You’ll find spectacular ocean pools dotted along the southern coastline of New South Wales. These handmade pools, fed by the ocean’s waves, are often built into the rocks near beautiful sandy beaches, can be hidden away along the coastline and are enjoyed mostly by locals. Ocean pools are great for kids learning how to swim, lap swimming and for a dip on the days when the waves are a little too big for your liking. Here’s where to find an ocean pool on the coast south of Sydney.
In the Illawarra
You’ll find many spectacular ocean pools in the Illawarra area, from south of the Royal National Park all the way through to the popular seaside town of Kiama. These include lovely pools at Coledale, Bulli, Towradgi, Port Kembla and North Wollongong.
Take the road through the Royal National Park to Stanwell Park and onto Coalcliff Beach, where the ocean pool is set against a dramatic backdrop of the escarpment.
Nuns Pool, at Flagstaff Point in Wollongong, is one of the oldest in the state, dating back to the 1830s. (The title of oldest ocean pool goes to the Bogey Hole in Newcastle, north of Sydney. It was built by convicts in 1819.) Located below the lighthouse, the Nuns Pool (formerly known as Chain Baths and used by the nuns of St Mary’s convent) sits in a small, sheltered cove and is accessed via a narrow path chiselled into the sandstone.
Further south at Kiama, the Blowhole Point Ocean Pool offers a safe swimming spot near the area’s famous blowhole, the largest in the world, on a headland near the town centre. This beautiful, hand-cut pool is an irregular shape and has a varied depth and rock bottom – it was also once a men-only bath. You can also take the 15-minute walk around Kiama Harbour from the blowhole to Black Beach Reserve. Here you can do 50-metre laps in the Olympic-size Continental Ocean Pool.
A 15-minute drive south of Kiama is the tiny coastal town of Gerringong. Head down to Gerringong’s Werri Beach for a swim at Ourie Ocean Pool, at the southern end of the beach. This rectangular pool, carved into a flat rock shelf, has a smooth concrete bottom and is perfect for a summer’s day dip.
From the Illawarra to the Shoalhaven
Drive an hour further south into the Shoalhaven region and seek out Huskisson Sea Pool at Huskisson. This coastal town has a rich shipbuilding heritage, which you can explore at the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum after your swim.
A 45-minute drive south of Huskisson brings you to Mollymook, where you’ll find the South Coast’s famous Bogey Hole, a natural rock pool on the headland south of the beach. There’s also a lovely ocean pool at Ulladulla, a five-minute drive further down the coast.
On the Sapphire Coast
One of the state’s most famous ocean pools is found at Bermagui, a little over five hours by car from Sydney, on the Sapphire Coast. Bermagui’s Blue Pool is revered as one of the prettiest, filled with azure-hued water fading to turquoise and green. At 50 metres long it makes for a great lap-swimming pool and there’s also a shallow wading pool, ideal for kids, just next to the pool.
One of the southernmost ocean pools on the NSW coastline is the Aslings Beach Rock Pool, a hidden gem carved into the pink-and-white cliffs at Aslings Beach in Eden, a six-hour drive from Sydney. It’s only a short walk from town, but its low profile makes it hard to spot from further down the beach. Make your way over the rocks from the beach and take a dip at low tide before the waves have a chance to deposit any seaweed.