Figure 8 Pools is a natural wonder you have to see for yourself. The photos are great (yeah, it’s a hashtag: #figure8pools, check out the pics below) but nothing compares to submerging yourself in that figure 8 pool.

Figure 8 pool? Yes, there is just one figure 8 pool, not a whole lot of Figure 8 Pools. There are another 8 pools to swim in and you’ll be surrounded by the bush, cliffs and infinite sea so it's still one of the best things to do in Sydney.

Where are Figure 8 Pools?

Figure Eight Pools are on a rock ledge south of Burning Palms Beach in Royal National Park, Sydney. You can’t drive directly to the pools.

The shortest walk is a steep 3.5km track that winds down more than 100m of elevation to the ocean. Even with the new boardwalk National Parks built, it will take over one hour to walk there.

The Figure 8 Pools walk includes about 15 minutes of rock-hopping over basketball-sized rocks (shown at 1:17 in the video) and a challenging walk across wet, slippery rock ledges.

It's not an easy walk so give yourself plenty of time.

After a swim, you’ll need to walk back up that steep track to your car, so maximise your time in the 8 pools to make the walk worth it.

And if you remember only one thing, it’s to visit Figure Eight Pools at low tide.

A view from halfway down the hill on the Figure Eight Pools and Burning Palms walk. Burning Palms Beach sits behind Burning Palms Surf Life Saving Club at the foot of the hill. Figure Eight Pools is at the base of the second headland.

Figure Eight Pools is at the base of the second headland. You need to walk along Burning Palms Beach and around the rocks at the end to reach the Figure 8 Pool.

Why Low Tide?

At high tide the entire rock ledge is underwater. You can only access Figure 8 Pools when the tide is less than 1m. This is at low tide or perhaps an hour or two each side of low tide depending on the swell.

I’ve met many disappointed people trudging back up the track with no hashtag-able photo. Sad but true. Like the Grand Old Duke of York in reverse, they walked right down to the bottom of the hill and walked back up again.

Save yourself the heartache; check the tides before you go. And even if it is low tide, check there are no dangerous surf conditions forecast, like a big swell.

If the Bureau of Meteorology says “hazardous surf conditions”, don’t go. You simply won’t see them and could also get into a world of trouble.

How Hard is the walk to Figure Eight Pools?


Grade 4 – bushwalking experience recommended. Track is long, rough and very steep. Signs may be limited. (Walking geek note: because this walk is untracked along the beach and over slippery rocks, it could be classified Grade 5)

Track Conditions

A mix of rough bush track, beach, small boulders and slippery rock ledges.

Quick Start Guide

Public Transport

The closest train station is at Otford, a three hour walk away from Figure 8 Pool (jump to more details in How to Get To Figure 8 Pools by Train below).


There are no places to refill your water along this walk. Take as much water as you need, at least 1 litre each.


There are toilets at the carpark at Garawarra Farm. There are no other toilets along this walk.

Mobile phone reception

There is no mobile phone reception once you leave the top of the hill.

Where to Park Near Figure 8 Pools Sydney

The nearest carpark to get to Figure Eight Pools is at Garawarra Farm, off Garie Road. (See Garawarra Farm Carpark in Google Maps.)

Garawarra Farm Road is unsealed dirt with a few potholes but don’t worry, there’s no need for a 4WD. When you reach the end of the road, you’ll see a locked gate in front of you. The carpark is to your right and the walk to Figure Eight Pools starts on the other side of the gate, down to the left.

You could also park near Otford Lookout, at the start, or end, of Royal National Park Coastal Walk. This means a longer and steeper walk through the Palm Jungle, but it's totally worth it if you have more time and want to do one of the best hikes in Sydney. (See Coast Track Carpark in Google Maps.)

Directions to Figure 8 Pools from Garawarra Farm

Distance: 7km round trip
Time: 3-4 hours return

On the other side of the gate is a big sign at the start of the track saying “Garawarra Farm” with arrows pointing to Figure Eight Pools, Burning Palms Beach and Era Beach. They all follow the same track to start: east, down the hill towards the ocean.

Leaving Garawarra Farm car park to walk to Figure 8 Pools

Leaving Garawarra Farm car park. There are warning signs – literally – so heed them. And notice how the landscape changes from this typical Aussie bush to coastal heathland.


While you're coming down from the carpark, through the typical Australian bush, keep an eye out for this amazing tree used to make an Aboriginal canoe. It's right next to the track but you need to know what to look for, or you'll miss it.

Halfway down the hill as you exit the bush you are treated to an awesome view south along the coastline. Burning Palms Beach is the first beach you can see. Figure Eight Pools is at the base of the second headland around from Burning Palms Beach.

A little further along the track are NPWS signs showing pictures of waves crashing over the rock ledge where Figure Eight Pools are. If the sea looks the same as the ‘dangerous' photo, enjoy the Burning Palms walk or the Palm Jungle Loop Track instead, but it's best to avoid Figure Eight Pool.

A sign on the way to Figure 8 Pools explaining the dangers of visiting the pools on the wrong tide.

Take a look at this sign on your walk to Figure 8 Pools. It could save you a lot of trouble.

Keep going straight down the track until you meet the boardwalk that takes you down to the Coast Track. Turn right, south, through the shack community and past the Burning Palms Surf Club until you cross a small bridge. The track to Burning Palms Beach and Figure Eight Pools is just after this bridge on the left.

When you are on Burning Palms Beach, turn right (south) and continue to the end of the beach where the sand disappears and it becomes rocky.

You need to walk through the first section of rocks then look for a track worn into the grassy bank on the right. This track takes you around some of the slower, trickier sections of rocks but it's only a short detour.

There is no avoiding the scramble over rocky boulders followed by some very slippery rock surfaces to reach Figure 8 Pools.

The actual Figure 8 Pool is on the rock ledge beneath the second headland, right near the water’s edge.

Ian from Sydney Coast Walks is walking along the boardwalk to Figure Eight Pools. Burning Palms Beach and the coastline are in the background.

This boardwalk makes the walk to Figure Eight Pools, and the Burning Palms walk, much easier.

Buy the Figure 8 Pools Map for only $2.49


Directions to Figure 8 Pools from Otford Lookout

Distance: 14km round trip
Time: 5-6 hours return

From Otford Lookout carpark, walk north along the Royal National Park Coastal Walk.

After walking for about 2km through the gum trees you need to turn right, east, off the fire trail onto a walking track. Enjoy the view from Werrong Lookout a little way down on your right then follow this track all the way down the hill through Palm Jungle.

A sign showing The Coast Track in Royal National Park with the turnoff towards Figure 8 Pools.

Look for this track on your right when you walk from Otford to Figure 8 Pools. Follow it all the way to Burning Palms Beach, before North Era, where you'll see the next turnoff to Figure 8 Pools.

As you exit the trees at the bottom you might see an unmarked track on your right leading down a gully towards the coast. Someone might even have scratched Figure 8 Pools with an arrow into a track marker beside the track. Don't take this ‘shortcut'. It's steep, slippery and many have people have hurt themselves trying to save time. It's not worth it; continue to Burning Palms Beach instead.

When you are on Burning Palms Beach, turn right (south) and continue on the rocks around the first headland. Figure 8 Pools are on a rock ledge beneath the second headland, right near the water’s edge. You will need to scramble over rocky boulders and carefully cross some very slippery flat rock surfaces to reach them.

where are the figure 8 pools

How to Get To Figure 8 Pools by Train

Distance: 16km round trip
Time: 6-7 hours return

For Figure 8 Pools Sydney, catch the train to Otford on the Illawarra and South Coast line. Check train times here. Exit the station on the eastern side.

If you are travelling from Sydney you get off the train on the correct side. Turn right out the door. If you are travelling from Wollongong, walk up the stairs and across the bridge to the southbound platform.

Walk up the stairs on the southern end of the station and turn left after you walk through the gate. Walk up the hill for 50m and take the first left into Station Rd, an unsigned dirt road.

After 200m follow the road right into Fanshawe Rd, another unsigned dirt road.

At the end of Fanshawe Rd you come to the intersection with Lady Wakehurst Drive. This is the main road through Royal National Park; please be careful of traffic. Cross the road and turn left to Otford Lookout. Follow directions from Otford Lookout, shown above.

Swimming in Figure Eight Pools

To make you day trip to Figure Eight Pools as memorable as it should be, please remember these important points:

  • don't dive into the pools.
  • when you’re walking over wet, slippery rocks; walk low to the ground, keep your hands out wide for balance and place your feet carefully.
  • sunscreen washes off in water despite how ‘waterproof' it is. Please don't wear sunscreen in Figure Eight Pools. We don't want to harm this delicate ecosystem.
  • remove all your rubbish.
Ian from Sydney Coast Walks floating in Figure 8 Pools Sydney, Australia. No-one else is in the picture, he has Figure 8 Pool all to himself.

Figure 8 Pools Sydney, Australia. If you time it right you can have the pool all to yourself.

How to Actually Find Figure 8 Pools Australia

Unless you're there on a guided tour (check prices and availability of a guided walking tour), the Figure Eight Pools are a bit tricky to spot.

It is like a little circular sinkhole in the rock. Over time, two of the sinkholes have grown and merged to make a large figure of 8 eight shaped pool.

You may spot other smaller figure eight pools, but there’s only one main one. It is nearly 4 metres long and over 1 metre across.

It’s close to the sea, kind of in line with the ‘point' of the headland. This position allows awesome views to the north and south. See Figure Eight Pools Sydney on Google Maps


A photo posted by Matty Small (@mattnotsosmall) on

2019 Update

Most people leave the city behind to escape the crowds but the continuing popularity of #figure8pools means it's still crazy busy.

The Burning Palms cabin community have sometimes counted 1000 visitors in one day and say even mid-week can be a problem.

Figure 8 pools Royal National Park

Huge crowds when Figure 8 Pools first became a social media phenomenon in 2016. Image: Time Out

National Parks have upped safety warnings, given the number of people ignoring basic advice. For now, Figure 8 Pools is not the serene, soul-refreshing experience you may be hoping for.

At least grab a map (only $2.49).

Map to figure 8 pools

Figure 8 Pools Map

You know, there are other wildly beautiful places in Sydney to explore (including this bigger natural swimming hole, also in Royal National Park)…

What to Take

A day trip to Figure 8 Pools is one of the best ways to spend a summer day in Sydney. Remember you have a steep bush walk and rocky scramble to reach it, so wear shoes and take your thongs or sandals in a bag.

There are no shops down on the beach so take plenty of water and whatever food you need.

You might be lucky and get mobile phone reception when you are down by the water, but don’t rely on it. You won’t have reception on the walk down or up.

Remember to wear a hat and sun-safe clothing and enjoy your adventure.

Check out more tips for what to take on a day hike with this hiking checklist.

If you want to chill out for a few days in the area, here's where to stay near Royal National Park. Another walk to check out – especially during whale watching season – (no rock scrambling on this one!) is Wedding Cake Rock.

Are There Guided Tours to Figure 8 Pools?

Yes. National Parks has licensed only one tour operator to guide tours down to Figure 8 Pools.

This Figure 8 Pools tour by Barefoot Downunder consistently gets 4-5 star reviews from their guests. Be aware that this guided tour is tide-dependant.

Tours to Figure 8 Pools operate September – May only, and are closed during June-August.


With the advantage of local knowledge and a belief that the best natural beauty can only be experienced by foot, Ian founded Sydney Coast Walks in 2009 after a decade of travelling the world.


  1. Comment by Rafael Paz

    Rafael Paz November 26, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Hey Ian, do you know if there’s a way to 8 figure pools by public trasportation? I’m struggling to find how to get there, but unfortunately without success!


    • Comment by Ian Wells

      Ian Wells November 27, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      G’day Rafael,

      Yes mate, there is a train station at Otford, only 1km (all distances are approximate) from Otford Lookout (mentioned in the blog post above). Otford is on the blue Illawarra line. If you are coming from Sydney, you exit the train on the Eastern side of the station (if you are coming from Wollongong, cross the overpass to the eastern side). Walk up the stairs that lead away from the station (not the ones that cross the train line) and turn left at the top. After 50m on this footpath turn left onto a dirt road called Station Rd. Follow this for 200m and turn right into Fanshawe Rd (also a dirt road). At the end of Fanshawe Rd is Lady Wakehurst Dr. This is the main road through Royal National Park. Cross the road, turn left and Otford Lookout is 100m on your right. From here follow the “Directions to Figure 8 Pools from Otford Lookout”.




  2. Comment by Kevin

    Kevin December 3, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Hey Ian
    Wondering what length of time either side of low tide, is the pool still accessible. Will it be ok an hour or so before the low tide time?


    • Comment by Ian Wells

      Ian Wells December 6, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      G’day Kevin,

      That’s hard to say mate because every tide is different. An hour before and after low tide should be fine, depending on the height of that particular tide. It’s always better to get there before low tide than after so you know it will appear.


  3. Comment by kdliss

    kdliss December 13, 2015 at 5:50 am

    Be aware that this is wilderness area. Burning Palms Surf Life Savers see many first-aid needs, such as wounds and scratches, when people slip off the rocks and cut their skin at the sharp edges and shells.
    There is no walking track from Burning Palms to the pools, and that is good so – the attraction of the area. It is 500m rock hopping – sometimes it’s slippery, sometimes, you need to use your hands. Please don’t ge washed away, by suddenly emerging waves. It’s not a Bondi Beach walk – and we don’t want that here. No problem for an outdoor enthusiast, a mountainere, an experienced bush walker – however, if you get excited about that trip hazard off the carpark, maybe not a way for you! As usual in wilderness, know you capabilities, know the point of turning back – don’t insist to get there if it is above your capabilities. Everyone is different – I made it barefoot and with 80 years old (fit) people – but it’s not accessible by wheel-chair.

    • Comment by Ian Wells

      Ian Wells December 16, 2015 at 10:04 am

      G’day kdliss,

      You make some good points. I’d just like to clarify this is not technically wilderness area. It’s an untracked part of a national park.

      Thanks for your helpful advice.



  4. Comment by Karen

    Karen December 14, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    I went on the hike (my second hike in my life time) and this is what I learnt:

    1. Once you see the path that splits between the beach and another track, go to the beach. My group decided to walk on the track instead and ended up 30 minutes away on the wrong path and had to do a u-turn.

    2. After you reach the end of the beach, you will see the rocks. Keep your closed shoes on. I went bare feet and it took twice as long for me to get there (and don’t wear thongs, it is dangerous and it’s very easy to slip).

    3. The hike back up to the carpark was deadly so bring at least 2L of water. I don’t want to turn you off, but at this point in time, you’ll be thinking that the Figure 8 Pool wasn’t worth the hike. You will feel incredibly exhausted and drenched in sweat.

    • Comment by Ian Wells

      Ian Wells December 16, 2015 at 10:07 am

      G’day Karen,

      Good advice. Very challenging hike for your second one ever! Hope you feel it was worthwhile now.


  5. Comment by Jane Murray

    Jane Murray December 28, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    Hello there, just a few things to be aware of, as someone who has a family shack at Era. People need to be aware to take ample food and water (2L at least). Some walkers have no idea how far it is and don’t carry essentials- food, water and sunscreen. Lots of people are coming down the track unaware of the tide as well, it’s pretty dangerous to get around during King Tides over christmas, today I had to advise a whole group of people that they may not be able to get around due to the tide, its quite dangerous. Also there are no toilets or water at Burning Palms, and the shack owners can’t cater for the large amounts of people coming down the tracks, as you are aware we have to take all our things down in packs as well. There are two portaloo toilets at Garrawarra farm (So if you plan on going, a roll of toilet paper might be good to take) People need to PLEASE pick up your rubbish, as it is a National Park (we take our rubbish up the hill and to our bins at home). Friendly advice from a shack owner at Era. 🙂

    • Comment by Ian Wells

      Ian Wells January 4, 2016 at 9:22 am

      Thanks Jane, great advice.

      For those of you who don’t what “a shack owner at Era’ is read Cabin Open Day. The cabins are a unique, priceless asset to Royal National Park and the annual open day is a fascinating insight into recent history.

  6. Comment by Hayley Parsons

    Hayley Parsons December 28, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Hi Ian
    Are you able to access the Figure 8 pools by walking down ‘Coast Track Path’. Shows up on maps as a labeled path but can’t really zoom in enough or get a street view to see what it’s like, or find any info on the park’s website. It connects Garawarra Farm Rd and the Royal National Park Trail, kind of cutting through the middle of the Palm Jungle Loop. My maps makes it an option, and it seems a fairly flat and easy walk down all of Garawarra Rd, making it a smaller walk for the steep stuff!

    • Comment by Ian Wells

      Ian Wells January 4, 2016 at 9:10 am

      G’day Hayley,
      The part of the Coast Track Path that runs east, down from the intersection of Garrawarra Farm Road and The Cliff Track (as shown on Google Maps) no longer exists. You’re right, it would be a shorter walk for the steep stuff, but it was probably too steep to maintain. It would have been extremely difficult.

  7. Comment by Bronessa Smith

    Bronessa Smith January 9, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Hi All, every man and his dog knows about this place. Used to be quiet secluded and protected, now the beach is covered in rubbish etc. and least of all people not knowing how to swim or aware of any dangers from the rocks and the surf, recent reports and massive surf conditions people have been swept off the rocks from getting too close to the edge and not listening to low tide instructions. People have cuts and gashes all over them, broken ankles etc. I don’t think this is for everyone. I went down recently with my daughter and husband as they had never been but I had over 15 years ago as part of the surf club and we took precautions. We noticed the massive surf and high tides and were careful. Not to mention the car park being ful and no parking. This is not a patrolled beach, it’s open water and and takes a huge effort to get a chopper in to find missing people. I am not saying not go, I sm just saying be careful, take water, and possible first aide kit if not surf aware. Good luck.

    • Comment by Ian Wells

      Ian Wells January 11, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      Well said Bronessa. We’re trying to help people enjoy Figure 8 Pools safely. It’s a shame people were injured yesterday, we’re all thankful it wasn’t more serious. Let’s hope others take more care.

      P.S. Some news channels reported a ‘rogue wave’ was to blame. It was not a rogue wave, it was a “set”. If you are reading this and don’t know what a set is, sit back from the waters edge and watch the ocean. You will notice bigger waves break regularly in sets. Look out for them, don’t turn your back on the ocean and you won’t be surprised by them. Cheers.

  8. Comment by youcantryreachingme

    youcantryreachingme March 10, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    2 months on from the holidays and drama, is this place still seeing huge crowds on weekends?

    • Comment by Ian Wells

      Ian Wells March 10, 2016 at 8:41 pm

      Yes, there are thousands of people there on the weekend. The car park at Garawarra Farm is overflowing and there are cars on the main road for 100m either side. You would be lucky to get near the pools themselves.
      It’s still absolutely worth a visit, just choose your time wisely.

      • Comment by youcantryreachingme

        youcantryreachingme March 11, 2016 at 1:49 pm

        That sucks. Known about this place for years, but never visited and always planned to :/

        • Comment by Ian Wells

          Ian Wells March 11, 2016 at 1:53 pm

          Find an early morning low-tide midweek, outside of school holidays, with no dangerous surf conditions and it’s still awesome.

  9. Comment by Ivie Frost

    Ivie Frost May 25, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Hello, I was wondering if the pools were safe to travel to in June? Since it will be winter. Thanks!

    • Comment by Ian Wells

      Ian Wells May 25, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      Absolutely they’re safe to travel to in June, Ivie. Keep in mind these two things:
      1. Ocean swell is usually bigger in winter so ensure you check the weather report for “hazardous surf conditions”. If big surf is forecast, don’t go.
      2. After heavy or sustained rain the steep section of the track can be very slippery.
      Come back here in a week to download our free map of the walking route to Figure 8 Pools.

      • Comment by Ivie Frost

        Ivie Frost May 25, 2016 at 4:39 pm

        Thank you so much! I’m sure I will have other questions while preparing for the trip.

      • Comment by Ivie Frost

        Ivie Frost May 26, 2016 at 10:37 am

        Also, what is a good website that I can look up the tide tables with?

  10. Comment by Tien Nguyen

    Tien Nguyen June 8, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    Hi – I am wondering if there is any public transport or buses to figure 8 pools. Thanks

    • Comment by Ian Wells

      Ian Wells June 9, 2016 at 9:34 am

      The closest train station is at Otford, Tien, on the Illawarra line. It’s an 8km walk to Figure 8 Pools from the station. There are no busses. Exit the station on the eastern side. If you are travelling from Sydney you get off the train on the correct side. Walk up the stairs on the southern end of the station and turn left after you walk through the gate. Walk up the hill for 50m and take the first left into Station Rd. After 200m follow the road right into Fanshawe Rd. These roads might not be signed and aren’t sealed roads. At the end of Fanshawe Rd you come to the intersection with Lady Wakehurst Drive. This is the main road through Royal National Park, please be careful of traffic. Cross the road and turn left to Otford Lookout. Follow directions from Otford Lookout, shown above.
      FYI I’ve added these notes to the main post above. Thanks.

    • Comment by Jade Luu

      Jade Luu July 26, 2017 at 3:02 am

      Hi Tien Nguyen,
      I saw your Vietnamese name on this side to asked about the 8 pools. I’m from America and I’m going to Sydney on October 2017. I would like to going there, so if you been there before, do you have any advice or information please!
      Minh cung la nguoi Vietnam
      Cam on ban Tien Nguyen

      • Comment by Tien Nguyen

        Tien Nguyen July 26, 2017 at 7:42 pm

        Hi Jade,
        Yeah i planned to go – bought the ticket but my brother and cousin had some issues so we didnt go – but it seems like an amazing place. I dont know much about NSW but if you come to Melbourne maybe i know a bit more as i live here.
        Chuc ban chuyen di that tuyet voi 🙂

Comments are closed.

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