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On Sunday 13 February I did the Crystal Pools hike in Gordon’s Bay. After hearing rave reviews about it and reading other people’s views I decided to join my buddies on this half-day hike.

Steenbras river - Crystal Pools Hiking Trail

Steenbras river – Crystal Pools Hiking Trail

All the reviews I read claimed that it was an easy or leisurely walk to the first waterfall. LIES! All lies! I could gauge by the way the other hikers passing us were dressed that they were told the same thing. Ladies with fancy flip flops and hand bags were walking slowly to avoid the MANY rocks you will encounter. It’s not hard – it’s just not as easy as most people make it out to be. Also, there’s no shade and the sun shows no mercy.

Crystal Pools hiking trail

We took about 45 minutes to an hour to get to the first rock pool. There’s nothing ‘crystal’ about it but it’s big and there are some logs floating around in case you’re too lazy to swim and you want to float about.

Swimming at Crystal Pools

The second pool is about five to 10 minutes further up (above the first pool). This one’s bigger and has a high kloofing spot. If you’ve got the balls, you can jump into the pool from about 18 metres above. Because the water’s so dark, it’s difficult to see the rocks below you so be careful while you’re swimming. There’s a little waterfall you can chill under and it has a cool view of the crazies jumping.

All in all it’s a fun day out – just wear appropriate walking shoes or takkies. It’s not that laidback. Wear sunscreen and a hat or cap. Take lots of water as I wouldn’t recommend drinking from the pools, and pack some lunch and snacks.

We didn’t go all the way up to the top waterfall because we underestimated the walk and the sun. So by the time we reached the second pool we were done for the day.

Crystal Pools



Permits are only obtainable ahead of time via the City of Cape Town.

Permit applications and hiking information can be obtained from Steenbras Nature Reserve by email:
[email protected]

More information on Facebook:

Full information on the hike available to download here:
Steenbras Nature Reserve Info PDF


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  • NOTE :: Steenbras Nature Reserve (not Helderberg nor Sunbird Lodge) issues permits for hikes to Crystal Pools and Steenbras River Gorge – more info at CoCT link @

    • Tyson Jopson

      Hi Githa. Apologies, not sure what happened to the previous amendments, but we’ve updated again and should all now be in order.

  • Radden

    Good Day is this hiking trail Crystal Pools Hike, Gordon’s Bay open to the public on 22/08/2015

  • Roelof le Roux

    Holy Hell, Fatima Anter, you sound like completely the wrong person to review a hiking trail as beautiful as Crystal Pools. I bet your idea of hiking is taking an offline escalator at the mall. Seriously rather stay of the trails with that negative attitude.

    Crystal Pools are one of my favorite “Quickie” hikes. I recommend it to everyone who want their hike to end in a relaxing dip in the beautiful mountain pools. The final ascend to the pools is quite tricky but worth the effort.

    I take the trail at least twice a year.

    • Fatima Anter

      Hi Roelof
      Thanks for your comments. I did this hike four years ago and that was my experience. I’m sure the hike is very different after it reopened. I’ve done other hikes including multi-day walks and various day walks, and my experience of the Crystal Pools walk was probably because I underestimated the route and expected a leisurely stroll – also, it was very hot and the trail had no shade, which made it tough.

      I’m sure if I head out that way again I’ll have a different experience. The rock pools are amazing but not “crystal” as the name implies.

      Perhaps I should have mentioned that I’d definitely recommend the hike but I also don’t want people to underestimate it like I did. People rocked up in flip flops and all the wrong kinds of shoes because they expected an easy walk.

      You’re welcome to send us pics and a piece on your next Crystal Pools hike for our readers’ letters page.

    • Alex Christians

      Hi Roelof, just like to know if the pools are deep?

  • Megan

    Finally a honest post, we need more like this! I love going on hikes but I want a description from a honest point of view and a person who isn’t extremely fit. I love this! Thank you!

  • michiel

    hi id like to go to crystal pools can anybody help me please