December 17, 2021

The Best Places to Swim on The Northern Beaches

The Northern Beaches are known for and named after the famed area of beaches that lay just North of the Sydney City CBD and separated by the beautifully world renowned and loved Sydney Harbour. Some of the best beaches are known across the world as tourist destinations and attractions all on their own, as well as being regarded for sporting events and surfing competitions as much as they are known for everyday swimming and recreational activities.

Other than the famed sands of the Northern Beaches, there are a number of often overlooked and beautiful swimming locations including; Northern Beaches rock pools, ocean pools and swimming pools on the Northern Beaches, which are a perfect alternative to the big ocean waves and offer a more family friendly option especially for the little ones, so, without hesitation, let’s dive on in and explore some of the best swimming options available on the Northern Beaches.

Northern Beaches Rock Pools & Ocean Pools

With the abundance of ocean facing beaches around there is an abundance of man-made Northern Beaches rock pools and ocean pools available for swimming and recreational activities. These ocean and rock pools give you the feeling of swimming in the ocean without having to worry about the big waves and strong currents, which is especially advantageous for those who aren’t the strongest swimmers; the elderly who still want to experience ocean swimming, and younger ones alike.

With so many Northern Beaches rock pools and oceans pools available to choose from, at Clarke & Humel we have recommended some of our favourites below.

North Narrabeen Rockpool

Located next to the entrance of the Narrabeen Lagoon at the northern end of North Narrabeen Beach, the ocean pool is separated by a wooden boardwalk that divides the lap swimming section of the pool and the main pool itself. The pool is 50 metres in length (the same size as an Olympic swimming pool), meaning there is ample space for the summer crowds. A major drawcard to this Northern Beaches rockpool is the grass areas and natural rockpool formations located adjacently meaning it is the perfect place to bring the little ones for an ocean swim and to explore the beauty of the natural rock pools.

Palm Beach Rockpool

Palm Beach rockpool is an ocean pool that is located at the southern end of Palm Beach which is the northernmost beach on the Northern Beaches. It’s known for being the filming location for the popular television series Home & Away. With an Olympic sized ocean pool that is perfect for swimming laps, there is a stone-step area located next to the pool which provides the perfect location to sit back and enjoy the surrounding views of Barrenjoey headland after a relaxing ocean swim.

Freshwater Rockpool

Located at the northern end of the popular Freshwater Beach and with two different access points, the Northern Beaches rock pool at Freshwater is the size of an Olympic swimming pool with eight lanes marked on the bottom. After enjoying swimming a few laps in this beautiful ocean pool, stroll down to the nearby picnic area behind the beach and enjoy a BBQ with family and friends.

Mona Vale Rockpool

Located on the stunning ocean rock platform and at the sand spit at the northern end of Mona Vale beach, this beautiful Northern Beaches rockpool has two pools with a larger pool measuring 30 metres in length and an adjacent smaller sized ocean pool that is perfect for children. With the surrounding rock platforms being covered with water and waves when the tide is high enough this pool can give the illusion of swimming in the middle of the ocean. With a nearby picnic area, playground, and cafe nearby this is the perfect place for a family outing.

Swimming Pools & Aquatic Centers

With so many beautiful Northern Beaches rock pools and ocean pools to choose from, there are still a number of family friendly indoor swimming and aquatic centres on the Northern Beaches that provide a sun safe option.

Manly Aquatic Centre

Manly (Andrew Boy Charlton) Aquatic Centre located at 1 Kenneth Rd, North Manly, provides swimming facilities for the whole family to enjoy with some of the best pools on the Northern Beaches, including an outdoor lap pool and indoor children's water play and leisure area with fountains and sprinklers providing non-stop entertainment for the little ones. There is a choice of both 50 metre Olympic sized swimming pools and 25 metre pools with outdoor and indoor pools available which are heated to a comfortable temperature given the weather conditions.

As well as having a number of different swimming pools and options available there is also a great variety of programmes and activities available including learn to swim programs and aqua aerobic classes available and don’t forget the onsite sauna, steam room and or spa for that extra touch of relaxation.

Carlile Swimming Freshwater

If you're looking for swimming lessons for a little one so they will feel confident and comfortable in the waters of the Northern Beaches as they grow up, then one of the many swimming programmes offered by Carlisle Swimming in Freshwater will be the right option for you. Located within the Harbord Diggers and with easy access and parking facilities, swimming classes can be paid for on a 28 day cycle with multi-lesson discounts available.

Lakes and Inland

The Northern Beaches offers some of the best inland and lagoon based coastal swimming and leisure locations in all of Australia with a number of options available with many of these perfect for all the family to explore together.


Extending from Mona Vale and Warriewood in the south to Barrenjoey headland in the north, Pittwater is an inland estuary to the west of Palm Beach that opens into Broken Bay. Being a relatively shallow inlet that is protected from the harsh ocean waves and with a number of beaches lining the shore from the south to the north there are a plentitude of places to enjoy a day with the family.

At Clarke & Humel, some of our favourite places for a dip and picnic in Pittwater in no specific order include;

Narrabeen Lagoon

The Narrabeen Lagoon which is located behind the Narrabeen Beach is an ideal place for swimming for the entire family and those who prefer the calmer waters than the bigger ocean waves, yet still have that beach feel. Perfect for more than just swimming the lagoon is ideal for other water based activities including canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding to name a few. With plenty of sand and some quite shallow areas on the outer edges of the lagoon, it is the perfect palace for toddlers to splash around and enjoy a sheltered beach experience. 

Harbour Beaches

The Northern Beaches have some of the best ocean pools in Sydney and rockpools in Sydney with a plethora of choices available that are perfect for the whole family. At Clarke & Humel some of our favourite Sydney rock pools and harbour swimming locations.

Forty Baskets Beach

Located in Balgowlah, Forty Baskets Beach is a small secluded harbour beach with a netted area that covers half the beach and boardwalk along the top. The beach boasts an adjacent area, a small playground and a small grassy area with shade provided from the tall Norfolk pines nearby with BBQ’s and picnic tables.

The beach gained its name from the 40 baskets of fish that fishermen caught in one sitting from the location in the 19th century.

Little Manly Cove

Located just across from the world famous surf and sands of Manly Beach, Manly Cove offers a safe harbour based swimming experience. There is a shark proof swimming enclosure allowing for safe swimming in the harbour location with rocky headland and rock pools to explore at the southern end of the beach and a compact beach with gentle slope that is perfect for toddlers.  Best of all there is a small cafe just by the beach to grab a coffee or a cold drink on a warm summer's day.

Fairlight Rockpool

Located next to Fairlight beach along the Manly to Spit walkway the Fairlight rock pool is a hidden Sydney gem and the perfect spot to escape the busier swimming areas in the warmer months. The swimming facilities consist of a 30 metre rockpool area as well as a smaller wading pool that is perfect for the little ones.

Adjacent to the rockpool is a picnic area with a change room and showers with Fairlight Beach itself being a sheltered beach that is perfect for kayaking and paddle boarding.

Not only is the Northern Beaches the perfect place to live and rent or buy some of the best real estate in Sydney, there are also a number of swimming options available that are family friendly and perfect for those who aren’t as comfortable with the bigger waves of the open ocean.