The 21 Best Swimming Spots In Sydney (That Aren’t Beaches)
From hotel pools to ocean baths.
Oh Sydney, you’re so good – what, with your extensive coastline, crystal clear waters and wonderful beach culture.
But, sometimes, the beaches are crowded, there are rips to contend with, and you don’t always feel like emptying half of Tamarama’s sand out from your swimmers when you get home. For those who prefer a more relaxed and tranquil swimming experience and who would like to steer clear of the main haunts, we’ve compiled the ultimate list.
Swim like it’s 1907 at Wylie’s Baths. The historic timber structure is built against the cliffs at South Coogee, with struts and stairs descending to the gorgeous tidal pool. Lay down a towel by the water’s edge and take as many leisurely dips as your heart desires.
The bottom of the pool is au naturale, so be mindful of the sea urchins!
Where: Neptune Street, Coogee
Dawn Fraser Baths
A stone’s throw from Sydney’s Cockatoo Island is Dawn Fraser Baths. Characterised by a kind of grandstand, you can pull up a wooden bench or nook in this Balmain institution.
The water is tidal, and there are lane ropes if you feel like doing some laps. It’s a popular spot for water polo, too.
Where: Elkington Park, Fitzroy Avenue, Balmain NSW
Extending from the vast lawns outside Strickland House in Vaucluse and providing an incredibly unique perspective on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, you’ll wonder why you’ve never been to Milk Beach before.
Where: Vaucluse Road, Vaucluse
Just a five-minute walk from Milk Beach, you’ll find the calm waters of Hermit Bay, another stunning harbour location. It’s flanked by impressive houses (read: mansions), so whether you pull up a patch of grass by the fig tree or, if you opt for the sand, you can ogle the surrounding houses between dips.
Where: via Queen’s lane off Vaucluse Road
Prince Alfred Park Pool
Take a break without leaving the city. With bright yellow umbrellas and blue and white stripes set against the rolling green hills of Sydney Park, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re far away from the city, not just moments from Central Station. There’s a great cafe at Prince Alfred Park, too, if you need a coconut smoothie fix.
Where: 105 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills
North Sydney Olympic Pool
If you want a pool with a view, North Sydney Olympic Pool is the place for you. With money-can’t-buy panoramas of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the pool is heated to perfection.
Where: 4 Alfred Street South, Milsons Point
MacCallum Seawater Pool
MacCallum Seawater Pool offers expansive views of the harbour from its position at the western side of Cremorne Point. It has a timber deck you can lay out on year-round while admiring the building’s refurbished ’20s architecture.
Where: Milson Road, Cremorne Point
BYO mask and snorkel to this eastern suburbs oasis and you’ll likely see a plethora of sea life, including the friendly local Blue Groper.
Where: Major Street, Coogee
Bondi Iceberg’s Club
A quick Insta-search of #BondiIcebergs will pull up enviable shots of beautiful people enjoying the saltwater pool, dubbed “The Home of Winter Swimming”.
There are two pools to enjoy – a 50m pool with lane ropes if you’re feeling active, or a small paddling area for those seeking pure refreshment.
Where: 1 Notts Avenue, Bondi
The gorgeous inlet at Parsley Bay offers a unique aspect to Sydney Harbour. After a swim in the protected waters, take a short walk around the bushland circuit to the bay’s waterfall.
Where: Parsley Road, Vaucluse
The Old Clare Rooftop Pool
Fancy a cocktail with your dip? The Old Clare Hotel outdoor pool is open to all and will fulfill your desire for frolicking among the rooftops of the inner-city.
Where: 1 Kensington Street, Chippendale
The Clovelly Ocean Pool
Also known as the Geoff James pool, this picturesque saltwater swimming hole has four lap lanes and is directly adjacent to Clovelly Beach, so the views are killer.
Where: Clovelly Road, Clovelly
Murray Rose Pool (Red Leaf Beach)
With a wrap-around walkway, Murray Rose Pool (formerly known as Red Leaf Beach) is popular for those who like their swimming easy and convenient. This spot is entirely enclosed for you to enjoy the protected harbour beach, and there’s a pontoon too if you’re feeling a little like Robinson Crusoe.
Where: New South Head Road, Double Bay
Bronte Baths & Bogey Hole
The Bronte Baths are a safe alternative to swimming in the often choppy sea in this area. Set into cliffs and marked with lap lanes, the baths are a pretty perfect spot for a dip.
Beside the baths is The Bogey Hole. Not to be confused with the Bogey Hole in Newcastle, this natural rockpool at South Bronte is a little haven amid the often washing machine-like conditions of the sea. The water colour will remind you of Fiji, and when the Bronte Baths are overflowing, it creates a waterfall effect into the Bogey Hole. It’s pure magic.
Where: Bronte, NSW
Nestled below the north Maroubra cliffs and among exposed rocky outcrops, Mahon Pool is free to enjoy.
Where: 15R Marine Parade, Maroubra
Fairy Bower Pool
A gem along Sydney’s northern beaches, the Fairy Bower rockpool is triangular in shape and was created by local residents in 1929, back when coastal saltwater bathing became popular.
Where: Marine Parade, Manly
McIver’s Baths aka Ladies Baths
In use as a bathing place for women since before 1876, McIver’s Baths is the only seawater pool in Australia for exclusive use by ladies. It’s beauty is not only in its ocean outlook, but also by the fact that it’s well screened from passers-by, even in its South Coogee location.
Where: 145-149 Beach Street, Coogee
The journey into Camp Cove is something pretty special, with quaint single story cottages dotted on either side of the street leading in. This is one of the last Harbour Beaches before Sydney heads, and it’s just as spectacular as you imagine.
With views across to Manly and back down to the city, the water is clear and there’s even a cafe if you get a hankering for a Frosty Fruit. Lady Bay is a nudist beach just around the corner from Camp Cove, if you dare.
Where: Cliff Street, Watsons Bay
Laying on the golden-sands of Little Bay, you’ll feel like you’re a lot further than 16km out of the city. The secluded swimming spot is often flat as a lake, and offers good snorkelling in the protected waters.
Where: 4R Coast Hospital Road, Little Bay
A leisurely walk from Heathcote Train station through the Royal National Park will take you to one of Mother Nature’s hidden gems. Let the fresh water at Karloo Pool wash away all the stress of the city and, if you’re still in the mood for a walk, continue further on to Uloola Waterfall.
Where: Royal National Park, NSW
Elvina Track Pool
If you enjoy your swim with a side of waterfalls, head to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park for utter tranquillity. A 7km return walk will take you to the beautiful Elvina Track Pool at the top of a waterfall, backed up with a great view – and it’s only 45 minutes from Sydney.
Where: Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, NSW
(Lead image: Paul Hussey / Flickr)