Alongside with its world-class beaches, another of Sydney’s unique sights are the ridiculous amount of rock pools scattered all up and down the east coast.
These man-made pools live nestled in the natural beauty of Sydney’s beaches and cliffsides, and all along the east coast of New South Wales, there’s over 60 of them. All shaped differently, all with unique characteristics, all of them beautiful.
They’re amazing to take a dip in on a hot summer’s day, but they’re also amazing to photograph.
Tip: Use a polariser for your camera or drone when shooting these pools. A polariser cuts through the glade and reflection of the light on the surface of the water. It makes it so your images see through the water more and provides a lot more detail on your shots!
Here’s a list of 5 of my favourite rock pools in Sydney:
5. Freshwater pool
Aside from being right next to my favourite beach, Freshwater pool has a classic rectangular shape etched into the side of a curvy cliff that gives it some nice contrast and visual interest. As it’s an actual swimming pool, structurally it’s more refined than other pools which means nice things like panted lanes and amenities.
When to photograph: Shoot it just before sunset to get the shadows to align with the pool.
How to get there: It’s very very easy to get to. There’s a big carpark right behind the pool. Fly from the lookout or photograph it down on the rocks.
4. Bronte baths
A classic pool in a weird shape that reminds me of a guitar. I love the weird shape - it’s interesting and different.
This is a more structured swimming pool with amenities, so you’ll regularly see locals here every morning.
When to photograph:Try to time the tides. A high tide causes all the waves to crash up and into the pool and you can’t see the lines if this happens.
Best shot at sunrise as the light illuminates the entire pool. At sunset there are shadows cast from the cliff behind and it goes dark.
How to get there: Another one that’s very easy to get to. Park on Calga Pl. If you’re there for sunrise, it’s usually very empty. Fly from pretty much anywhere. The park is a good place, just don’t be one of those annoying pilots and make sure you’re not within 30m of people. For hand held shots, there’s a viewing platform to the right just before you enter the pool area.
3. Shelly park beach
A bit of an uncommon one, but one of my favourites.
Everyone in this area will mostly go to the two pools up at Cronulla beach, but if you venture further down south a little, you’ll find this tiny beach with its own rock pool.
Shelly park beach rock pool is amazing because of its big, rectangular size. The waves wash up right into the pool and at sunrise it’s far more quiet than Cronulla.
When to photograph: Shoot it at either sunrise or an hour before sunset, you’ll get great detail in both.
How to get there: Park at Ewos parade (if you can find a car spot) and walk through Shelly park a minute or two down to the beach.
2. North Curl Curl
My personally favourite! Why? Because it’s weird. And imperfect. And it has a big rock thing in the middle. There’s something about the imperfections of this place that I love. The rock formations surrounding it are strange and unbalanced, the walls of it don’t go the entire way around, and it’s really hard to get to.
Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment. Or maybe I just like weird things – I don’t know.
When to photograph: Shoot it at both sunrise and an hour before sunset because this place is awesome. This shot is at sunset.
How to get there: Park at the Surf Life Saving Club or at the beach and fly from there, it’s easily within range, but if you want to actually get to the rock pool, you’ll have to walk from the club, through the bush and down into Dee Why Head to get there.
1. Mona Vale rock pool
Of course number 1 has to go to Mona Vale. I don’t think there’s any other rock pool in all of the east coast that has been photographed more (aside from Bondi Icebergs, but that doesn’t count). It’s unique because its located right out on the bank of sand. It’s not surrounded by a cliff, instead, it’s encapsulated by water. There’s no other rock pool quite like it.
When to photograph: Shoot it at sunrise at low tide. High tide and sunset causes the pool to disappear into froth or shade.
How to get there: Park anywhere on Seabeach avenue and walk down to the beach. It’s a popular spot, so going at sunrise is your best bet.