A local secret for years, the Cardwell Spa Pool became internationally known after posts on social media revealed the beauty of this rugged swimming hole to the entire world. It’s located outside the small town of Cardwell on Australia’s Northern Coast.
Part of the attraction to the pool is its remote location and the intensely blue water, which fluctuates in depth throughout the year. Ranging from a true turquoise to milky blue, the pool’s stunning scenery will take your breath away.
For tourists in Far North Queensland, the pool has become a “must-see” destination and it is no longer filled with just locals. People from all over the world travel to see the beautiful blue hues of this swimming hole.
Easy to access from the town of Cardwell, the Spa Pool is slightly remote. There aren’t any tourist facilities or bathrooms in the area, so visitors should be prepared to bring their own gear. All trash brought in will need to be packed out.
The Cardwell Spa Pool
The Cardwell Spa Pool is a part of Northern Australia’s Cassowary Coast. Situated just inland from the ocean, the pool is tucked away in a thick forest of eucalyptus trees.
Considered to be a geological wonder, the pool is naturally fed by a small creek. The water levels of the Cardwell Spa Pool fluctuate throughout the year, depending on the season. Tourists will need to plan their trip according to the weather and year as the spa pool can be flooded, completely dry, or just perfect to take a dip.
The best time to visit the Cardwell Spa Pool is during the dry season from May to September. If the year is too dry, the pool may be gone entirely. Most years, the dry season is the perfect time to go because the pool won’t have overflowed or gotten dirty from the rains. Visitors who want to check the level of the pool before visiting are encouraged to contact the Cardwell Visitor & Heritage Centre.
Also fluctuating with the season is the blue color of the pool. Fed from a mostly underground water source, the high mineral content of the water and rocks have given the Cardwell Spa Pool its famous hue.
However, that hue can change from a dazzling turquoise to a deep aqua or light baby blue. The color will depend on the natural light and weather. Heavy rains will cause the blue color to turn a muddy brown. After a big rain, it can take several days for the pool to return to blue.
Although the Cardwell Spa Pool is naturally fed, it is not heated. The water temperature often hovers around ambient temperature with the warmest time of year peaking during the summer months. Still, the pool is cool enough that it is a great way to refresh yourself from Australia’s summertime heat waves.
The structure of the spa pool has been kept as natural as possible. A few man-made stone additions have been placed along the bank, but for the most part, the edge of the pool is met with twisted tree roots, grass, and rocks. Currently, there is no handicap access to the pool.
Clothes are required at the Cardwell Spa Pool. A family-friendly place, visitors are welcome to bring their kids and pets to the pool too. There is a parking lot within a short walking distance of the pool.
The path is well-maintained, wide, and has a few steps that go down to the bank of the pool. There are limited spaces in the parking lot, so visitors should get to the pool early to beat the crowds.
Finally, the area around the pool has been left wild. Visitors should be mindful of wildlife in the area and bring plenty of bug repellent as there are often many swarms of mosquitoes flying in the area. Crocodiles have been spotted in the coastal area around Cardwell, but it is very rare to hear of one at the Cardwell Spa Pool as most avoid going that far inland.
Nearby Camping and Lodging
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Overnight camping and fires are not permitted at the Cardwell Spa Pool. The only camping spots that are close to the pool are the Murray Falls Camping Area and the Blencoe Falls Camping Area. Murray Falls is about a 35-minute drive north of the Cardwell Spa Pool, while Blencoe Falls is about a 2-hour drive to the west of the pool.
The closest accommodation to the Cardwell Spa Pool is in Cardwell, the town. Cardwell is a small town of just over 1,300 people, so there aren’t many accommodation options. However, the popularity of the pool and the town’s location between Brisbane and Cairns means that there are few motel accommodations.
Three of the best accommodations in Cardwell are the:
All three of these motels are affordable and have been highly rated.
The Cardwell Spa Pool is about 6.2 miles (10.1km) outside of Cardwell. Whether you’re driving from the north or south side of town, it should take about 10 minutes to reach the parking lot by the pool.
The roads to the are all dirt roads, but they have been well-maintained. Wide and flat, the roads are suitable for both 2 and 4-wheel drive vehicles. Small campers and caravans could make it to the pool, but due to the limited parking space, larger vehicles are not recommended to make the drive.
To get to the Cardwell Spa Pool from Cardwell’s North Side of town:
- Take the Bruce Highway to Ellerbeck Road.
- You will pass a few streets before coming to an unnamed dirt road on your left.
- Turn left onto the unnamed dirt road.
- At the “T” junction, turn left again onto Cardwell Forest Drive.
- Continue on Cardwell Forest Drive until you pass the creek crossing.
- After crossing the creek, the parking lot for the Cardwell Spa Pool will be on the right.
To get to the Cardwell Spa Pool from Cardwell’s South Side of Town:
- Take the Bruce Highway to Brasenose Street.
- Brasenose Street will become a dirt road and change to Cardwell Forest Drive.
- Continue on the dirt road until you come to a crossing.
- There will be a sign indicating that the Spa Pool is 3.1 miles (5km) ahead.
- Continue on Cardwell Forest Drive for 3.1 miles (5km) until you see a parking lot, which will be on your left.
Address: Brasenose St, Cardwell QLD 4849, Australia
Coordinates: -18.2641614°, 145.9697299°
Phone: (+61) 7 4066 2412 – Cardwell Visitor & Heritage Centre
Season: Year-round – pool level fluctuates throughout the year
Age Restrictions: No