger and larger; the islands seemed to rise from the water as we approached. When we reached the dock, fish below us darted back and forth in the crystal clear, warm water. Sand crabs scuttled across the scorching sand below our feet as we ran across the beach to the awaiting longboats for our first adventure. 

The guides are eager to offer their services to travelers at a moment’s notice, and if you planned correctly, you could set up some really amazing adventures for cheap. The island is famous for snorkeling, world-renowned diving, cliff jumping, climbing, and so much more. Kho Phi Phi is an amazing escape for any backpacker, traveler, or swimmer looking to either party the night away or just ease into paradise among the majestic coral reefs.


#1  Adventuresque– Cabarete, Dominican Republic

Big Swings’ #1 Great Escape Pick Is… Adventuresque Extreme Vacation

Adventuresque provides an extreme adventure vacation experience for those of you who want more out of a “vacation.”

If you are looking to really experience culture and challenge yourself with new activities, this is the trip for you. This all inclusive journey from the Dominican Alps into the Coastal area of Cabarete then back into the mountains is action packed front to back. The seven-day itinerary has scheduled trips every day in the most beautiful places on earth.

Photo Credit: Adventuresque

Big Swings and our athletes had the absolute pleasure of visiting Adventuresque in April of 2016.

We have been on many journeys over the years. The attention the team at Adventuresque had to detail was marvelous. Our guide Matt’s preparedness for every situation made the trip smooth and unforgettable. Hands down the best adventure trip we have ever been on. Whitewater Rafting, Mountain Biking, Surfing, Scuba Diving, Hiking, Cliff Jumping, Canyoning, Tubing, Rope Swings, Horseback Rides, Snorkeling, and Delicious Food. On top of the never ending adventures, the accommodations are exclusive and culture filled. Adventuresque gives you a taste of the real Dominican Republic and that’s what adventure is all about. Set up your extreme vacation on their website now! – Adventuresque


To locate these destinations and many more, download the Big Swings App for free in the Apple Store or in the Google Play Store. Thanks!

Big Swings App

We can show you the best getaways with pictures, reviews and directions, but only you can experience them first hand and carry those experiences with you into the future. Remember to carry out more than you carry in #KeepItClean2016

Jonathon Kelly, Big Swings Editorial Staff

@Big_Swings #KeepItClean2016

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