When the sun’s out and the surf’s up, is there a better place to be than the beach? Maybe. Beat the crowds this summer with a dip in a natural pool or water hole. Some are wonderfully secluded, others already Insta-famous, but all utterly sublime. Here are our tip picks from across Australia.
Fairy Pools, Noosa
Find two picture-perfect tidal pools hidden along the coast of Noosa’s National Park – go at low tide to float in calm and crystal-clear waters.
Champagne Pools, Fraser Island
Crashing waves create fizzing foam in these sparkling turquoise sea pools, kind of like a decadent Champagne bath.
Boat Harbour, Port Stephens
To find this spectacular hidden gem, follow a rocky downward slope from the left of Boat Harbour’s whale-watching platform (but shhh, don’t tell everyone).
Scout’s Falls, Sherwood Nature Reserve
This beauty is off the beaten track: drive 40 minutes from Coff’s Harbour, then take a 20-30 minute walk along the creek (tip: it can be slippery and scrambly, but well worth it when you reach the cascading waterfall).
Bitter Springs, Elsey National Park
Why swim in a resort when this thermal pool/tropical paradise awaits? BYO pool toy or hire a noodle. Find more local recommendations for Darwin and the Northern Territory here.
Maguk Barramundi Gorge, Kakadu
Recently renamed to reflect its Aboriginal roots, this gleaming plunge pool is accessible via 4WD and a moderate hike.
Turpin Falls, Kyneton
In the dry Melbourne summer, take a day trip to this freshwater billabong framed by a dramatic 20-metre cliff and waterfall. Crowds are inevitable, but the Olympic-sized pool will easily facilitate social distancing.
Black Diamond Lake, Allanson
Ok, so it’s technically a lake, not a swimming hole, but the impossibly blue body of water – about 2 hours south-east of Perth – seemed too magical not to share. (It’s at its most dazzling on clear, sunny days.)
Whalers Way, Port Lincoln
This privately owned land on the tip of the Eyre Peninsula is best explored via car (you’ll need to pay an entry fee). Coast around the craggy cliffs and caves, then uncover enchanting rock pools like this.
Douglas-Apsley Waterhole, Douglas-Apsley
Located on the east coast of Tasmania, about 150km from Hobart, the Douglas-Apsley National Park is a wonderland of waterfalls, eucalyptus forests, river gorges and, most importantly, a breathtaking jade-green swimming hole.