You have probably heard about it before, the Royal National Park (RNP) is the number one ‘escape from the city’ National Park close to Sydney. If you don’t know much about it, let us fill you in.

First and foremost, the RNP was the second national park to be declared in the world (after Yellowstone in the United States) having gained its status in 1879. Secondly the park is HUGE; 151-square-kilometre (58 sq mi). and has so many beautiful spots to visit.  As there are quite a lot of things to do in the Park, we have listed what we think are the best attractions you shouldn’t miss when you get there. It is important to know that even if the RNP is quite close to Sydney (only 29 km south), you won’t be able to visit all of these fabulous places in only 1 day. We highly recommend doing 1 or 2 attractions at the most each time you visit, so that you can make the most out of each place.

How to get to Royal National Park?

You have 3 options:

  • Drive: find deal on a rental car (here)
  • Public transport: jump on a train (only a few sites are easily accessible by public transport)
  • Day trip from Sydney: Guided tour (only available for figure-8 pool).


Wedding Cake Rock

How to get there

  • public transport: take the train to Cronulla, from there jump on a ferry to Bundeena. it is a really scenic (and cheap) cruise. From Bundeena, it is a nice walk to the Rock.
  • car : drive to Bundeena or Cronulla (you will need to find parking and take the ferry, if you drive to Cronulla, which we highly recommend).

We never knew a rock could look so much like a cake. You will be amazed to see this stunning sharp white rock, distinguishing itself from the other cliffs and contrasting beautifully with the ocean below, just like a giant piece of wedding cake! It is a nice, relatively easy walk (about 2 to 3 hours round trip – 7km) from Bundeena. If you want to extend your walk, we would recommend you continue walking to have a rest and a quick dip at Marley Beach.

Wedding cake Rock

Marley Beach

Marley Beach

How to get there:

  • Get to Wedding Care Rock and then walk further to the Beach

Marley Beach is a magnificent and secluded beach, about 1.5km (25min) past the Wedding Cake Rock. The gorgeous coastal path that leads you to the beach is truly breath-taking. The beach is really secluded and you may even find that you have the whole place to yourselves if you are lucky.

Otford Lookout

How to get there:

  • train: it takes about 1h20 minutes from Central Station. You will get to Otford Station then it is a short walk to the lookout. Fantastic views of the coast line, the famous ‘Sea Cliff Bridge’ and to Wollongong beyond. This is also the beginning of the Bushwalk that leads to the Figure-8 pools.

A perfect location for a picnic and bit of relaxation with a splendid view. Be warned: this place is more a stopover to take in the view than somewhere to spend the day. Don’t plan to spend more than an hour or so here.

Otford Lookout

Figure-8 Pool

How to get there:

  • train: get the train to Otford station and walk the 4.5km beautiful, challenging, bush walk that leads to the pools.
  • car: 2 options: ether park at Otford lookout or at Garawarra farm car park. The walk is quite long and strenuous. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks.
  • Guided tour. A full day exploring the National Park will bring you to the Figure-8 Pool.

One of the Park’s most famous and iconic attraction. The Figure 8 pool as it’s named mentioned, are natural rock pools formed into a round or a “8” shape. Additional tips: Want to get the perfect photo: avoid the crowd and go during the week. The light is better in the morning. Important tips:

  • Make sure to go at low tide. No point visiting during mid or high tide
  • Injuries happen all the time there. Be careful of the surf. Check the weather to make sure there won’t be any storms or big waves that crash and could injured people.

Figure-8 pool

Garrie Beach:

  • Car: The only way to get there is driving.

Garrie Beach is a stunning sandy beach. You can enjoy a relaxing on the beach, have a swim or a surf or even climb up the lookout to enjoy the view from the dramatic cliff tops.

Garie Beach

Wattamolla Beach

Wattamola Beach:

  • Car: The only way to get there is driving.

Be warned, this beach gets quite busy during the hot summer weekends. Make sure to get there nice and early because they sometimes close the beach when the car park gets too packed. Wattamola Beach is a gorgeous bay with white sand. You can either swim in the sheltered lagoon or in the ocean. This place has been known for the cliff jumping. The jumping point is now officially closed so we do not recommend it, but you will still see locals showing off their daredevil jumping skills. It is also worth doing the 15 min walk to the lookout on the right-hand side of the beach.

The Coastal Track

For those who feel more adventurous and are fit enough for it, there is a 26-km (one way) coastal walk (The Coast Track – Grade 5) that takes you from Bundeena all the way to Otford. It can be hiked in 1 day by the fittest of folk but to truly enjoy take two days and camp halfway. We wouldn’t recommend doing it during summer, unless you are experienced hikers, as it would be extremely hot and tiring. Spring and Autumn are the best season to do so. This is a big bushwalk and would need significant planning and preparation before you consider setting off. Water, Food, Clothing, Shelter and emergency plans all need to be seriously considered.

Important safety notice

For all expeditions, please don’t forget to bring enough water, food, sun protection, clothing for all weather conditions, maps etc. It is very likely that you will not have coverage on your phone, always let someone know your plans and when you expect to return from your expedition so that they may raise the alarm if you are not back on time. Be sensible, be safe and enjoy the beauty of the RNP by leaving no trace. Got question about the National Park. Ask one of our expert.

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