Tropical Pool Designs: Creating a Paradise in Your Backyard

There are lots of reasons to get a swimming pool, but for many homeowners, it’s all about having a little slice of heaven in your backyard. After all, who wouldn’t love to be able to step outside their house and into their own private oasis?

This, in a nutshell, is why many prospective pool owners gravitate toward tropical pool designs. A tropical-themed swimming pool makes relaxing in your backyard seem like an exotic getaway. With the right plants, landscaping, and outdoor decor, you can create a miniature paradise that you can visit whenever you need a break from everyday life.

There are plenty of ways to add a tropical vibe to your pool, from the simple (and cheap) to the elaborate (and expensive). Here are a few ideas to consider.


Many tropical pools are built to resemble lagoons, with curvy freeform designs. In the past, this meant getting a custom pool made of gunite. However, these days you can find fiberglass pool shells in a variety of freeform shapes, so your options aren’t quite as limited. The only trouble is that freeform pools aren’t as space-efficient as geometric pools, and don’t blend easily with most architecture. If you’ve got a smaller space to work with, a freeform pool might not be the best fit.

Pool Features

Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to add a sense of tropical splendor to your pool, including diving stones, bubblers, and rock waterfalls. The right interior finish can make the water color a bright turquoise or a deep ocean blue. More radical (and costly) options include baja shelves, beach entries, and vanishing edges.

Freeform inground swimming pool surrounded by tropical plants, with stone path leading up to it
You can go crazy on features for your tropical pool.


Of course, the pool itself is only one part of your backyard paradise. The area around the pool does as much, or even more, to create the tropical effect you’re going for. If you live in a warmer area, consider actual tropical plants like palm trees and birds of paradise. Regardless, the area should appear lush, with layers of bright plants (potted or planted) surrounding the pool and providing a sense of seclusion. Rocks and boulders are also welcome inclusions.


Use lighting around and inside the pool to support the tropical theme. Tiki torches are a fun option. Also, consider soft lighting that highlights the plants and other tropical elements of your poolscape. Inside the pool, there’s no better way to create a striking effect than with colorful LED lighting.

Small inground pool with tropical plants and colorful deck pavers
Plants are essential for creating a sense of tropical seclusion.


Finding tropical-themed furniture for your pool area should be no problem. Look for furniture made of teak, rattan, bamboo, or similar materials, with upholstery and cushions featuring bright colors and/or floral patterns. But most importantly, don’t forget to choose furniture that’s comfortable. After all, the whole point is to have a place to relax while you enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds of own your tropical hotspot. A hammock could fit the bill here.

Personal Touches

It may be a tropical pool, but it’s still your pool. So be sure to add some finishing touches that put your personality on display. How about a whimsical sign pointing the direction to Key West? Or an authentic Hawaiian statue? Decorations that speak to your sense of style – or your sense of humor – are the perfect way to top off your tropical poolscape.

If it’s not obvious by now, you can really go overboard with a tropical pool design. Many of the ideas listed here can tack on thousands to a pool construction or renovation project. Even the modest features can add up to a major expense when you combine them.

But then, the cost of an exotic vacation isn’t cheap either. With a tropical swimming pool, you don’t have to leave your backyard to enjoy a taste of paradise.