Pool Grotto Pros & Cons (Estimated Costs & Ideas)

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Installing a grotto by your pool creates a cozy, beautiful, and meditative atmosphere. If you like to sit beneath the waterfall after a long day, or just enjoy watching the waterfall to relax, grottos can grant you that pleasure. 

They might also be entrances to secret spas or hidden bars. The possibilities for what your grotto can do are endless.

We want to talk about the ins and outs of owning a grotto and give you some ideas on creating your own grotto.

What Exactly Is a Pool Grotto?

Some people refer to the beautiful cave or rock-like structures over pools as “caves,” but they are often called “grottos.” 

They will usually have a waterfall or water slide attached to them, making your pool look more aesthetically pleasing, enhancing the pool experience. You might create a space inside the grotto to swim through before exiting outside through the waterfall.

Pool grottos also make the pool look more like a natural body of water, thanks to the grotto’s natural, rock-like appearance. You can customize these rocks in any color you like to fit the aesthetic of your pool area. 

Pro #1: The Aesthetic Value Is Amazing

No one can deny that pool grottos simply look cool. Imagine walking onto a pool area and seeing a remarkable rock structure at one end with a waterfall or some lights shining on it. Suddenly, swimming in that pool looks a lot more appealing.

Pro #2: They Make Awesome Backdrops for Pictures or Videos

A pool grotto also makes for an incredible filming location. If you happen to have a swimmable mermaid tail or a funny floating device, you can take pictures or film videos in front of the grotto and pretend you are somewhere exotic instead of your own backyard. 

Pro #3: Numerous Customization Possibilities 

As you will soon see, there are many ways to design and create a pool grotto. They do not just have to have a waterfall. A grotto can be a swim-up bar, a secret loveseat, a hidden hot tub spot, or even a place for a water slide. Sometimes, they can simply be a small cave at one end of your pool; no extra bells or whistles are necessary.

Pro #4: Better Water Circulation

This pro only pertains to grottos with waterfalls. That is because waterfalls help keep water circulating through your pool, helping to keep it clean. In that sense, you do not have to work as hard to distribute chemicals in the water evenly. 

Pro #5: They Add Value to Your Home

If you ever have to sell your home, a grotto can instantly delight and intrigue potential owners. While they will not add an exponential amount of value to your home, you might have a higher chance of selling with something so lovely and usable in your backyard. 

Con #1: They Cost a Pretty Penny

In other words, pool grottos can be an expensive undertaking.

As you will see below, you’d have to invest a lot of money in building even the most basic model. 

There is a reason you typically only see pool grottos at hotels and resorts because building and maintaining them requires a huge budget. Not to mention the time needed to clean them.

Speaking of… 

Con #2: Your Cleanup Routine Just Increased

A pool by itself takes some time to clean, but a grotto only adds to your pool cleanup routine. You will need to keep the waterfall pump and crevices between the rocks clean so they do not age too fast from weather exposure and natural erosion. 

Using saltwater can significantly erode your grotto, so take extra care if you use it.

How Much Does a Pool Grotto Cost?

Constructing a pool grotto depends on the materials you are using and labor costs where you live. The cost will also affect what kind of design you will use.

The more elaborate the design, the more expensive the pool grotto will be. In that case, you can bet on the cost of a pool grotto going anywhere from $5,000 to even $50,000.

Do not worry, though: a waterfall grotto with a loveseat is still feasible on a $5,000 to $10,000 budget. In fact, that model is probably the cheapest you can go. You will probably pay the most money for grottos made from fiberglass, engineered rock, or even real rock.

It goes without saying, but do not make a pool grotto a DIY project. If not done right, the structure can collapse, which can be dangerous for people swimming in or around the grotto. 

Only work with a team of experienced construction workers when designing and building your grotto. 

Pool Grotto Ideas

Depending on your budget, not every single pool grotto design idea is feasible. However, you can still make the grotto stand out by adding small touches here and there.

Swim-Through Waterfalls

While touch is more expensive than a traditional waterfall, adding a swim-through waterfall creates a cozy atmosphere and adds more space to play.

With a swim-through waterfall, kids can race around the grotto and come out through the falls. Or you can stand beneath the falls and have a short shower (with your swimsuit on, of course). Either way, a swim-through waterfall invites plenty of opportunities for fun and relaxation.

Dry Caves

In some ways, a grotto can be a refuge on your pool deck.

For example, if you have a bar area by your pool, you can build the grotto around it. You can either swim up to the bar or climb out and dry off before enjoying a drink. 

Plus, the grotto can act as a roof for your bar when it starts to rain. You might even have enough space in your grotto to host a small get-together, though that might rank up the cost a bit.

Water Slide

If you have kids or are just a playful pool owner, you might enjoy having a water slide starting at the top of the grotto. Nothing lightens up a pool party than the sound of people laughing and splashing on a slide.

Depending on your budget, you might include a stream of water flowing down the slide. That helps you slide down the slide faster and adds a nice ambiance.

You will need to consult with your construction team for this. After all, you will be climbing on top of the grotto to reach the slide. So build some solid stairs and include a railing to reach the top safely.

Light-Up Grotto

You can design a simple grotto but still add little touches to it, namely lights. You might string lights up around the edges or install some lights in the ground to dramatically light the grotto from below. Adding fairy lights on some grottos can add a magical or otherworldly touch.

For an extra touch, you might consider adding lights in the trees above the grotto or the whole yard. Nothing is more magical than adding fairy lights around your deck space on a calm evening.

It is a good idea to consult with your construction team about lights. You will need enough power to run both the waterfall and the lights, so make sure you do not overwhelm your fuse box (or your electric bill, for that matter). 

Also, make sure you do not run lights anywhere because they might come into contact with water (you can picture the results yourself).

Waterfall and Loveseat

If you want to create a romantic spot in your grotto, adding a loveseat and a waterfall might be something to try. The grotto would not be anything spectacular, but the loveseat, and any decorations you may add, can make it unique.

The loveseat will usually sit behind the waterfall. Visibility to the pool area will vary depending on the size of your waterfall, though the seat will be far back enough that you will not get sprayed.

You might add cup holders or a tray for refreshments by the seat. If it is safe, add lights for ambiance.

Hot Tub Grotto

If you would still prefer a romantic atmosphere for your grotto but would rather not obscure your view with a waterfall, consider a hot tub.

The setup is simple: build a grotto around your hot tub (or build a hot tub in your grotto) and ensure the waterfall does not obstruct your view. Or perhaps the water will fall on the edge of the hot tub under the grotto, away from where people will sit.

You can add the staples of a hot tub, including some cup holders and custom lights, to enhance the experience. After all, few things are as relaxing as sitting in a hot tub with a waterfall splashing nearby.


Pool grottos add a touch of peace and enchantment to your pool. No matter what design you choose, you are upping the value of your home and enhancing how you enjoy your pool.

The Pool Care Handbook & Video Course

by Swim University
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