Ocean pools appeal to many senses – sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste.
Ocean pools are public infinity pools offering a clear view out to sea as far as the horizon. The ocean provides an endlessly changing spectacle. On calm days, it is a pleasure to see through clear water and gaze at the plant and animals in and around the pool. On days of storms and high seas, ocean pools are good places to admire the power of nature. Ocean pools are also splendid places for viewing sunrises or sunsets or gazing along the coast. Swimming in an ocean pool at night by moonlight, artificial light or in a pool lit by neither of those light sources offers a differ set of visual pleasures. Not surprisingly, ocean pools have strong appeal for many for visual artists.
‘The gaze’ (especially the heritage consultant’s gaze and the non-swimming aesthete’s gaze) can, however, be inappropriately prized over the sensual immersive experiences and cherished cultural practices linked to ocean pools.
Buoyant salt water makes it easier to float in an ocean pool than in a fresh water pool. Waves keep the water lively and allow for adventure play. Because the surfaces and surrounds of ocean pools may be natural rock or concrete and serve as habitats for the plants and animals of the sea and rocky shore, they can feel quite different to the surfaces and surrounds at other pools, swimming environments and bathing places.
The sound of the ocean is always present, sometimes soothing, at other times seething.
Ocean pools smell of the sea rather than pool treatment chemicals. This is wonderful where the coastal waters are clean and ocean pools are well maintained, but can be problematic when coastal waters are polluted, seaweed builds up and decays around the pool or in the rare cases, where a whale carcass washes up at or near an ocean pool.
While swimmers at ocean pools can taste the salt on their lips, taste appears to contribute less than other senses to the enjoyment of ocean pools.