Wild Winter Swimming Near Sydney

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Sara Freeland

Chief Camping Officer

Wild winter swimming might sound crazy to you, but trust me, you’ll never feel so alive! It’s a bold statement, I know, but there’s nothing more refreshing and exhilarating than a plunge into cold water.

Apart from the health benefits, which I’ll touch upon later, wild winter swimming gives you the opportunity to enjoy the water without the crowds and immerse yourself in nature. And what’s more, Sydney has some great wild swimming spots for all seasons!

The Blue Mountains

If you’re looking for wild, freshwater swimming near Sydney, the Blue Mountains is a great place to start. This World Heritage Area is a goldmine of streams, waterfalls, and water holes.

One of these enticing pools is Paradise Pool, a lesser-known and less-visited spot located in Linden. Paradise Pool is an enchanting, sandy-bottomed patch of water with a small, pretty waterfall at one end which offers the calming soundtrack of trickling water in winter. It won’t take you long to hike there, but it’s the perfect place to spend a day outside of the city, surrounded by nature.

Another hidden gem in the Blue Mountains is Jelly Bean Pool, near Glenbrook. This aptly named swimming hole even has its own beach, not that you’ll be spending much time on it in winter! It provides a great spot to refresh yourself after a day of hiking around the local tracks, such as the Gorge Walk, or the Red Hands Cave track.

Royal National Park

The secluded beaches of the Royal National Park are hard to say no to in summer, but in winter, when the crowds are gone, it’s the perfect time for a dip. With a tonne of beaches to choose from, you might consider Garie or Wattamolla, which offer quick access back to your car for warmth.

If you’re looking for something more remote though, consider searching for what’s colloquially known as “The Grotto”. Hint: hike south from Wattamolla and keep your eye’s peeled for a small pad off to the right.

Make sure you prepare by having a set of warm, dry clothes to change into after, and a thermos filled with tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Then take the plunge into the cold waters. You’ll soon acclimatise to the temperature and when you finally drag yourself out, the feeling is like nothing else. As the cold water activates endorphins, you will feel refreshed and full of energy. Coldwater swimming is also a proven stress reliever and immune-system booster, something we all need in the current climate!

Another spectacular swimming spot to get the heart racing is Karloo Pool. The walk-in is mostly downhill, meaning the return hike goes up up up, which will warm you right back up after a winter dip. You can also continue along the track to the Uloola Falls, a secluded little campground beside one of Sydney’s best wild swimming pools.

More Wild Saltwater Swimming Spots

If you’re looking for some wild ocean swimming closer to Sydney, Flint & Steel beach in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase, just 45 minutes from Sydney is a real winner! Surrounded by the national park, it’s a great spot for those looking to escape the city and feel like they are swimming in the wilderness.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to venture slightly further afield, Long Beach lies on the Beecroft Peninsula. It’s a 3-hour drive from Sydney and with its long stretches of sun-bleached sand and turquoise waters, it is a great weekend destination for both young travellers and the whole family. The beauty of this cove distracts you from the chilling winter temperatures, so you get all the benefits without the negatives!

Wherever you decided to dip in, one thing that all wild winter swimmers will tell you is once you start, you never turn back. And I wholeheartedly agree! The hardest part is getting out and getting back into your clothes.

If you’re interested in any more spots for finding the perfect winter swim, Wild Swimming Australia has a map of their favourite locations.