With temperatures across Sydney set to soar this summer, the chance to cool down in water will be much appreciated. But if sand in your car or carried home with you in your towel doesn’t appeal to you, you’re likely to be skipping the beach and opting for public pools or rockpools instead.
Ahead, we’ve got 20 of them. From a pool that’s manmade but filled with ocean water in the north, to a rockpool with eight lanes so ideal for swimming laps in the south, these are some of the best places to cool down in Sydney that aren’t beaches.
Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool
Running along the edge of The Domain, Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool looks out over the wharves of Woolloomooloo. The saltwater Olympic pool is popular with both serious lap swimmers and those who prefer to laze about on its stylish wooden deckchairs. Depending on the time of year, the facility also hosts al fresco yoga, so you can stretch out and then dive in.
Cook + Phillip Park Pool
Within a picturesque parkland setting in Sydney’s CBD, Cook + Phillip Park Pool features a 50m pool, as well as hydrotherapy and leisure pools. The pools are heated so are ideal for swimming year-round and, if you’re looking to improve your technique and learn how to race, the facilities have a range of competitive squad levels you can join. Kids will love the water slide and jets.
Murray Rose Pool
There are many idyllic sandy beaches lining the shores of Sydney Harbour, including Redleaf Beach in Double Bay, a 10-minute drive east of the city centre. Pack your swimming gear for a dip in the Murray Rose Pool, a netted sea enclosure at Redleaf that’s a favourite among locals. After a few laps, take a stroll along the wooden boardwalk that forms the perimeter of the enclosure while soaking up views of the harbour beyond.
Dawn Fraser Baths
Just 5km from the city centre, Balmain’s Dawn Fraser Baths is the oldest harbour pool in the southern hemisphere and was the home of Australia’s first swimming and water polo clubs. The pool was built in the early 1880s, the pool was renamed after the local Australian Olympic Swimming champion in 1964 and today is still surrounded by Victorian wooden pavilions painted cream and green.
On Sydney’s North Shore is Maccallum Pool, cut into the coast on the western side of the waterside suburb of Cremorne Point. These historic 33m-long seawater baths are ringed by a wooden boardwalk, with plenty of shady nooks to gaze over the harbour (including the Sydney Harbour Bridge) after you’ve had a splash about. It’s within easy reach as well — just a 7.5km drive north of the city centre.
Start a morning with an invigorating early morning dip in the world’s most famous ocean pool, Bondi Icebergs on Bondi Beach, a 20-minute drive from the city centre. Named after its winter swimming club, the bright white pool dates back to 1929 and is an Instagram favourite.
From Bondi, take the coastal walk around to Bronte Baths, built in 1887. Climb across the rocky headland to find the perfect place to spread your towel, before cooling off with a dip in the crystal-clear water of nearby Gordons Bay. Divers and snorkellers can follow the Gordons Bay Underwater Nature Trail, marked by concrete-filled drums and a chain and with information displayed on steel plaques.
Enjoy a casual swim followed by lunch at the café, or join on-site yoga and Pilates classes at Wylie’s Baths in Coogee, a 15-minute drive south of Bondi. It’s one of Sydney’s most beautiful tidal pools, with raised decking and views over the Pacific Ocean and Wedding Cake Island.
McIver’s Ladies Baths
Relax at the only ocean pool in Australia open exclusively to women and children, McIver’s Ladies Baths in Coogee, which has been attracting swimmers for almost 150 years. The McIver family ran the baths from 1901 until 1922, when the Randwick Ladies Amateur Swimming Club was formed and took over the lease. The club still runs the pool, funded by a nominal charge, tossed into a bucket on entry.
Soak in the views at Maroubra’s Mahon Pool, a five-minute drive south of Coogee and accessible along the coastal walking track. Cut into the inter-tidal rock platform, the pool is set among exposed rocky outcrops, providing spectacular seascapes and a sense of seclusion.
Cronulla Beach Rock Pool
There are several ocean pools along Cronulla’s beaches and surrounding coastline in southern Sydney, 30km from the city. North Cronulla Rock Pool, on the flat rocks between South Cronulla Beach and North Cronulla Beach, is smaller and shallower, while the adjacent South Cronulla Beach Rock Pool is a full-size 50m pool with eight lanes, perfect for lap swimming.
Head south along the popular coastal walk from South Cronulla Beach and you’ll find Shelly Beach, home to an incredible ocean bath. With a sandy shallow bottom that gets deeper further out, the Ocean Bath is a great spot for kids to splash about.
Oak Park Rock Pool
Further along the coastal walk towards Port Hacking, you’ll find Oak Park Rock Pool, which, like Shelly Beach’s Ocean Bath, is perfect for kids.
Sydney’s Northern Beaches
Fairy Bower Pool
Splash about in the seaside pools north of the harbour, starting at Manly, a 30-minute drive or ferry ride from Sydney city. Triangular Fairy Bower Pool lies between Manly and Shelly beaches on the Cabbage Tree Bay Eco Sculpture Walk; The Sea Nymphs sculpture sits on the pool’s outer edge. Around the next headland is the first ocean pool to be built on the North Shore, the 50m Freshwater Rock Pool, which opened in 1925.
Warringah Aquatic Centre
Get into the swim of things at the Warringah Aquatic Centre in Frenchs Forest and the Manly Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton Aquatic Centre in Manly, which both offer lap swimming, and swim programs for children and adults, of all ages and all levels.
Curl Curl Beach Ocean Pool
Take the kids to Curl Curl Beach’s ocean pool, which includes a shallow natural beach area, making it a firm favourite with young families. It’s located about 15 minutes’ drive north of Manly.
North Narrabeen Rock Pool
A little further up the coast, North Narrabeen Rock Pool has a boardwalk that encloses a 50m pool with a wading pool for children. Other popular pools in this area include Mona Vale, Collaroy and Dee Why.
Palm Beach Ocean Pool
Lounge and splash around at Sydney’s most northerly beach, Palm Beach, where the ocean pool offers views up towards the Central Coast, and is overlooked by Barrenjoey Headland with its famous sandstone lighthouse. Lined with ocean pools at Avalon, Newport and Bilgola, this narrow peninsula starts about 40km north of the centre of Sydney.