The Royal National Park is one of the best places to visit in Sydney.
Filled with pristine coastal walks, rock features, amazing beaches and multiple waterfalls and swimming holes there’s always something new to see or experience.
There is no public transport directly into the Royal National Park or the key visitor spots within the park. However, there are multiple public transport locations just outside the Royal National Park where you can then walk into the park and visit its trails, waterfalls and beaches.
There are 6 main ways into the Royal National Park by train/public transport
- Loftus Train Station
- Tracks to Audley, Winifred Falls, Temptation Creek and Bungoona Lookout
- Engadine Train Station
- Tracks to Audley, Winifred Falls and Engadine Falls
- Heathcote Train Station
- Tracks to Karloo Pool, Uloola Waterfall, Krystal’s Hidden Waterfall & Olympic Pool
- Waterfall Train Station
- Tracks to Karloo Pool, Uloola Waterfall, Krystal’s Hidden Waterfall & Kangaroo Pool
- Otford Train Station
- Tracks to Little Era Beach, Era Beach, Garie Beach, Figure 8 Pools and Burning Palms Beach
- Cronulla-Bundeena Ferry (From Cronulla Strain Station)
- Tracks to Wedding Cake Rock, Marley Beach, Little Marley Beach, Wattamolla Beach/Lagoon
Loftus Train Station
Loftus train station is the closest stop to the Sydney CBD and features a couple of good walks but is the less impressive and less popular spot to enter the Royal National Park.
Loftus train station is right near the top of the Royal National Park and gives you access to the areas surrounding Kirrawee and Grays Point.
Heathcote and Waterfall train stations are both more popular spots to enter the national park. But there are a couple of ok walks from Loftus too.
From Loftus Oval there is a loop track that takes you to Temptation Creek.
It’s not the most scenic track and can be a bit muddy and washed out after rains but there are a couple of water features on the way and the creek provides a nice little resting spot.
Audley & Winifred Falls + South West Arm Pool
You can get to Audley and onwards to Winifred falls (and South West Arm Pool) from Loftus Station. However, it’s not the most scenic of paths as you’ll be on shared tracks with mountain bikes most of the way without much to see.
You can get to Audley from Engadine Station as well which is generally the preferred route.
Once you reach Audley you can spend time there swimming and hanging out or you can take the Winifred Falls fire trail to Winifred Falls and South West Arm Pool.
From Loftus Oval you can take the Bungoona Lookout Track which will take you to Bungoona Lookout which is a beautiful lookout spot.
This is more of a mountain bike track/fire trail walk and is fairly easy but the tracks are in good condition which makes for easy walking.
Engadine Train Station
Engadine Train Station has a couple of worthwhile tracks going into the national park.
It’s a good way to get to Audley and the closest train station to Engadine Falls.
Audley (via Engadine Track) & Winfred Falls
You can also get to Audley from Engadine Train Station via Engadine Track instead of from Loftus Train Station.
The track is well maintained but the elevation can make it quite an intense walk if you’re not hiking fit.
Just 1.5-2km from Engadine Train Station is Engadine Falls.
A nice little waterfall with a small pool at the bottom (not a big one for swimming). The waterfall is pretty underwhelming if there hasn’t been much rain and it doesn’t quite compare to some of the other natural waterfalls in the Royal National Park.
Getting to the bottom of the waterfall can be a bit challenging and you mainly walk on bike and fire trails to get there.
Heathcote Train Station
In my opinion Heathcote Train Station is one of the best places to enter the Royal National Park by public transport.
Bundeena and Otford are great for the Coastal Walks and beaches but for the inland waterfalls and swimming holes Heathcote is perfect.
Right off Heathcote train station is the Karloo Pools track. One of my absolutely favourite locations in the entirety of the Royal National Park this is a great trail for families that is only 2 km in length and end in a pristine swimming hole that is great for kids.
I do this trail multiple times per year every year and have been taking my kids to this spot since my youngest was 4 years old.
I regularly see families on the trail and even mums or dads with baby carriers making the trip.
There’s a bit of elevation on this track but once you reach Karloo Pools it’s 100% worth the effort.
There’s a large flat rock section that fits a lot of people where you can sit and enjoy the sun or the opposite side of the pool is in the shade all year round so you can escape the summer sun.
From Karloo Pools you can continue onwards to Uloola Falls.
From Karloo Pools you can continue another 2.3 km to the large Uloola Falls which flow really well after some recent rainfall.
The path to Uloola is similar in difficulty to the path to Karloo Pools but is a little bit more difficult and is less travelled, making it a slightly more private location.
You can also do a through walk from Heathcote Train Station to Uloola Falls (via Karloo Pools) and then onto Waterfall Train Station via the Uloola Track.
Tucked away just 200-300m from Uloola Falls and still largely unknown by most people is a gorgeous little swimming hole and cascading falls that I’ve named Krystal’s Waterfall.
It’s unmarked so you need to know where it is, but it’s not hard to get to from Uloola Falls.
It’s one of my favourite swimming spots and great if you want to get away from the crowds of Karloo Pools.
Another spot around 2-3 km from Karloo Pools is Olympic Pool. This spot is actually my #1 favourite location in the Royal National Park and it’s named this way because this pool is about the size of an olympic pool. It’s HUGE!
The track there is unmarked and a bit overgrown but well worth the bush bashing.
In winter I often get it to myself (though I did once share it with a group of nudists) but it gets relatively busy in Summer…but for good reason.
If you’re up for a big hike then you can go from Heathcote Train Station to Uloola Falls and then on to Audley Weir.
You could turn it into a through hike and return to Engadine or Loftus Train Station via one of the tracks mentioned above.
Waterfall Train Station
While the name might have you believe there is a single featured waterfall right near Waterfall Train Station that unfortunately isn’t the case.
However, you can access a few beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes from this train station.
Uloola Falls + Krystal’s Waterfall
Uloola Falls can be accessed from Heathcote (via Karloo Pools) or from Waterfall (via Uloola Track).
A lot of people like to start at Waterfall Train Station and walk to Uloola Falls and then through hike to Karloo Pools and finish up at Heathcote Train Station.
The walk from Waterfall Train Station to Uloola Falls is nice, but it’s not as special as some other walks so if Uloola Falls if your only destination I’d recommend walking to it from Heathcote instead.
As mentioned about you can also find 2 secret swimming holes only a stone’s throw from Uloola Falls and these are well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
If you like to get off the beaten track then not far from Waterfall Train Station is an unmarked track that leads to Kangaroo Pools.
The path is pretty overgrown and gets extremey muddy in sections but the pools are beautiful and great for swimming in, especially on a hot summers day.
Leeches abound in this area though, especially after rainfall, so look out.
National Falls (Upper and Lower)
About a 3 km (30 minute) walk from Waterfall Station along McKell Ave road is National Falls.
There is an Upper Falls which is easy to access via a short track off the parking area.
But the real specialty is the Lower Falls which is accessed via a no-longer-maintained track further down the road.
If you prefer beaches over inland waterfalls and river ways then Otford Train Station is going to be the best starting point for you.
From Otford you can get access to the very southern beaches of the Royal National Park including Werrong beach, Figure 8 Pools, Burning Palms Beach, Era, North Era, Little Garie Beach and Garie Beach.
Werrong Beach (Nude Beach)
Just 1.5 km from Otford Train Station is Werrong Beach. This is a designated nudist beach that hosts a variety of people.
The climb down into the beach is difficult and there’s a rope put there by locals to help you down the slippery slope.
Figure 8 Pools + Burning Palms
Instagram famous the Figure 8 Pools is a hot spot for tourists looking to get a picture for their social media and dating profiles. Don’t worry, no judgement here I’m one of those people too!
It’s extremely important to note that Figure 8 pools is only accessible at LOW TIDE and is full covered by waves at high tide. So check the tides before you go and go early in the morning or during winter if you want the best chances of getting the pool to yourself.
Just north of Figure 8 Pools is the Burning Palms beach which is a beautiful beach to hang out at and relax and have a swim.
Era, North Era, Little Garie and Garie Beach
Further up from Burning Palms you can reach the beaches of Era, North Era (where there’s a camp ground you can stay at overnight), Little Garie and Garie Beach.
All of these beaches are absolutely beautiful in their own right and you could stop at any of them and spend the entire day there or walk through each of them and enjoy the stunning ocean views.
To reach the north end of the Royal National Park and the Coastal Track there you can catch the ferry from Cronulla to Bundeena.
First catch the train to Cronulla Train Station and walk to Cronulla Wharf where the ferry leaves on the half hour.
Once in Bundeena you can walk to the Coastal Track and enjoy seeing Wedding Cake Rock, Marley and Little Marley Beaches or walk all the way to Wattamolla.
Read my full guide on getting to Wattamolla using Public Transport (includes ferry times and detailed walking instructions)
The Coastal Track
Just 1.6 km from Bundeena Wharf is the start of the Coastal Track.
This track runs the full length of the coastline of the Royal National Park all the way down to Otford and features stunning ocean views all the way.
The track is well laid out, has boardwalks for much of the way and isn’t too difficult to walk other than it’s length and some of the elevation gains going down and up from the beaches.
Wedding Cake Rock
4.2 km from Bundeena Wharf is Wedding Cake Rock.
This rock famously looks like a slice of wedding cake and while many people used to take photos on top of it, the rock has now been fenced off as it is considered extremely dangerous and could fall at any time.
Marley & Little Marley Beach
Past Wedding Cake Rock you’ll eventually get to Marley Beach and Little Marley Beach.
These beaches are a beautiful spot to spend the day but can have quite strong rips so be extremely careful swimming in them.
I prefer Little Marley as it tends to be out of the wind a bit more and has a river running behind it that’s great for the kids to play in.
If you’re up for a full day of Hiking then why not go all the way to Wattamolla.
It’s one of the most popular spots in the Royal National Park and features a beach, lagoon which is perfect for families to swim and play in as well as a waterfall and unofficial rock jump.
Public Transport Bus To The Royal National Park Is Not Longer Operational
From 2020-2022 there was a bus service that ran on weekends and public holidays in the Royal National Park and visited the main spots such as Bundeena, Wattamolla, Audley and Garrawarra Farm (the starting point for Figure 8 Pools).
Unfortunately due to road closures this service was permanently shut down and currently there is no plan to have it back up and running again anytime soon.
Royal National Park Tours
An alternative to public transport is to book a guided tour for you and a group of your friends or family members.
With a guided tour you will get picked up from your hotel in a bus as taken to the national park and along the Coastal Track seeing some of the best spots the national park has to offer.