Northern Exposure (part one)

Sydney ocean pools

The ‘Big’ Bigola pool cradles the coastline

You know you are approaching the Northern Beaches when birthday, wedding anniversary and 21st homemade signs start popping up on the roadside. “Tegan will you marry me?” Next corner. “Just joking, LOL.” Harsh. Next corner. “Happy 21st Tegan.”  Whoever you are Tegan, I hope your party was an improvement on the road signs.

Sydney’s Northern beaches are home to some serious eye dropping real estate, Alf Stewart, some very noisy cicadas and a large variety of ocean pools. These pools have been around since the 1930s and are built into the rocks of the golden surf beaches that dot the coastline.

Many of the pools are similar in theme so here’s a highlights guide on some of the top spots.

High points: Getting out of the city within 60 minutes, golden sand beaches, cliff top vistas, and great beachside cafes where you can get a bucket of prawns and a bottle of bubbles. The Boat House you deserve your own review.

Low points: Every carpark was filled with those annoying ‘My Family’ stick figure car stickers.

Best for: This is big F family territory so the pools are a big hit for little people, hardcore swimmers and, as I commonly observed, the Indian community.

Sydney ocean pools

The world’s most annoying car stickers

Bigola Beach

Don’t be put off by the hairpin turn off the main highway, this is where the truly wealthy come to hang. The biggest pool of the pack, the aptly named Bigola, is a decent swim if you’re wanting to get some lengths in, or throw a tennis ball around if you are under 10 years old. There’s also a pretty decent café where you can get a sausage roll, flat white and a blanket. Always a good touch.

Overall rating: 7

Sydney ocean pools

Bigola small child attempts to distract fisherman


This triangular pool has a more freshwater feel with the surf crashing overhead. The beach is a mixture of families, old school surfers and small dogs who are forced to watch from the sidelines. Was also a big hit with the Indian community who seemed to be chasing the sea spray.

Overall rating: 6.5

Sydney ocean pools

All paths lead to Avalon

Sydney ocean pools

A good family soaking

Whale Beach

Whale Beach, the extra posh cousin of this wealthy family of beaches. You can dine out at nearby Jonah’s, Ripples of just hang on the beach. This is a pretty smallish and shallow pool that is popular with little tots.

Overall rating: 6.0

Sydney ocean pools

Old surf dogs dine well at Whale Beach

Mona Vale

So confession. I need to return to this pool because I was seriously distracted by the flash of colour at the nearby The Armchair Collective, a lush homeware store that is worth the drive alone. This place was seriously on palette for me. Aqua blues, yellows and retro beach prints. There’s also a excellent cafe where they stock single origin coffee. Mona Vale I will be back.

Overall score – n/a.

Armchair collective

This is not an ocean pool. But it is a gorgeous homeware store. Loving The Armchair Collective

Sydney ocean pools

Hello Mona Vale ocean pool in the distance.

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