The white-sand crescent of Bondi may be Australia’s most iconic beach. It’s popular amongst tourists and locals alike for its reliable waves, good food and upbeat atmosphere. Having already visited Bondi during out first week in Sydney, we thought it couldn’t get any better… But I’m happy to say we were wrong! Australia has a total of 11,761 beaches, and below are 7 we highly recommend you check out.
Gordon’s Bay, Sydney
This hidden gem is located in Sydney, between Coogee Beach and Clovelly Beach. Access to the bay is limited to pedestrians via the surrounding streets or the famous Coastal Walk, making this quiet beach popular among locals. Protected by an offshore reef, the calm water at Gordon’s Bay is ideal for snorkelling and diving. The Gordon’s Bay Underwater Nature Trail is 600m long, and while it’s best seen when scuba diving, you can follow along and snorkel on a sunny day. The rocks along the bay are perfect for sunbathing or climbing, but watch your toes, there are heaps of crabs around!
Palm Beach, Sydney
Known as the filming location of the Aussie hit show Home and Away, Palm Beach is considered Sydney’s most northern seaside destination. Don’t be put off by the orange tinted sand, the beach offers great waves for swimming and surfing. Before you settle in at the beach for the day, Make sure to check out the Barrenjoey Headland walking track, in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The 1.2 kilometre hike leads to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse at 91 metres above sea level, which was built in 1881. There are two paths to reach the top: The Access Trail has a steady incline, though slightly longer, or the Smugglers Track, a shorter walk overall but involves many stairs to the top. Once at the top, you’ll be blown away by the views! The narrow peninsula is surrounded by pristine waters on three sides: Pittwater to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, and Broken Bay to the north. After your hike to the top, you’ll be ready for another swim and a bite to eat!
Coogee Beach, Sydney
One of Australia’s oldest beachside suburbs, Coogee sums up the classic Australian beach lifestyle: surf, sun and fun. Besides a good play in the water or simply relaxing on the soft white sand, Coogee Beach is where you can start, or finish, the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. With a range of quaint restaurants, seaside parks and holiday homes, this beach is perfect for everyone. Just to the left of the beach is a small rock pool, where you can snorkel, swim and, if you’re daring, even jump into the waves.
Coogee also offers two historic seawater baths:
- Located at the northern end of Coogee, Giles Baths is a natural rock pool also known as “The Boogey Hole”
- Located at the southern end of Coogee, McIvers Baths dates back to 1886, and is known as Australia’s last remaining seawater pool exclusive only to women
Once you’ve finished swimming in the sea and/or saltwater baths, there is plenty of grass and shade in the immediate area to hang out, BBQ or play a game of volleyball. Keep an eye out over the cliff top too, you might see whales in the distance (between May and November).
Bulli Beach, Wollongong
Cruise along the Grand Pacific Drive to spend the afternoon at Bulli Beach (pronounced “bull-eye”). The southerly route from Sydney starts in the Royal National Park and makes its way over the Sea Cliff Bridge, swirving out from the cliffs and over the ocean. Roughly an hour and a half drive south to Wollongong, Bulli Eye beach is popular all year around due to the nearby caravan park situated behind the beach. The 900m of beautiful white sand along Bulli Beach offer ideal spots for picnics, games and surfing.
Wollongong City Council recently made the news, for being the first in the world to supply their lifeguards with Shark Shield. This new technology will help repel sharks, in the event of an attack. Don’t worry, there haven’t been any attacks — this is just precautionary!
Flynns Beach, Port Macquarie
With eight beaches to choose from, Port Macquarie is the ideal vacation destination for swimming, surfing, fishing, walking, picnicking or just relaxing. Surprisingly, it is not a common stop for backpackers travelling along the east coast of Australia. The small town is often overlooked, but I can give you one good reason to visit: fancy your own private beach?
While walking along the coast, we were heading down to Flynns when a smaller, completely empty beach to the left caught my eye. When I say empty, I sure mean it. We had the whole beach to ourselves, so spent the afternoon splashing around in the water, exploring the little rock caves and taking photos.
The other side of Flynns Beach was busy with families and locals, nestled between headlands on either side, protecting it from large waves and winds. If you want to learn how to surf, this is a great beach to start on!
Merewether Beach, Newcastle
While you may not have heard of Merewether Beach, as of January 2018, it has been named Australia’s Best City Beach, beating other iconic locations such as Bondi and Surfers Paradise. Known for its great waves and surfing, Merewether is also one of only 20 beaches listed on the National Surfing Reserve. Formed in Sydney in 2005, the National Surfing Reserves recognises iconic surfing sites in Australia and attempts to include all surfers, from professionals to beginners. Not surprisingly, we went to the beach early on a Saturday morning, and stumbled upon a surf competition!
Located at the southern end of Merewether Beach is a large saltwater bath. At the northern end of the beach is Newcastle’s Memorial Walk. Built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli in 1915 and the commencement of steel making, it offers a striking 360 degree view of the city. In between these two points there are plenty of restaurants and cafes, offering great food in addition to a view of the surfers below.
Main Beach, Byron Bay
Byron Bay is the ultimate beach town, and they don’t call it Main Beach for nothing – this is where all the magic happens: surfing, swimming, dolphin kayaking, silent discos and fire shows. If you enjoy people watching, this will quickly become your favourite spot.
Main Beach is located right in the town centre, only a short walk along Johnson Street, where you’ll find an assortment of hostels, bars and quirky shops. The waters here are warm and shallow, creating an ideal spot to lay in the sun and have the waves crash over you.
Cape Byron Lighthouse is the most easterly point in all of Australia. From Main Beach, it’s an hour long walk along the coast, and roughly half an hour back through the rainforest. The views what dreams are made of: blue skies, crystal clear waters, quiet beaches, crashing waves, dolphins (sometimes even whales) and a bold lighthouse that is over 100 years old. We enjoyed the walk so much, we did it twice!
There are still plenty more beaches in New South Wales to discover. Now tell me, which beach are you heading to first?