The Illawarra is well known for its beautiful beaches from north to south, but there are also stunning rock pools dotted along the coast.
The rock pools are open all year – except for Wollongong Council-maintained pools, which are closed at times for cleaning – and are the perfect alternative to beaches or busy pools. Keep in mind that low tide is usually the best time to visit, and there are no lifeguards on duty at rock pools.
The cleaning schedule for Wollongong Council’s rock pools is published on Council’s website so you can make sure they’re open for your visit.
If you’re looking for somewhere to suit the whole family during the school holidays, here are some perfect pools to try out.
1. Coalcliff, Paterson Rd
Coalcliff Rock Pool, just south of Coalcliff Beach, was built in 1921 and became a popular leisure spot for the locals and tourists in the mining town. A toddler pool and lots of rock pools in the surrounding rock platform make this a wonderland for sea-life lovers and little explorers. There’s a raised shower area and viewing platform, toilets and a small playground.
2. Wombarra, Reef Rd
Located at the southern end of Wombarra Beach, with scenic views of the picturesque Illawarra escarpment to the north, overlooked by rows of beautiful Norfolk Pines. Built on a wide rock platform the main pool also has a shallow pool attached. Kids love to explore the rock platforms and around the bottom of the cliffs, and there is a playground and wide grassy area above the beach.
3. Austinmer, Lawrence Hargrave Dr
The southern end of Austinmer Beach is home to two rock pools that lay beside each other near Austinmer Beach. The two pools are overlooked by the historic pavilion with sweeping views of Austinmer Beach. One pool is slightly longer than the other, making it perfect for swimming laps. When the tide is high the waves wash into both pools. It is close to cafes, a fenced playground and a patrolled beach.
4. Bulli, Farrell Rd
Bulli Rock Pool is at the northern end of Bulli Beach. It also has a shallow connecting pool perfect for kids. The rockpool dates back to the 1930s and sits against the cliff on the headland with sandy beaches on either side. The popular Bulli Beach Cafe overlooks the pool and there is also a playground on the other side of the surf club.
5. Woonona, Kurraba Rd
Woonona Rock Pool lies on the headland separating Woonona and Bulli beaches. The pool is 50 metres long and has diving blocks, making it the ideal location for swimming laps. It’s set on the rocky headland and boasts a pretty pavilion and viewing platform. At low tide, the rock platform that surrounds the pool makes for some good sea-life exploration.
6. Bellambi, off Robert Cram Dr
Offering fabulous views of the northern Illawarra escarpment, Bellambi Rock Pool is close to the bike path and a great spot for families or a picnic in the nearby park area. The 50 m pool runs parallel to the ocean and has wide steps where you can sit and cool off. There is also a small toddler’s pool at the southern end. Near the pool is a playground and some picnic shelters.
7. Towradgi, Towradgi Rd
With sweeping views of the north and south, Towradgi’s crystal clear ocean pool lies between the rocky outer crop that separates Towradgi and Corrimal beaches. This pool was built by locals in the 1960s and has been a local favourite ever since. It has a ramp entrance that can be slippery, tiered concrete seating platforms and a toddler’s pool.
8. Gentlemen’s Pool, Cliff Rd, North Wollongong
The Gentlemen’s Pool is next to the Continental Pool, between North Gong Beach and Belmore Basin. This was once traditionally the Gentlemen’s Baths and is one of the most popular ocean pools in the region. For many years it was the Men’s Baths, in the era when men and women were not permitted to swim together.
9. Kiama Blowhole Point Rock Pool, access from Harbour Road
There are two ocean pools in Kiama and this one is the smaller of the two sitting on the edge of the ocean. It is a great place for the whole family to enjoy. The pool is an irregular shape with variable depth and natural rock floor and there is a shallow wading area suitable for young children off to the side. It’s a short stroll from Blowhole Point Reserve, the Blowhole, Lighthouse, Visitors Centre and Pilots Cottage.
10. Boat Harbour Rock Pool, Jupiter St, Gerringong
This tucked away ocean pool in Gerringong is a great place to snorkel or swim. It is accessed via a walkway starting at the Boat Harbour Reserve. The ocean pool floor is natural rock with a sandy beach at the shallow end. Boat Harbour offers plenty of parking, a picnic area and amenities.
11. Werri Beach Ourie Pools, Geering St, Gerringong
The rock pool sits on the rock shelf at the southern end of Werri Beach, along with toilets, showers, change rooms and a picnic area. The pool has a smooth, sloping concrete floor and nearby is a separate concrete-formed children’s wading pool.