With long, hot summer days just around the corner, it's time to dig out the swimmers and goggles and get ready to dive on in. While Canberra's inland location means you can't dive into the surf without a long drive, there are still plenty of places to dip your toe into some fresh Canberra water. Whether you like it heavily chlorinated, indoors and heated or all-natural, this list of where to swim in Canberra has something for everyone.
Feel like a side of fresh air, sun and river sand with your swim? Don't let Canberra's lack of beaches fool you, there are still plenty of places to get wet in the great outdoors with the ACT's rivers and lakes providing a great option if you want to 'wild swim.'
Without a doubt, the most scenic swimming hole in Canberra, the pools at the top of Gibraltar Falls are ever-popular (despite the safety warnings). The rock which forms the waterfall clifftop creates a spectacular natural infinity pool surrounded by lush mountain bushland. If you like your swim minus the cliff edge, you can head a little further upstream and still enjoy the crisp mountain water.
If you want to really go wild, you can bare all (yes really - who says Canberra is boring?!) at the designated nude bathing area at Kambah Pool. This little piece of the Murrumbidgee River has been designated as a nude swimming area since the 70s and is clearly signposted so make sure you don't head to the non-nude area if you plan to strip off. There is, of course, a non-nude option here too so no matter how you like to swim, this is a great option for experiencing a river dip.
Pine Island is named for an island in the middle of the Murrumbidgee River and also features a decent stretch of sand. This is a slightly warmer and slower moving part of the river which, combined with the sandy 'beach' makes it great for kids to get out and explore. You can even try to find your inner Tarzan at one of the rope swings.
Casuarina Sands is another Murrumbidgee River swimming spot and includes river beaches and good conditions for kayaking, canoeing and fishing as well as swimming. Keep in mind that the water here can move quite fast so may not be suitable for kids or weak swimmers.
Cotter Bend, at the junction of the Cotter and Paddy's River, is a quiet spot that has both shallow and deep areas of water. This is a good option on a scorching day because there are overhanging trees to provide some protection against the sun.
There is an area near Uriarra East Picnic area that is protected from the river currents by a rock barrier making this a calmer option although there are other swimming spots around Uriarra Crossing. This is also a good spot for climbing the rocky outcrops and enjoying a hike with your swim.
Lake Burley Griffin may not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of swimming but, when the season is right and the algae is behaving, you can take a dip in this iconic part of Canberra. The most important things to keep in mind are to stick to the designated swimming areas and check the water quality before diving in.
Yarralumla Beach has a sandy beach and a designated swimming enclosure. From the sandy beach, you can swim out to the two swimming pontoons (about 60 metres offshore). There is a rope boundary around 100 metres from shore). There is also a fenced enclosure at the edge of the lake for toddlers. While it can be idyllic, this area often fails to meet water safety standards so make sure you check the water quality information before you jump in.
Black Mountain Peninsula has a designated swimming area on the western side of the peninsula. A boundary rope runs between an island and the peninsula marking the designated swimming area which offers great views of Black Mountain. There is also a fenced area for kids to swim. Again, be sure to check the water quality before heading in.
Lake Ginninderra in Belconnen can also quench your desire to jump into a lake. Like Lake Burley Griffin, there are designated locations and checking the water quality is a must.
Yerra Beach is a small sandy beach with two bays on the western edge of Lake Ginninderra. The designated swimming area is enclosed with a rope. Like other areas of the lake, there is also a smaller toddler enclosure near the shore. Yerra Beach has an offshore pontoon and a small island.
Nengi Bamir Beach is situated on the Northern Peninsula and forms part of Diddams Close Park. Nengi Bamir Beach is the largest of the two beaches at the Park and swimming is permitted. You can also swim from Bargang Beach.
But beware, if you plan to swim in Lake Ginninderra, keep in mind that it captures urban stormwater and, as a result, regularly suffers from algal blooms or high faecal bacteria (yep, really) that can close the beach for swimming. Make sure you check the water quality warnings to avoid sharing your swim with the bacteria.
The king of Canberra's outdoor pools has to be Big Splash Waterpark. This place is the stuff of dreams if you're a kid on a hot summer day with nine waterslides, a splash island, inflatables, a kids pool and a 50m pool. Enough said.
Dickson Aquatic Centre
Home to an outdoor heated 50-metre lap pool, outdoor heated learn to swim/leisure pool, outdoor heated toddlers' pool and splash park, Dickson Pool has something for everyone. There are grassed areas and large shade trees and BBQ areas surrounding the swimming facilities.
Opened in 1931, this was Canberra's first pool and remains an architectural gem in the Federal Art Deco style. You'll find an outdoor 30-metre pool and an outdoor toddlers' pool. here.
Gungahlin Leisure Centre
This facility is home to an indoor heated 50-metre pool (due to reopen 2022), an indoor 25-metre learn to swim/leisure pool and an indoor splash park.
Canberra Olympic Pool
The Canberra Olympic Pool includes an indoor heated 50-metre lap pool, outdoor dive pool and an outdoor toddlers' pool.
Stromlo Leisure Centre
As well as beautiful views, this sparkly new leisure centre has an indoor heated Olympic pool, an indoor heated program pool and a splash park for the kids.
Lakeside Leisure Pool
The facilities at Lakeside include an indoor heated 50-metre pool, indoor 25-metre learn to swim/leisure pool, indoor toddlers' pool, spa, steam room and outdoor splash park.
Home to a 50m Olympic Pool 25 metre pool, leisure pool (with beach entry), water slide, spa and steam room.
Located within the Australian National University, this facility includes a pool, spa, steam room and sauna.