9 awesome free swimming pools and water parks

The mercury is rising and summer is well on its way. The days can be hot, sticky and there is only so much air conditioning in the world.

Don’t worry. Grab a towel, some sunscreen and relax because here’s a list of the best free lagoons, swimming pools and water parks across Queensland to chill you and the family out.

Cairns Lagoon

Cairns Lagoon | Queensland swimming poolsWant to go to the markets? Want to watch live music? Want to go for a swim? Just hit the Esplanade in Cairns.

The free lagoon has timber decks that attract local musicians and every Saturday the Cairns Esplanade Markets pop up. There’s also a skate park, beach volleyball courts and a heap of playgrounds.

Once the sun goes down you can head out to explore the city at night with this handy guide.

Airlie Beach Lagoon

Airlie Beach lagoon | Queensland swimming poolsAirlie Beach is at the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef and is so full of things to do your days will be busy. But when it comes to cooling off, the Airlie Beach Lagoon is conveniently right in the middle of town and is stinger free!

It’s not just fun for kids, either. If you’re keen and like to keep fit, it has designated swimming lanes. This is the spot everyone naturally gravitates to, whether they’re chilling in the water, cooking up a barbecue nearby, or sitting in a lagoon-front cafe.

The Airlie Beach Foreshore will emerge from a $6.3 million makeover in February 2019 with new shade structures, mobile charging stations, drinking fountains, festoon lightning, 120 market stalls, extra car parks, a new playground and more than 180 new trees and palms.

Yeppoon Lagoon, Yeppoon

Yeppoon Lagoon | Queensland swimming poolsIf your backyard is in need of a blitz-style renovation show but you haven’t quite saved enough, stop scrimping and head on down the Yeppoon foreshore. The entire area has recently undergone a $53 million dollar makeover and the star attraction is the Yeppoon Lagoon.

Think resort-style luxury lagoon pools covering an area equal to close to 13 tennis courts, with a shallow play area for the little kids and an infinity edge area that extends the water view to the horizon and the Keppel Islands.

There are barbecues along the entire foreshore but if you are here to relax rather than cook, fill your belly at the on-site cafe. The lagoon is open 365 days of the year with lifeguards on duty during opening hours.

Bluewater Lagoon, Mackay

Bluewater Lagoon Mackay | Queensland swimming poolsHow does one swimming lagoon sound? How about two? Well forget that because Mackay has a three-tiered lagoon. There is a play area for the kids and a pretty awesome drop-bucket area – both watched by lifeguards.

Bluewater Lagoon also a waterfall that connects the two main pools and a 19-metre long waterslide. Hello summer!

WetSide Water Education Park, Hervey Bay

Wetside Water Park | Queensland swimming poolsDon’t let the word education fool you, the WetSide Water Park in Pialba is fun. Oh, and usually water parks cost money but this one is free!

The education part comes from interactive displays around the water park which teach you how stormwater is treated on site to help supply the fountains and heaps of info about the importance of water. Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent so it’s worth a read.

If your kids are feeling adventurous, they can even surf in the park. There are two pumps that push 6000 litres of water per second to make an endless wave.

Kings Beach Pool, Caloundra

Kings Beach Pool Caloundra | Queensland swimming poolsKings Beach in Caloundra is the hub of everything great. Seriously, the beach here is amazing for surfers, fishermen and beach lovers alike. There’s even a purpose-built shaded area for the beach.

Kings Beach Pool is a highlight within a place full of highlights. It’s filled by the ocean water and has a 25-metre lap pool, children’s swimming pool and wading area with disabled access. And when the tide goes out, you can take the kids down to the rock pools to have a little game of “What’s that squishy thing? Will it bite me?”.

Settlement Cove Lagoon, Redcliffe

The lagoon at Redcliffe sits right off the beach and is shallow enough for children of all ages. Mushroom fountains and squirting lizards add some adventurous play options. While the kids are splashing about, run down to the beach and chuck a sneaky line in the water. The BBQ’s are clean, so there’s no excuse to come back empty-handed.

But don’t worry there’s also a man-made rocky stream for you to lounge your worries away in if the fishing doesn’t go so well. When the entire family is screaming for ice-cream then the on-site kiosk has the goods. The facility is wheelchair accessible with lifeguards on duty during the summer months.

Streets Beach, South Bank

South Bank Beach | Queensland swimming poolsBrisbane is the only city in the world with a man-made beach right in the middle of it. How convenient! Streets Beach at South Bank is massive, but don’t be fooled.

Get here early because it fills up with people from all over the world. For good reason too – there are markets, pubs, a giant ferris wheel, the Gallery Of Modern Art and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, so there’s always something interesting happening and most importantly, there’s plenty of cool water to beat the Queensland heat. Lifeguards are on duty during the day and there are more than enough places to treat that someone special to a beach picnic.

If you just can’t tire the family out then we’ve rounded up a list of kid-friendly activities here.

Orion Lagoon, Springfield

Orion Lagoon | Queensland swimming poolsBang! Just like that it seems, an entire master-planned community popped up in Springfield and the Orion Lagoon is a focal point within the Robelle Domain. The lagoon is just 25 minutes from the Ipswich CBD and is a series of interconnected pools. The depths vary from shallow little kids areas, at just over 0.3m depth up to general swimming areas at 1.5m deep.

With shade sails, barbecue pavilions and an on-site wood-fired pizza food truck you can come and play all day.

Have we missed any? Which swimming pools and lagoons do you like best?

*This post was originally published in 2014 and updated in September 2018.