Hiking to The Figure 8 Pools in Royal National Park

A few weeks back (ok…more than a few. I’m so far behind on the blog), my friend Anthony and I decided to go on a bushwalk to the famed Figure 8 Pools in Royal National Park. It was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday and quite the adventurous little hike! (You can read between the lines that what I’m actually saying here is this hike was surprisingly dangerous and a shockingly easy place to get seriously injured.) Regardless, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The most critical thing to remember when hiking the Figure 8 Pools is that you have to time your hike with absolute precision. You must make sure you are arriving at the pools when the tide is at its lowest, otherwise you will not stand a chance of 1.) seeing the pools and 2.) even making it to them. Full stop. So plan ahead, peeps!

We set off from Sydney  in the late morning and drove ~1 hour south to the Royal National Park entrance. From there, we wiggled our way down to the head of the trail at Garrawarra Farm and commenced the hike. The first 30 minutes are quick and easy, as you’re mostly heading downhill. The main thing to watch out for is catching a shoe on one of the many tree roots. Once you get down to the shoreline, you are treated to such an incredible view that you need to stop, chill and breathe it in for a moment.

burning palms beach
The view of Burning Palms beach on the trail to the Figure 8 Pools from the highest vantage point. Not too shabby, eh?

hiking down to burning palms beach
Once down to sea level, you get to enjoy a nice walk across Burning Palms beach before the real fun begins in the form of a continuous, slippery rock scramble.

burning palms beach walk
We were smiling here because we were just so naive…
burning palms beach rocks
These rocks were kind of like the suburbs and we were about to go headlong in to the CBD.
figure 8 pools bushwalk
Some parts along the hike involve hugging along a slippery cliff face as you navigate toward the figure 8 pools.

You simply cannot underestimate the quantity of time you will spend on this hike in rock scramble mode. It’s a solid 30-45 minutes of cautiously making your way ever closer to the Figure 8 Pools. The end result is totally worth it so…persevere! When we arrived, there was quite a crowd of adventurers like us. And despite having timed the journey very well with regards to the tide, it was still one of those days that just did not make logical sense to get too close to the pool. In fact, right before we had arrived, a girl ran out to the pools and back but not quick enough…looking at her leg with blood and contusions on it was a sobering reminder that some life experiences are better left on the shelf for the sake of self preservation.

Figure 8 Pools on a choppy day
The Figure 8 Pools must be approached with caution! On the day we visited, the seas were very choppy and creating some pretty dramatic crashes from waves. That would be a hell-to-the-no on trying to run out there and quickly jump in. Uh uh.
Figure 8 Pools NSW
Hard to see as we couldn’t get any closer and survive but you can just make out the incredible (and naturally occurring!) Figure 8 Pools in this shot.
Figure 8 Pools Vantage Point Royal National Park
The vantage point for the Figure 8 Pools is kind of like a stage with all the players engaging in Truth or Dare…but the only option is Dare.

After hanging out at the pools for a bit, having a bit of a snack and watching people risk their lives to get a quick dip in the pool, we scrambled on back to the trailhead.

hiking from burning palms beach to garrawarra farm
Pro tip: when hiking, make sure you bring along a close friend who is also a professional photographer. I always do.
wallaby at burning palms beach
I don’t need to put a witty Australia-centric caption here because it’s a WALLABY on a BEACH. #micdrop

Thanks for reading, poodles! I suggest you give this hike a go and add it to the life list. Just please please please be warned about the potential dangers. I’m fo’real. XOXO -JW




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