There’s something about Sydney that calls me every summer. Sunny days, warm nights, flowering jacarandas, perfumed jasmine, life on the streets… it’s just so different from other Australian cities. It has a casual confidence that grows on me each time I visit.
The last two summers, I have visited Sydney with my older sister and brother, with the express purpose of swimming in ocean pools. My sister is a very keen swimmer and ticking a few ocean pools off her wishlist was the perfect excuse for a getaway. Sydney has so many beautiful pools, that it seemed like the best place to start. Last year we swam in three pools, and we’ve just returned from an epic few days where we swam in 15 pools, 1 river and 2 beaches – phew! One of our favourites was the Malabar Rock Pool. Sure, it’s not an icon like Wylies or as instagrammable as Bondi Icebergs, but it is completely charming and if you get the chance, I’d really encourage you to have a dip there.
Malabar Rock Pool
Where is it?
The small suburb of Malabar (named after a shipwreck that happened nearby in 1931) is only 25 minutes south-east from central Sydney. However, the Malabar Rock Pool and the pretty bay where its located, feel like a world away from Australia’s biggest city.
How to get there
Bus 299 runs from Circular Quay to Little Bay and passes through Malabar. The trip takes about 25 minutes. To get to the Malabar Rock Pool, get off at the bus stop on Bay Parade just prior to Howe Street. The pool is approximately 150 metres from the stop.
If you are driving, there is plenty of free car parking nearby on Bay Parade.
You can find the Malabar Rock Pool on the southern side of the bay. Access is via a paved ramp or by stairs from the car park. The pool is approximately 30 metres long in an irregular shape and has several entry points including a ramp and steps with handrails. The bottom of the pool is natural rocks. There are no marked lanes, but you can easily swim a few laps without bumping into anyone.
Immediately next to the pool is a natural rock pool that looks almost tropical. There are trees and vegetation growing out of the rocks, crystal clear water and a small cave. This is a fun area to explore and we saw a lot of tiny fish in the clear water.
Facilities and Accessibility
The pool is wheelchair-accessible with a ramp that leads down to the pool and into the water.
There are several benches located poolside and there are also hooks in the nearby rocks for you to hang your bags or clothes/towels on. After your swim, you can rinse off with a freshwater shower located poolside.
There are no toilets or change rooms at the pool, however, Cromwell Park is located nearby (approximately 400 m away) and has a children’s playground and public toilets.
The pool is not patrolled or serviced by lifeguards.
Where to eat
The Malabar Beach cafe is located nearby however service was slow on the day we visited so we are unable to vouch for the quality of the food (we just had a fresh-squeezed juice).
The Randwick Golf Club is just above the pool (across the car park). The locals we spoke to all highly recommended it as a venue for lunch (you’ll need to change out of your bathers though).
What we loved
We loved everything about this pool, the location, the fact that it seems so undiscovered, the clear water and the friendly locals.
There is a large concrete landing next to the pool where locals of all ages were soaking up the sunshine and company. There are plenty of bench seats, including a couple in the shade. When we visited, I had a very informative chat with a friendly local who tells me that he swims there every day between September and April. He also mentioned that the pool was still recovering from the storms that occurred three weeks prior. Consequently, he thought the water was a little murky however it looked fine to us. I also chatted to a woman who was visiting from Melbourne. She and her brother had bought her 73-year-old uncle to Sydney for his first Mardi Gras (what a fab thing to do). Like us, it was her first visit to Malabar, and she was just as taken with the Malabar Rock Pool as we were.
These easy, friendly conversations are a big part of what I love about ocean pools. Everyone is on equal footing. And everyone is there because they love to swim.
We left Malabar Rock Pool with wet hair, happy hearts and a renewed appreciation of these beautiful community spaces. We then ventured on to Mahon Pool at Maroubra, but that’s a post for another day.
Have you visited Malabar? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Here for the swims, pics and other travelly things?
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