Just by looking at the map we can split the whole Maroubra Beach area into several sub-locations, which are very different to each other. We will start from the Mistral Point (it is on the border with South Coogee) and go all the way down to the Magic Point via Mahon Pool and the beach itself. I already wrote a brief guide about spots for the beach sunrise in Sydney and this article is going to be a detailed guide.
First of all, I’d like to mention that it is awesome for the beach sunrise in Sydney, but I wouldn’t go here for sunset, there are better locations for that.
- Mistral Point
- Cliffs to the North of Mahon Pool
- Mahon Pool
- Cliffs to the South of Mahon Pool
- Northern part
- Southern part
- Magic Point
I used the black pen to mark free parking locations.
The whole area is located on the sea cliffs with no direct access to the water. The view swipes in two directions – towards the ocean and Coogee and the second view is more impressive because of the city lights and the peninsula protruding into the sea. The best thing to do here is to shoot long exposure photography with the stationary cliffs and with the beautiful moving clouds powered by the Coogee city lights. You can do panoramic shots here as well as distant photos with the portion of a land and clouds.
Mistral Point long exposure sunrise with Coogee city lights in the distance.
Wide angle, long telescopic lens, tripod, headlamp.
Pre-dawn. 60-30 minutes before sunrise, which you can use for the long exposure. Usually, I would start here and then migrate to the Mahon pool later. High/low tide does not affect this place.
Park anywhere on the Marine Parade and walk here along the cliffs.
Mahon Pool, also known as Maroubra Beach Rock Pool is seriously amazing together with all surrounding sea cliffs. Every step you make gives an opportunity for the amazing ocean pictures.
Mahon Pool can be virtually split into three areas: the cliffs, pool, cliffs. So let’s do that to simplify understanding.
Cliffs To The North
The cliffs to the north of the pool are a little less attractive, however, on edge, there is one beautiful spot with unusual rock formations. It could produce great patterns right after the sunrise with direct sunlight. Other than that, you can do long exposures here or just wander in the darkness, which has its beauty. But always wear a headlamp if you do so. Also, there is one other hidden spot on the southern part of the cliffs, right before the pool area. You can go to the protruding edge to see the breathtaking views of the stone wall and the crashing waves below. Beware, sometimes the wave can get you there, so always keep an eye on the situation.
Maroubra Rock Pool sea cliff sunrise looking northwards
Mahon Pool area is not right before sunrise as there is a massive street lamp beaming at the pool and the rocks. It produces weird unnatural colors and ruins any long exposure shots. So, you can go there right before the sunrise, when the scattered light can beat the artificial one and after the sunrise too. I’m not a big fan of the rock pools themselves, so haven’t got a photo of the pool itself, but around it, there are lots of rock formations, ledges, and little puddles. Just go out and explore. Again, keep an eye on the waves, they can be pretty massive here.
Rock Pool orange, bright sunrise with the Sun in the sky
Mahon Pool vibrant red sunrise with pool reflections
Cliffs To The South
These sea cliffs are pretty much the same as the northern ones – lots of protrusions and views of the crashing waves. The only difference is the most southern area, adjacent to the sand part of the Maroubra Beach. You can go down to the rock platform at the sea level and get the unique vistas, not seen in the photos. There are a few gotchas with this place. First, don’t go there on the high tide, because there is nowhere to hide and a big wave can easily smash you. Second, it’s not obvious how to get there, especially in the darkness so that you will need a map!
Mahon Pool southern cliffs sunrise with crashing waves and the Sun
Rock Pool hidden spot with the shark-shaped rock
Wide angle lens, long lens, mid range – everything works. Headlamp, spare clothes, soft cloth wipes are essential too.
Any sunrise time (pre-dawn, sunrise, after-dawn) for the cliffs both northern or southern. Sunrise and afterward for the pool. Tidal information is only relevant for the pool area. I would recommend to go on the medium-to-high tide and keep the low tide for the sand beach.
Free parking is available on Marine Parade. Never had issues with it for sunrise.
Here is a map on how to get to the hidden spot. I remind you, don’t go there during the high tide or stormy sea. Also, for the first time use the longer route and then explore the shorter one during the daylight.
Sand Northern End
Because the beach is long and curved, it provides entirely different views from both ends. Hence, I’ve decided to split it up for your convenience. By no means, you can easily and quickly walk 1 km from one end to another if you need to. So, the northern part starts right after the cliffs. You can walk down using the stairs provided. From there, just keep walking and looking around. In general, I would go to the sand beach during the low tide. The low tide opens up a more flat and wet part of the sand, which results in beautiful reflections, provided there is a sky to reflect.
As you walk a little further, you stumble upon some rocks, which during the medium tide provide a lot of compositions and opportunities. High tide may be too high for them.
Rocks on the sand – beautiful sunrise with flowing water, January 1st
I have to mention. As well as any sand beach, it’s nice to shoot the waves during the storm. Think of it, you stand on the sand at the sea level and if the wave is big enough (3m+) it’s crest hides the horizon and with a telescopic lens, you can make amazing photos. Also, you have a view of the cliffs from here, and there is a good chance to catch some huge crashing waves.
Maroubra Beach ocean storm (now you can guess why I have discouraged from going to the hidden spot during the storm)
There is also a famous cube in the middle of the Maroubra Beach. I couldn’t think of the proper composition to include it, so I thought I’d just mention it for you. It’s still in the northern part a little closer to the center.
Bring in everything you have! Wide angle lens for the beach, sand and flowing water, long lens for the waves and surfers and distant cliffs. A sturdy tripod, crocs (you will want to stand in water!) and spare clothes.
Pre-dawn, sunrise, 1 hour after sunrise. Please note, during the winter months, you will not be able to see the Sun from the most northern part of the beach as the cliffs will hide it.
The map shows the parking spots. Just pick any.
Sand Southern End
Pretty much the same sandy beach, the difference is the background views and, of course, the visible horizon portion. The Sun rising over the ocean is visible here all year round. Go here on the low tide to shoot the sand and the reflections and high tide to shoot waves. Easy. There is also a big sewage pipe, and occasionally the water runs out of it. You can use this running water for your foreground. There is also a little pool surrounded by the rocks, but, honestly, it’s not much of use for us, too many rocks look like a mess, and they also divide a photo ungracefully. There are no big rocks or other terrain features to reflect the light.
Southern part of the beach overlooking Maroubra
The pile of rocks I mentioned earlier, although the reflections are beautiful
Wide angle lens, tripod, crocs.
Pre-dawn, sunrise. After sunrise only in case, you photograph waves. Otherwise, there’s not much interest.
Your best option is to park near the Playground, it’s a free parking and then walk via the beach itself.
As I have already said in the previous article, there no magic here. Comparing to the Mahon Pool and the surrounding cliffs, this place is boring and not exciting at all. The rocks are dull and do not form unusual shapes, no caves, nothing. The only thing is some old human-made stone wall. In case it may be of some interest to you. During the low tide, you can go a little further, behind the bend and then there is a place, which could make good photos with the side light. Go there in summer as in winter the Sun might be around the corner.
The only cool spot at the Magic Point, although not accessible during high tide
Magic Point stone wall
Wide angle lens, tripod.
Pre-dawn, sunrise, after sunrise.
Park near the Playground and then walk for about 15 minutes.
Hopefully, this little guide and give you some ideas and save you some time planning. Let me know what do you think and if it did help you.
Tidal information is here. Swell (waves size) is on the next tab on the same link.
Important note – always swim between the flags. This beach is known for the rip currents.
General tips and techniques for shooting seascapes can be found in the Ultimate Seascape Guide.