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Sydney's unique outdoor pools

Fast facts

  • Sydney has an astonishing collection of waterfront swimming pools, some washed by ocean waves, some beside the harbour and some with million-dollar city views
  • Located in the heart of the city centre, a ferry trip away or short drive

Why go there

While the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean offer excitement and challenges all of their own, Sydney’s saltwater pools and netted enclosures are the quiet alternative. For family fun with small children, for lap swimming or just floating on your back and looking at the sky, try some of these for size.

Don’t miss

  • Nielsen Park at Vaucluse, surrounded by some of Sydney’s ritziest real estate, is a family favourite; a netted bay with a crescent-moon of sand backed by a shady park.
  • Balmoral Beach on the north side of the harbour has a netted enclosure and a long, shady and serene park, with alfresco cafes, a standout fish and chip shop and a couple of top-notch restaurants. Some say the scuba diving here is the best in the harbour.
  • North Sydney Olympic Pool is serious lap-swimmer territory, but the views are enough to distract even a champion - Luna Park on one side, the Harbour Bridge flexing its biceps overhead and, across the harbour, the Sydney Opera House itself. There’s even a stylish restaurant overlooking the pool.
  • Bronte Baths, set deep within an ocean inlet and surrounded by cliffs, is a lovely spot for a swim at any time of the year. Slip over the side and into the ocean itself for a dip with the fish.
  • The Andrew Boy Charlton pool brings style and sex appeal to the business of lap swimming. This inner city pool has a prime position with the leafy precincts of The Domain on one side and the sleek Woolloomooloo Wharf on the other.
  • Parsley Bay is a tiny slip of beach in a Vaucluse cove, east of the city, but it’s netted and backed by a charming little park.
  • Wylies Baths are a Sydney institution, an historic sea pool at the southern end of Coogee Beach, with massages available by the poolside and early morning yoga classes.
  • Freshwater Beach Baths, just north of Manly, is a lovely pool set into the rock platform at the northern end of the beach.
  • Palm Beach, the northernmost Sydney beach, is a favourite barefoot paradise for a starry cast of media moguls and Sydneysiders, some of whom own weekenders in the area. The pool at the southern end of the beach is suitably glamorous with good cafes and restaurants.
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