A grey day doesn’t generally dampen my experience of an ocean pool. Every pool is worthy due to the combination of being outside and part of the ocean. It doesn’t matter if it rains or not – in fact as the rain keeps the crowds away it can sometimes be desirable. The point of this trip is not to rate each pool, but rather to draw attention to what sets it apart from other pools and highlight what makes it worth the visit.
I do struggle a bit with Pearl Beach Pool, however. It is a grey day and it’s possible that pools that lack a natural beauty do better with sunshine. At Pearl Beach, there is no particular reason that the 25-meter concrete pool with rails around 3 sides fails to inspire, but for some reason it does. In fact, my very first fleeting impression of the pool as I approach is of a prison – all grey concrete and bars. As I lap, I feel a little sorry for the school of fish trapped inside. There’s no ocean floor from them to play with and I hope that they are not sentenced for life.
That said, the setting is fantastic. The pool is on the south side, tucked into sandstone cliffs that have been molded by the wind and the sea. The tide is out so we can walk round on a sandstone shelf right around the corner and look onto Lion Island. I think when you take in the surroundings the pool is still worth a visit, I would recommend a sunny day, however.
One thing I would note is that there are not enough benches at the pool. Any council responsible for an ocean pool please hear this: you can never have enough benches at an ocean pool. A bench is not just for sitting on, beside an ocean pool it’s a necessary piece of infrastructure.
You can put your stuff on it, or under it, if it is raining. You can sit or lie on it, put your towel out to dry on it. It’s absolutely essential as a dressing aid when the ground is wet. Your feet go up on it to get your leg into a trouser hole, or to close a sandal that ties on that tricky part of your ankle bone.
At Mereweather Ocean Baths I noted with envy the big, fat benches generously distributed between the two pools. Good human infrastructure enhances the experience of nature. Mean and spindly infrastructure, on the other hand, only serves to create an experience that falls short of what was possible.