Figure 8 Pools Tides - Safety  - 5 Hikes in the Royal National Park

Figure 8 Pools Tides - Safety - 5 Hikes in the Royal National Park

Australia
Australia

When Is the Best Time

The famous Figure 8 Pools are well-known on social media, and they are exposed located; therefore, proper planning to experience the Figure Eight Pools safely is essential. I will give you all the needed information about when and how to get there.

The Figure 8 Pools with young people around.
It took us three attempts for the best conditions at Figure 8.

The best time to access Figure 8 Pools safely is around low tide only! The tide and swell must have a low level without strong wind to enjoy the amazing pools.

The exposed Figure 8 Pools in the middle of the sea
The exposed rock and the Figure 8 Pools are surrounded by the sea in the back.

Don’t go during high tide and especially not at king tide, high swell or strong wind. Many people got injured by sudden waves just for a perfect selfie.

Figure Eight Pools Plateau and sudden wave
Figure Eight Pools at low tide - however, never put your back to the sea!

Safety First! A young international student got washed off the rocks in late February 2019. Nine people have died in the Royal National Park along the coast since 2016. Don't come here during high tide. Check the National Park Alerts first and the wave status. Two young men got hit by an extreme wave, and one drowned.

Tide Times, Swell, and Safety

Visitors at Figure Eight Pools and high waves
Despite low tide, high waves occur.

Again, it's only safe to be at Figure 8 Pools during low tide, low swell and without strong wind or storm! What you should know:

  • What does low tide mean? 
    Please, enter the Figure 8 pools only during a low water level. Due to park opening times (read below), you can only be there during one of the two low tide periods on a single day. Plan your visit accordingly: Garie Beach Tide Times and Heights.
  • When to arrive at Figure 8 Pools?
    Plan to be at Figure 8 Pools about 1-2 hours before the lowest tide time. Example: Low Tide at 3 pm means you should arrive between 1 and 2 pm. You need to consider the drive from the park entrance to the parking lot (about 20 minutes) and the hike from the parking area to Figure 8 Pools (another 1 ½ hours or less). 
  • Is it always safe during low tide?
    No, definitely not!! The low tide level is different even during the same day and can easily range from 0,02 m to 0,62 m. Remember that even at low tide, it can be dangerous during critical ocean conditions when big waves reach the rock shelf. Check the official Figure 8 Pools Risk Forecast. When it's set to 'Extreme', don't go. You'll find the same information at the visitor centre when entering the park. We came to Sydney a couple of times. Finally, at our third attempt, the conditions were ok. However, we still were cautious and didn't get too close to the end of the rock plateau.  Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any injury, death, or consequences of any actions taken based on the information provided here. This is just my experience! As you can see in the picture above, the waves were powerful even on a fine day. 

Opening Times Royal National Park

You can only get to Figure 8 Pools when the National Park is open.

The coastal track in the Royal National Park
You can easily spend plenty of days here.

From 7 am to 8.30 pm, the Visitor Centre from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm daily.

The only closure is on Christmas Day. However, the park can be closed at times because of severe weather conditions or fire danger. Also, plan your way back: You have to hike back to your car and drive back to the entrance/exit after that. That's a total time of about two hours. If you stay too long and get back too late, you might be stuck in the park. The National Park rangers always close the gates at 8:30 pm. 

Getting to Figure 8 Pool by Car and Walk

Gravel Road to Garrawarra Parking
The last 1.5 km gravel road to the trailhead.

To get to the Garrawarra Farm car park is a 20 minutes drive, 17 km through the park on sealed roads, only 1.5 km is gravel. Space is limited, and you cannot park the car somewhere else. The entrance fee is 12 $ per car if you don’t have a multi or annual park pass for NSW. The gate closes at 8.30 pm and opens at 7:00 am.

Duration Figure 8 Pools Walk - Maps

Map to Figure Eight Pools
Figure Eight Pools and Royal National Park Beaches Map

The hike to Figure 8 takes a maximum of 1½ hours, and the trail is 3.5 km long one way. No worries, the trail is well marked, and there is no need for a map. Parking Trailhead Google Maps - Locus Pro entire Figure 8 hiking trail map

Avoiding Crowds

Figure Eight Pools Plateau and visitors
It is almost impossible to experience Figure 8 alone.

The park is usually super busy during the summer holidays (mid-December to January) and weekends are even worse. There is a lot of traffic, and the car parks will fill up soon.

Crowded Wattamolla Beach at weekend.
Wattamolla Beach at a weekend.

Come early in the peak season; the car parks get closed when full. Traffic jams often occur at this crazy time of the year, from midday onwards.

Weather

Coastal Trail and Waterfall in Royal National Park
The famous Eagle Rock in the Royal National Park.

The area around Sydney experiences hot summers with average daytime temps of almost 30°C and mild winters with an average daytime temp of about 20°C. There isn’t a wet or dry season, but droughts happen more often nowadays. Rain can occur throughout the year with more precipitation from January to June, with its peak in March.

Highlights - Information

Banksia scrub
Banksia plant in bloom
  • From May to November, you may spot whales along the coast.
  • More than 700 different plants are in bloom on the plateau from July to November.
  • The Visitor Center at Audley is open daily from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Sydney
Australia
Australia

The Figure Eight Pools are located one hour drive southwest of Sydney. Just one of the pools has the shape of an eight, but there are several pools where you can take a bath; the pools are not big enough for real swimming. The rock pools are part of the Royal National Park, the second oldest National Park in the world after Yellowstone. The park was established in 1879 by NSW Premier Sir John Robertson and is the traditional country of the Dharawal. Not only the Figure Eight Pool is worth a visit, but the entire park is also breathtaking.

Burning Palms Beach and Cabins
The quiet Burning Palms Beach

It was our third attempt when we could finally hike to Figure Eight Pools. Before, the weather or swell conditions were too bad for a visit. We arrived 2 ½ hours before low tide at the car park. It's a stunning walk through the forest, along with a boardwalk until we reached Burning Palms cabins and beach. The cottages were built between the 1920s and 1940s on privately owned land. The cabins became part of the park in 1966. They are still without electricity, and there isn’t any access by car.

A woman walking barefoot on Burning Palms Beach
Me walking on Burning Palms Beach to Figure 8

After passing the beach, you walk and climb over rocks for about half an hour. Some rocks can be slippery and keep the distance to the cliffs because rockfall can happen always.

Figure Eight Coastal Track
The coastal track to Figure 8 leads above huge rocks.

Watch the sea and waves first if you can already continue walking. You can’t miss the pools on an exposed rock platform; it’s always busy. Please don’t turn your back to the sea; it’s treacherous as huge waves can flood the rock shelf and pools seconds later. 

Lots of people at Figure 8 Pools

We visited the natural rock pools in November on a weekday. Low tide was in the evening, and only 30 to 40 people were around the pools. Some of them were queuing for a bath and perfect selfie at the most popular pool in the shape of an eight. IMO, it’s a great spot, and the hike to the coastal rock shelf is spectacular but not worth risking your life! On the way back to our rental car, we spotted a swamp wallaby which is common inside the park. 

Packing List - 5 Essentials

Boardwalk to Burning Palms and Figure Eight
A boardwalk leads to the coastal track to Figure 8.
  1. Proper shoes don't take flip flops; you have to climb over rocks, and snakes occur in the park!
  2. Hat and sunscreen; the sun is boiling and strong during summer
  3. Plenty of water to drink; because there isn’t any place to fill up the bottle or buy one
  4. Picnic or snack; this marvellous trip takes at least 4-5 hours, and you can't buy anything here
  5. Bath clothes and towel, of course.
     

5 Hikes in the Royal National Park

Waterfall at the Royal Coastal Walk
The Royal Coastal Walk

The Royal National Park is a hikers dream providing more than 150 km of hiking trails. 

Orange, brown, and pink sandstone formations.
The breathtaking Royal Coastal Walk.
  1. The most popular hike is the epic two days 26 km long Coastal Walk. The walk offers spectacular views, nature, beaches, and spots for swimming.  Booking is essential for the North Era Campground for the two days hike. It can be done in one, but it’s not a loop trail.
  2. The Palm Jungle Loop trail also starts at the Garrawarra Farm car park. The trail is 10 km long and takes around 5 hours. If you prefer to do a longer hike combine this one with Figure Eight, it’s just a short detour.
  3. From the Garrawarra Farm car park, you can get to North Era 2.3 km one way and to Garie Beach 3.7 km one way.
  4. Curra Moors Loop Track is a circular trail 10 km long leading to Eagle Rock. It is a lovely moderate hike with a huge variety of different plants along the trail.
  5. The Wedding Cake Rock is a popular fragile rock formation that is fenced now for safety reasons. The trail starts at Bundeena in the north, and it takes a maximum of an hour to get there. If you are into hiking, continue to Marley Head.

Camping

Kangaroo and huge tents

Bonnie Vale Campground offers 74 campsites with all needed comfort located at the north end of the park. It has showers, toilets, BBQ, picnic tables and drinking water. The campground is very popular bookings within 12 months in advance are possible. Here the gates are locked from 8 pm to 7 am. Bonnie Vale Campground Booking

Nearby Places
Three Sisters Hike in the Blue Mountains
84 km
Three Sisters Hike in the Blue Mountains
The Three Sisters are located close to Katoomba. The names of the three rocks…
Govetts Gorge Day Hike - Blue Mountains
92 km
Govetts Gorge Day Hike - Blue Mountains
We started the hike from Govetts Leap towards Cliff Top Track to Evans Lookout…
Murrays Beach - Booderee National Park
107 km
Murrays Beach - Booderee National Park
Boodeere was declared as a Nature Reserve in 1971 and established as National…
3 Hikes to Steamers Beach - Booderee National Park
112 km
3 Hikes to Steamers Beach - Booderee National Park
Boodeere declared as a Nature Reserve in 1971 and established as National Park…
Bungonia Gorge Hiking Trails - Red Track
118 km
Bungonia Gorge Hiking Trails - Red Track
Bungonia became a State Conservation Area in 1974 adjoins Bungonia and Morton…
New England and Dorrigo National Park - Gondwana Rainforest
442 km
New England and Dorrigo National Park - Gondwana Rainforest
The Gondwana Rainforests can be found only in the north of NSW and southeast of…
Flying Foxes Colony at Yarra Bend
674 km
Flying Foxes Colony at Yarra Bend
The Grey-headed Flying-fox is the largest member of the flying fox family and…
St. Kilda Little Penguins - Tips and Facts
682 km
St. Kilda Little Penguins - Tips and Facts
St. Kilda breakwater became a Fairy Penguin colony in the 1970s. The rock…
Squeaky Beach and the Exceptional Wilsons Promontory
683 km
Squeaky Beach and the Exceptional Wilsons Promontory
Squeaky Beach is one of the many magical places in the often called "The Prom…
Brighton Beach Boxes - Melbourne
684 km
Brighton Beach Boxes - Melbourne
Brighton Beach, nowadays one of the coolest places to be in Melbourne. Wedding…
Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I am always open, curious about new…