Come on in, the Water's Fine
Lounging by the pool is a favorite summer pastime. However, it can also be a mind-blowing, educational, pulse-quickening, awe-inspiring and intoxicating experience. These are the world's most extreme pools.
At the Homestead Resort and Spa in Midway, UT, lies the country's deepest and largest hot spring. Tucked deep inside the Utah mountains is a natural cave filled with crystal-clear water known simply as the Crater. To access this natural marvel, you must travel through a 100-foot limestone tunnel, the only manmade element at the Crater, built in 1996 when the Crater was first opened to the public. The water inside the dome heats up to over 95 degrees and it's the only warm-water, scuba-diving destination in the continental United States.
San Alfonso Del Mar
The San Alfonso Del Mar Resort in Algarrobo, Chile, is home to the largest pool on the planet. The Guinness World Record holder contains 66 million gallons of water, is 115 feet at its deepest point and covers over 20 acres. This pool is a manmade beach, surrounded by 3.5 million pounds of sand. Opened in 1997, the pool uses nearby ocean water, and pool goers are invited to partake in ocean sports like sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving.
New York, New York
In New York City's famed Times Square, the Hotel Grace is home to the world's hottest pool party. The 27x14-foot pool doubles as a sexy nightclub where scantily clad New Yorkers can sip a mixed drink and mingle. The pool is directly connected to Hotel Grace's 40-foot bar, making it New York City's only swim-up bar. If this unexpected pool has caught you off guard, no need to worry -- Hotel Grace sells its own disposable bikinis and swim trunks so you can partake in the fun without dragging your wet suit to the after party.
At the Starkenberger Brewery located in Tarrenz, Austria, you can take a dip in the world's only pool filled entirely with beer. Located in a 700-year-old castle, the Starkenberger Brewery opened this extreme pool in 2005. The room was originally used for fermenting and brewing beer, but became obsolete when the brewing process was automated. The pool is 13x13 feet and contains 52 gallons of concentrated beer mixed with 4,000 gallons of water. While you may order a frosty one at the bar, the beer in the pool is kept at luxurious 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Icon Brickell stands out in a city known for beaches, nightlife and pools. The 3 pools here constitute the longest pool complex in the country. Designed by Phillipe Stark, the enormous pool deck consists of a reflection pool, hot tub and lap pool that together, are over 300 feet long. Within the reflection pool, guests can sit at tables and dine on gourmet food and cocktails. The hot tub is the world's largest, holding up to 80 people at a time and the lap pool is simply stunning -- measuring 40 feet longer than an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Nemo 33 in Brussels, Belgium, is the world's deepest man-made diving pool. The pool opened in 2004 and is now one of the most popular diving facilities in the world, hosting approximately 25,000 divers per year. This unique diving setting mimics real deep-sea diving, with flat platforms at 16 and 32 feet, the depths at which scuba divers check their pressure. After the second platform, divers can plunge 108 feet down into a manmade abyss. Divers delight at the specially filtered and unchlorinated spring water that's kept at 86 degrees Fahrenheit -- about 10 degrees warmer than the most popular ocean diving spots.
While NASA astronauts and engineers are masters of the infinite universal abyss, they are also members at the largest indoor pool in the world. The NASA pool, called the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL), is used to simulate outer space here on Earth, and it's where astronauts train for their flights to the International Space Station (ISS). In the NBL, astronauts can experience a simulated zero-gravity environment. It's also home to full-size mock-ups of actual ISS components. This training facility just may be the world's most important pool.
You can't visit this pool without being a friend of Tony and Marianna Kitchukov; built by Red Rock Contractors, it's the country's most posh private pool. Ten times larger than your average family's pool and 3 times larger than most hotel pools, it features a waterfall, waterslide, fountains and lighting components -- all of which can be operated via remote control or the internet.
Golden Nugget Pool
Las Vegas, Nevada
At the Golden Nugget pool you can come face to face with over 300 different types of fish and 16 sharks. Don't panic, the wildlife is housed in a 50x30-foot acrylic tank smack in the middle of the swimming pool. Built in 2006 to the tune of 30 million dollars, it's the only pool of its kind within the US. Just make sure to bring your sense of adventure -- and your goggles. Only the brave take on the pool's waterslide, which shoots you through the shark tank in 8 seconds flat.