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Cool Pools Around the World to Inspire Your Backyard Paradise

In past posts we’ve talked about different hot tubs around the world. Today we’re going to get a little inspiration for swimming pools. You might not be able to (or want to) replicate everything that is here…but it is fun to see what other pools are like and get some ideas to incorporate back home.

infinity swimming pool in Bali jungle

The Santa Cruz County flora may be a bit different than the jungles of Bali, Indonesia, but this gorgeous infinity pool can still provide a lot of fantastic ideas for your own swimming pool.

This infinity pool is only open to the guests of the Hanging Gardens hotel. Although you can’t see it from this photo, this is actually only one of 2 layers in the pool!

Here you might see a monkey swinging from the trees as you float around and cool off. Back at home you might need to have a monkey sculpture hanging around!

swimming pool at the Australian ocean

From the tropics of Bali we head to the cold waters of Sydney, Australia for our next stunning pool.

This outdoor pool right at the edge of the ocean is billed as “the only licensed winter swimming club in the world.”

Built in 1929 for local lifeguards–specifically so they could stay in shape over the winter. The pool is colder than the ocean. And it is a salt water pool–at least on roughs days, high tides splash over the wall as swimmers take their laps!

We may have Polar Bear clubs in California, but our membership requirements aren’t as tough. To become an official Bondi Icebergs Club member, you have to swim three Sundays each winter month, and at least 75 times over five years.

huge swimming pool in Chile

Want a pool that is a bit larger–and maybe not so cold? How about this monster in Santiago, Chile?

The pool at Chile’s San Alfonso del Mar resort west of Santiago, was, until 2015, the world’s largest.

Not only can you swim here, you can take a paddle boat out–and even sailboats!

The crystal-clear pool, essentially a man-made lagoon, has a 20-acre footprint filled with 66 million gallons of water filtered from the Pacific Ocean. The deep end could fit an 11-story building.

Maybe a bit more water than you want in drought prone California, but one can dream, right?

iceland swimming pool

A little smaller scale and more rustic. This pool is Seljavallalaug, Iceland (just don’t ask me to pronounce it) is 82 feet long.

This pool is built into the side of a mountain. Now that is something we can use for inspiration in Santa Cruz County!

Be prepared for a hike if you plan to visit. The pool is open to the public, but it takes a half hour rocky hike through a river valley to reach!

This is Iceland’s oldest outdoor geothermal pool, Iceland’s oldest. It was built in 1923 to teach locals how to swim.

So few people–locals or tourists–visit, you may have a wild swim (watch the algae), with its views of snowy mountains, all to yourself.

hearst castle calif swimming pool

A little closer to home is this pool at Hearst Castle in San Simeon–just down the road a bit.

Actually this is not just one pool, but two.

William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan in 1924 began working on this pair of pools. 12 years later, they were done.

Although leaks caused the massive outdoor Neptune pool to be closed, the extravagantly-tiled indoor Roman Pool is still a tour stop. It’s meant to evoke an ancient Roman bath, and features eight statues of Roman and Greek gods and athletes.

So now you’ve had a little awe-inspiration. Let us know if you are going to visit one of these beauties or if you find a way to translate a little of it into your Santa Cruz swimming pool!

See more incredible swimming pools around the world in this article by National Geographic.

Photo credits:

Bali, Indonesia infinity pool photograph courtesy of Hanging Gardens of Bali

Sydney, Australia ocean side pool Photograph by Sydney Photographer, Alamy Stock Photo

Santiago, Chile huge pool Photograph by Hemis, Alamy Stock Photo

Seljavallalaug, Iceland swimming pool Photograph by Anna Gorin, Getty Images

Hearst Castle pool Photograph by Melvyn Longhurst, Alamy Stock Photo

Make Sure Your Spa or Hot Tub is Not Harboring Deadly Legionnaire’s Disease

Legionella bacteria

You may have seen in the news recently that health club visitors at several Orlando, Florida area fitness facilities have contracted Legionnaire’s Disease. The source has been tracked to their hot tubs.

OK, this happened in Florida, but that is not because of anything unique to that state. Although their high heat and humidity might, emphasis on might, be a contributing factor. This does serve as a timely reminder to all of us who enjoy spending time in hot water for health reasons, as well as for recreation.

Unlike other illnesses that are tracked to hot tubs, Legionnaire’s Disease (legionellosis) is actually spread through the air. A person can contract this respiratory illness by inhaling water vapor, such as steam or mist, if the body of water you are in is hosting the legionella bacteria.

Legionnaire’s Disease is not really a ‘hot tub issue’, per se.

According to the CDC:

…the key to preventing legionellosis is making sure that the water systems in buildings are maintained in order to reduce the risk of growing and spreading Legionella.

Legionella grow best in warm water, like hot tubs, but can also be found in

  • Hot water tanks and heaters
  • Large plumbing systems
  • Cooling towers (air-conditioning systems for large buildings)
  • Decorative fountains
  • Showers…yep, even the shower

You may remember the first outbreaks of LD were traced back to an air-conditioning system.

Now, your private hot tub is safer than a spa found in a large facility. That doesn’t mean you can’t be harboring this bacteria.

Naturally this leads to the question:

How Do I Keep My Friends and Family Safely Enjoying My Hot Tub?

boys enjoying hot tub

The most important factor in keeping your hot tub safe is to be sure you are using the disinfecting chemicals properly!

For most of our customers, the disinfecting chemical is chlorine. Other customer’s systems use bromine. So you want to be sure you keep your spa chlorine or bromine levels set appropriately.

The other pool chemistry that is important to regulate is the pH level.

If you are not sure how, contact us or another pool cleaning pro to check out your spa or teach you how.

If you go to a public facility, locally or while on vacation out of town, you don’t have the ability to test the system yourself. And you can’t judge the safety just because the water “looks clean.”

The CDC recommends you ask the following questions of the operator of the hot tub:

  • What was the most recent health inspection score for the hot tub?
  • Are disinfectant and pH levels checked at least twice per day?
  • Are disinfectant and pH levels checked more often when the hot tub is being used by a lot of people?
  • Are the following maintenance activities performed regularly:
    • Removal of the slime or biofilm layer by scrubbing and cleaning?
    • Replacement of the hot tub water filter according to manufacturer’s recommendations?
    • Replacement of hot tub water?

Sure, we can’t go with you to check the facilities while you are on vacation…hmmm…let us know where you are going and maybe we’ll join you!  But we sure can help ensure that you are safely enjoying your hot tub at home.

Give us a call at 831-438-0882 if you have any concerns about your pool or spa chemistry.

Photo of Legionella bacteria courtesy of Barclay Water Management

Swimming the Good Life in Beautiful Capitola, California

Capitola California vacation homes with pool and spa

Capitola, California is a very popular place for second homes and vacation rentals.

Between the wharf and the whales (and other ocean critters) you can sure see why!

whale off Capitola coastline

Our wonderful customer Karon has both a pool and a spa.
A recent widow, Karon has turned to Surf City to maintain her vacation homes pool and spa.
We brought both up to date–and she sent us this great note!


Thank You note to Surf City from Capitola pool owner

Thanks for making our day, Karon!
We look forward to helping you keep your Capitola pool and spa sparkling and running great for years to come!

Read more about our happy customers

Photo of the Capitola wharf via the brokerage properties

Photo of the whale off the Capitola coast via Redfin

santa cruz hot tub among fire debris

Incredibly, Hot Tub Scorched–Still Standing After Loma Fire Devours Yard

You have got to see the photo to believe it!

We certainly don’t suggest you put your hot tub to this sort of test! And we hope none of us has to face another fire…

But we just had to share a photo that one of our customers sent after the Loma fire hit Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties last fall. If you weren’t in the area hardest hit, you might not be aware that this fire destroyed almost 4500 acres including 12 homes.

The message we got with the photo says it all:

The tub is always gonna save the day

Enjoy your hot tub, and let it save your aching muscles…whether it is to warm them up after lots of rain, or to relax after a hard day’s work rebuilding, or just for fun. After all one of the best things about living in Santa Cruz County is the peaceful relaxation in your backyard hot tub, am I right?

But Smoky says, in case of forest fire, please evacuate!

Warming Our Hearts During the Holidays

Michael Hall and presents

At Surf City Pool Spa and Solar we love helping make your holidays warm and bubbly–by keeping your hot tubs running great.

And even though every year I seem to look more and more like St. Nick, it warms my heart when our customers appreciate our efforts so much they give us Christmas gifts.

This particular shot was taken after Patsy, who happens to be 83 years young, handed me these beautiful presents in Santa Cruz this week. Even though she is on a very strict budge, she always finds time to give me smiles.

Thank you, and Merry Christmas Patsy!

We Love Getting Notes from Our Happy Hot Tub Customers

thank you note

This note came from a very nice couple in Santa Cruz. They use their hot tub for medical purposes.

They needed their tub fixed in a hurry.

We did just that.

thank you note from customers

Don’t you love a story with a happy ending?

Solar Heating Extends the Swimming Season in Santa Cruz County

The roof after Solar heating installation in Santa Cruz

Coil Swimming Pool Solar Heating System in place

All across Santa Cruz County many people are wishing they could still be enjoying their pools and hot tubs. At the same time, they really don’t want to have to pay to heat them all winter long.

Fortunately we have a lot of sunshine, even though we also get the coastal fog! We get enough sun, especially in the fall and spring to allow for solar heating systems to extend our water fun.

There are a lot of different types of solar heating systems available. Whether you are wanting something to heat a small hot tub or spa or a large family swimming pool will determine what is the best unit for your home or business.

Another factor to consider is just how warm you want the water to be, and how “hands off” you want your system to be. Believe it or not, you can actually have a solar heating system that can make your swimming pool TOO hot! It is important to know the size and capacity of the unit, the location of your solar panels (or coils as show in the photo of an install we did last year) and the amount of time you use your pool.

For some people a good cover may be enough. Other people will need to have a pretty sophisticated system that processes a lot of water.

We can help walk you through the options and determine which solar heating system is the best for your family pool, spa or hot tub.

OUCH! West Nile Virus Found in Santa Cruz County


West Nile has arrived according to county officials.

Don’t let your Santa Cruz swimming pool harbor the mosquitoes that carry the virus!

Santa Cruz County Mosquito and Vector Control collected a sampling of seven northern house mosquitoes at the lagoon July 12 with a dry-ice baited trap. The virus-positive results were reported by the Davis Arbovirus Research and Training Lab at UC Davis on Friday, and publicized Monday.

Warm weather has the virus infected mosquitoes appearing earlier than normal. Be aware, and take precautions. And be sure to keep your pool properly maintained.

Mosquitoes love stagnant water–not clean, circulating pool water. If you regularly use your pool, it is not going to harbor mosquitoes.

Be sure to empty any standing water that may be found near the pool, such as saucers under potted plants.

If you are not able to take care of your pool, give us a call and we can be sure that your pool is properly maintained and mosquito free so you can spend your time enjoying the water, not worrying about it.

Click here to read the original article from the Santa Cruz Sentinel by Jessica A York

For more information on West Nile virus, visit westnile.ca.gov.

Santa Cruz County Swimmer Sets Record

Chris Staka Aptos High Swimmer

We love swimming pools and the swimmers who use them, from little kids to retirees.

We are happy to share the news of one local swimmer, Chris Staka, a senior at Aptos High who has be recognized as one of the fastest swimmers in the country. Yep, that’s country with an ‘r’, as in the USA,, not just the count.

Aptos High's Chris Staka. (Dan Coyro -- Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Longtime Aptos High swim coach Jim Triplett earlier this year called senior Chris Staka the fastest swimmer to come out of Santa Cruz County.

Well, this month, it was announced by the NISCA that Staka officially made the list of All-Americans, placing in the top 20 prep swimmers for both freestyle and backstroke.

Staka will be leaving our county in just a few weeks for his freshman year at Alabama.

After that? He does have his eye on competing in the 2020 Olympics to be held in Tokyo. Right now, he is contemplating being part of the Croatian National Team. All of his grandparents were originally from Croatia.
Who knows what 4 more years might bring. Perhaps a spot on the US team. For now, congratulations on being one of the fastest in the water, here and across the country.


Thanks to Julie Jag and the Santa Cruz Sentinel for the original article on Staka’s accomplishment.

Photos courtesy of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Dan Coyro


Amar’e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks Fan of Red Wine Hot Tub Soak

Red Wine Ritual Hot Tub with Amar’e Stoudemire

In our tour of hot tubs filled with odd liquids around the world, this week we visit Aire Ancient Baths, in New York City.

At Aire you can get a variety of spa treatments and combinations. Yoga sessions, classical music (live, not piped in), 4 handed massages are just some of the options you have.

One that particularly caught our eye is the Red Wine Ritual, of course it is touted as providing lots of health benefits.

If you are a basketball fan, you may fine it interesting to note that Amar’e Stoudemire, 32-year-old power forward and center for the New York Knicks, enjoys a did. Apparently this is part of his off-day recovery routine. Hmmm. Recovery? Really?

According to Aire’s website, you will have a 30 minute soak in the bath with is a concentrate of tempranillo grapes from the Matarromera winery in Spain.

The red wine hot tub experience is reported good for the skin and provides antioxidants and hydration.

The harsh interview lighting didn’t do the spa justice–it made it look more like a back alley affair. Here is Aire’s official shot–check out those bubbles of red wine and the strategically placed beam of light.


This indulgent experience doesn’t stop there, it continues with a 90 minute exfoliating massage, a body wrap, and a 90 minute Thermal Session. During that time you sit in hot tubs at different temperatures, enjoy a steam room and a saltwater pool.

By the way, they mention you can sip tea during the session. No mention of drinking wine–from the hot tub or by the glass. Although their photo shows a bottle of wine and glass, poolside. With or without the drinkable wine, be prepared to pony up for this experience. The weekday rate is $564.

Want to read more fun filled hot tubs? Check out our posts on the Pork Ramen Pool and the Beer Filled Hot Tub.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal

Photo of Amar’e Stoudemire enjoying his soak courtesy of ESPN

Photo of Aire Red Wine Ritual from their website