Things To Do

13 Of The Best Natural Swimming Holes On The Gold Coast

By Isabel Croker
7th Feb 2024

With an average of 300 days of sunshine a year and just a tiny window of winter (although it certainly feels long), the Gold Coast/Yugambeh language region is an sanctuary for all things outdoorsy. Although our beaches are sublime and our waterfalls are dream, it’s our rock pools and swimming holes that are gaining the most recent attention.

Perhaps it’s the journeys through the lush rainforests or the exhilaration of a cold fresh water dip; whatever the case, the Urban List team is all for it. So, grab your swimmers, jump in the car and chase down 11 of the Gold Coast’s best swimming holes.

Cougal Cascades

Currumbin Valley

cougal cascades
Image Credit: Cougal Cascades | Brooke Darling Photography

If you’ve never driven to the very end of Currumbin Creek Road, you’ve never experienced the blissful scene that is the Cougal Cascades. Sitting at the edge of Springbrook National Park —part of the Gondwana Rainforest of Australia World Heritage Area—the cascades are fringed by a densely tropical walking track, which eventually arrives at the 1940’s Dolan Family sawmill.

Here you'll find shallow swimming holes for the little ones, deep pools that some folks leap from above into, and, of course, the famous Cougal Cascades waterfall slide. The weekends can get a little busy but don’t let that deter you; Cougal Cascades have plenty of swimming space for everyone.   

Currumbin Rock Pools

Currumbin Valley

If you don’t feel like taking the full ride to the end of the road to reach Cougal Cascades, Currumbin Rock Pools can be found a little earlier on the path. Located about 20 minutes from Currumbin, these rock pools boast the lush leafy surrounds and turquoise waters that make Queensland’s swimming holes worth the drive.

It also offers a large picnic site and bathrooms, with a field of grass leading right to the rocky pools. The ever-evolving Currumbin Valley Rock Pool cafe is just across the road if you forgot to pack your own picnic. This hotspot gets packed in summer and limited parking fills up quickly, so we recommend visiting early morning or late afternoon. 

Cedar Creek Falls 

Tamborine Mountain

cedar creek falls
Image Credit: Cedar Creek Falls | Brooke Darling Photography

Editor's Note: Cedar Creek Falls are closed as of January 2024 due to storm damage. Please check before visiting.

It's no surprise that Tamborine Mountain boasts some of the Gold Coast's best swimming spots. Cedar Creek Falls is one of the Gold Coast's most well-known waterfalls and boasts swimming holes, a lookout over the open canyon and trickling waterfalls.

Expect a 30 minute or 1km walk down from Thunderbird Park to reach the falls and plan to arrive early as Cedar Creek Falls gets very busy on the weekends. After a substantial soaking in the three pools and some deep pondering at the lookout, you can balance out your outdoorsy time with a trip to the nearby Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard. 

Korrumbyn Creek 

Mount Warning

If you’ve ever picked up a bottle of perfectly still or lightly sparkling Mount Warning Spring Water, you’ll know that the falls and creeks flowing off the great Mount Warning peak are worth swimming in. It's quite literally so clean you can bottle it.

Take a splash around in Korrumbyn Creek, which runs parallel to Mount Warning Road and is about chest deep in depth. It's a top spot to hit after conquering Mount Warning and has a picnic area located close by. 

Tallebudgera Creek

Tallebudgera

tallebudgera creek
Image Credit: Tallebudgera Creek | Brooke Darling Photography

Hardly a secret and we'll admit it's not a swimming 'hole', but if idyllic azure waters are more your jam than being tumble-rolled in the breakers, seek out this stunning sandy spit on Tallebudgera Creek. Find a park north or south of the Tallebudgera Creek Bridge and enter the leafy nature walk at the southern end of the Burleigh National Park headland.

Follow the path for about 300 metres or half way around the point, popping out at a magical beach protected inside the breakwater. Backed by native subtropical rainforest and frequented by the odd bush turkey, Tallebudgera Creek is pure heaven—and even better if you can sneak in a visit mid-week.

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Twin Falls

Springbrook National Park 

twin falls
Image Credit: Twin Falls | Supplied

What adventure-skewed round up would be complete without a Springbrook mention? Particularly one with a focus on fresh water goodness.

If you’ve only seen Springbrook’s Purling Brook Falls from jittery heights, you may feel a little daunted by the thought of a swim in this region. But rest assured, Twin Falls is but a baby in comparison. Embark on the 4km circuit, where you can wander behind the flowing waterfall or you can go for a dip into the large watering hole under this duo of streams. Take a well-charged phone—this setting is very photogenic. 

Warringa Pool

Springbrook National Park

This less well-known swimming hole is located around 1km from the base of the impressive Purling Brook Falls, but it feels a world way from the often-packed falls track. Descend to the pools where you can dip in or rock hop your way (carefully) up and down the stream.

The return Warringa Pool track will take you about 3 hours, covering 6km return. If you're feeling really bold, you can continue walking past the Warringa Pools and you'll rejuoin a section of the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk.

The Gorge

Lake Moogerah

If you’re looking for a nature escape far from the madding crowd, Lake Moogerah is right up your alley. Famous as the place to take seriously good photos of the stars or to enjoy a quiet camping weekend – with a cheeky trip to the nearby wineries a must if you’re so inclined – Lake Moogerah is also home to quite a few swimming holes.

Water-fiends can choose between getting their swim on in the lake itself, complete with a designated swimming area designed to keep those pesky boats from interrupting your much-needed paddle time, or head to The Gorge for an under-the-radar swimming hole well worth exploring. Think a pool framed by rocky outcrops, quiet waters and the chance to sit underneath a real-life waterfall.

Elabana Falls

Lamington National Park

elebana falls
Image Credit: Elabana Falls | Supplied

If you're committed to the waterfall life and enjoy walk before your swim, Elabana Falls is for you. One of the Gold Coast's most photographed watering spots, you'll have to embark on a 3,5km hike (one-way) before you reach this tranquil spot. The small waterfalls flows into a stunning rock pool, and you'll be spoiled with plenty of views along the way. 

If you're after a shorter route, return the same way rather than doing the full circuit or take the gutsier route home with the Box Forest Circuit’s 10.9 km track or the giant 17.4 km Toolona Creek circuit. A fully stocked snack pack is 100% necessary.

Araluen Watering Hole 

Tallebudgera Valley

A favourite of the Tallebudgera Valley local crew, Araluen Watering Hole is one of the most expansive swimming holes on offer, guaranteed to get you fully submerged without awkward lean or horizontal body pose.

But the real reason this fresh water pool has us squealing for joy? The rope swing. Summer dreams are summed up here. It's so secret, there isn't even a website about it. You're welcome we shared this locals-only secret with you. You'll find Araulen Watering Hole on the corner of Araluen Road and Tallebudgera Creek Road. 

Lower Portals

Mt Barney

barney lower portals
Image Credit: Lower Portals | TEQ

It might be over an hour drive plus a three-hour return walk along a rocky trail to the Lower Portals, but trust us, these crystal clear rock pools are worth it.

Framed on either side by granite boulders, there always seems to be enough cool water for a splash here, which is lucky, because you’ll need it after the hike in. Not just a stellar spot for a dip, you can also camp nearby, though you will need to score a permit in advance. 

Killen Falls

Tintenbar, Northern NSW 

A skip across the border in Tintenbar, Killen Falls really is killin’ it and even has a natural cave for you to check out. This impressive waterfall is perfect for swimming in with its huge natural pool and wild vegetation waving away at you while you frolic.

Killen Falls is very popular so get in early to claim your spot behind the ten-metre waterfall, where you can stretch out and relax with fresh water mist as your own personal sprinkler.

Minyon Falls

Whian Whian, Northern NSW

Located in Nightcap National Park, this waterfall is a must-do if you're visiting the Byron Bay region. Firstly, arrive at the top of the Minyon Falls lookout area and soak up the breathtaking panoramic vista.

Then, make your way down to the base of the thundering 100m waterfall where you can swim in the cascades. There are various paths to reach the base of the waterfall, ranging from a 4.3km one-way trip to a 2km one-way path. 

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Main image credit: Cougal Cascades | Brooke Darling 

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