Sydney abounds in white sandy beaches, including world-famous attractions such as Bondi Beach. For a tranquil stretch of sand inside Sydney Harbor, try Balmoral on the northern side or Redleaf on the eastern side. At the most popular beaches, you’ll find beach-side cafés, bars and restaurants, or pack a hamper for a picnic on a beach. Sydney is blessed with many beautiful sandy beaches, from tranquil bays and coves in Sydney Harbor to some of the world’s best surf beaches where you can enjoy curling waves and relax on the fine white sands. Planning a vacation to Sydney, read our Sydney Australia Travel Guide. Here are the best Sydney Australia beaches:
Watch a glorious sunrise at world-famous Bondi Beach before an invigorating swim in the turquoise waters or a stroll along the white sands. Roll out a beach towel and relax on the fine sands while enjoying spectacular views of the vast Pacific Ocean. You can also learn to surf at an accredited surf school. And there are plenty of things to do beyond the iconic beach. Fine dining, eclectic shopping markets, gorgeous coastal walks and a buzzing nightlife can all be experienced in Bondi year-round. Surfers of all skill levels head to Bondi Beach to try out the waves. If you’re a beginner, there are several excellent surf schools that offer lessons year-round. Protected areas make it easy for novices to learn, while the more experienced surfers head to the south end of the beach. With beach life so ingrained in Bondi’s culture, it’s no surprise that the area is a haven for beach and swimwear shopping. On Campbell Parade, you’ll find a number of swimwear shops, including Labyrinth, The Big Swim, Sunburn and Bikini Island, which has been a local favorite since 1981.
After arriving from the 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay, there’s a sign at Manly Wharf that reads: “Five miles from the city, a million miles from care.” Such is the lifestyle of “God’s Country.” A cosmopolitan mall and promenade add to the sight of young, hip, beautiful and sun-kissed bodies. A day trip here is enough reason to consider relocating to the northern beaches. Whether it’s from the beach itself, or one of the nearby cafés, Manly is a pleasing place to catch a wave or simply to people-watch.
Known as ‘Glamarama’ for the eye-catching locals sun-baking on the beach –- it’s traditionally been a haven for the gay and modeling communities. Parking near the beach is impossible, but it’s worth the fight because the beach is as beautiful as the locals adorning it. Being small and intimate adds to the feeling that this is an exclusive beach reserved for the lucky ones. A word of warning, though: it’s also one of Sydney’s most dangerous beaches, with two rips coming in from either side of the bay. While this makes it a haven for surfers catching waves from the northern head adjoining nearby McKenzies Beach, it can be tough if you’re not a strong swimmer.
Bronte’s sea pool offers a protected ocean swim and is regarded as one of the best in Sydney — and much like beach culture itself, it’s free. The nearby parkland has spacious barbecue areas for gatherings and is the most family-friendly beach in the eastern suburbs. On public holidays, the park becomes a sea of frenzy as parties take place. Bronte’s east-facing beach picks up plenty of swell and swimming can be tricky at times thanks to the bulky headlands and underwater rocks. Waves can dump close to the shoreline. But the vibes and views on offer make it ideal for those looking to laze around on the popular beach.
Nielsen Park Beach
It still calls itself the city’s “hidden secret” despite near-impossible parking and a crowded beach, but Nielsen Park is a little gem. The more adventurous can walk along the harbor foreshore through a national park to reach it. It feels secluded, even though it’s packed, and has a quaint charm because it’s not touristy — you won’t find a backpacker in sight. The views back across the bays to the city center are impressive. A net, which makes it a family picnic or snorkeling special, encloses the swimming area.
Balmoral, on the north shore’s Middle Harbor near Taronga Zoo, has an air of peaceful serenity. Life moves at a more leisurely pace here. If it’s loud and proud you’re after, this isn’t it. What Balmoral does have in spades is impressive views. And its calmness makes it a great swimming spot for families.
Shelly Beach is just around the corner from Manly on the north head. If Manly gets too crowded — as is often the case — then this is your nearby destination. Because it’s protected from the ocean swell, you’ll see lots of scuba divers under the water and paddle boarders gliding along the surface. And they won’t be the only ones making the most of the ideal visibility and calmness of the water, with swimmers flocking to the beachfront as well.
Located behind the heritage Strickland House on Vaucluse Road, this intimate and tucked-away beach gets pretty busy during the summer months, but is near deserted throughout the rest of the year. A great spot to impress, Milk Beach is a little-known spot that still packs a mighty punch when it comes to commanding views of Sydney. And you’ll often see a lot of kayakers moored to take in a spot of lunch. It’s also been the scene of some thumping parties during summer, so you could find yourself walking into a beached dance floor.
Descending down the windy roads that lead to Bilgola Beach from the headlands that surround it, you instantly feel you’re traveling a path not well trodden. The rips crashing into the northern end of the beach create some great surf for “waxheads” living on the “insular peninsula.” Bilgola isn’t mentioned much and is kept as a relative secret by locals. Quiet and unspoilt, the beach is a real in-the-know spot.
Close to the mouth of the harbor, Camp Cove has some of the most breathtaking views of Sydney. It’s also westward facing so gives east-coasters the chance to watch the sunset over water. It’s close to a large park, children’s playground, pub and institutional fish and chips –- what more do you need for a day on a harbor beach? Views also open up in the opposite direction to the vastness of the Tasman Sea, in contrast to the city vista. Quiet, secluded, and quaint, the picturesque Camp Cove is a stunning swimming spot and the elevated promenade gives visitors a chance to languidly take it all in.
North Narrabeen Beach
Boasting some of the best and most consistent surf, the beach attracts board enthusiasts from all over Sydney. Surfers have no qualms making the 15.5 mile trip north of the city center to get to the nearly 2-mile-long beach. The northern end of the vast, sandy strip is protected from the northeasterly winds and is a surfer’s destination, while the rest of the vast beach is ideal for swimming.