Rumor has that bigger isn’t always better, but spectacular is always a winner. When it comes to swimming pools, size sometimes matters but many of the world’s most breathtaking pools dazzle through design, exotic locales, color and ambiance.
Nemo 33, Belgium
Finding the world’s deepest pool is as easy as hopping on a flight to Brussels, Belgium and hailing a cab to Nemo 33, designed by diving aficionado John Beernaerts whose muse was the inimitable diving venues in his native Bora Bora.
Opened over a decade ago, the 880,286 cubic foot pool has multiple levels filled with pure spring water, free of chlorine, but pristinely clean and kept at a comfy 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The wondrous pool includes shallow areas flattened to mimic underwater caves and landlubbers can view the underwater terrain through portholes. The most spectacular feature of Nemo 33 is it 108-foot deep sinkhole, the deepest manmade diving hole on earth.
San Alfonso del Mar, Chile
Swimmers and divers who prefer the great outdoors for water sports will find their dream pool at San Alfonso del Marin Algarrogo, Chile. The immense outdoor pool is over 1,000 yards long, 115 feet deep, and holds 66 million gallons of fresh, filtered seawater that enters at one end and exits at the other.
The pool is so large – it covers almost 20 acres – that visitors use rowboats and kayaks to navigate the waters. An added bonus: the water has the transparent, rich turquoise hues of tropical seas, a feature made possible by advanced technology developed by Chilean company Crystal Lagoons.
Sunway Lagoon, Malaysia
Massive bodies of deep, clean, warm manmade pools aren’t easy to upstage but Sunway Lagoon is a daunting competitor for wondrous pools. Located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, these incredible 139,800 square foot wave pools use unique hydraulic pumping systems to create waves up to 9 feet tall, big enough for surfing.
Situated inside the Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, the lagoon is part of the recently renovated Sunway Surf Beach. Surrounded by 6000 tons of sand, swaying palm trees and grass huts, visitors can imagine any tropical beach in the world as they sun themselves with the sound of crashing waves in the background.
Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool, Singapore
Singapore is famous for its bustling shopping scene where you can find bargain basement prices on everything from table linens to the latest electronics. It’s also renowned for its sweeping vistas and the view from the Marina Bay Sands pool is unparalleled.
Situated on the 55th floor, the infinity pool is three times the size of an Olympic-size swimming pool and its configuration makes it appear that the body of water becomes one with the horizon. What better way to end the day than taking in a panoramic view of Singapore immersed in cool, clean water.
Holiday Inn, Shanghai
If you or yours fantasize about floating in space with a bit more security than the space explorers in Gravity, book a ticket to Shanghai and arrange lodging at the Holiday Inn in Pudong Kangqiao.
You only have to go up 24 floors to swim in the cantilever swimming pool. The pool’s size, about 100 feet long, isn’t what makes it so exceptional; it’s the design. Part of the pool extends the edge of the building and the bottom is crystal-clear glass, so swimmers can enjoy the fantasy of swimming in space, with nothing hindering their strokes but apprehension.
The Library Pool, Ko Samui
Built on the Thai island of Koh Samui, The Library looks more like a scene from a sci-fi movie than a place to backstroke at the end of the day. Instead of the soothing shades of blue typically found in swimming pools, The Library is bloody red.
The shocking, unforgettable illusion of bright red water is created by the reflection of the pool’s floor. Orange, yellow and ruby-colored mosaic tiles create a pattern on the bottom of the pool that reflects light into a deep blood red. The pool may not be very calming but it’s definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
Alila Ubud, Bali
The Alila Ubud hotel is one of Bali’s most luxurious hotel and its infinity pool is one of the site’s main attractions. Emerald green and so clear you can see all the way from one end to the other, your breath will be taken away as you take in the awesome view.
Sprawling out poolside on the stone lined deck, the pool appears to be a tranquil oasis surrounded by opulent foliage. But once you immerse yourself in the water, you are struck with the unsettling feeling of the plummeting chasm of the Ayung River valley below, so clear that swimmers often feel they’re being drawn in by the abyss. One swimmer’s thrill is another one’s nightmare; first you have to muster the gall to dive in.
Sanctuary Swala, Tanzania
One of the favorite destinations of wildlife aficionados, Sanctuary Swala in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park, houses guests in luxury tents right in the middle of the wildlife community. The venue’s infinity pool ups the excitement level.
As you paddle through the warm, tropical waters, every direction you look has a wild animal staring back at you. Lion, leopards, elephants – you never know what you’ll see but the animals are all close enough to reach out and touch. You shouldn’t act on those urges to pet but it’s still a thrill to be face-to-face with the beautiful beasts.
Huvafen Fushi Resort, Maldives
The rooms at Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives’ North Male Atoll overlooking the sparkling clear aqua water of its private lagoon. The ocean bungalows have glass floors so you feel like you’re almost sleeping with the fish.
Even more spectacular is the infinity pool at Huvafen Fushi. As the sun goes down, 1,000 fiber optic lights go up, transforming the pool into a spectacle that more closely resembles a starry night sky than a body of water.
The St Regis, Tibet
Not everyone is looking for a pool that takes them closer to nature or creates an illusion of being in another world or an altered state of mind. The St Regis in Lhasa, Tibet was the first upscale hotel to open on the famous “Roof of the World” in 2011 and offered nothing more than decadent indulgence.
Its pool, situated in The Iridium Room, is gold plated and there is nothing subtle about the garish glare of the gold reflecting off the water. The pool is rumored to help guests improve their feelings of spiritual health but whatever your goals, swimming in a pool lined with gold is sure to fulfill some kind of fantasy.
Crocosaurus Cove, Australia
Swimming with dolphins or even sharks can’t compare to the heart-stopping experience of getting up close and personal with the saltwater crocodiles in Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin City, Australia. You can have your picture taken with a baby crocodile and come face to face with the adult crocs as you’re lowered into the water in a protective cage.
If crocs aren’t your preferred scaly creature, mingle with the Western Bearded Dragons and Olive Pythons. Kids and adults can both watch the barramundi frolic in the 52,834 gallon freshwater aquarium or enjoy the top end turtles in their own private habitat.
Bondi Beach – Icebergs Ocean Pool, Australia
In 1929 this Olympic size pool became the home of the Bondi Icebergs, a winter swimming club. The pool is always colder than the ocean that feeds it because of its concrete construction and temperatures fluctuate between below 60F and 70F degrees depending on the season. Warm up with a cocktail as you lounge on the 1600 square foot sundeck and enjoy the spectacular view.
Anyone can become a member of the Bondi Icebergs but it’s not for the faint of heart. The initiation is grueling and requires swimming in the outdoor pool three Sundays during every winter month and racking up 75 total swims over five years. The good news: once you’re a member, no further tests of endurance are required, so you can relax and gloat on the sidelines.