My experience in the pool
I really envy the two blokes I saw sauntering down the road to Paradise Beach swimming enclosure, towel in hand, ready to take the plunge presumably just a couple of hundred yards from their home. I drove down to the end of Paradise Road and saw the beautiful baths from the car, but then had to drive half a mile back up the hill before I could find a reasonable place to park.
There are at best 6 parking spots by the baths at Paradise Beach and on a hot morning at end of January, they must have been long gone, even though schools were in theory back that morning…Add to that my choice of day to visit Paradise was bin collection day so most of the parking bays near the pool had bins to be picked up, and two houses getting renovated meant a dozen or so tradies vehicles lining what spaces remained.
It’s no great hardship to walk half a mile to such a beautiful swimming spot, though (and if you depend on public transport, that’s about where the hourly bus would drop you anyway.
This swimming enclosure is best at high tide, and I timed the visit well, with the water up and leaving just a thin line of sandy beach by the upturned boats.
I was only slightly unnerved by talking to Pommy local, Deb, who laughingly told me there were enough holes in the shark net to mean that pretty well anything that really wanted to would get into the enclosure, but hopefully nothing untoward had happened yet!
If the baths had been empty, I might have been discouraged, but there were enough people in the water, including Mum and toddler (egging her Mum on to more daredevil deeds, like diving in off the boardwalk- Mum refused, by the way).
The ‘netted’ enclosure at Paradise Beach is about 40m long so good for decent laps, though you only have the net to push off so it’s not easy to do more than one lap without stopping to turn. The water on this day was beautiful: clear enough to see lots of fair sized fish swimming around, and warm enough in parts to feel almost like having a bath, though mostly it was just a delightful cool break from the heat of the morning.
At high tide, you have to paddle through a few metres of water to reach the boardwalk, and there is the rather unnerving effect of the water squelching up through the boards as you get further out, and with 3 metres of water below me and camera in hand, I didn’t fancy plunging through any board that may have rotted: all was well, though.
Pittwater is a fantastic spot to swim. There are the usual yachts moored along the water just beyond the shark net, and then it’s just bush beyond, as far as the eye can see. You can see why they called the place Paradise Beach.
Getting there, getting in, getting changed
There is an hourly bus from Avalon that drops you about ten minutes’ walk from the swimming enclosure at Paradise Beach. There are so few parking places that you may end up parking that far away anyway.
Enter the water either via the little strip of beach (much bigger at low tide), or walk along the wooden boardwalk and clamber in via the metal stairs at the deep end (there is a depth marker just by the stairs, showing 3m at high tide when I was there).
No shower or toilet. No changing room. No bench even to sit and watch people and store your stuff. So it’s a very basic swim at Paradise. But that’s why the locals like it, because they reckon it keeps the place quiet!
Best at high tide, when the sandy beach becomes a narrow strip. I haven’t tried at low tide but I’m guessing it is still possible to swim as long as you stay near the shark net.
History and stories of the pool
I haven’t found any archive articles about the history of the swimming enclosure at Paradise Beach. When a tidal bath has a name that consists of words used in every day language, it can be hard to search, even in places like Trove from the Australian National Library. If anybody has any stories or links to further information, drop me a line or comment below.
People I met here
Deb was a Mum down at the beach with her two kids, who were snorkelling and kayaking within and beyond the enclosure (daughter exclaimed at one point that she had seen a brightly coloured jellyfish- not something I was keen to bump into myself!) Deb is a Pommy lass from Leicestershire, though it sounds as if she is lucky enough now to live somewhere not far from Paradise, as she knew all about the best tides and how low the water got at low tide too. She had also noted in her many swims here that there were a good few holes in the shark net, but she was disappointed not to have yet seen any sea horses up by the net, although others claim there are…
What’s your story? Any memories of swimming here? Any stories to tell? Or did you just have swimming lessons in days gone by?
Whatever you have to say, however brief, I’d love to hear from you and will add any stories to this section of the site as and when I receive them. Add your comment or story under ‘Leave a Reply’ below.
Links to other articles on this pool
I only found one other blogger who has written about swimming at Paradise Beach swimming enclosure. The Ellas List blog listed Paradise Beach as one of the best places around Pittwater for swimming with kids.
Coffee, tea or milkshake after the swim?
There is nothing near the Paradise Beach swimming enclosure, so your best bet for a post swim coffee is to head back to Avalon and visit my favourite coffee shop there…
The Sneaky Grind – Official address is 48 Old Barrenjoey Road, but you need to cut down a little alleyway called Chelsea Lane (there should be a blackboard pointing the way in Old Barrenjoey Road)
Open 7am – 4pm Mon-Fri; 7am – 3pm Saturday; 8am-2pm Sunday
The Sneaky Grind reviewed on Fancy a Cuppa website
I love this coffee shop in Avalon. Very relaxed feel with lots of space either outside or under cover in a lovely arty area at the back. And the coffee is top quality. Charlie Coffee is a Sydney-based roaster and The Sneaky Grind have a really good blend on offer which suits my taste for a lighter roast, or you can go for their single origin (a delicious Ethiopian on the day of my visit). If tea is your tipple, they do the rather good loose leaf teas from Teacraft, too. Oh, and it’s run by a Pom. James has been in Australia a few years now but decided to run against the usual tide of Aussies opening coffee shops in the UK, by running this great coffee shop in one of the most delightful of Sydney’s northern beaches. Worth finding down the little alleyway of Chelsea Lane – you won’t regret it.