Ocean pools – usually human-made, carved into rock shelves at coastal beaches, fed by the ocean tides – are (almost) exclusively found in New South Wales. With around 100 ocean pools along the state’s shoreline, we dipped into a few of our favourites during a road trip up the east coast.

The Blue Pool – Bermagui
This is one of the most popular and well-known ocean pools on the south coast. Located off Pacific Drive at the base of a rocky cliff face, The Blue Pool is a natural rock pool; great for swimming and snorkelling. In 2010 stairs down to the pool and amenities, including toilets, showers and a change room were added. There is also a viewing platform above.

The Rockpool – Gerringong
A little more hidden than most, out over the Werri Beach rock platform is the The Rockpool in Gerringong (a small surf town between Gerroa and Kiama). Deliberately built into the landscape here, you need to see it from above to really appreciate its location below the cliffs. In its early days the rock pool was ladies only, but apparently it was hard to keep men out. You’ll often find ladies paddling here in colourful swimming caps before 7am.

Coalcliff Rockpool – Coalcliff
Coalcliff is a one of a small collection of beaches that sit along a strip of coastline protected by the escarpment that runs between the Royal National Park and Wollongong. The human-made pool is 25 metres and painted white, so it shines in the sun. It’s very family friendly – more of a paddle pool than a lap pool, and on weekends and summer holidays it is filled with children (BYO floaties). It’s also lovely sunbaking on the surrounding rocks.

The Bogey Hole – Newcastle
A heritage-listed site, the Bogey Hole has a long history. The pool was built by convicts and originally constructed as the Commandant of Newcastle’s private bath in 1820. It has since become a public pool, closed in 2015 for more than a year because of unstable rocks. The council has since reinforced the overhanging wall and recently reopened it in time for summer, so swimmers can again enjoy this incredible spot. Come during mid high tide when waves crash over the sides. Bring a waterproof bag for your valuables.

Merewether Ocean Baths – Newcastle
Newcastle’s swimming spots are one of its finest attributes. Merewether baths opened in 1935 on Merewether Point – a popular surf spot – and have a great view of the coast. There are two pools: a lap pool and a leisure pool. The largest outdoor open pool in the country, the main pool is 50 x 100 metres. It’s open year round, 24-hours a day and is free. The upkeep on these baths is very impressive – it’s painted regularly and the water is changed weekly. For lap swimmers, dive off the old starting blocks and keep an eye out for merging, there are no lane ropes here to keep rogue swimmers in line.

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Main Beach Pool – Yamba
A bit further north is the Yamba pool, perched on the edge of the Main Beach. This pool is 33-metres long with great views of the small, protected beach. It’s also close to one of Australia’s best pub view at the iconic Pacific Hotel. Main Beach pool is popular with early-morning swimmers and families. Come at sunrise or sunset when the pool glows.

To find more ocean pools and other places to swim, follow @placesweswim on instagram.