Summer is officially here, and it seems like it’s going to be a hot one. Luckily, New Jersey has plenty of places where you can cool off. Instead of heading down the Shore, why not switch things up and try one of the Garden State’s many swimming holes? By definition, a swimming hole is any lake or river that is deep enough to swim in, and there are plenty to choose from. We’ve comprised a list of 12 NJ swimming holes for you to enjoy, varying from manmade lakes to natural pools and more.
1. Atsion Recreation Area
Located on the coast of the Wharton State Forest is the Atsion Recreation Area, where you can swim and sunbathe on the gorgeous Atsion Lake. Similar to other NJ swimming holes on this list, this one offers a beach with shallow and deep areas perfect for swimmers of any skill level. There are also barbecue grills, picnic areas, playgrounds and nature crafts for children to enjoy, and concession stands where you can grab a bite to eat. While there, you can also explore the Batsto Village, an exhibit about 19th-century commerce and agriculture.
The Atsion Recreation Area is open daily for swimming from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
2. Bellmawr Lake
Bellmawr’s man-made lake offers a beach experience without actually going down the Shore. You can lounge out on the white, sandy beaches and grab a tan, and even take a dive into the swimming hole off one of the diving boards. When you’re relaxing, make sure to try out the bar, grab a treat at the ice cream stand or satisfy your hunger at the Lakeside Grill. The property also features picnic areas, places to play horseshoes and volleyball, and a novelty shop.
Bellmawr Lake is open for swimming Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
3. Darlington County Park
One of the larger NJ swimming holes, with 178-acres to explore and three lakes, there is much to discover and enjoy at the Darlington County Park in Mahwah. Two of the lakes offer swimming while the other allows fishing. The area features sand beaches, lawns to play on, a picnic area, a playground for children, places to play games like tennis and handball, and much more. Three are even large, blow-up attractions for children and adults to play on and jump off of.
The park is currently open on weekends from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is planned to open on weekdays starting June 28. View their website for ticket prices.
4. Highlands Natural Swimming Pool
Swim in an Olympic-sized natural pool at the Highlands Natural Swimming Pool in Ringwood. Since 1935, this stream-fed pool has been available for visitors inside and outside of NJ. A 2018 article even called it the best New Jersey swimming hole. The pool has a variety of depths, including a kiddie pool, a shallow end at four feet deep, and a slope that declines from six feet to 10 feet. When you’re not swimming, you can also hike through the trails, picnic, and play volleyball and ping pong.
Admission costs $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, ages 65 and older, and children ages three to 17. The pool is currently open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
5. Hooks Creek Lake
Cheesequake State Park is located on the cusp of urban North Jersey and suburban South Jersey in Old Bridge. It is also home to Hooks Creek Lake, a great place to take in the summer heat and cool off in the water. There’s a beach area with a concession stand, places to buy supplies and souvenirs, and more. You’ll also want to check out the other amenities at the park, such as the picnic area and hiking trails.
The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
6. Lake Marcia
The 20-acre Lake Marcia at Sussex County’s High Point State Park is the perfect place to catch one-of-a-kind views and cool off from the summer heat. Dive into these spring-fed waters and take in the beauty around you, or lay out on the sand while you enjoy food and drinks and explore the rest of the park. While you’re there, make sure to take some time to go hiking so you can see the views from the highest point in the state.
The lake is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
7. Oxford Furnace Lake
Oxford Furnace Lake was once used for flood and erosion control and has been transformed into a serene lake for all to enjoy. Not only is the Oxford Township lake great for swimming and relaxing on the beach, but it offers kayak and canoe rentals, boating, fishing, and more. There are also recreation areas and places to explore. You might even get to see the musky, a large fish that sticks its head out of the water.
The lake is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
8. Quarry Swim Club
Since 1928, the Quarry Swim Club has been a hidden gem of Hopewell. The swimming hole is 55 feet deep and contains three anchored floats that you can swim to and relax on and diving boards so you can splash away. Since there aren’t any shallow areas, swimmers under the age of 13 must take a swim test. Outside of the lake are picnic tables and grills, a volleyball court, and another pool ranging one and a half to five feet deep for those who do not want to swim in the lake.
The quarry is planned to open on June 25. Check their website for updates.
9. Rock Lodge
The Rock Lodge Club in Hardyston Township offers places to relax, swim, and soak up sun rays without having to wear any bathing suits or clothes. The nudist lodge sits on 145 acres of land and features a spring-fed swimming hole, with two beaches to lay on and enter the lake through. There is also a sauna, places to hike, and social events to attend. The club ensures fun and safety for everyone, so make sure to check it out.
View their “how to visit” page, as there are steps to complete before you can go.
10. Round Valley Reservoir
Surrounded by beautiful, wooded areas and hills is the Round Valley Reservoir located in Clinton. The west side of the reservoir separates you from the rest of the property by offering an area to swim in the blue waters. At this NJ swimming hole, there is a beach, a beach complex where you can change and use restrooms and showers, a first-aid station in case of emergencies, and a concession stand where you can get beach supplies and food. When you’re not swimming, make sure to check out the reservoir’s other amenities such as the hiking trails.
The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
11. Tomahawk Lake
A lake with a water park–what more could you ask for this summer? At Tomahawk Lake in Sparta, there is plenty to do. You can visit the state’s largest white sand beach situated across the 20-acre swimming hole. There are also water slides, a miniature golf course, a picnic area, places to play games and sports, and even a children’s area among other waterpark attractions. You can also enjoy tubing, kayaking, and canoeing.
Tomahawk Lake is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekends. Check out their website for ticket prices and options.
12. Wawayanda Lake
Located near the border of NJ and NY in Hewitt is Wawayanda Lake, a freshwater lake for all to enjoy. This picture-perfect location is one of the most beautiful NJ’ swimming holes that you’ll want to check out. Since the lake is surrounded by forests, you’ll feel encapsulated in nature, as if you’re on a mini-vacation. There is a white sand beach where you can catch a tan, trails to hike through, a plethora of birds and wildlife to view, areas to picnic, and a playground perfect for kids.
The lake is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Have you been to one of these NJ swimming holes? Let us know in the comments.
Main image by Olivia Hutcherson.