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What is a Swimming Pool Grotto?

If you’re building a swimming pool in 2022, there are endless options and fun features you can incorporate into your design. From swim up bars to laminar jets and LED mood lighting, if you can dream it, your pool contractor can probably build it. One of the lesser known, but equally as cool, swimming pool features you may hear mentioned is the pool grotto. But what is a pool grotto? Great question.

A pool grotto is a fun, unique design element your pool contractor can add to your swimming pool design. Loved for its visual interest and funky, fun spacial construction, the pool grotto might be exactly what you’re looking for in your next outdoor pool design.

What is a Pool Grotto?

Image by Premier Pools & Spas

A pool grotto is a large overhanging waterfall that shelters a nook or cave-like space in a pool. Think of stepping through a bead-curtain into a secret room. Grotto designs capture that same exciting, mystical effect with the use of water and stone. 

Pool grottos are usually constructed at a size and depth allowing swimmers to pass through or under the waterfall and swim up into the space. The most basic grottos may just be a sheltered area, perhaps with some basic bench seating. More elaborate designs can incorporate custom lighting, planting, integrated spas, or even a secret waterfall entrance.

The complexity and size of your pool grotto depends on the design of your entire pool, as well as the rest of your outdoor space. Either way, a pool grotto brings a magical feeling of swimming into your own private cave right in your own backyard.

Pool Grotto’s vs Cantilevered Rocks

Before we go on, we think it’s worth mentioning that there are alternatives to pool grottos that can offer a similar feel. After all, true pool grottos aren’t cheap, (more on that, later). Grottos are also often complicated to build and install. In that case, you can opt for designs that mimic the sensibilities and look of a pool grotto without the massive design lift or price tag.

Instead of a fully fledged cave, designers can opt for a shelf of cantilevered rocks, such as that seen in the photo below.

A waterfall can be incorporated creating a sheet of water. This adds visual interest and a similar level or shelter, without carving a true grotto or cave into the rocks.

What are Pool Grotto’s made of?

Pool grottos are constructed in one of three main ways: real stone, engineered concrete, or prefab options such as modular faux rock. Each has their benefits and drawbacks, and have price tags to match.

Most middle of the road grottos are now constructed with concrete that has been engineered carefully to look like real stone. Think about how a well-done concrete overlay can make your patio look like it was made of genuine stone. This technology has come a long way in the past few years. A good company can create a look that truly mimics the look of real rock to an impressive degree.

On the cheaper end of the spectrum, you have prefab faux rock. This is rock that is prefabricated in molds and installed, such as prefab pool coping. While this is quick, easy to install, and less of a weight on the wallet, it also looks markedly cheaper than the other options out there.

Finally, the most expensive pool grottos are constructed using real, genuine rock and stone. This is a beautiful option, but it comes with the typical price tag of real rock. However, if you are willing to spend the money, the finish is incomparable. It’s the closest you can get to the look and feel of a natural waterfall in your own backyard.

How much does a pool grotto cost?

So, how much adding a pool grotto will cost you? The answer? Not cheap. Pool grottos start at around $5,000 to $10,000 dollars depending on prices in your area and increase exponentially from there.

This price range varies dramatically based on the complexity of your design. A simple pool grotto with seating and a few LED lights will cost you far less than a grotto with an integrated water slide or spa. A reputable contractor can help you ensure that the pool grotto you are interested in will not break your swimming pool budget.

Pool Grotto Design Ideas

The real fun of pool grottos comes in how customizable they truly are. While the most basic designs include just seating and a place to hide away, more complicated designs can include some truly exciting additions.

Integrated Spa or Hot Tub

Looking for a unique way to put in your luxury spa? What about moving it into your pool grotto. A grotto is a great and unique place to put an inground space. Spas can either be partially or fully included in the grotto depending on their size. Ease of access can be improved when a section of the spa is exposed to the open pool deck, if this is a concern.

Water Slide

A benefit of the pool grotto as a design feature is that it opens up opportunities for additional features. The rocky outcropping of a grotto means that the space above the overhang can be utilized as well.

Looking to add some fun for the kids? Talk to your contractor about turning the elevated roof into support for a waterslide. You can relax in your private pool-cave while the kids take turns splashing into the water right outside the grotto. For extra fun, consider placing the water slide entrance within the pool grotto itself.

Fire Pit

Fire and water, anyone? For those looking to get the best of both worlds, consider forgoing the spa. Instead, add some dry space at the center of your grotto and put in a fire pit instead. There’s nothing better than relaxing around the fire with friends, except for doing so in your swimming pool.

Adding a firepit to your pool area can be complicated, so ensure you are working with a contractor who is up for the challenge.

Outdoor lighting

Looking to up the atmosphere? Even the most basic seating-only pool grottos can be bumped to the next level with great outdoor lighting. Today’s LED light bulbs offer an endless spectrum of colors and moods that you can change remotely from your phone or a designated remote. These grotto lights can be installed in tandem with the rest of your pool lighting.


Finally, enhance the natural cave feel of your pool grotto with some strategic planting. Landscaping around the pool is already an easy way to increase visual interest and enhance the design. Outfitting your pool grotto with some greenery of its own can make you feel like you’re swimming directly into your own on-property natural cave.

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