Discovering a secret swimming hole to call your own for the afternoon is one of the greatest pleasures mankind can ever experience. For in that moment, the feeling of pure escapism into the wild realms of nature will make you feel more alive than you have done in eons.

“But where do I go?” we hear you cry. Thankfully we’ve scoured the most secluded rivers, coastlines and lakes near Sydney with a fine toothed adventure comb, and have drawn together the following list of places you really need to add to your weekend bucket list:

Victoria Falls

Dips that follows profuse sweating are the best kind of dips. Fact. Once you catch your breath and look up to absorb your surroundings, it’s even better when you realise you’re paddling in Eden. Welcome to Victoria Falls. Drive West via the Great Western Highway to back of the Blue Mountains, and head right onto Victoria Falls Road. Once at the secluded car park it’s a short and steep walk down to the cascading falls and inviting rock pool.

Resolute Beach

If you’re sat in your Sydney flat and suddenly get the hankering for a beach escape that doesn’t involve towel sharing with a sweating stranger, then Resolute beach promises to tickle your pickle. Just 1 hour north of Sydney’s CBD, it’s wonderfully wild and as close to paradise as you’ll find near the city. Drive to the picnic area on West Head Road in Ku-Ring-Gai National Park and follow the relatively short walking trail down this dreamy beach.

Karloo Pools

Hiding in the Royal National Park are several cheeky little swimming holes that reward Sydney’s weekend explorers. My fave is Karloo Pools; a little pocket of paradise that lies along the Karloo walking track starting at Heathcote train station. That’s right, who say’s you need a car for weekend escapism?! Enjoy the views on the trek down and don’t forget your camera – this one’s an absolute beauty.

Figure of Eight Pools

This mysterious place looks like a Giant had several misfires with his hole punch. It’s a spectacular sight to behold and rewards the more intrepid hikers who venture to the south of the Royal National Park, approximately 500m south of Burning Palms Beach. It’s like a tight-arse’s hot tub, but an almightily cool way to impress your mates or your better half. Pack your cool box and get down there!

Mermaid Pools

Packing an extra pair of swimmers is advised for those brave enough to properly explore Mermaid Falls. It’s like the real-life dream of a cliff-jumper, such is the way that the sandstone cliffs have been carved out around the pools along Bargo River Gorge. To get here you’ll need to drive 1 hour South West of Sydney to Tahmoor, and once at the car park at Charles Point Road, it’s a 1.5 hr round trip to these infamous pools.

Jerusalem Bay

The Hawkesbury lies 1 hour from Sydney but feels like 10. It’s surrounded by bushland and dotted along it’s course and inlets are remote beaches for you to stick your metaphorical flag into for the day. Accessible along the Great North Walk near Cowan Station but best reached via boat or kayak, this is certainly a place to put on your adventure bucket list. For the rock-climbers amongst you there’s a great spot at the end of the bay that allows for a lovely plop into the serene waters if you miss your grip!

Bungonia

Now this one’s to be treated with serious caution and is accessible only to those with the skills (and kahunas) to access it. Several epic waterfalls up to 70m high lie along Bungonia Creek Canyon and to descend to the string of swimming holes at the bottom you’ll need to abseil down to each one. The views through the valley once you get down are nothing short of magnificent, and you’ll be feeling like one of the early pioneering explorers after a day here. Bungonia is located near Goulburn in the SW of Sydney.

Junction Pools

Accessed by 4×4 only, this remote slice of heaven is an adventurer’s paradise found on the Barrington Tops Plateau region approximately 5 hours drive north of Sydney, through Gloucester and onto the Barrington Trail. The river is a seriously inviting wild swim, winding through the valley into an impressive sight know as Black Swamp. In addition to your swimwear, don’t forget to pack your fishing rod – you may just be cooking up a BBQ fish dinner if you get lucky!

This article first appeared on The Urban List