swimming holes near sydney feature

Bored of Bondi? Seeking more seclusion than Shark Beach? Or maybe you’re after something more adventurous than Avalon? Whatever the reason, we’ve got you covered with these six glorious swimming holes. The best news is they’re all within day-tripping distance of the harbor city, meaning all you need to do is gather your squad, pack your togs, and get ready to explore the wild side of Sydney (safely, of course).

Mermaid Pools

Where: Tahmoor, a 1.5-hour drive from Sydney
Cost: Free

Consider yourself an adrenaline junkie? Then this is the swimming hole for you. After a gnarly one hour hike through Tahmoor Gorge, you’ll find yourself at the spectacular Mermaid Pools. Surrounded by steep sandstone walls and dense bushland, the only way in is by leaping off a rock platform which sits 32 feet above the water’s surface. Once you’ve taken the plunge, swimming in the cool green depths is a truly magical experience and, if you’re lucky, you might be able to spot a koala or two in the canopy above. Unfortunately, the way out isn’t quite so tranquil, as swimmers need to pull themselves back up to dry land using nothing more than a dangling rope. Um… yolo? A word of warning with this one: aside from the obvious dangers involved with getting in and out of the water, the trail down to the pools is unsigned, save for some easy-to-miss blue and yellow markers attached to nearby trees, so make sure you bring a friend, some provisions, and your cell phone.  

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Nellie’s Glen

Where: Budderoo National Park, a 2-hour drive from Sydney
Cost: $12 per vehicle

Another day, another National Park. This one’s a little further south of Sydney town definitely worth the extra hour drive. Not convinced? Talk to us again after you’ve had the pleasure of a shower under a waterfall, with dragonflies and butterflies as your only companions. Did we just set the scene for the next Disney movie? Walt and friends, feel free to get in touch. The secluded swimming spot is tucked away at the top of Carrington Falls and – in addition to the natural shower – offers breathtaking views over the falls, mossy green rock seating, and enough space to do some laps. As it's under 1000-feet from the car park, this spot is effortless enough for even the laziest of Sundays.

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Gerringong Falls

Where: Budderoo National Park, a 2.5-hour drive from Sydney
Cost: $12 per vehicle

Also located in Budderoo, Gerringong Falls are your best bet if you like a side of cardio with your swimming holes. The five(ish)-mile walk from the car park is tough going at times (and not recommended after heavy rain) but, on the plus side, it increases your chances of having this beautiful spot all to yourself. And what a spot it is. The swimming hole is perched just meters from the falls, which plummet a breathtaking 600 feet into the Kangaroo Valley below. While – in perfect irony – kangaroos are somewhat scarce in the area, wombats, wallabies, and echidnas are plentiful so if you’re quiet as you make your way through the bush, you might just see one or two of these little critters going about their day. On the drive back to Sydney, make a stop at the Jamberoo Lookout where you’ll have scenic views right out to the Pacific Ocean. Consider the day’s Instas sorted.

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Bents Basin

Where: Bents Basin State Conservation Area, just over a 1-hour drive from Sydney
Cost: $8 per vehicle

Bents Basin is our favorite two for one, offering both fun-sized rapids and one of the deepest swimming holes in New South Wales. So pack your favorite flotation device, fishing rod, some wood for the BBQ and make a day of it. There’s plenty of space to set up a picnic (depending on how much faith you have in your designated fisher-person, it might be wise to pack some cheese and crackers) and even camping spots if you want to stay overnight. While you’re here, take the time to make the trek up to Caleys lookout for spectacular views of the area, keeping your eyes peeled for native animals and birds along the way.

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Glenbrook Gorge

Where: Blue Mountains National Park, a 1-hour drive from Sydney
Cost: $8 per vehicle

There are no crazy climbs, no scary ledges, and no cliff jumps here – just a lovely mile-long meander alongside Glenbrook Creek, where inviting little swimming holes seem to exist purely for your pleasure. On the return loop, you’ll find the gorge’s largest offering in Jellybean Pool: a kid-friendly paradise named after its distinctive shape. It’s still, shallow, and surrounded by a patchwork of orange and charcoal cliffs, making it the perfect place to stop for a quick dip. The only downside here is that it gets busy, so much so that locals refer to it as the Bondi of the Blue Mountains. Our advice? Get in early to enjoy some tranquility.

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South West Arm Pool

Where: Royal National Park, a 1-hour drive from Sydney
Cost: $12 per vehicle

It’s no secret the Royal National Park is filled with incredible trails and beautiful coastline, but one of its lesser-known gems is South West Arm Pool, just past Winifred Falls. While the under-a-mile track to the falls is a popular one – and you’ll see why once you take it, it’s spectacular. Bonus: few make it past the falls themselves, meaning this is one swimming hole where you’ll have space to spread out. Surrounded by thick, green bushland and pockmarked sandstone rocks, the pool is a staggering 200-feet deep and has a handy rope swing at the ready for all those Tarzan-inspired moments. Picnicking is seriously encouraged, with multiple rock platforms perfect for setting up a lazy lunch.  

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