Photo: Ken Griffiths/Shutterstock

The Figure Eight Pools Are Dangerous to Visit but the Views Might Be Worth the Risk

Beaches and Islands
by Matador Creators Jan 3, 2023

The Figure Eight Pools in Sydney, Australia are located in a rugged landscape and a grueling hike is required to reach them. But if you’re up for the challenge, these remote swimming holes on the cusp of the ocean offer a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Located near Burning Palms Beach, on a rock shelf battered by ocean waves, it takes two hours  each way to get to the Figure Eight Pools, and the journey can only be made on foot. However, these ocean pools are unlike any others in the world. The views alone might even be worth the trek: From the Figure Eight Pools, the views of towering moss covered cliffs along the coast line is spectacular.

Potential visitors should only venture to the Figure Eight Pools at low tide. Trekking to the pools at any other time risks being overcome by crashing waves – and at high tide, the pools are underwater anyway.

The journey begins at Garawarra Farm carpark in the Royal National Park. Visitors can leave their cars here, use the toilets, and gather their supplies. The fee to enter the park is $12.

Sturdy close toed walking shoes are essential. The New South Wales national parks service recommends bringing at least 2 liters of water per person for the journey, and emphasizes that it’s not a child friendly hike.

Despite the dangers involved in getting there, you’re likely to encounter a crowd at the pools. These pools are shaped like deep potholes in the ground which are filled with clear, cold seawater. There is actually just one pool that is carved into the rock (thanks to erosion) in the shape of a perfect figure eight. After the long hike, a dip in the pool will likely be a relief – but if you want to swim in the figure eight pool you’ll probably have to wait in line. There are other swimming holes spread out over the rock shelf where hikers can swim.

What visitors should never do is stand on the very edge of a rock shelf, near the ocean. The ocean conditions change quickly, and a sudden surge of ocean waves could easily sweep an incautious visitor off the slippery rocks and into the ocean.

If you’re eager to visit pools but want to make sure you do so under the utmost safe conditions, the New South Wales National Parks recommends two companies, Emu Trekkers and M8 Explorer, that offer guided tours of the pools.

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