Sea pools (also known as saltwater swimming pools, tidal, or ocean pools) can be found on coastlines worldwide, allowing swimmers to enjoy a dip in an otherwise challenging location. Most of these man-made saltwater sanctuaries are naturally refreshed twice daily by the high tides and offer a safe place to swim, protected from rocky shorelines or rough seas. “They were always built to overcome [lack of] access to water, which is why I was drawn to them,” says architect Chris Romer-Lee, author of Seapools (Batsford). “And when you start to look at where they’re located, they’re in very particular points, such as in Cornwall and Scotland, where it’s often very rocky on the foreshore or on the sandy beaches, where you have a very long tide that goes out for miles.” For areas relying on tourism, salt water swimming pools provide their visitors the ability to enjoy the water anytime, and in the southern hemisphere, they add the bonus of protecting swimmers from sharks and jellyfish.
The topic has become a source of fascination for Romer-Lee, one of the directors of London-based firm Studio Octopi, who has worked on several sea pool projects and is the founder of Thames Baths, an organization dedicated to restoring outdoor swimming to the Thames River. For the book, the architect selected 66 salt water swimming pools around the world, getting to know their histories and the communities they serve. “The selection process was incredibly difficult because I suddenly had a tsunami of these pools,” he says. “As an architect, I was drawn to the ones with architectural features—either massive engineering feats, or with very elegant pavilions, or interesting features.” Read on to discover 11 of the stunning sea pools that made the cut.