A Visual Guide To Sydney's Best Ocean Baths And Rock Pools

Sunrise reflecting on the waters of South Curl Curl Rockpool

1.93min read

Published 7 February 2017


The sun hasn't quite peeked over the horizon yet, but the clouds indicate it's almost there. Hues of red, orange and purple light up the sky, but below, the rock pool is still dark. Waves are crashing over the far edge, as swimmers struggle through the current to stay in the lanes, marked only by lines on the bottom of the pool. A group of whte-haired ladies come down the stairs and one by one drop into the pool, just in time for the first rays to break the horizon. Suddenly everyone is bathed in the rich red of the first sunlight. 

It's no secret that Sydney is stunning. A modern metropolis with clear sunny days, a sparkling blue harbour at its heart, and suburbs filled with charming Victorian terraces and Art Deco apartment blocks. Australia's biggest city is also one of the best places to be in heat of summer, with a string of excellent surf and swimming beaches along the coastline. These beaches are a drawcard not always for their surf and sand, however, but for their rock pools. From Malabar at the southern end of the Eastern Suburbs to Mona Vale on the Northern Beaches, and all along the coast in between, Sydney's rock pools provide protected swimming for everyone from the groups of serniors who do laps at 5:00 am every morning to groups of kids cooling off after school. Australian photographer Jacques Van As of Sharkbite Photography spent the best part of a year capturing these rock pools as the sun rose over the ocean. 

"They are such an iconic fixture on the Sydney coastline, yet each one is unique. It fascinated me all of the different people I came across using the pools before the sun came up. Soemtimes there would be groups of seniors swimming laps, I saw a baptism, joggers taking a post-run dip, surfers walking along the pool edge to get out past the breakline before jumping off the rocks into the waves. And it didn't matter what time of year I was there, the pools were rarely empty," Jacques says. 

Here are some of Jacques' favourite Sydney rock pools. 

Bronte Bath

bronte bath and ocean before sunrise
Bronte bath is one of the most popular swimming pools in Sydney, so capturing it empty isn't easy. (Image: Jacques Van As @sharbite_aus)

Coogee Baths

swimming bahts with smooth ocean coogee
Coogee Baths on a stormy morning with no sunrise. (Image: Jacques Van As @sharkbite_aus)

Ivor Rowe Memorial Pool, Coogee

small rockpool with ocean behind
This rockpool is one of the smallest along the coastline, but is a completely natural rock pool, and rarely a swimmer in sight. (Image: Jacques Van As @sharkbite_aus)

South Curl Curl Pool

smooth water on rock pool surface at sunrise
One of the larger pools along the coastline, South Curl Curl is popular with lap swimmers. (Image: Jacques Van As @sharkbite_aus)

Mahon Rock Pool

rock pool and stairs into pool sunrise
Mahon Rock Pool, at the base of a large cliff, is often affected by high seas. (Image: Jacques Van As @sharkbite_aus)

Mona Vale Pool

mona vale pool with beach in foreground
Mona Vale pool is unique for its location, on a small rocky outcrop in the middle of the beach, thus at high tide, completely surrounded by water. (Image: Jacques Van As @sharkbite_aus)

Malabar Pool

malabar pool at sunrise
Malabar is one of the biggest ocean pools, and a popular spot with the early rising seniors. (Image: Jacques Van As @sharkbite_aus)

North Narrabeen Rockpool

narrabeen pool with timber boardwalk
North Narrabeen Rockpool has both a lap pool and general swimming area. (Image: Jacques Van As @sharkbite_aus)

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