Hot Tub or Swim Spa, Which One to Buy?


hot tub with hills in the background

Are you looking to increase the beauty of your outdoor space? You must consider adding a spa to your exteriors. The decision often comes down to two choices — a hot tub or a swim spa. Both are incredibly gorgeous.

They both look a bit similar, but they are totally different in terms of function and aesthetics. For instance, hot tubs are solely designed for relaxation purposes, while a swim spa is for physical exercise.

For people looking for a swimming pool where they can practice water exercises at home, a swim spa is your way to go. For those who need the benefits of both a hot tub and a swim spa, some manufacturers offer a hybrid system where these water jets are interconnected.

You can step out of the swim spa and enter the hot tub. Both are placed in the same yard. In this post, we are going to discuss hot tub and swim spa difference.

Swim Spa

A swim spa is just like a swimming pool, but is smaller and features a couple of jets that propel water with a high stream toward you. It allows users to practice exercises and perform workouts by swimming against the water stream. If you just want to practice regular swimming without the tides, turn these jets off and enjoy a peaceful swimming session.

In addition to swimming, you can perform many exercises in a swim spa, such as weightlifting, strength training, walking, running, and more. These pools are mostly recommended for patients who can’t practice strength-based exercises, cardio workouts, and other strenuous physical activities.

Swimming is considered the safest exercise for older people and patients who’ve undergone surgery or are suffering from a medical illness.

Hot Tubs

Hot tubs are built for relaxation. People who need a small, cozy pool where they can unwind after a long, hectic day at work should consider getting hot tubs. Like swim spas, these also have jets, except that the jets propel hot water from all sides. You can soak in a hot tub and sit here with a bunch of your friends, family members, or kids.

Hot tubs are also great for couples. Soaking in the hot water offers many health benefits, other than relaxation. It eases muscle tension and helps de-stress your mind. Unlike swim spas, hot tubs do not offer any exercise benefits. You can’t practice a workout or swim in these small tubs.

These are only for relaxation and for some fun time. If you are looking for physical activities and strenuous workout sessions, a hot tub is not for you.

Let’s take a look at the differences between a hot tub and a swim spa.


As swim spas are for exercise, they are quite bigger than hot tubs, sometimes triple the size of an average hot tub. The latter is designed only to provide you with a seating space where you can relax and sit with your friends for a while.

Swim spas also offer seating space, but they consist of a much larger tank that’s designed to offer you recreational activities and exercises.

For people with a small outdoor space, a hot tub makes a good choice. But for those who have a larger backyard with plenty of free space for a pool, a swim spa is your best bet.

Functions and Activities

Hot tubs and swim spas share many common features, including ergonomic seats, user-friendly seating areas, jets, Bluetooth, and interior lighting. The main functions that set these two apart are the high-powered jets and a spacious tank in the swim spa.

Swim spas are designed for large and young families that want to use the spa for recreational activities. The large size is geared toward athletes and fitness enthusiasts. The powerful stream of water coming from all jets create a perfect opportunity for athletes to run and jog against the tide and get some physical activity.

Hot tubs are completely different. As mentioned before, their only purpose is to serve as a spot where families can unwind.


There is a small price difference between hot tubs and swim spas. Hot tubs are comparatively cheaper, as they are smaller in size and are not as feature-packed as a swim spa. Swim spas, on the other hand, come with a powerful jetting system and a plethora of additional features.

Besides, the large tank gives you an additional space to spend some recreational time with your loved ones and swim seamlessly. The best part is both cost you less than an in-ground pool. Even if you install a hot tub and a swim spa in your backyard, they would cost you a lot lesser than a swimming pool.

Seating Space

A seating area in a hot tub can vary depending on your requirements. A hot tub can have a seating area for just two people ranging from 4-6 people. On the other hand swim spas seat no more than 3 people, although the latest models have more seating space.

Which One is the Best?

Swim spas are designed like a swimming pool, but have jetting systems like hot tubs. They are used to train your muscles and build strength. You can practice a wide range of exercises to make yourself physically fit.

The decision of choosing between a hot tub and a swim spa is totally up to you and your purpose of buying a spa in the first place. If it’s for recreational use and you intend to use the pool just to relax and spend some peaceful time, a hot tub is your best choice. Similarly, consider a hot tub if you have a small space in your backyard.

Swim spas are for athletes. If you want some physical exercise and have a large outdoor space to accommodate a pool-size structure, a swim spa is a good option. Consider costs, your use, the available space in your backyard, and other factors before making a decision.

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