The affluent Northern Beaches area of Sydney is full of spectacular rock pools and ocean pools!
Offering the ideal spot for those looking to avoid getting caught up in the waves or getting sand everywhere, yet who still want to get a swim in or just cool down in the warm weather, the rock pools on Sydney’s Northern Beaches are an excellent place to soak up the Sydney beach vibes.
At almost every beach along the Northern Beaches stretch you’ll find a distinctly unique ocean pool.
All offering something different with their own particular characteristics, there’s a rock pool to suit everyone.
Whether you’re someone who’s after a serious lap swimming pool, you’re looking for a shallow pool to bring the little ones, you’re after an ocean pool with 360 degree views, or even a triangular-shaped pool!
The rock pools along Sydney’s Northern Beaches offer the ideal spot to cool down and get away from the heat, plus with so many fabulous backdrops it can be hard choosing your favourite!
Here are all the ocean pools and rock pools in Sydney’s Northern Beaches from top to bottom – so you can start planning which one you’ll be heading to next weekend!
You may also wish to check out the best captions and quotes about Sydney to go with your pictures on Instagram!
How Many Rock Pools Are There On Sydney’s Northern Beaches?
There are an impressive 35 rock pools around Sydney, and 15 of them are in the Northern Beaches! We’ll cover them all here!
The remainder of Sydney’s rock pools are in the Eastern Suburbs and Sutherland Shire as well as in Sydney Harbour.
Is Entry To Sydney’s Northern Beaches Rock Pools Free?
Entry to all of Sydney’s ocean pools is 100% free so there’s no excuse not to go!
Parking can be limited at the busiest beaches such as around Manly (plus you’ll often have to pay for parking) so you may want to park further away or take public transport.
If you’ll be driving remember to check the parking signs for any time limits.
Sydney Northern Beaches Rock Pools
1. Palm Beach Rock Pool
Starting with the most northerly beach in Sydney and a firm favourite – Palm Beach!
Palm Beach is a great place to spend the day, known for the stunning Barenjoey Headland and Lighthouse, as well as the popular TV series Home & Away being filmed here!
Get in the water for some laps, or pop your towel down, relax and sunbake in the sun.
You’ll find several cafes nearby, plus there are toilets and changing rooms nearby.
To get to Palm Beach Rock Pool:
If coming from Manly take the 199 bus all the way up to Palm Beach, alighting at Ocean Place. The bus ride is 1 hour 20 minutes, and then it’s a 350 metre walk to the rock pool.
2. Whale Beach Rock Pool
At the southern end of Whale Beach lies the 25-metre long Whale Beach Rock Pool. This is a lovely quiet rock pool complete with a sandy bottom to the pool.
Compared to the rocky or concrete bottom that the majority of rock pools in Sydney have, it really gives you the feeling you’re in the ocean!
Head to the large flat rock platform south of the rock pool to lie down and sunbake. There is also a picnic area and BBQs here plus a playground, so it’s a great spot to stay for a few hours with some food, enjoying the views!
Showers and toilets are nearby.
To get to Whale Beach Rock Pool:
Take the B1 bus from Wynyard to Mona Vale (55 minutes), then take the 199 bus, getting off in Whale Beach (30 minutes bus ride). From the bus stop it’s a 1km walk to Whale Beach Rock Pool.
From Manly take the 199 bus up to Whale Beach, then walk the 1km from Barrenjoey Road to Whale Beach Rock Pool.
3. Avalon Rock Pool
On the southern end of Avalon Beach sits the 25 metre long Avalon Rock Pool, complete with an adjacent small shallow wading pool for the little ones.
To get to Avalon Rock Pool:
Take the 190X from Wynyard in Sydney CBD (1 hour 10 minutes bus ride). Then it’s a short 170 metre walk to the rock pool.
From Manly take the 199 bus (1 hour bus ride).
4. Bilgola Rock Pool
At the southern end of Bilgola Beach lies Bilgola Rock Pool, one of the quieter rock pools in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Frequented mostly just by the locals, the secluded 50 metre long Bilgola Rock Pool is a gem and a great place to go for a quiet swim. It also has incredible views of the North Bilgola Headland.
The eight lane pool is great for serious swimmers, and those wishing to relax will enjoy the shallow wading area. Disabled access is also easy, with a ramp leading down to the shallow area.
Toilets and changing rooms are nearby, and there’s a beach kiosk if you’re after some good coffee!
To get to Bilgola Rock Pool:
Get the 190X bus from Wynyard to Bilgola (1 hour ride on the bus). Then it’s a 150 metre walk from the bus stop to Bilgola Rock Pool.
From Manly get the 199 bus all the way to Bilgola. The bus ride also takes one hour, and again it’s a 2 minute walk to the rock pool.
5. Newport Rock Pool
The beautiful 50 metre Olympic-sized Newport Rock Pool lies on the southern end of Newport Beach.
It’s a great place for a swim, and with the natural rock platform at the bottom of the pool, it has a really nice rugged feel about it.
Showers, toilets, and changing rooms are located nearby.
To get to Newport Rock Pool:
From Sydney CBD take the 190X bus to Newport. Walk the 950 metres to Newport Rock Pool.
From Manly get on the 199 bus to Newport and walk 1km from the bus stop to the rock pool.
6. Mona Vale Rock Pool
The Mona Vale Rock Pool is regarded by many as the most picturesque rock pool in Sydney’s Northern Beaches! Particularly at high tide in aerial images, this rock pool is breathtaking and the setting is just spectacular!
You’ll find Mona Vale Rock Pool between Mona Vale Beach and Basin Beach. It has an extremely unique location – perched in the middle of a rocky platform with waves crashing into the pool from both sides.
It’s unlike most of the other rock pools on the Northern Beaches that are next to a headland or large rock formation, which means you can get 360 degrees uninterrupted views at Mona Vale Rock Pool!
The 30 metre long rock pool also has a smaller shallow pool for children, making it popular with families.
The rock pool is located opposite Apex Park, which is a great place to spend a few hours. You’ll find BBQs, picnic tables, and a shaded children’s play area. Changing rooms and toilets are available nearby.
To get to Mona Vale Rock Pool:
Take the B1 yellow bus from Sydney to Mona Vale (1 hour bus journey time). It’s then a 1.2 km walk to Mona Vale Rock Pool.
Take the 199 bus if coming from Manly, (45 minute bus ride to Barrenjoey Road). Then walk just under 1 km to get to Mona Vale Rock Pool.
7. North Narrabeen Rock Pool
North Narrabeen Rock Pool is another picturesque rock pool in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. You’ll find it on the northern end of Narrabeen Beach just past the estuary.
Built in the 1930s, the rock pool has a distinctive wooden boardwalk that separates the main 50-meter lap swimming pool from the other pool.
North Narrabeen Rock Pool is popular with keen lap swimmers as well as leisurely swimmers and families. Plus you can enjoy beautiful views from the pool!
Changing rooms and toilets are available nearby.
To get to North Narrabeen Rock Pool:
Take the B1 yellow bus from Sydney CBD to Warriewood (55 minutes bus journey time). You’ll then need to walk just over 1km to get to the rock pool.
Take the 199 bus from Manly to the same bus stop (40 minutes bus ride), and again walk just over 1km to the ocean pool.
8. Collaroy Rock Pool
The 50 metre eight lane Collaroy Rock Pool with an adjacent shallow toddlers pool sits at the southern end of Collaroy Beach. It’s a great rock pool for families, plus it has disability access.
The rock pool at Collaroy is a unique irregular shape, following the contour of the adjacent small rock face nearby.
You can find the cleaning schedule for Collaroy Rock Pool online. Sometimes the cleaning schedule can change if there are unusual weather conditions, so it’s always good to check before you visit.
To get to Collaroy Rock Pool:
From Sydney CBD take the B-Line B1 bus from Wynyard to Collaroy (40 minutes journey).
From Manly take the 199 bus to Collaroy (25 minutes journey). It’s then just a short 300 metre walk to the rock pool from the bus stop.
9. Dee Why Rockpool
The 50 metre long Dee Why Rock Pool lies at the southern end of Dee Why Beach.
This large lap pool built in 1915 has lanes marked and is a popular spot for keen swimmers as well as those looking to cool down with a leisurely swim.
Attached to the rock pool is a smaller shallow pool for toddlers, making it a popular place for young families to visit on a warm day.
Dee Why Rock Pool also provides epic views over the beach, plus it’s in the ideal location, just a 200 metre stroll from the lively Dee Why promenade called The Strand.
Here you’ll find lots of beach bars, cute cafes and restaurants to relax in afterwards!
Showers and accessible toilets are located nearby.
To get to Dee Why Rock Pool:
Take the express B1 bus from Sydney CBD to the Dee Why bus stop on Pittwater Road (just over 30 minutes bus journey time). From there take the 166 bus for less than 5 minutes to Dee Why Rock Pool.
From Manly take the 166 bus (less than 15 minutes) to The Stand in Dee Why, and you’ll find Dee Why Rock Pool just 250 metres away.
10. North Curl Curl Rockpool
Curl Curl is one of Sydney’s best surfing beaches, and you’ll find not one but two ocean pools here – one at each end of the beach!
The North Curl Curl Rockpool is without a doubt one of the best rock pools in the whole of Sydney’s Northern Beaches!
This hidden gem is located at the northern end of Curl Curl Beach, the rock pool is tucked into the cliff face on the headland!
The 25-metre rock pool is so unique – part of the cliff actually forms one side of the pool, plus there’s a huge rock in the middle of the pool! From above it looks so impressive!
At high tide North Curl Curl Rock Pool can only be accessed via the steps leading down from the headland and the scenic coastal walk, and not via the beach like at mid or low tide.
It’s a lovely walking trail with stunning views, plus it makes the rock pool even more unique that it can’t be accessed by the beach at all times!
To get to North Curl Curl Rock Pool:
From Sydney CBD get the B1 bus from Wynyard to Dee Why. Then take the 166 bus down to Pitt Street and walk the 10 minutes along the coastal walk to the rock pool.
From Manly take the 167 bus to Curl Curl and then walk the 1.4km to North Curl Curl Rock Pool.
11. South Curl Curl Rock Pool
The South Curl Curl Rockpool sits at the Southern end of Curl Curl Beach. The large rock pool is divided into two sections: a 50-metre ocean pool and a smaller shallow pool with sand that’s ideal for young families.
South Curl Curl Rock Pool sits right next to the ocean swells, with waves crashing into the pool as you’re swimming, giving it a very natural and wild feel, especially when the tide is high.
This makes it a popular hangout, and provides a nice change from the calmer rock pools nearby.
You’ll find showers and toilets nearby, as well as a cafe.
To get to South Curl Curl Rock Pool:
From Sydney CBD take the B1 bus from Wynyard to Warringah Mall. From there, take the 167 bus in the direction of Manly, getting off after 10 minutes at the southern end of the beach. It’s then just a 1 minute walk to the rock pool.
From Manly take the 167 bus for 10 minutes to South Curl Curl. The bus stops right on the beachfront promenade Carrington Parade, and from there it’s less than 200 metres walking to South Curl Curl Rock Pool.
12. Freshwater Rock Pool
Located on the northern end of Freshwater Beach, Freshwater Rock Pool was the first ocean pool to be built on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in 1925!
Freshwater Rock Pool is a 50-metre lap pool complete with 8 lanes for doing laps. There’s also a diving platform here, plus uniquely it has a uniform depth throughout the whole pool!
This is the ideal spot for those who wish to enjoy a serious swim without crowds, whilst enjoying the stunning views looking out to both Freshwater Beach and Manly Beach.
There are toilets, showers and changing rooms here, as well as the nearby Harbord Diggers Club that serves great food and drinks.
To get to Freshwater Rock Pool:
From Sydney CBD get the B1 bus from Wynyard to Warringah Mall (25 minutes). From there take the 167 bus in the direction of Manly for roughly 12 minutes, alighting at Harbord Diggers.
It’s then just a 2 minute walk to Freshwater Rock Pool.
From Manly take the 167 bus which will take 10 minutes. It’s then a 250 metre walk to the rock pool.
13. Queenscliff Rock Pool
Around the next headland, just north of Manly Beach is Queenscliff Beach and the Queenscliff Rock Pool, a 50 metre pool that’s great for getting your laps in.
If you’re looking for an ocean pool dripping in sunshine all day though, you might be better off looking elsewhere.
Whilst Queenscliff Rock Pool is protected from the wind, it is tucked up against the cliffs next to the Manly Wormhole so can often be in the shade!
To get to Queenscliff Rock Pool:
From Sydney CBD get the B1 bus to Dee Why (30 minutes) and then get the 166 bus that drops you off at Queenscliff Beach (20 minutes). It’s then just a couple of minutes walk.
If coming from Manly it will just take a few minutes to walk, however if you feel like saving your energy you can take the 167 bus to the top of North Steyne and then walk a couple of minutes to get to the rock pool.
14. Fairy Bower Sea Pool, Manly
Located along Marine Parade between Shelly Beach and Manly Beach, the Fairy Bower Pool at the southern end of Manly Beach is an absolute gem of a rock pool on the Northern Beaches!
It makes a lovely stop along the North Head Walk, and it’s actually the smallest of all the Sydney ocean pools at just 20 metres long!
Despite that, the Fairy Bower Sea Pool is one of Sydney’s Northern Beaches’ most stunning rock pools, plus it is very unique as it is triangular shaped!
Due to its shape and the fact it’s a little bit shallow, it’s not the best rock pool for swimming. Regardless, it is still an amazing place to cool down from the sun and get away from the waves at Manly Beach.
Fairy Bower Sea Pool was built in 1929 by local residents, and it also features the instantly recognisable The Sea Nymphs sculpture on the edge of the pool. There are many coffee shops and cafes nearby for you to enjoy afterwards.
To get to Fairy Bower Rock Pool:
The easiest and most scenic way to get to Manly from Sydney CBD is to take the F1 ferry from Circular Quay. It’s just a 22 minute ride but the views are stunning.
Once you arrive at Manly Wharf it’s a leisurely 1.1 kilometre stroll along The Corso – Manly’s main shopping street that leads to Manly Beach and then Fairy Bower Sea Pool.
15. Fairlight Rock Pool
Located on the other side of Manly that it’s technically in Sydney Harbour, but it’s so close to Manly that it can be classed as a Northern Beaches Rock Pool, is the lovely Fairlight Tidal Swimming Pool.
Found on the eastern end of Fairlight Beach, Fairlight Rock Pool is a popular place to cool down and relax along the Manly to Spit Walk, although it’s still a hidden gem that’s so much quieter than the nearby Manly Beaches!
You can swim laps here, take the little ones to the adjacent small paddling pool, or even snorkel around the rocks! There’s a great laid-back family-friendly vibe here that many families love.
Showers and accessible toilets are nearby.
To get to Fairlight Rock Pool:
From Sydney CBD take the 170X bus from Wynyard (40 minutes) and get off in Fairlight. It’s a 700 metre walk to Fairlight Beach.
Alternatively, get the ferry to Manly and then walk the 1km from Manly Wharf to Fairlight Rock Pool.
Northern Beaches Rock Pools Summary:
And so there we go, all 15 gorgeous Northern Beaches rock pools for you to enjoy! Which one are you heading to next?
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Catrina is a Travel Writer, SEO Specialist and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. The majority of her work however features on her own website – 24hourslayover.com where she has written over 500 travel articles!