There aren’t many places quite like the Figure 8 pools. Located just South of Sydney at the Royal National Park, the pools have been caused due to erosion over time and one of them is a perfect figure 8. (Featured image: Shutterstock.)
The super popular pools are a one-hour hike and the trail takes you through a beautiful, secluded beach and rock cliffs. The pool is such a perfect figure 8 that it’s almost surprising it’s naturally formed. If you’re planning to take a trip down the coast to experience the magic yourself, we’ve got an extensive guide that covers the how, what and where of the entire trip.
How to get there
Figure Eight Pools are on a rock ledge south of Burning Palms Beach in Royal National Park. You can’t drive straight to the pools, so be prepared for a long walk. Avoid doing the trail during high-risk and extreme conditions. There is some amount of jumping about over massive rocks and some super slippery rock edges so visitors are advised to be extra careful on the way there.
The walk can start from two points. One is at Garrawarra Farm and the other is at Otford Lookout. Garrawarra Farm is relatively closer but you can opt for Otford Lookout if you want to take in the nooks and crannies of the place. The walk is approximately a 3.5km track from the car park at Gunwarra Farm and the walk back is known to be extremely steep. If travelling by public transport, get the train to Otford on the Illawarra and South Coast line and exit via the Eastern side. The train to Otford leaves you about a 90-minute walk from the beach.
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Tip: Make sure you carry enough water to last you the entire walk as there is no place to get a refill anywhere near the pools.
What to do there
Contrary to popular belief, you actually can get the pools all to yourself. The trick is to plan a visit off-season. Try your luck in the middle of the week and around colder weather. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous and want to beat the crowds head there early in the morning — and we mean as early as 4am.
Another incentive to do this — you get to witness the sunrise over the pools and it’s a sight to behold. Make sure you stay for the sunset which is equally spectacular.
What to take
A trusty pair of hiking boots are your best companion for this walk. Make sure you’re also stocked up on water and snacks. The sun can be pretty brutal so carry enough SPF with you for the whole walk.
Where to stay
There are heaps of options to stay overnight or longer in the vicinity. There are cheaper options like Jackaroo Hostels which provide simple and comfortable accommodation if you’re trying to do a budget trip.
There are also more luxury options if you really want to kick back and indulge in some TLC. We highly recommend Hilltop Cottage and Otford Cottage for a cosy and memorable stay and to enjoy the Royal National Parks and its surrounds in all their natural glory.
Safety Tips and precautions:
1. The most important thing to do before you plan your trip is to check the Figure 8 pool tide times and swell. The tide and swell need to be under 1m. Anything over that is deemed hazardous.
2. The section between Burning Palms beach and the figure 8 pools is the dangerous part of the hike. This makes for about 20 minutes of the overall hike so you’ll want to be extra careful here.
3. If you’re planning a trip between the months of May and September, you might just get lucky and manage to catch glimpses of a whale or two up close.
4. If you’d much rather have some professional guidance along the way, there are several guided tours to choose from.
5. Take some trekking poles along in case of unpredictable rains. The path can get slippery generally so it’s a good idea to have a trusted pair of poles handy.