Sydney’s best swimming pools
Last month I posted a summary of an old series, Sydney’s best beaches. While Sydney is blessed with some incredible natural stretches of sand and surf, they’re not the only places to cool off this summer. In fact Sydney is home to a smorgasbord of beautiful swimming pools! From the humble rockpools hewn out of beach headlands to high tech aquatic leisure parks, here in no particular offer are Sydney’s best swimming pools!
North Sydney Olympic Pool
Let’s begin with the iconic North Sydney Olympic Pool. It was built in 1936 and in 1938 hosted the swimming events at the Empire Games, a forerunner to the Commonwealth Games. Nothing is quite as “Sydney” as swimming under the harbour bridge at North Sydney Olympic Pool.
Tip: The restaurant here is pretty good too!
Greenwich Baths, Greenwich
Tucked away in an inlet in northern Sydney harbour, and hidden by foliage, is Greenwich baths. Given the location, you would be forgiven for thinking this is a skinny-dipping hotspot, and while more than a few nocturnal swimmers have been caught with their pants down, by day this is a strictly family affair.
Tip: Not the place to bring a football and stereo system
Andrew “Boy” Charlton, Wooloomooloo
Andrew “Boy” Charlton pool is where the beautiful people of Kings Cross and Darlinghurst come to bronze themselves and be seen. Cruisey summer by the pool? More like cruising by the Cross. It’s not all buffed bodies and shelf bums. But there’s a lot of it.
Tip: Hit the gym before you come here. Competition is real.
Mahon Pool, Maroubra
Set further from the beach than most of Sydney’s other rockpools, Mahon Pool at maroubra is a destination for those who want their surf without the surf. Waves come crashing in, stirring up the water, but the swimmers keep on swimming unperturbed. It sure beats the rough maroubra swell down at the beach.
Tip: Mahon Pool is lit for night swimming. Just try it once – you’ll be hooked!
It’s like someone transported a crystalline piece of South Pacific aquamarine into the azure surf and sunshine yellow beach, such is the beauty of the Bronte baths. This is not any ordinary Rockpool – this is managed, gated and preserved. A little piece of heaven.
Tip: Sunbaking on the rocks next to the path above the pool is simply bliss
This is where they apparently put ice blocks in the water for the regulars’ cold temperature endurance training! Bondi icebergs is sort of the ultimate Sydney rockpool – the iconic beach, the iconic swimming hole… getting thrown into the drink as waves crash over the edge…
Tip: Come here early on a winter morning, watch the sun rise and see how the icebergs push the limits of their endurance.
If you’ve ever wanted to swim in Sydney Harbour (and really feel like you’re swimming in the harbour), this is the place to do it. Filtered harbour water in calm, forested surroundings tucked away on Cremorne Point. Peer over the boardwalk for picture postcard views of the Opera House.
Tip: Come here early in the morning and you might even have it to yourself – you’ll feel like you’ve just woken up in your very own Blue Lagoon film.
Who’d have thought that parramatta would have one of Sydney’s best natural swimming holes? Ok, so it’s not technically a swimming pool, but it is a waterhole and it’s awesome. 20kms from the coast, and recently reopened after years of contamination, Lake Parramatta is possibly western Sydney’s best place to cool off this summer
Tip: Outside of the netted area you swim at your own risk; there are boats on lake parramatta, and you’re supposed to dip in the netted area full of children, where the lifeguards can keep watch. When I visited, some locals were having a ball jumping off the rocks on the northern shore of the lake. Technically out of bounds… But no one was stopping them either…
Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre
Anyone who grew up in Sydney in the late 1990s begged their parents to take them here at least once. The draw cards of course were the waterslide, the whirlpool, the hot tubs, kiddies area. Well guess what? It still rocks!
Tip: This is a great place for children, especially younger children. If you went swimming here as a child back in the 90s, and you’ve spawned some of your own, do the right thing and bring them here!
Sydney does the Gold Coast! It was probably inevitable that the old Wonderland site would be used as some sort of a leisure venue, but it’s fair to say not many people saw it coming when in 2012, wet n wild announced their expansion into the Sydney market. 42 slides across four towers, each with a different level of intensity. What more could we want?
Tip: The park isn’t open all the time, especially during cooler months – check ahead of time, and book your tickets online.