I’m sure we’ve all seen the super glam shots on Instagram of Sydney’s famous Figure 8 Pools hidden (sort of) at Burning Palms Beach inside Royal National Park. The advice on getting there, however, is outrageously varied.
Some websites claim it’s stupidly dangerous, others claim it’s not worth it, others still say it’s the best thing you’ll ever do.
Well, I’ve just done it for the first time so allow me to impart my new found wisdom to those of you looking for a new adventure and/or bomb profile pic.
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#1 You’ll need an off-road vehicle
I don’t know how nothing else I’ve read so far failed to mention this, but the dirt road to the top of the track is ROUGH. Nearly the whole thing is made up of giant potholes.
I’m just so thankful we took my friend’s ute purely because I drove to the last hike, because my little (ie. standard sized) car would not have made it.
I did see some regular cars making their way down, but their drivers were absolutely hating life. Honestly, I’ve never seen angrier and more defeated expressions.
#2 It’s only safe at low tide
Anyone who grew up around the ocean knows how treacherous the rocky areas of a beach can be when the waves are too high. If you didn’t, then now you know.
Absolutely, 100 percent, check the tides and plan your trip accordingly. I got there at about a medium tide and I still got wiped out by a rogue wave. Yep, I didn’t swim in the Figure 8 Pool, I was dragged into it fully clothed and still wearing my backpack – and I’m someone who knows the ocean very well.
Not to mention that, while the path there is actually pretty easy (as long as you’re medium to highly confident walking over rocks), as soon as the waves start creeping up — NOT even high tide, just not low tide — your way becomes blocked and slippery.
The parks website literally tells you safe times to visit each day, so you have no excuse.
#2 You’ll get the best pictures then too
If your safety isn’t enough to make you plan the trip properly, then please somebody, think of the Instagram shots.
A quick scroll of the #figure8pools on Insta will prove my point, the best shots of the area are at low tide when you can see the full shape of the pools.
#3 You’ll have to line up for your shot
Yeah, it’s a little bit more obscure to get to than other landmarks in the Sydney region, but don’t let that fool you into thinking there aren’t still hordes of people doing it.
Not that this should ever be a deterrent, in my opinion. It annoys the heck out of me when people refuse an experience just because ‘everyone else is doing it’. I’m just giving you a heads up.
#4 Wear proper shoes
I don’t care how fit you are, if you don’t wear proper walking shoes to get here you’re an idiot.
The funniest thing I’ve ever seen is the dude-bro who wore socks and slides to cross the sometimes slippery, often wobbly rocks to the pools. If I could have taken a photo of his dismayed face as proof of my point, I would have.
Meanwhile, I was in runners and it was a breeze. My friend went au naturale with bare feet and he did pretty well, although it made the slippery parts sketchier.
#5 Do the whole hike
There’s a steep but easy to follow pathway straight from the Garawarra Farm carpark (where you need to park) to Burning Palms Beach. It’s about a six kilometre walk, one way.
I’ll be honest though, I did the entire Palm Jungle Loop Track and the Figure 8 Pools aren’t even the best view.
It’s a 10km loop through palm trees, along cliff tops and around beaches that very much gave me Hawaii flashbacks. The Parks websites recommends leaving four to six hours to complete the full loop. I’m an avid hiker and it took me about three (without the Figure 8 Pool detour, which on its own is about half an hour one way from the beach).
#6 It’s absolutely worth it
Those people saying the view isn’t worth the hype just didn’t plan their trip properly. Like I said, doing the whole loop I absolutely felt transported back to Hawaii – it was stunning.
The Figure 8 Pools themselves were also just beautiful. The way the sky reflects into the shallow pools of water, all with a dramatic cliff-face back drop? Absolute *kissy fingers*.
(Lead image: Unsplash / Manny Moreno)
This post was originally published on February 22nd, 2021.