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If you’re looking for a fun day trip in Sydney, look no further! I have the perfect adventure for you. Just recently, I took advantage of my day off of class to visit the Figure 8 Pools at Royal National Park. And boy, am I happy I did—it was more incredible in person than any picture could portray it!

One of the most important aspects of the trip is thought-out planning. In order to be able to safely swim, the tide level needs to be below 1 meter, which only happens at certain hours of the day, and varies from day to day. If you choose to visit the pool at the second low tide point in the day, which is normally in the mid to late afternoon, be mindful of what time the sun sets such that you can get to the train before it gets dark. To play it safe, I visited the pool around 9:45am so that I could take my time hiking out of the park.

If using public transportation, the best way to get to the Figure 8 Pools is to take the train to Otford Station. From here, it is around a 30-minute walk to the trailhead, and another 2-2.5 hour walk to the Figure 8 Pools themselves. It is not a loop path, so you will hike in to the pools on the same path that you will hike out. The train to and from Otford doesn’t run more than once or twice per hour, so I had to get up around 5am to time it right with the train ride and the low tide. Right before getting to the pools, there are a bunch of rocks and small boulders to walk across, so be sure to wear proper walking shoes when hiking there and back! And of course, have plenty of food and water with you. Oh, and don’t forget your towel!

Another tip is to visit this area on a weekday. I went on a Tuesday, and only 5 or 6 others were there when I showed up with my friends. Apparently on the weekend, though, hundreds of people come to take photos, which simply makes the area too crowded and unenjoyable.

It’s hard to believe that the pool is naturally created. It is perfectly shaped! The water was nice and cold when I got in, but my body quickly adjusted to the temperature. I made sure to take plenty of those artsy Instagram pictures with my friends before it was time to head back. The scenery on the trail was quite lovely as well, as it was a nice mix between walking along the beach and walking through the forest.

Here is the link to check the tide level at the Figure 8 Pools on the day you plan to go: