Royal National Park (New South Wales)

I had seen pictures on Instagram of the figure 8 pools in Royal National Park (the 2nd oldest National Park to Yellow Stone). I decided to book a visit on Friday with a tour my Hostel recommended. I was very much looking forward to it and was telling those I was out with on Thursday. One of the gals said she had never heard of it and so she googled it to see a picture. Of course, one of the first few things to pop up is an incident that occurred there where several folks had to be helicopter lifted to a hospital. Great.

On Friday I woke up very early and met the van at 6:45am. Of course, I asked about the incident and the guide/driver assured us this would be safe as they don’t allow people down there during high tide anymore. Great–let’s do this. A van of 15 of us headed out. It wasn’t too long of a drive, about an hour and we stopped once along the way to fill up our water bottles. We arrived and stepped out and it was the most beautiful sight! The rule was that upon each “lookout point” you couldn’t pull out your phone or camera for 30 seconds, you had to look with your eyes, not your lens. I think I’m going to use that rule moving forward (with the exception of animals because they will be gone before you know it).

We hiked a moderate but steep trail through a jungle and down to a beach. From there, we carefully stepped our way over rock piles and around a cliff to reach the pools. The waves crashing against the rocks was incredibly humbling because of their power and freedom. Looking into the pools you saw all sorts of creatures. Oysters, seaweed, crabs, fish, anemones and some unfamiliar. Fortunately, we didn’t see any of the ones we were warned about, the ones that can cause immense pain and possible death. Yes, we were told of 5 different species where this would be the theme. I picked a pool that looked reasonably deep and not filled with too many creatures to dive into. There was something amazing about floating in this miniature little eco-system. I was careful to not bump up too hard on anything, because as sharp as some of them could be, they are still fragile.

We took photos. Lots of photos. I mean, the place became popular because of social media. Good thing we got there early too, because we were able to take photos without too many people in the background. I love a tour company that considers these things.

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Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

Paul, our guide, mentioned there was a photo op that would look like we are in an infinity pool–sold. I was the first to venture in after he mentioned it would be difficult to get into the pool. You had to climb over some sharp rocks, them shimmy over some vegetation that you weren’t sure what may be hiding within. After making my way to the actual pool part of it, I took a few photos but really wanted a wave to splash behind me in the background. It then went like this….

“Can we wait until a big wave comes? Like 3 more waves then I’ll call it quits”

“Sure, I think there may be some coming! Too small…too small…. I think this next one will be big, yea it looks pret…..OH SHIT, get DOWN this is a BIG one”.

His face said it all, my camera ready smile turned around to see an enormous wave building up momentum behind me. The YouTube video of the incident flashed through mt mind and my smile turned into a look of shock. I ducked down into the pool which is the safest thing you can do. The wave came, lifted me up out of the pool and pushed me into the pool in front of it. Then, it pushed me forward into the wall of the pool which, fortunately, was covered in soft vegetation…and unfortunately, some really sharp rocks. Once the wave retreated, I came out and Paul was looking at me like please tell me you’re okay. I noticed he didn’t have my camera anymore and my heart dropped. Then, I saw the girl behind him had it. He said the second the wave hit my back, he tossed her the camera as he was ready to jump in. In the end, I was completely fine with the exception of some scrapes and the best part was he caught it all on camera:

From the Figure 8 pools, we ventured to a beach that was the best beach I’ve seen. A few of the Europeans laughed when I said this, but I haven’t been to their beaches…yet 😉


The beach was fresh water on one side, which connected to a river. The other side was the ocean. It was shallow and then deep by the cliffs and was surrounded by a forest, like a private lagoon. After a picnic lunch and a quick swim, we then went to a high cliff with endless views, stopped for an ice-cream and then made our way back, enjoyed a glass of wine and then ventured home to a much wanted shower and power nap before the hostel’s roof top BBQ. Jokingly, someone asked how the “death pool” was today. As you can imagine, I had a good story in response to that. Jet Lag is fading away, I made it out until Midnight tonight LOL.

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