Taking a refreshing dip in Sydney doesn’t mean you need to travel too far out to the city’s outskirts to the coastal beaches — some of the best swimming spots are hidden right in the heart of the city, harbourside.
Sydney Harbour adds much to the charm of the city, offering beautiful spanning views of the skyline at almost any point on its shores. But there are some hidden spots that it still holds, to the surprise of even the most local Sydneysiders.
Going for a swim on a hot summer's day means that there are ample choices - you’ve got the beaches, and you’ve got the harbour. While it’s not possible to go for a dip by the Opera House, there are plenty of harbour beaches and inlets where swimming is allowed and welcomed. In this list, we’ll go to the best swimming spots in Sydney’s harbour, with some so exclusive that they are only accessible by boat! Grab your swim gear, slap on some sunscreen, and let’s dive right in.
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1. Milk Beach
Tired of swimming spots that are just swarming with people over the weekend? Sounds like you need to head to Milk Beach. Milk Beach is such a well-kept secret in part due to the limited access that is available in getting to it.
Your options for accessing this isolated beach on the base of Hermit Bay within Sydney Harbour National Park are competitive off-street parking and public transport which both involve a bit of navigation by foot after to the beach. Or, you could just make things much easier for yourself by hiring a boat to get you there.
Either way, Milk Beach is definitely one of the best swimming spots in Sydney Harbour.
2. Athol Beach
A small and intimate beach, Athol Beach is located near Taronga Zoo and boasts a grand view of the city. The water is cool with gentle waves, making it an ideal location for having an easy dip with the kids. Getting there is easy — car parks are available close by with just a 3-minute walk over. The only downside is that there are no amenities nearby, so do come prepared!
Take it from us, if you want a harbour swimming spot with a tranquil environment, Athol Beach is your best bet.
3. Store Beach
Store Beach is tucked away on Sydney's Northern Beaches in Manly. You’ll find this spot unoccupied most of the time because it is only accessible by boat. For those looking for some adventure, you can even hire kayaks and paddle your way there.
A secluded slice of paradise, Store Beach is ideal for a long day out with your best friends or family, especially with a boat charter!
4. Maccallum Pool
The Maccallum Pool at Cremorne Point is a harbourside public pool with stunning views of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s open to the public, meaning that this spot can get filled up pretty quickly, but once you’ve been here yourself, you might find it hard to stop coming despite the crowd.
The vibes at Maccallum Pool are something to be experienced at least once in your life, so make a trip down if you haven’t already!
5. Dawn Fraser Baths
The historic Dawn Fraser Baths was first built in 1882 and later enlarged in 1924, and still retains much of its original charm after the recent facelift it had in 2021. Located in Balmain, this swimming spot features a shallow beach with a tidal pool that is sometimes host to water polo games. The pool also has toilets and changing facilities for added convenience which earns it more points in our books.
6. Murray Rose Pool
Found in Double Bay, the Murray Rose Pool, or Redleaf pool, is another enclosed harbour pool that features enough space for swimmers of all skill levels. Most notably, it features wooden decks that extend into the pool for some diving action or fun shenanigans, making this swimming spot especially popular for families.
Crowds here usually disperse at around 6 pm, so if you’re up for an evening swim against the sunset, definitely consider Murray Rose Pool.
7. Marrinawi Cove
As one of the city’s newest urban harbour pools, Marrinawi Cove in Barangaroo is an especially unique swimming spot right in the heart of the city. Once part of the industrial location surrounding it, the cove has since been transformed into a natural ocean pool with clean water rich in marine life. The depth of the cove (up to 3m) is kept safe by a shark net and allows for some diving and amateur snorkelling.
If you’re after the perfect outdoor city swim, this is the spot for you.
Sydney Harbour has tons of other swimming spots, but these are a few of the best that you’ll find out there. Most of these locations are ideal for a hot afternoon swim and laze, but since spots can fill up early especially in summer, why not secure a spot of your own with a boat hire?
With a boat hire from Sydney Harbour Escapes, you’ll be free to hop from spot to spot and access boat-only swimming spots for the ultimate swimming trip around Sydney Harbour. Better yet, after you’re done with your dip, you can always retreat to the comfort of the boat for some refreshments without worrying about the availability of nearby amenities. Contact our friendly team today to hire a boat for your next swimming trip!