The past decade has seen plenty of underwater records being set and smashed, from freediving to juggling. In June 2021, a new landmark in Dubai entered the Guinness World Records as the world’s deepest swimming pool. At 60m (197ft), Deep Dive Dubai is 15m (49ft) deeper and four times bigger than any of the other deep pools, making it one of the top indoor diving destinations.

A freediver floating on the surface at Deep Dive Dubai, the world's deepest swimming pool for diving
Photo courtesy of Deep Dive Dubai

You may wonder, ‘why bother diving in pools when there’s an entire ocean to explore?’ In fact, there are lots of reasons these venues are worth keeping in mind. Diving pools are:

  • ideal for learning and practising skills
  • a safer environment to overcome fears
  • useful for trying out new kit
  • great for enjoying pool diving games
  • warm and calm when the weather isn’t
  • often more local for landlocked divers
  • something different!

While there are millions of swimming pools around the world, only a handful are purpose-built diving pools. These submerged playgrounds are filled with all sorts of attractions, from caves to wrecks, and cater for beginners to professional, technical, and freedivers. What deep pools lack in marine life and history, they certainly make up for with high-tech features, comfortable conditions, and convenience.

Here are five of the best deep pools for PADI scuba diving or freediving training:

The oyster-shaped exterior of Deep Dive Dubai, which is home to one of the best deep pools in the world
Photo courtesy of Deep Dive Dubai

1. Deep Dive Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai lays claim to the world’s tallest building, first-class shopping, and even an underwater hotel. In June 2021, the city elevated its ever-growing sports culture and tourism with a record-breaking, state-of-the-art new diving pool. At 60m (197ft) deep, it contains 14 million litres of fresh water that’s kept at a cosy 30ºC (86ºF) and filtered every six hours with volcanic rock, NASA technology, and UV radiation. The unrivalled facilities are just 25 minutes from the airport and beautifully housed within an iconic oyster-shaped structure that reflects the country’s pearl diving heritage.

The star of this aquatic paragon is its post-apocalyptic ‘sunken city’, where divers can traverse an abandoned apartment, library, games arcade, and other curiosities. There are also two underwater habitats with dry chambers at 6m (20ft) and 21m (69ft). Themed around Discover, Dive, and Develop, there’s a wide range of PADI courses and experiences on offer here. High-end equipment rental, including video and photo gear, is available too.

But Deep Dive Dubai doesn’t stop at topping the list of the world’s deep diving pools. It also boasts the region’s largest underwater film studio, featuring a media editing room, video wall, 56 underwater cameras, and advanced sound and mood lighting systems. There’s a dive shop, gift shop, event spaces, and an 80-seat restaurant together with viewing galleries to watch the subsurface activities. Later in 2021, they’ll add an advanced hyperbaric chamber to an already impressive lineup that’s even entertained the likes of Hollywood star Will Smith.

Learn more and book your visit: Deep Dive Dubai

2. Y-40 The Deep Joy, Italy

Many hotels have a pool, but in 2014, Hotel Terme Millepini went several steps further. After just 365 days’ construction, Y-40 held the title of the world’s deepest pool for six years. Today, it’s still the deepest pool in the world with thermal water.

Inside, 4.3 million litres of water is heated to 32-34ºC (90-93ºF). Alongside a network of caves, platforms between 1.3m (4ft) and 15m (49ft) lead the way to a vertical tunnel that plummets to 42m (138ft). This makes it ideal for both training and recreational challenges, with plenty on offer for newbies, technical divers, and freedivers like Guillaume Nery. This deep pool has also been the setting for film productions, record attempts, and even weddings.

Among its many accolades, Y-40’s sunken bridge is another world first: a transparent walkway that gives visitors a glimpse into a diver’s domain. Elsewhere, the complex has a shop, restaurant, spa and sunbathing deck, as well as a specialist diving medical clinic. If you’re planning a visit, don’t forget to check out the 3D interactive maps on the Y-40 app.

Learn more and book your visit: Y-40 The Deep Joy

3. Abyssea, France

While it’s pretty deep (20m/66ft), the Abyssea pool in Civaux is less of a diving pool and more of a fully featured aquatic centre.

Firstly, for scuba divers and freedivers, the 31ºC (88ºF) water is perfectly comfortable for extended bottom times. The pool’s walls are lined with colourful photos of coral and marine life, and there’s even underwater music!

Secondly, for non-divers, Abyssea offers a child-friendly swimming pool, a hydrotherapy centre, aqua classes, a giant water slide, and even a bowling alley. With something for everyone, it’s undeniably a fun-filled destination for any family day out.

Learn more and book your visit: Abyssea

4. Divecube Hotel, Taiwan

Located in central Taichung, Divecube opened in 2017 to be a convenient underwater haven for city-goers, a hub for research and rescue training, and a way to educate divers on ocean awareness before visiting the island’s delicate reefs.

Created by the same experts behind Y-40, this diving pool may not be as deep (21m/69ft) or large (2.1 million litres), but it’s just as outstanding. Enter the water and you’ll be immersed in a 30ºC (86ºF) world across five depth levels, complete with an artificial coral reef cave system. Windows and portholes beneath the surface give divers stunning panoramas of Taichung’s skyline, as well as spectator galleries for restaurant visitors.

Divecube also boasts unique and memorable interiors. A penetrable shipwreck at 3m (10ft) features decorations made by Life of Pi’s scenographer — look out for the hidden treasure chest. In the dive shop, there’s seating that replicates the movie’s lifeboat, while the hotel’s 30 rooms are even modelled on ship cabins.

Learn more and book your visit: Divecube Hotel

A freediver peering through one of the large windows at K-26 in South Korea
K-26, South Korea

5. K-26, South Korea

About an hour’s drive from Seoul, in the heart of Gapyeong, is K-26. Don’t be deceived by the building’s unassuming exterior: this is home to Asia’s deepest diving pool.

Stepping through the doors, you’ll be immediately greeted by underwater action on the other side of enormous windows. Starting on the third floor, the pool is filled with 2.6 million litres of 29ºC (84ºF) water and descends to 26m (85ft), with platforms along the way at 1.3m (ft), 2.5m (8ft), and 5m (6ft). At 10m (33ft), scuba divers and freedivers can stop, look outside, and take in the views of Cheongpyeong Lake before venturing into the tunnel and straight down to the pool’s bottom.

In addition, there’s also an air chamber (akin to a diving bell), caves, and a wreck-like structure which provides great buoyancy practice. And, once you’ve finished your diving activities, the on-site cafe is a stellar spot for debriefing with your buddies.

Learn more and book your visit: K-26

Scuba divers playing a game of underwater football in Dubai's record-breaking swimming pool
Photo courtesy of Deep Dive Dubai

Deep pools: a quick recap

NameLocationDepthSize (volume)Temperature
Deep Dive DubaiDubai, UAE60m/197ft14,000,000 litres30ºC/86ºF
Y-40 The Deep JoyMontegrotto Terme, Italy42m/138ft4,300,000 litres32-34ºC/90-93ºF
K-26Gapyeong, South Korea26m/85ft2,600,000 litres29ºC/84ºC
DivecubeTaichung, Taiwan21m/69ft2,100,000 litres30ºC/86ºF
AbysseaCivaux, France20m/66ftUnconfirmed31ºC/88ºF

The NASA Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Texas, USA, where astronauts practise space scenarios while scuba diving in a pool
The NASA Neutral Buoyancy Lab

And for something completely different…

Of course, we couldn’t write about deep pools and not bring up the incredible NASA Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Texas, USA. A massive 62m x 31m (203ft x 102ft) in size and 12m (39ft) deep, it’s where astronauts practise essential space skills and scenarios in simulated microgravity with the support of trained divers and a life-size replica of the International Space Station. Sadly, it’s not open for public diving, but you could end up here with a PADI Professional career (or if you can afford the rental fee).

Plus, special mention to the couple in Utah who built their own deep pool — that’s commitment!

Scuba divers explore the sunken city at Deep Dive Dubai, which holds the Guinness World Record for the deepest pool ever
Photo courtesy of Deep Dive Dubai

Jump into the best diving pools today

Whether you’re looking for a feature-packed indoor training venue or just want to experience something out of the ordinary, make sure to add these five incredible freediving and scuba diving pools to your wishlist.

As PADI Dive Centers, these deep pools can also offer training to help you get the most out of your visit — whether you want to try scuba for the first time, give freediving a go, or extend your range with deep or technical diver training. Get started today!

Cover photo courtesy of Deep Dive Dubai

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