If you find Sydney's ocean surf a little intimidating or if you just want to soothe your jetlag with a few slow laps, take advantage of the city's famous ocean pools. There are 40 seawater pools up and down the coast, most of which are free. Here are a few of our favorites.
Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice.
Bondi Icebergs Pool
Sydney's most famous pool commands the best view in Bondi, and is one of its more community-oriented spaces. There's a sauna and a cute little cafe. The saltwater lapping pool is regularly doused by the bigger breakers, but there's a more sheltered pool for kids. It closes on Thursdays so they can clean the seaweed out, though it sometimes opens once the job's done.
Fairy Bower Beach
Indulge your mermaid fantasies (the more seemly ones at least) in the pretty, triangular ocean pool set into the rocky shoreline. The life-size sea nymphs of Helen Leete's bronze sculpture Oceanides (1997) stand on the edge, washed by the surf. Fairy Bower is best reached by the promenade heading around Manly Beach's southern headland.
At Coogee Beach’s northern end, below Dolphin Point, Giles Baths is what’s known as a “bogey hole” – a semiformal rock pool open to the surging surf. It's good for kids and those with shark paranoia.
McIver’s Ladies Baths
Perched against the cliffs south of Coogee Beach and well-screened from passers-by, this sea pool has been popular for women's bathing since before 1876. Its strict women-only policy has made it a relaxed space popular with nuns, Muslim women and lesbians. Small children of any gender are permitted.
Hidden within the cliffs, 500m (1640ft) north of Maroubra Beach, Mahon Pool is an idyllic rock pool where the surf crashes over the edges at high tide. It's quite possibly Sydney's most beautiful bogey hole.
This discreet, southeast-facing sandy bay just north of Manly has a cool ocean pool and plenty of teenagers. Good for learner surfers.
South of Newcastle Beach, below King Edward Park, is Australia’s oldest ocean bath, the convict-carved Bogey Hole. It’s an atmospheric place to splash about when the surf’s crashing over its edge, but be wary at high tide.
Figure Eight Pools
This eight-shaped pool on a rock shelf near Burning Palms Beach is an Instagram favorite. However it is imperative to pay attention to conditions: tides and weather mean that the shelf is frequently far too dangerous to visit, if not wholly submerged. Check the website for a daily forecast before planning a trip. It's a tough 6km (3.73-mile) return walk from Garrawarra Farm car park, off Garie Rd.