One of the best sights Sydney and the east coast of Australia has to offer are rock pools. These man-made pools surrounded by the natural beauty of the ocean provide a sight you just can’t get anywhere else in the world.

I’ve been to a ton of rock pools – probably too many. I should probably start shooting something else . But I can’t help it. They’re so gorgeous and unique to our particular stretch of Aussie east coast.

These man-made beauties are everywhere along east coast of Australia. In New South Wales, there’s over 60 of them. Yes, they’re amazing to take a dip in on a hot summers day, but they’re even better from above.

Quick tip: Try to use a polariser when you shoot these amazing pools as it cuts down on the glare and reflection on the surface of the water. This allows you to see through the water easier and shows a lot more detail under the surface …not that I’ve used it for every shoot. Only once. And it was great (I don’t have a polariser I’ve only borrowed @itchban’s).

Anyway, here’s a list of what I think to be the top 5 most photogenic rock pools in Sydney. Which one is your favourite?

Freshwater pool - Pat Kay - The top 5 most photogenic rock pools in Sydney

5. Freshwater pool

Aside from being right next to my favourite beach, Freshwater pool has a classic rectangular shape etched into the side of a curvy cliff that gives it some nice contrast and visual interest. As it’s an actual swimming pool, structurally it’s more refined than other pools which means more swimmers usually if that’s what you’re going for.

Shoot it just before sunset to get the shadows to align with the pool.

How to get there: It’s very very easy to get to. There’s a big carpark right behind the pool. Fly from the lookout or down on the rocks.


Bronte baths - Pat Kay - The top 5 most photogenic rock pools in Sydney

4. Bronte baths

A classic pool in a weird shape that reminds me of a guitar when the pool is clear. I love the weird shape, though. It’s interesting and different.

The waves also come up and into the pool, so at high tide your shots will look different as the pool won’t be very visible. This makes for an interesting shot if you can get the composition right, though.

Best shot at sunrise as the light illuminates the entire pool. At sunset there may be shadows cast from the cliff behind.

How to get there: Another one that’s very easy to get to. Park on Calga Pl. If you’re there for sunrise, it’s usually very empty. Fly from pretty much anywhere. The park is a good place, just don’t be one of those annoying pilots and make sure you’re not within 30m of people.


Shell Park Beach Rock pool - Pat Kay - The top 5 most photogenic rock pools in Sydney

3. Shelly park beach rock pool

A bit of an uncommon one, but this shot is one of my favourite to date. Everyone in this area will mostly go to the two pools up at Cronulla beach, but if you venture further down south a little, you’ll find this tiny beach with its own rock pool.

Shelly park beach rock pool is amazing because of its big, rectangular size. The waves wash up right into the pool and at sunrise it’s far more quiet than Cronulla.

Shoot it at either sunrise or sunset, you’ll get great detail in both.

How to get there: Park at Ewos parade (if you can get a spot) and walk through the park a minute or two down to the beach. Fly from pretty much anywhere, but again, don’t be that guy (or girl). Make sure you’re 30m away from people when you take off.


North Curl Curl Rock pool - Pat Kay - The top 5 most photogenic rock pools in Sydney

2. North Curl Curl rock pool

My favourite rock pool! Why? Because it’s weird. And imperfect. And it has a big rock thing in the middle. There’s something about the imperfections of this place that I love. The rock formations surrounding it are strange and unbalanced, the walls of it don’t go the entire way around, and it’s really hard to get to.

Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment. Or maybe I just like weird things – I don’t know. ‍♂️

Shoot it at both sunrise and sunset because this place is awesome. This shot is at sunset.

How to get there: Park at the Surf Life Saving Club or at the beach and fly from there, it’s easily within range, but if you want to actually get to the rock pool, you’ll have to walk from the club, through the bush and down into Dee Why Head to get there.


Mona vale rock pool - Pat Kay - The top 5 most photogenic rock pools in Sydney

1. Mona Vale rock pool

Of course number 1 has to go to Mona Vale. I don’t think there’s any other rock pool in all of the east coast that has been photographed more (aside from Bondi Icebergs, but that doesn’t count). It’s unique because its located right out on the bank of sand. It’s not surrounded by a cliff, instead, it’s encapsulated by water. There’s no other rock pool quite like it.

Shoot it at sunrise or at low tide. Also, challenge yourself with different angles on this place, it’s been done to death, but it’s still possible to shoot it differently.

How to get there: Easy to get to, park anywhere on Seabeach avenue and walk down to the beach. Trying to find a spot with no people is kinda hard, so going at sunrise is your best bet.