Totally worth the hike!
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 uber 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 its almost surprising its naturally formed. If you’re planning to make 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 ready for a long walk. It’s not the easiest walk and there have been several mishaps in the past with people being swept away by the sea. Avoid doing the trail during high risk and extreme conditions. There is ample amount of jumping about over massive rocks and some super slippery rock edges so it’s important to be extra careful on the way there.
The walk can start from two points. One is at Garrawarra Farm and the other is Otford Lookout. Garrawarra Farm is relatively closer but you can opt for Otford Lookout for a more holistic feel of the place- just be ready to walk a lot. The walk is approximately a 3.5km track from the car park at Gunwarra Farm and the walk back is extremely steep so be prepared for a good workout.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.
Pro tip: Make sure you carry ample water to and from the walk as there is no place to get a refill anywhere near the pools.
What to do there
Have the time of your life!
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 wanting to beat the crowds head there early in the morning — and we mean 4am early.
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. The best part about reaching the location early in the morning is just how magical and secluded it is, not teeming with people and Instagram aficionados. The water is clear and beautiful and the entire setting right out of a dream.
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 sunscreen 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 take in the Royal National Parks and its surrounds in all their natural splendour.
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 as hazardous conditions.
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. Take a tour if you’re not entirely confident. If you feel you’re not up to make the journey yourself and would much rather have some 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.
SEE ALSO: The Secret Sydney Guide To Jervis Bay