The 10 top swimming spots near Darwin are a favourite with locals and tourists alike. When the weather is warm the smart choice is to head for your favourite swimming spot to cool down and escape the tropical heat.
Choose from cascading gentle pools, refreshing crystal-clear ponds or one of the bubbling thermal pools. There really are so many great swimming spots near Darwin to hang out on a hot sunny day.
Come with us as we show you the top 10 swimming spots near Darwin.
Know before you go!
Most of the best swimming spots are open during the dry season – May to October. But it is important to remember, that in extreme conditions such as wild weather or crocodile sightings, some of these swimming holes may close to the public.
As for crocodiles, their activity is monitored throughout the seasons by park authorities. The rule of thumb is: follow the signs. If it says not to swim, take it seriously. If there’s no sign, don’t swim.
Always check signage, obey information from parks authorities and seek appropriate national park entry passes as required.
1: Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park
Buley’s Rockhole is a cascading collection of rock pools that seems to go on forever. It’s only a 90-minute commute from Darwin so pack picnic and some cool drinks and head to Buley’s for the day.
There’s a large Perentie Lizard who lives nearby and always seems to pop in to say hello. He’s harmless but he will try to scavenge your food so make sure you pack your food away when you’re done.
2: Katherine Hot Springs
Right in the centre of Katherine, the Hot Springs are one of Katherine’s hidden secrets! Sit back and relax in the beautiful thermal pools. The bubbling natural spring has a constant temperature of approximately 32 degrees Celsius.
Used by many a way of healing, let your muscles unwind after a hard day of sight seeing. With full disability access everyone can enjoy this magnificent natural wonder.
3: Mataranka Thermal Pool, Mataranka
Just four hours south of Darwin, and about an hour south of Katherine you will find the Mataranka Thermal Pools, another of the top 10 swimming spots near Darwin.
At the Mataranka Hot Springs, the natural springs bubble up to a constant 34 degrees filling a made pool of turquoise water under a shady canopy of palms.
If you’re driving through the Northern Territory, this is a ‘must stop’ destination and one of the top 10 swimming spots near Darwin. You may see small wallabies and a number of different birds nearby.
4: Bitter Springs, Mataranka
Bitter Springs is my favourite hot springs in the Mataranka stream. At Bitter Springs, underground springs have formed a 100-metre stream, lined with native reeds and plants. Bring along a tube or noodle to float with the current from one end to the other.
There are ladders at both ends for easy access. This swimming spot is deep and flows fast. Bitter Springs is a great place to go camping as there is a popular caravan and camping site next door.
5: Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu National Park
Jim Jim Falls is one of the top 10 swimming spots near Darwin. The World Heritage–listed Kakadu National Park is approximately 3 hours from Darwin but you will need to book a tour unless you have your own 4WD vehicle.
Nested inside a deep gorge, the only way to reach it is via a rugged 4WD track. In the wet season, the track is often inaccessible.
The falls themselves are impressive, dropping an extreme 200m down to the natural swimming hole below. The plunge pool is huge and when I last visited, we paddled upstream on a blow-up mattress. It was a fabulous experience.
6: Green Ant Falls, (Tjaynera Falls) Litchfield National Park
Tjaynera Falls or Green Ant Falls as it’s otherwise known, is one of Litchfield’s best kept secrets. It’s a kilometre or so walk through the bush which means, you might be lucky enough to have one of the top 10 swimming spots near Darwin to yourself.
There are several small pools, the lowest having an infinity outlook over the spectacular Litchfield National Park.
The walk is not difficult, a short 1.4 kilometres from the car park and well worth the walk! As with all bushwalks in Australia, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife.
7: Edith Falls, Nitmiluk National Park
Edith Falls sits among the red rock landscape near Katherine Gorge, just over three hours from Darwin. It’s perched at the base of Nitmiluk National Park (the gateway to Kakadu) and it’s well worth turning off the main highway to find it.
Cool off by taking a paddle in the two separate pools at the top or bottom of the falls. Otherwise, it’s a short hike to nearby and secluded Sweetwater Pool, where – if you’re lucky – you might share the water with a few turtles.
8: Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park
Further downstream from Buley’s Rockhole, Florence Falls is one of Litchfield National Park’s most popular deep water swimming spots. Complete with rapidly-flowing waterfalls, this pond is cool and refreshing, and a great place to spend your day.
Fight the strong current to swim upstream to get behind the fast-flowing twin falls, or pack some goggles to check out the huge fish swimming below.
9: Berry Springs, Berry Springs Nature Park
The Berry Springs Nature Park is a popular swimming hole for families and tourists alike. Nice and deep, Berry Springs is a great place to spend the day so pack a picnic and chill out in the water. It’s well set up with picnic areas, BBQs and a small kiosk.
There are three main pools crystal-clear and a small waterfall which is great to sit in and enjoy the water washing past. The pools are easily accessible with ladders and pontoons.
10: Gunlom Plunge Pool, Kakadu National Park
Gunlom Plunge Pool is hidden at the top of a waterfall, so the hike to reach it is steep but the reward is so sweet. The water is cool and refreshing, and the views over Kakadu are to die for. This is without doubt, the most Instagrammable spot in the Top End.
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Looking for more to do while you’re visiting Darwin? Read more:
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As you can see, there are plenty of (croc free) swimming spots near Darwin. Have I missed any of your favourites? If so, let me know by dropping me a note below.