Tag: Sydney Day Trips

Tag: Sydney Day Trips


The Figure 8 Pools at Sydney’s southern doorstep have become a hotspot for intrepid travellers in recent summers. Their popularity now placing them up there with must-see natural phenomenon like the Three Sisters and the Jenolan Caves. Despite this, I’d never visited them! As such, a Figure 8 Pools Day Trip had become a must-do on my Sydney bucket list!


What had stopped me so far? It’s a bit of a trek, no pun intended. You see, these beautiful sea-side rock pools aren’t the easiest to get to. Public transport will only get you so far. So a car is definitely a necessity. As are some good hiking boots, plus some insider knowledge on how to access the pools (the old hiking track listed on national parks signs has been closed since earlier this year meaning access is unmarked). Furthermore, the pools are only accessible during low tide. Oh, and did I mention how dangerous it can be? As Adam, our local guide, informed us, there’s at least 1 rescue there a week and the only way in and out is on a helicopter!

That’s why I opted to give the only folks operating a Figure 8 Pools day trip a go. Yep, you read that right. There’s only ONE tour that goes here. We didn’t encounter a single other tour group on our Figure 8 Pools day trip! That’s quite something when compared to the hordes that swarm to the Blue Mountains each day.


figure 8 pools

The Sydney Coastal Adventure tour is run by a husband and wife team. One half of that team, Adam, is our guide for the day. An ex-surf instructor and adventure guy, he brings a passion and sense of spontaneity to the day. There’s no script reading here so when he sees our small group huffing and puffing from the heat he doesn’t mind suggesting a little unplanned dip at Burning Palms beach. He’s also a champ and seems to barely break a sweat carrying 18kg of water for us on our strenuous hike to the Figure 8 Pools on a 36* Celsius day!


wattamolla royal national park

Yep, it was a hot one. The hottest day that Adam has had to do the trek! Thankfully, the day starts off early and we manage to beat much of the heat at our first stop at Bald Hill where we get a stunning vista of the south coast and the wide expanse of Pacific Ocean in front of us.

After this quick little stop we head down to Wattamolla, another area that had been on my Sydney must do list! The beautiful little haven in the Royal National Park gives us a chance for a little reprieve from the building heat. Floating under over-hanging gum trees and sandstone rock outcrops I suddenly have that moment: “Wow, this really IS a beautiful country!”

After a lunch of wraps for both veggie and meat eaters at local surf spot, Garie Beach, Adam gets us to throw ourselves under the beach side showers. Staying cool on our hike to the pools is going to be crucial!


hiking trips royal national park

I’ll admit that before this day I had no idea the length nor difficulty of the walk to the Figure 8 Pools. I was rather ignorant and so too it would seem were many others. I lost count of the amount of travellers who we passed who were hiking through rocky terrain with nothing but thongs (flip flops) on! We even passed two girls who had done the entire hike there and back through the rainforest, shrubbery and slippery coastal cliff faces in nothing but their bikinis! So this is me, telling you, if you decide to do a Figure 8 Pools day trip, whether on your own or with this awesome team – be prepared!

The heat didn’t help of course. But with a mixture of water stops, a brief beach interlude at Burning Palms beach and picture stops we make it down to the pools in about an hour. The hike itself is simply stunning and the view down to Burning Palm beach from above is a reminder of just how many secret and serene beaches are hidden along Sydney’s coast.

figure 8 pools royal national park


figure 8 pools royal national park
figure eight pool

We make it! We spy a crowd gathering at a certain point and it doesn’t take much figuring out to guess which insta-famous rock pool everyone’s busy taking snaps over. Adam, however, urges us further along to a spot free of happy snappers. He shows us his favourite of the pools; a series of perfectly circular pools that have mashed together to form a beautiful blue natural infinity pool. After some exploring of the other pools I decided that this was my favourite of the lot too!


If you look closely, in all of the rounded or spherical pools you’ll see a rock at the bottom. When the tide comes in and out the rocks rotate in circles thus creating the perfectly formed circlular pools you see today! How cool?!

 Our small group has the infinity pool all to ourselves. It’s deep enough in parts to jump into and calm enough to just chill out in. It was exactly what I needed after the hike – a refreshing dip in icy clear waters! We then venture over to the crowd (though really, it’s nothing – about 7 people or so, if you can call that a crowd?) around the Figure 8 Pool. Once the requisite travel snaps have been taken it’s time to explore the other pools. While the Figure 8 Pool is the only one shaped like the namesake, there are plenty of other beautifully round pools to admire and take a dip in, as well as larger pools perfect for plunging in to.
swimming in the royal national park

We spend a solid 1 and a half hours at the pools. This place isn’t just a photo opportunity. I definitely recommend exploring, or if that’s not your thing, then simply relaxing. It’s an uphill hike back!

Naturally, the way out and up is longer and more arduous. We make it though, having gone through all our water!  Thankfully, the next drink we get is an ice-cold beer back at Side-Bar in Sydney. After all that hiking, I feel like I’ve earned it!

 This tour is good for: the adventurous traveller looking for a unique Sydney day trip.

This tour isn’t so good for: the clumsy or not-so fit. A moderate level of fitness is definitely required.

royal national park tours
figure eight pools tours




Founder. Avid traveller. History dork. Waiting for someone to invent teleportation so I can do more of this thing they call travel.
blue mountain tours



The Blue Mountains is a mountainous region located in New South Wales, around a two hour drive from Sydney’s CBD.

blue mountains day trip

Thus, the best way to visit them if you are a tourist, without your own transport, is through a guided tour. As usual, Nathan and I only went to book our Blue Mountains tour the night before and unsurprisingly almost all of them were sold out. Luckily, we found one website which still had places- Barefoot Down Under. The website promises that this is not your average bus tour, in that it is more active and ‘off the beaten track’. This could not have been more true!

We arrived at our bus at half 7 to be met by our tour guide, Adam- who was possibly the most Australian person I have ever come across. We were pretty exhausted and slumped into our seats ready to fall asleep for the ride. But Adam had other ideas. As we waited for the rest of our group, Adam placed a black rubber snake on the pavement next to the bus. There were some brilliant reactions from passers by and we knew we’d let ourselves in for a hilarious day.

As we drove along, Adam told amusing stories about his own life in Australia and pointed out our surroundings along with fun facts and personal anecdotes about them, that your standard tour guide just wouldn’t do. He even pulled over to show us a spot where tonnes of wild kangaroos were grazing- his local knowledge was insanely good. Although my photography of the moment was insanely bad.

blue mountains see kangaroos

The first official destination on our Blue Mountains adventure was Wentworth Falls- a beautiful cascading waterfall. We had an intense hike down some very steep and uneven old stone steps and I was wondering why we couldn’t have gone to somewhere more easily accessible. However, all my negativity evaporated the minute I saw the breathtaking falls and the incredible view out over the valley beyond.

hiking tours blue mountains

blue mountains tours

It was 100% worth the trek (although I would’t have admitted that on the intense hike back up), my glutes and calves were on fire, but my eyes were in heaven.

hiking in the blue mountains

On our ascent back up, we went along Charles Darwin walk and passed a smaller waterfall there which was also stunning- I could never tire of seeing natural wonders such as waterfalls.

hiking blue mountain tour

Once we finally made it back up to the top, we collapsed back onto the coach and headed to the Three Sisters- three rugged sandstone peaks set among the cliffs of the Jamison Valley. The view from Echo Point, where we were dropped off, was unbelievable. We also walked along the track to stand right next to the Three Sisters, where the history and natural beauty of them feels truly special.

blue mountains hiking tour

blue mountains hiking tour

Adam’s incredible knowledge also spanned into aboriginal culture and dreamtime stories- he told us the fascinating beliefs of the aboriginals, who believe that the Three Sisters were turned to stone by a witchdoctor, for their own protection, during a major tribal battle. They remain in stone forever as the witchdoctor was killed in the battle. I’m obsessed with mythical stories and the aboriginal dreamtime stories that Adam told us were absolutely magical and enhanced our experience even further.

blue mountains tour echo point

Whilst in the Three Sisters area, we also headed to an aboriginal cultural centre, where Adam taught us how to play the Didgeridoo- an indigenous Australian wind instrument that can produce some lovely music but also sounds very amusing if you can’t play it well. And we definitely could not play it well!

echo point waradah cultural centre

Our final stop of the day was at ‘Scenic World’. Scenic World has the steepest railway in the world and some other rides and general tourist attractions, which most tours would take you on. Adam offered us the option, but also said that they were very overpriced and not worthwhile when you could trek through the stunning scenery on foot for free. We took his advice and headed down to Katoomba Falls.

Although it was still a very active walk, Katoomba falls was more easily accessible than the first stop and you hardly noticed the walk, as by this point everyone had made friends and we were all enjoying chatting away and getting to know each other. Adam also made a mission of finding a Funnel Web spider to show us- a huge deadly Australian native, that although gross, was definitely cool to see.

blue mountains hiking

When we arrived at Katoomba Falls, it too was just as beautiful as the other waterfalls. It was made even more beautiful as a swarm of cockatoos came to greet us all the way up there. Adam was definitely some sort of animal whisperer as the birds just flock towards him on instinct.

blue mountains hiking trip

blue mountains hiking trip

wildlife tours blue mountains

Our final stop of the day was at Lincoln’s Rock- Adam’s favourite spot which he had been hyping up all day. At Lincoln’s Rock, he showed us how to ‘safely’ take a picture hanging off the edge, with the most stunning backdrop imaginable. Not everyone was up for the dare, but both Nathan and I thought it was too good of an experience to miss out on.

blue mountains fun tour

best blue mountains tour

I was certain I was going to blow straight off the edge and although I was shaking uncontrollably, the view was the best ever and I was so proud of myself for once again stepping out of my comfort zone- something which has become common place for me now!

The tour was definitely one of the best days we have had in Australia so far. It was completely full-on, exhilarating, and exhausting, but so worth every second, every step and every penny.

If you are thinking about exploring the Blue Mountains- please do head onto Barefoot Down Under’s website– run by Adam himself and his partner. The company is just a year old but we couldn’t have asked for a better and more fulfilling experience. Adam’s knowledge of plants, indigenous animals, aboriginal culture and the history of the land, along with his natural Aussie humour, was unbeatable.

best blue mountains tour



Shakira Sacks is an England-based lifestyle blog with a huge emphasis on worldwide travel and a heavy dose of fashion and beauty thrown into the mix. Many travel blogs show beautiful images of mesmerising landscapes and cultural experiences; this blog is more than that. To entice you into the deepest realms of wanderlust, Shakira Sacks will combine travel, beauty, fashion, food and a sprinkling of more serious lifestyle posts to reveal exactly what travelling can be like for modern women in her twenties.

Blue Mountains- Barefoot Down Under, New South Wales

First time I came across Figure 8 Pools was in an article and since then I always wanted to visit this geological spectacle. Finally, I got an opportunity and the next thing I know is that I am on a bus on my way to Figure 8 Pools.

So, what is ‘Figure 8 Pools’ ?

Figure 8 Pools is a cluster of naturally formed rock pools located in coastal headlands in Sydney’s Royal National Park. Royal National Park (which Aussie’s lovingly call as ‘Nasho’), is located 40 mins away from Sydney and is the second oldest National Park in the world (after Yellow Stone).

My trip started at sharp 7:30 am on a Sunday morning from Central. The drive was around 40 mins until we reached Garrawara Farm.

The Track

It was the perfect day with bright sun. From the Garrawara Farm Car Park we headed towards Burning Palms beach down the hill.

royal national park tours sydney

The trail begins with  tall trees turning into lush green bushes and the amazing views of the coastal line. The refreshing hike takes you to the Burning Palms Beach in around 45 mins.

royal national park tours sydneyWe took a short break at the beach and it was the perfect time for some beautiful pictures. Very thoughtful of the team to ensure we are at the right place at the right time of the day to take the perfect pictures!

From the beach, the coastal walk continues towards the right-hand side (south) but this time, it is sharp rocks and steep edges we have to walk through. This is the hardest part of the track.

royal national park tours sydneyEn-route to the pools are the rocky patches & sharp stones covered with seaweeds, Neptune’s necklace, and little starfishes.

royal national park tours sydney

Another 30 minutes of the walk, you are in for a beautiful sight of the naturally formed figure 8 pool.

royal national park tours sydney

Apart from the big pool which is clearly defined, there are few others which are under formation. Also few of them are big enough for a short swim. A great location for photography too.

royal national park tours sydney

Access to the pools is safe only when it is low tide as the waves can crash across the rock platforms. We were visiting at the end of winter and during the first half of the day which allowed us to view the pools in isolation. However, it seems to be a crowded place in summer.

Wanderer’s Tip 

  • It is advised to check the wave size & tide height before traveling to the pool as it is risky otherwise
  • Though public transport is available it will be safer to travel with an experienced group
  • There are no food or toilet facilities available anywhere along the route from the Garrawarra Farm car park.
  • There is no lifeguard service available
  • Phone reception is limited and almost non-existent at certain areas.

royal national park tours sydney

After a nice dip in the rock pools, we headed back. The return hike is uphill which is quite steep, I would allow enough time for the return.

royal national park tours sydney

We headed to Stanwell Tops Park where we were offered a freshly barbecued Australian lunch by the crew. The food was yummy and generous to fill our hungry & tired tummies.

royal national park tours sydney

Next location was Wattamolla which is 40 mins away from here . On the way, we spotted the glimpse of  whales in the ocean, though from far away. Wattamolla has a great view point which is easily accessible as well as a beach and a cliff. After spending some time in Wattamolla we returned back to Central. At the end of the

Wattamolla has a great view point which is easily accessible as well as a beach and a cliff. After spending some time in Wattamolla we returned back to Central. At the end of the day, we were offered a drink at the nearest Pub.

royal national park tours sydney

Overall it was a great day. Wonderful team of Adam, Smokey & Debbie at Barefoot Downunder made sure the trip is enjoyable for everyone (special mention to the Aussie humour!) This carefully tailored trip ensures the visitors get a good view of the best outdoor locations in Sydney and is a definite value for money.

Why You Wander was welcomed to Figure 8 Pools by www.barefootdownunder.com.au, however, all opinions are my own!

Here is your chance to win a tour to the Figure Eight Pools in the Royal National Park with Barefoot Downunder! It is super easy to enter all you need to do is head to our Facebook page and ‘like’ us and ‘share’ our post. Winners will be announced on Saturday morning 🙂

 The Figure 8 Pools is a natural rock shelf found in the worlds second oldest National Park – the Royal National Park which is just 45 minutes south of Sydney. It can be reached only on foot and can take around 3 hours return to hike down and back. Check out our new Figure 8 Pools Coastal Adventure Tour on our website for inclusions and all trip details.

Figure Eight pools trip