All publicity is apparently good publicity, and when it comes to the figure 8 pools on the New South Wales coastline, there has been plenty of publicity.

It was as recent as last October when yet another tourist was tragically killed at the notoriously risky spot, and warning signs seem little deterrent for visitors. That said; my innate curiosity to see what all the fuss is about was catalyst to check the pools out for myself. Emerald green coloured natural pools in the shape of the digit 8? Seems worth a look doesn’t it? (spoiler alert; they’re not worth it).

Reaching the figure 8 pools isn’t easy, but the NSW Royal National Park is a beautiful environment to be in, so it’s also not a displeasure reaching them. The park spans across 150 km of land that is home to large spans of trees, trails, tracks, camping spots, wildlife, and coastline. There are of course a few popular surf breaks here too (this is Australia after all).

Two main car parks are close to the pools; Garie Beach carpark (approx 60 – 90 minutes walk each way) or Era Beach carpark (approx 40 – 60 minutes walk each way).

Both beaches have surf breaks and Garie has the larger facilities of the two, with a small kiosk, surf club, picnic tables, showers and toilets. It’s a great spot for surfers, walkers, swimmers and family picnics. Era is a shorter walk to figure 8 pools, but has no facilities. From either starting point there are well signposted tracks which follow a mixture of terrain; sand, sand dunes, wooden steps and grassy hills. Moderate fitness is recommended and definitely take your camera; the coastal views are spectacular.

Once you reach the end of Burning Palms beach (the next beach south from Era), the walk becomes risky and it’s imperative to check tide reports, to minimise danger.

Follow the rocky shore line around the bottom of the cliff, where your route is unmarked and unstable. The waves breaking on the shore can be wild, unpredictable, and fierce and will take around 30 minutes to navigate.

Where you’ll arrive at is a large flat section of rock between the waves and the cliff edge. It is here where you’ll find what you were looking for; deep rock formations have been miraculously created by Mother Nature, and each pool is like a natural plunge pool, of which there are 4 in total. One is the shape of the digit 8.

There’s no doubt it’s a rare sight to see pools of this depth, with smooth round sides, randomly places in a flat bed of rock, and with the joy of trekking through the national park, across lesser frequented beaches, the journey can be a pleasant one.

figure 8 pools

Figure 8 Pool Myths

  • There are multiple figure 8 pools at the location. Wrong, there is one the shape of an 8 and a further 3 pools within the scope of the phenomenon, which are not of that shape.
  • The figure 8 pools rare, unpopulated, and off the beaten track. Wrong, you will likely be one of many many people viewing the pools and will need your whits about you; tourists don’t take kindly to people standing between them and a great Instagram photo.
  • The water is emerald green and photo fabulous. Wrong, the coast does boast green water but the pools have moss growing (as is the case with all natural rock pools); unless you photoshop, your water will be dark.