One of the first things that come to mind when you hear or talk about Sydney is probably the white sandy beaches it is famous for. From the world-famous Bondi Beach to surf beaches like Manly, to the more unknown and tranquil Balmoral, this city has it all. If you visit Sydney, you’ll no doubt have any shortage of places to swim, surf or just relax in the sun with a good book. After all, there’s no way to beat experiencing this city Down Under than going to the best sand and sea in the world. You can choose among the top Airbnb vacation rentals and hotels with a harbor view, too, and make your visit more special.
Read on for the best beaches in Sydney. If you want some peace and quiet, look out for the secret hideaways, marked with asterisks**.
1. Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach is undoubtedly the most popular beach in Sydney, earning itself the title of ‘Sydney’s favorite playground’. It has a stunning coastline and some of the best waves in this area of the city. And even though it’s usually packed with both locals and tourists alike, visitors shouldn’t be daunted about coming here and experiencing its charm.
If you’re in the area for a day, there are amenities like changing rooms and showers provided. Bondi Beach has a laid-back vibe, with an array of youth hostels and plentiful places to eat and drink, perfect for backpackers and locals alike.
It’s also one of the safest beaches for swimming. There are flags along the water to mark the areas that are safe for swimming. The northern part of the beach has gentler waters, and the southern end has a rip-current that is more suitable for seasoned surfers.
While you’re at Bondi, why not escape the crowds and do the Coastal Walk? It’s a 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) pathway that connects to other quieter beaches such as Coogee Beach.
Tip: It gets really crowded during the summer, so if you want to beat the crowds and to do it like a local, get to Bondi Beach at 7.30 am and leave by 10.30 am.
2. Bondi Icebergs Club
If you’re adventurous enough, head to Bondi Icebergs Club in the winter, where you can brave the icy waters and have a swim. Various swim classes are also available, no matter what your level is. At the end of a long day, treat yourself and nosh at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, which serves amazing Australian-Italian fare. You know it’s good when Gordon Ramsay’s been there!
Bondi Icebergs Club
Address: 1 Notts Ave, Bondi NSW 2026
Opening Hours: Weekdays: 11 am - 10 pm; Weekends: 9 am - 11 pm
Official Website: Bondi Icebergs Club
Contact: +61 (2) 9130 3120
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3. Bronte Beach
Located in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, Bronte Beach is one of the easiest beaches to get to. Just hop on Bus 378 from the Central Railway Station and it’ll take you directly to the beach!
Sitting in the midst of some stunning, rocky headlands, Bronte Beach is ideal if you’re looking for a spot for some excellent swimming. There is also an enclosed sea pool, ensuring a safe dip in the water. If you’re brave enough for some ocean swimming, there are rougher waters outside the sea pool, though lifeguards patrol the beach daily to ensure safety for all.
Want to experience true Aussie culture at Bronte Beach? Get some fellow travelers and join a beachfront barbecue. There are free use of grills here, and the scenic picnic areas mean there’s always a gathering of friendly locals firing up the ‘barbie’ and having a ball of a time.
But if you don’t feel like having a barbecue, refresh yourself at one of the many cafés and restaurants surrounding the beach. There are so many, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Address: Less than 1km south of Bondi
4. Clovelly Beach
It’s a good base for Gordon’s Bay, where you can check out snorkeling routes through the waters, or take a coastal walk to Bondi or Bronte. Due to its backwater, Clovelly’s waters are very calm, making it wonderful for children. As one of the best quiet beaches in Sydney, it’s also great if you want to swim laps or go snorkeling.
If you are a snorkeler and want to dive to explore what lies beneath the ocean’s surface, this is the beach for you. Clovelly is a small, lovely beach, known for the narrow bay that lies between two rocky ridges.
Being away from the hustle and bustle of busy neighboring beaches (Bondi or Bronte), Clovelly provides a tranquil experience for those who seek some quiet or alone time. It’s definitely a beach that caters to everyone. So, grab a book and swimsuit and head here while the sun is out!
In the late afternoons or evenings, visitors can take the coastal walk to Bondi or Bronte while enjoying the sunset over the coasts. From there, make your way back to the city.
Address: 3-25R Eastbourne Avenue, Clovelly NSW 2031
5. Nielsen Park Beach
Feeling venturesome? Then take a walk along the harbor foreshore through the flaura and fauna of the national park before getting to the Nielsen Park Beach.
Nielsen Park Beach might be a weird concept to some, but it still can be considered a gem. Although it’s packed at times, you still feel that it’s secluded. The best part though, is that it’s not in the least touristy, and you won’t find a single backpacker in sight. But do note that on summer weekends, it can get packed with picnicking families.
The waters here have an amazing and calming aqua colour, just like stained glass. Plus, the beach boasts a stunning view of the city center from the back, across the bays.
Nielsen Park Beach
Address: Greycliffe Avenue, Vaucluse NSW 2030
6. Tamarama Beach
Tamarama Beach has earned itself the nickname of ‘Glamarama’, as stylish and beautiful people tend to hang out here, splaying out on the sands and sunning themselves.
This small beach has only 80 meters (262 feet) of shoreline, and is nestled between Bondi and Bronte. You can expect to see many walkers, runners, and strollers along the beach doing the Bondi-Bronte trail. If you want to do more than just lie around on the sands, amenities can also be found here, such as a cafe, playground, and barbecue area.
The waters here are great for surfing, though they are prone to strong currents. If you aren’t that strong of a swimmer, do think twice about going into the brilliant blue waters here.
Address: Tamarama Marine Drive, NSW 2026
7. Milk Beach**
If you’re one of those who love finding secret, tucked-away places, Milk Beach might excite you. It’s accessible via public transport or boat, and there is off-street parking available for those who prefer to drive. Although the beach can get quite packed in the summer months, it is almost always deserted at other times of the year.
Milk Beach is located behind the heritage Strickland House on Vaucluse Road, at the base of Hermit Bay within the Sydney Harbour National Park, so you’ll be spoilt with a magnificent view of the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
What do you do at Milk Beach? It’s ideal for anything from picnicking to sun tanning, and from snorkeling to fishing. Families with young kids would definitely love this gem.
Address: Vaucluse Road, Vaucluse NSW 2030
8. Lady Martins Beach**
Want to pretend to be a millionaire for a day? Head to this exclusive and quiet hideout, located in the suburb of Point Piper - one of the world’s most expensive places to live.
This gorgeous beach is named after Lady Mary Martin, the wife of chief justice and politician Sir James Martin. To get here, you’ll have to go down a narrow lane off Wolseley Road, next to the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club.
The beach is open to the public, but doesn’t get crowded at all. It’s also dog-friendly, as long as your furry friends are kept on a leash. There are fences and poles along the shoreline to tie the leash while you go into the waters for a dip.
Lady Martins Beach
Address: Point Piper NSW 2027
9. Gordon’s Bay**
If you are a snorkeling enthusiast, look no further. Gordon’s Bay really ranks high on the Sydney’s best-kept secrets list. It offers Sydney’s only underwater nature trail, and its calm waters make it an ideal spot for snorkeling.
Gordon’s Bay is just a stone’s throw from Coogee Beach and Bondi Beach. Visitors can get here via the coastal walk, or take a bus that stops at Clovelly Road Terminus and take a short walk down. But the best way to get to the beach is by car as there’s more than enough parking at the end of Victory Street.
It’s also easily one of the most charming beaches in the city, having a local fishing village vibe, especially with the row of local fishing boats and abundant wildflowers lining the shoreline. If you’d like a unique hideout to spend your afternoon, this is definitely your best bet.
Address: Major Street, Coogee, NSW 2034
10. Maroubra Beach
Maroubra Beach, nicknamed ‘The Bra’ by the locals, is a popular destination for both experienced and beginner surfers who want to learn from the locals. And it’s no wonder, since it boasts consistently big waves, perfect for learning to surf. So if you’re serious about surfing, look no further and sign yourself up at Sydney Safe Surf Schools.
But even if you aren’t that interested in surfing, you can still enjoy this beach. Maroubra Beach has so much more to offer along its wide stretch of sand. With exciting facilities such as a shaded playground, a series of safe rock pools, and picnic areas, there really is not a shortage of things to do for families
Getting here is easy, too. Just hop on a bus from Hyde Park, opposite Bathurst Street. The beach is a good 40-minute ride from the city center.
Maroubra Beach (The Bra)
Address: 1-11R Marine Parade , Maroubra NSW 2035
11. Manly Beach
Let’s face it, getting to Manly Beach is a rite of passage for both locals of and visitors to Sydney alike. To get to Manly Beach, you will have to catch the ferry from Circular Quay along the harbor, and from here you’ll get an unbeatable view of Sydney from the waters.
So what do you do once you get here? Manly Beach is basically a paradise for water sports junkies! There is a plethora of activities to choose from, including paddle boarding, kayaking, surfing, and even jet boating. This popular beach is also the site of surf lifesaving championships, so you can imagine how amazing it would be to surf on the waters here.
Fret not if water sports aren’t your thing. This beach is also the perfect place to go for a jog or rollerblade along the esplanade. If you go far enough, you’ll find yourself on the lovely Shelly Beach.
Tip: if you’re hungry, grab some fish ‘n’ chips from one of the funky vendors along the beachfront, take your meal to the promenade, and enjoy it while people-watching.
Address: Manly NSW 2095
12. Palm Beach
Looking for a destination for a little weekend getaway? Why not travel up to the city’s most northerly stretch of sand, Palm Beach? It’s 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the city center (an hour’s drive) north of Sydney. Plus, you’ll get to take in the amazing views along the way. If you are lazy to drive, you may consider joining a day trip to explore the northern beaches, including Palm Beach!
The northern section of Palm Beach is great for surfing, while the southern end provides a protected environment for swimming, with a 35-meter (115-foot) ocean pool suitable for young children. It’s also good if you’re looking to swim some laps. Additionally, there’s Palm Beach Wharf where families can fish. At the end of the day, take the coastal walk to Barrenjoey Lighthouse and enjoy the majestic sun as it sets.
Fun fact: Palm Beach was used to film exterior scenes for one of Australia’s longest-running soaps, Home and Away. You can even spot celebrities on holiday here!
Sydney Northern Beaches Experience and Craft Beer Tasting Tour
Balmoral, also known as Manly’s little sister, lies on the north of Middle Harbour, near Taronga Zoo. It is a superb beach for visitors with children; the calmness of the warm waters makes it safe for kids to swim. So if you want to hit two birds with one stone, make full use of your day and head to both the zoo and the beach!
The air of peaceful serenity is perfect for parents who want to catch up on reading while their kids go off to play in the waters or stroll along the wooden boardwalk. Plus, there are a great number of shops to treat the young ones to ice cream when the summer heat gets unbearable.
Address: Mosman NSW 2088
14. Bilgola Beach
Bilgola Beach is a rare find. Quiet and unspoilt, this shell beach in Sydney is sort of a hidden spot at the bottom of a hill, behind an abundance of palm trees. This makes it quite hard to access by public transport, but it is worth the effort. Some people even argue that it’s the most beautiful of the Northern Beaches!
At the southern end, families can swim safely in the sea-water pool. The central section has stronger currents and big enough waves to surf on, and there are lifeguards on watch. As there are no shops by this beach, you can imagine how serene it would be to spend a lovely afternoon on your own enjoying the sun and sand here.
Address: Northeast of Sydney CBD, NSW 2107
15. Avalon Beach**
This hidden oasis is the last of the more accessible beaches in the north. Avalon Beach is not only for the surfers. Families can enjoy the 25-meter (82-foot) saltwater rock pool at the southern end of the beach. It is perfectly safe if you have young kids.
A little fun fact: the popular American TV show, Baywatch, shot an episode here, and the producers even wanted to relocate their filming here in the 90s. If that is not testament to the beauty of the beach, what else could be?!
Address: Barrenjoey Road, Avalon Beach NSW 2107
16. Obelisk Beach**
Obelisk Beach, one of the best shell-collecting beaches in Sydney, is small, quiet, and tranquil, and boasts an amazing view of the harbor. It can be a challenge to reach there, as it is pretty secluded and remote. Visitors have to scramble down a rocky path and a set of steps to get to the beach.
It’s not that known among tourists, which means you’ll get a good dose of peace and quiet. Obelisk Beach is also one of the few legal nudist beaches in Sydney, so don’t be surprised to find beach-goers who are free of swimwear here.
Address: Middle Head Rd & Chowder Bay Rd, Mosman New South Wales 2088, Australia
Be shore of yourself
Sydney has so many different excellent beaches to satisfy everyone’s needs. Whether you’re after a relaxing day on the fine white sands, or a thrilling surf on the curling waves, you’ll find something for you on this list. Wait no more and hit the shores once the sun is up!
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