Destinations / Travel

10 of Sydney’s best rock pools to add to your summer bucket list

10 of Sydney's best rock pools to add to your summer bucket list

If you're someone who prefers not to be battered by waves, or whose fear of the ocean can be deterring, but who still wants all the glorious effects of immersing themselves in sea water, then the ocean pool is your perfect swimming spot. Usually free, they're a great way to swim a couple laps or splash about without the tides and sharks and other parts of ocean swimming that can feel a bit overwhelming sometimes.

We're lucky to have dozens of these man-made ocean and rock pools to choose from, nestled into Sydney's beaches – you could practically visit a different one every weekend throughout summer and hardly run out of options. Each has their own unique features – concrete barriers, rock boulders or swimming lanes. So below, we've rounded up a definitive and near exhaustive list of all the best rock and ocean pools Sydney – and the surrounding areas – have to offer this summer.


1. Bronte Rockpool


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If you don't want to travel far, and don't mind sharing your spot with a flurry of other swimmers, then Bronte Rockpool is the best spot to – both literally and metaphorically – dip your toes into the world of Sydney rock pools. Nestled into the carved-out face of a cliff, it's a beautiful spot to nap, read, or swim laps (it's 30 metres in length).


2. Wylie’s Baths, Coogee

One of the city's most historic rock pools is Wylie's Baths, which dates back more than 110 years. It's still in an accessible spot – just south of busy Coogee Beach – but will cost you admission ($5.50 for adults, $2.60 for children, or $15 for a family).


3. McIver's Ladies Baths, Coogee


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Sydney's last remaining rock pool dedicated exclusively to women and children, McIver's Ladies Baths is $2.50 entry and is perched on a cliff face and rock platform between Coogee Beach and Wylie's Baths. The 32-metre long pool is perfect for swimming some morning laps, and you can even get a hot shower at 20 cents-per-two-minutes.


4. Mona Vale Rock Pool

Situated on the photogenic shores of North Sydney, the Mona Vale Rockpool has waves crashing in from all sides. In fact, there are actually two rock pools here – one suitable for toddlers, and a larger pool measuring 30 metres for bigger kids and adults. Sure, it's a bit further out of town for most of us – but you can catch public transport from Manly, or parking is available on site. Access to the pool is free for all.


5. Mahon Rockpool


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Just north of Maroubra Beach, at the base of Jack Vanny Reserve, is the free Mahon Rockpool. Accessibility is via some steep steps, so it may not be appropriate for all, but it does have some adjoining toilets, change rooms and showers for visitors. Built in the 30s using the foundation of a naturally formed seaside rock pool, it's recently become one of the preferred training venues of the Sydney Swans AFL team.


6. North Curl Curl Rock Pool

Curl Curl Beach is the locus of a couple rock pools, but this one is a favourite for its beautiful location and 25-metre length. Not only is it one of Sydney's best rock pools, but it's also one of its most secluded, accessible at low-tide, and subject to crashing waves throughout the day. It's also free and accessible by public transport.


7. Fairy Bower Ocean Pool


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This triangular ocean pool is one of Manly's best pools – located about halfway between Manly and Shelly Beach. Sculptures created by Helen Leete known as 'The Sea Nymphs' or 'The Oceanides' are perched along the rock edge.


8. MacCallum Pool, Cremorne

This restored 1920s rock pool located on the western side of Cremorne Point is a great place for taking in the incredible harbour views. Swim some laps in the 33-metre-long pool, or sunbake waterside on its timber deck.


9. Freshwater Ocean Pool

For those looking to get a good set of laps in, this 50-metre Olympic-sized pool at the northern end of Freshwater Beach with lane markings on the floor. Tucked into the rocks, there's easy access is via the beach – though at high tide you may need to take off any footwear to keep dry.

There’s a shower in the open under the cliff by the pool, but no changing rooms open to the public.


10. Icebergs, Bondi


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No list of Sydney's best rock pools would be complete without Bondi's iconic Icebergs pools. A place of rich history, it's also the only licensed Swimming Club in the world. You can join the club for access to the Bondi Baths – which features both a larger lap pool and smaller kid’s pool, with qualified lifeguards are on patrol during opening hours all year round. There's also a sauna located on the pool deck level, which is included in the price of your pool admission, along with hot showers.


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Images via Unsplashed: one, two.