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On hot summer days, all most of us can think about is how to get in the water fastest. But some travelers prefer to make a superlative splash in the biggest, deepest, and most extraordinary swimming pools on the planet. The unique pools on this list — from a 77th-floor infinity-edge wonder to a 148-foot-deep pool filled with shipwrecks and ruins — take a simple dip in the water to another level.
World’s Deepest Pool: Deepspot (Mszczonów, Poland)
Billed as a destination for divers of all skill levels, this 148-foot-deep indoor pool opened in 2020 and offers enough underwater features to keep your flippers flapping all day: a shipwreck, caves, Mayan ruins, and shelves and tunnels at different depths. All dive equipment can be rented on-site, and packages can include instruction or simply a timed session for freediving in water heated to 89 degrees Fahrenheit. For those less interested in getting wet than simply being near the water, the complex includes a glass tunnel to walk through the pool, as well as future plans for hotel rooms and a restaurant with underwater dining.
World’s Largest Spring-Fed Pool: Balmorhea State Park (Texas)
Texas is perhaps the one place where being the biggest is almost always an asset. This veritable oasis in the furthest reaches of dusty West Texas is fed by the San Solomon Springs. The springs are so prolific that the state park and nearby town are relatively lush and shady compared to the surrounding region. The 1.3-acre pool was built during the New Deal, as were the attractive Spanish Colonial-style buildings in the park. The natural springs circulate 15 million gallons through the pool every day, keeping it at a steady 72 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit, even on the hottest Texas afternoons. Regular swimmers are joined in the deep end by snorkelers and scuba divers — the water gets as deep as 25 feet in some areas and hosts a variety of fish and vegetation.
A Pool Inhabited by Mermaids: The Sip ‘n Dip Lounge (Great Falls, Montana)
A motel bar in a landlocked Western state may not seem like prime hunting ground for mer-folk, but if you keep your eye trained on the window behind the bartender at this tiki-themed motel lounge, you may spy a fishtail-sporting employee swimming on the other side. This fun and cheesy gimmick has gotten the “dive” bar noticed by national press like CNN, Esquire, and USA Today, and it seems like a good enough reason to stop for a drink and a peek if you’re in the region. The pool is for motel guests, but they’re not allowed to swim while the mermaids are on duty, Tuesday through Saturday evenings.
Beautiful Natural Pools: The Baths National Park (Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands)
Some magical combination of prehistoric volcanic activity and relentless ocean waves have worn the magnificent boulders of Devil's Bay into natural pools of turquoise Caribbean water. Located in the British Virgin Islands, the area was formally established as a park in 1990, but sailors and locals have long anchored offshore or hiked in to enjoy a day of swimming and sunbathing on its white sand beaches. The top of some of the area’s boulders has been eroded away, leaving behind depressions that act like individual swimming holes. Other boulders are upended and lean together, creating secret grotto pools between them that are lit by shafts of sunlight. Rope lines are anchored along routes over and between the rocks to permit exploration, a modest (but extremely useful) human-made improvement to an otherwise natural slice of heaven.
World's Largest Pool: San Alfonso del Mar Resort (Algarrobo, Chile)
A stretch of the beachfront in Chile’s San Alfonso del Mar resort area is lined with a series of massive modern pyramids, each full of vacation condominiums as well as restaurants, shops, and amenities for vacationers. In the space that runs between the beach and the buildings, resort developers have installed the world’s largest pool. It’s 3,324 feet long (more than nine football fields), covers more than 19 acres of surface area, reaches 115 feet deep at its deepest point, and is filled with 66 million gallons of water. The saltwater pool is so expansive that boaters and kayakers can float up and down its length. If you want to swim but are wary of the pool’s size, several modest-sized pools have been placed around the grounds. There’s also a pool and a beach — with heated sand — sheltered under a glass pyramid, in case the weather is less than perfect during your vacation.
A Pool Listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places: Venetian Pool (Coral Gables, Florida)
Creating a pool from the excavated pit left behind by a coral mining operation may not sound all that appealing, but the result is a surprisingly sublime destination that has been listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places since 1981. This classic 1924 pool is fed by an underground aquifer and is kept cool, even in the Florida heat, because the water is constantly recirculated through the underground spring. The surrounding palm trees, Mediterranean-style buildings, and shaded colonnades lend the Venetian Pool an Art Deco elegance.
A Pool Next to an Airport Runway: TWA Hotel (New York, New York)
Visitors to New York’s JFK Airport can’t miss the swooping mid-century drama of architect Eero Saarinen’s terminal building, home to Trans World Airlines (TWA) when it opened in 1962. The historic terminal closed to passenger service in 2002 but reopened to much fanfare as an aviation-themed boutique hotel in 2019, retaining many of the original elements of Saarinen’s masterpiece. Best of all, hotel guests can dive into an infinity-edged pool that looks directly over JFK’s Runway 4L/22R to watch the jets take off and land while they swim laps. The pool deck also has a bar and food service, so you can toast the passengers on flights as they taxi by, waving from your reclined pool chaise while they’re buckled into an upright airplane seat.
World's Oldest Swimming Pool: Great Bath of Mohenjo Daro (Larkana, Pakistan)
While you can no longer swim in this bone-dry archaeological site, you can’t deny that a swimming structure that dates back to the third millennium BCE is an impressive sight. Thought to have been used for ritual bathing in the Indus culture, the Great Bath is the oldest known swimming pool in the world. Ancient peoples entered the 40-foot pool via wide steps down from either end of the pool, which was filled from an adjoining well. The tightly fitted brickwork on the bottom of the pool and walls, as well as a lining of natural tar, kept the pool watertight. The Great Bath is not the only watery wonder uncovered by archaeologists who found this complex in 1926. This advanced civilization built an extensive sewer system, and most of the two-story brick residences had private wells and bathrooms.
Highest Pool in Europe: The Skypool at the Shard (London, U.K.)
When the Renzo Piano-designed building nicknamed the Shard opened in 2013, it changed the London skyline — adding altitude (it’s the tallest skyscraper in town) and an unusual new profile to the mix. The London Shangri-La Hotel occupies the 34th to 52nd floors of the Shard. On the topmost floor, 600 feet above ground, the hotel’s Skypool splashes right up to the expansive glass of the floor-to-ceiling windows. A dip in the high-rise infinity pool — the highest in Europe — is especially recommended at night to take in the tranquil surroundings and the twinkling lights of the remarkable London skyline.
The World’s Highest Pool: Address Beach Resort (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
This double-towered property (one side holds residences and the other hotel rooms) opened in Dubai in December 2020 and has already racked up the world record for highest outdoor pool in a building. Its 77th-floor, infinity-edged number shimmers at 964 feet above the ground, and is open to adult hotel guests only. The pool tops off the seven-story-tall sky bridge that connects the two towers, and offers unparalleled views of Dubai’s eye-popping skyline, including the famous sail-shaped Burj al Arab hotel and the world’s largest Ferris wheel.
A Pool That Only Appears at Low Tide: The Sea Pool (Azenhas do Mar, Portugal)
If a fairytale Portuguese village of whitewashed houses crowded onto a high cliff above the wild Atlantic isn’t picturesque enough, try adding a stunning natural ocean pool carved into the base of that cliff. At high tide, the water surges over the stone wall in Azenhas do Mar, and the pool completely disappears beneath the roiling waves. When the tide finally recedes again, the pool’s surface calms and swimmers can brave the water. Visitors can observe this dance between water and cliff from the charming open-air bar on the narrow strip of beach or from a table at the restaurant built into the cliff.
World's Longest Elevated Pool: SkyPark At The Marina Bay Sands (Singapore)
If you stand at ground level and look up at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands, it looks as though a strange curved cruise ship has come to rest atop the hotel’s three tapered towers. The hull-shaped structure balanced across the three buildings is actually the foundation of a three-acre park, the main feature of which is an outdoor pool. It’s a very long one: almost 500 feet, with the capacity to hold 3,900 swimmers. The glass-walled infinity pool — located 57 floors up — makes you feel like you’re floating right next to the city’s skyline. This extraordinary experience is limited to hotel guests only, and many check in to the expensive luxury hotel for this sole reason.