Diving into some salty goodness is the quintessential Sydney summer experience. And it’s hard to compete with the glory of our rock pools. We did the hard yards by testing out every rock pool on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. You’re welcome.
Bilgola Rock Baths
This secluded gem of a rock pool is found on the southern end of Bilglola Beach. The eight-laned 50m pool is finished with concrete on both the walls and floor, making it one of the most legit rock pools for lap swimming in Sydney. Sectioned off from the main pool by a chain fence is a wading area, with a ramp leading down into it for disabled access.
There are change rooms and toilets back along the beach, just past the SLSC building and if you continue on just a little further, you’ll stumble across the beach kiosk, a necessary pitstop for a post-swim brew.
Collaroy Rock Pool
Located on the southern end of Collaroy Beach, the Collaroy rock pools are made up of an eight-lane 50m pool and a toddler pool next door. This pool complex is particularly striking – it forms a beautifully irregular shape as it follows the contours of the rockface nearby.
Soak in stunning views of Collaroy and Narrabeen to the north as you swim laps and take in your daily dose of vitamin D. With a concrete promenade, easy access for people with disability and plenty of space on the steps to hang out, you can’t go wrong with Collaroy rock pool.
Palm Beach Rock Pool
Nestled away on Sydney’s northernmost beach is the glorious Palm Beach rock pool. All 50 juicy metres can be found at the southern end of the beach.
Complete with change rooms, a toilet block and a generous stone step area for sun worshippers to lounge on, this slice of paradise is ideal for getting some laps in, or a lazy afternoon lounge. Don’t forget to take a breather after your laps to enjoy the stunning vistas of Barrenjoey lighthouse off to the north.
Fairlight Rock Pool
Located on the back end of the popular Spit to Manly walk, Fairlight rock pool is somewhat of a secret gem for those looking to get away from the busy beaches of Manly and has a very laid back feel about it.
This walled rock pool is perfect for those looking to swim laps, but it also contains a small paddling pool next to the main pool which is great for little ones looking for a splash. With accessible toilets and showers as well as pram and wheelchair accessibility from the path, you won’t regret spending time at Fairlight Beach.
North Curl Curl Rock Pool
Tucked away into the cliff face on the northern end of Curl Curl Beach, there are a few things that make this rock pool distinct. Given its location, part of the natural rock forms one side of the pool. If you’re looking to do laps, you may want to stick to the ocean side of the pool, as two rocks on the cliffside create two islands within the pool. Land, ahoy!
Check the tides before you approach North Curl Curl rock pool as at high tide, the only access is via a scenic coastal walk across the headland and not across the rocks. The pool’s on the northern end of the beach, which leaves it exposed to southerly swells, making it an action-packed spot to take in the sounds and pulse of the ocean.
Avalon Rock Pool
The southern end of Avalon Beach plays home to the stunning Avalon rock pool. Pull up in the car park just off Barrenjoey Road and stroll down to the 25m saltwater pool. When you lay eyes on the stunning colours and clarity of the water, convincing yourself to take a dip won’t be a challenge!
This rock pool is also toddler-friendly, with a very shallow toddler pool available for the nippers finding their ocean legs. After you’ve cooled off with a refreshing salty dip, head to any one of the local cafes and eateries for a delicious shnack or a caffeine hit.
Newport Rock Pool
Located on the southern end of Newport Beach, this Olympic sized 50m rockpool is an icon of Northern Sydney. It’s enclosed by railings right around the border of the pool and utilises the natural rock platform as the pool floor.
Though the water level sits just above waist height, it’s a great pool to swim laps in surrounded by the sounds of the surf. With change rooms, toilets and showers available at the rockpool, freshening up after a coupla lengths is easy as pie.
North Narrabeen Rock Pool
Sitting just past the estuary on the northern end of North Narrabeen Beach, this rock pool enjoys a spectacular view of the coastline right down to Long Reef. With a wooden boardwalk separating a lap swimming area from the rest of the pool, the northern side of the rockpool is shallow, making it a great spot for little ones.
Built in the 1930s as a result of the Unemployment Benefit Scheme, this picturesque 50m rock pool also has swimming clubs operating year round and a ‘Learn To Swim’ program from December through to February. So if you’re looking for lessons, there’s no better spot to learn!
Queenscliff Rock Pool
This 50m rock pool at the northern end of Queenscliff Beach is another pool made for swimming laps. With markings along the walls showing the distance you’ve swum and concrete walls on all sides, there’s no doubt as to what this pool was built for.
Though being tucked up against the cliffs on the headland means protection from the wind, it also means the pool falls into the shade quite quickly. So look to one of the other rock pools on the northern beaches if you’re looking for somewhere to soak up some sun. Be sure to stop by some of the nearby bars or eateries to put the cherry on top of your saltwater swim.
Mona Vale Rock Pool
Mona Vale rock Ppol was originally a natural rock pool, but in the 1930s was enlarged under the Unemployment Benefit Scheme. Today you’ll find both this 30m pool and a smaller rock pool for toddlers.
Located off Surfview Road between the northern end of Mona Vale Beach and Bongin Bongin Bay, these pools are uniquely situated on a rocky outcrop and not beside a headland or surrounded by large rock formations. So if you’re looking for an ocean pool with 360 degree views, Mona Vale is the one.
Isa Wye Rock Pool
Isa Wye rock pool was named in recognition of a local identity who was involved with the Dee Why Ladies’ Amateur Swimming Club for 85 years. You’ll find this laned 50m pool paired with a toddler wading pool on the southern side of Dee Why Beach. With showers, accessible toilets and a host of other facilities available across the road from the shops at Dee Why Beach, it’s not hard to see why this rock pool is a popular hangout spot.
Stumble just a little further south of the main rock pool and you’ll be greeted with a large flat rocky platform, which is perfect to roll out your towel on and, when the tide is right, another two rock pools for you to enjoy.
Freshwater Rock Pool
You’ll find this 50 metre pool (with lane markings!) on the northern end of Freshwater Beach. This eight laned body of water is straight up and down but there’s a subtle beauty in its simplicity. With a uniform depth, concrete walls to all sides and simple construction Freshie rock pool is perfect for those looking to tuck into some lengths, whilst taking in the coastal ambience.
Whale Beach Rock Pool
You’ll find this 25m rock pool on the southern end of Whale Beach. The sandy base of the pool on the ocean side creates an immersive experience and its location makes you feel like you’re swimming in the ocean itself.
The flat rocky platform just south of the rock pool is an awesome place to roll out your towel and set up a home base. And with BBQs, a playground and amenities available at Whale Beach, it’s a spot that provides everything necessary for an entire day on the coast.
South Curl Curl Rock Pool
Positioned on the southern end of this famous surf beach (fancy that!) this large rock pool is divided into a 50m pool and a shallower section for the little flippers. On top of that, the pool is bordered by a railing which provides an extra layer of protection for any kids exploring the edges of the pool.
Given its proximity to the open ocean, there’s a very natural feel to this pool and it provides a perfect alternative to the rock pool on the northern end of the beach.
Fairy Bower Pool
Built by local residents in 1929, this triangular saltwater rock pool is located on the Cabbage Tree Bay walkway from Manly to Shelly Beach. The iconic bronze sculptures, known as the Manly Sea Nymphs, sit on the edge of the pool and are a dead giveaway that you’re in the right spot.
Due to its shape and depth, Fairy Bower pool is perfect for cooling off after sunbaking, but doesn’t lend itself well for laps. If you’re after a swim try the Manly to Shelly swim along the coastline, that’ll sort you out.