Oh, pool hopping! It may be one of my favorite Universal for adults activities! (You can check out my favorite Disney for adults acitivity, the monorail pub crawl, here and don’t forget all the amazing restaurants while over at Disney.)
Before I start this, I need to say that it is unclear if this is technically allowed. At the very least, you need to be staying at a Universal Studios hotel. Since, I have heard mixed information. What I do know for sure is that no one stopped us and questioned which hotel we were staying at. But I always advise you to follow the rules of the Universal hotels, and ask the front desk or the concierge.
A very important part of pool hoping and to make it truly a Universal for adults activities, is the poolside drinks portion of pool hoping! We get a drink or two at every stop. It is a perfect way to have a wonderfully relaxing and fun afternoon!
You can pool hop any order you want. This guide is for the Universal Florida hotels. We usually start with the Cabana Bay Beach Resort since it is the furthest from our other stops. There is a free shuttle that brings you to the guest drop off location by the parks and then you can walk to the other stops.
Stop #1 – Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Cabana Bay Beach Resort is retro fun bringing you back to Florida beach and surf hotels from the 50’s and 60’s. It is what Universal classifies as a Prime Value hotel, meaning it is on their economy side. That doesn’t mean they skipped any fun! You would have no idea going into this hotel that they consider it one of their economy hotels. The theming is awesome, and they have great pools!
Cabana Bay is a large hotel which makes sense why they have some of the largest pools and multiple options!
Cabana Bay Pool Stop #1 – Lazy River and Courtyard Pool
Who doesn’t love a lazy river? One of my favorite things is to jump on an innertube and just lay and let the water take me. It is a relaxing Universal for adults activity. Please note, Cabana Bay doesn’t have innertubes to rent. You can buy them there. The price isn’t crazy. It is about $7 and up depending on if you want the small or large size, but you can get innertubes for a couple of dollars back home. So, buy a few before you go and spend that money on some extra drinks!
The Lazy River is right next to the Courtyard Pool and its sandy beach!
Drink Time! – Hideaway Bar & Grill
Located near the Lazy River is Hideaway Bar & Grill. It serves up poolside snacks, lunch, and good cold drinks. We found the drinks at Cabana Bay were cheaper than the other hotel pools we visited. Something to keep in mind!
Cabana Bay Pool Stop #2 – Cabana Pool and Courtyard
This is the bigger of the two pools at Cabana Bay and has the best waterslide out of all our stops. Maybe you think waterslides aren’t a Universal for adults activity and should be left for kids. I disagree! I love speeding down the slides and then heading over to the pool bar!
Drink Time! – Atomic Tonic Bar
Located near the Cabana Pool and Courtyard, Atomic Tonic serves up refreshing drinks, snacks, and lunch!
Bonus: The Courtyard has fun yard games to play. They also have poolside contests. Check with the front desk for dates and times.
Stop #2 – Hard Rock Hotel
I think you can guess the theme of this hotel. Their mantra, “Live like a rock legend,” is taken seriously at this hotel!
At the Hard Rock Hotel pool they play music underwater! We play a game where we go under water and whoever can pop back up first with the name of the song wins. It was like “Name That Tune” underwater edition. Whoever loses, has to buy the other person a drink!
There are also hot tubs, a sandy beach, volleyball and my favorites- a waterslide and a bar super close to the pool, could you ask for more? This brings me to…
Drink time! – Beachclub
The Beachclub serves up beverages, snacks, and lunch.
Bonus: Be sure to check out the hotel itself to see the music memorabilia. They also tout poolside games. We haven’t seen any the times we went, but if you want to be sure to catch them or avoid them, you can ask the front desk for the schedule.
From the Hard Rock Hotel you can take a nice walk over to Portofino Bay. It takes about ten mins.
Stop #3 – Portofino Bay
This is my favorite hotel. It feels the most Universal for adults. It is styled after the seaside village of Portofino Bay, Italy. The Harbor Piazza, or square, overlooks the water and is surrounded by restaurants, shops, and bars. Every time I come to Universal, my number one choice to stay is Portofino Bay. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but we still find ourselves hanging out here, a lot.
Pool Time! – The Beach Pool
There are a couple of options for pools, the Beach Pool, The Hillside Pool, and the Villa Pool. I’m going to suggest the Beach Pool, which is the most lively of the three! The Beach Pool has a Roman aqueduct themed waterslide, a sandy beach, and hot tubs! If you want something on the quieter side, then checkout The Hillside Pool or the Villa Pool.
Drink Time! – Spendido Bar and Grill
Your drink spot is the Spendido Bar and Grill which is located right next to the Beach Pool. They also serve snacks and lunch!
It’s getting late. Now what?
Now you have pool hopped your way through the Universal pools! Yes, there are other resort hotel pools and I encourage you to check those out. I included my three favorites. We always tell ourselves we are going to do four stops the next time, but three always feels like the right number.
After all that hard work, you deserve even more relaxing. I’m going to make a suggestion for the rest of your evening. If you have followed this plan, you are now at Portofino Bay. Throw on your swimsuit coverup, head over to Harbor Piazza, get a drink at the Thirsty Fish, and then grab a seat outside.
Enjoy people watching, looking out over the beautiful water and then as the sunsets sit back and listen. Opera singers will come out onto a balcony and serenade the whole piazza. This is Portofino’s Musica della Notte or Music of the Night. They sing everything from opera, to pop, to traditional Italian songs. It is a perfect way to end your evening.
Are you hungry? Plan ahead and make a reservation at Mama Della’s Ristorante for after the music performance where you will also get to enjoy strolling musicians and of course, delicious food! When we stop here for dinner during our pool hoping day (which is almost every time!) I usually bring a change of clothes and throw my hair up into a bun.
Let me add that the customer service is amazing. One time we forgot to make a reservation and just stopped by at the end of our pool hoping. The host apologized to us for not having anything open at that time (completely our fault, not his) then told us to head over to the Thirsty Fish across the way for a drink and he would get us in as soon as he could. When we got there, which is about a 60 sec walk, he had already called ahead and the bartender was waiting for us. He said, “You must be Kim and Wyatt. What drinks would you like, they are on the house.” We are now customers for life!
And you’re done!
Good work. You have spent an amazing afternoon enjoying pools, drinks, and the sun. I’d love to hear about your experience pool hopping or answer any questions you have. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the TravelHive team and contact us.