Discover Sydney’s 31 Beaches

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Australia is famous for its sun, sand, sea, laid-back attitude, and BBQs. If you’re planning on visiting the land down under, you can’t bypass Sydney’s excellent beach scene. But which coastline is best for you? Read on for our comprehensive guide!

Palm Beach

Palm Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 44.1km (50 minute drive)

One of the furthest beaches away from Sydney, this beautiful stretch of land is well worth the gas miles. Palm Beach’s claim to fame is that it hosted the ever-popular (but cheesy) TV series, Home and Away. Head to The Boat House for a bite to eat and enjoy the views of Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park.

Here’s what Ciersley Evans from The Boat House had to say:

“Palm Beach is one of Sydney’s most picturesque and iconic places to visit. Well worth the 50-minute drive from the city. Sitting on the deck of The Boathouse feels like you are part of one of the most beautiful places on earth.”

Avalon

Avalon Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 37.3km (43 minute drive)

Named after the mythological Celtic island, Avalon truly is an oasis of relaxation. The board-riding community is alive and kicking, but the pace is slow, and this beach attracts surfers of every caste, all the way from newbies to veterans. Experts can head to the south cliff – also known as ‘Little Avalon’ – where a swell creates barrelling tube waves.

Here’s what Dean from Kamekura had to say:

“Whether you’re a surfer, a sunbaked or a swimmer Avalon Beach has it all – great waves, wide open spaces and one of the areas best natural pools. And what’s more is its proximity to Avalon village with its quirky cafes, classy boutiques and oozing charm.”

Whale Beach

Whale Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 41km (48 minute drive)

Often underrated, Whale Beach is great for both surfers and families. Watch out for the chunky surf break called ‘The Wedge’, which is caused by reef systems. Whale Beach is a fantastic place to escape from Sydney’s hectic tourist culture. The aptly named Jonah’s is a great place for a pre-dinner drink.

Here’s what Matthew Flemming from Whale Beach Villa said:

“Whale Beach is the quintessential Australian holiday experience with its amazing sand, surf and relaxing atmosphere. Not only is it about relaxation, it is also about pure indulgence with sensational holiday homes and bespoke guest service courtesy of boutique accommodation providers such as Contemporary Hotels!”

Bilgola

Bilgola Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 35.5km (40 minute drive)

Meaning ‘swirling waters’ in the Indigenous language, you can find Bilgola beach between Avalon and Newport. The locals have done their best to keep this family-friendly beach quiet. What you don’t get in nearby facilities, Bilgola makes up for in secluded tanning spots, surrounded by rustling palm trees.

Here’s what Colette from The Pittwater Bed and Breakfast said:

” Bilgola is only small but that means less crowds and only locals usually. However, Bilgola Surf Club certainly punches above their weight by being winners on many occasions of surf lifesaving titles. Safe swimming for all ages and has a great rock pool for little people and those wishing to do laps! You can also get coffee and snacks from the kiosk just on the sand. A secret the locals would prefer to keep to themselves.”

Newport

Newport Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 33.9km (37 minute drive)

Thanks to rock formations, north Newport has two types of breaks that challenge even the skilled local surfers! The middle section of the beach doesn’t offer much in the way of surfing and the south is full of crosswaves, so pick your area wisely. There are beach BBQs, meaning you can cook a spot of tucker. Playground equipment for the nippers will keep the youngsters occupied for hours!

Here’s what Jacqui from Newport Mirage said:

”Newport is on the tranquil shores of Pittwater. Sydney’s iconic Newport Arms Hotel with Australia’s largest waterfront beer garden is next door and we are just a short drive from famous Palm Beach. Pittwater is renowned for its beautiful surroundings, so escape and explore this picturesque area.”

Bungan

Bungan Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 30.8km (34 minute drive)

Bungan is a little remote – you can only reach it by foot, as there is no direct public road. Once you find the beach, you’ll be bowled over by the amazing views. It’s not short on entertainment, BBQs, and facilities either!

Here’s what Cameron Bayfield from The Terrace on Pittwater said:

”Bungan Beach is almost like a secret beach, known mostly just to locals, and has a steep and long entry path that then rewards surfers & beachgoers with a secluded and often deserted long stretch of golden sandy beach. It is one of Northern Beaches’ gems due to its amazing surf and picturesque headlands.”

Mona Vale

Mona Vale Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 30.6km (33 minute drive)

Known as ‘Bongin Bongin’ by the Aborigines, Mona Vale (also called ‘Bongin Bongin’) is essentially two beaches separated by a large rock platform. Mona Vale has an especially good tidal pool for safe swimming and has some decent surfing opportunities. Grab an Italian frothy coffee by the beach at Cinque Cucina e Caffe.

Warriewood

Warriewood Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 28.7km (31 minute drive)

If you’re a devout sea swimmer, Warriewood is ideal for you. This small beach has protection from the wind thanks to the surrounding headlands, and the water is much calmer than the neighbouring Mona Vale. Daredevils can test their mettle by jumping the ‘Blowhole’ from a platform of rock towering above the ocean – but it’s not recommended, as it can be very dangerous!

Turimetta

Turimetta Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 29.4km (34 minute drive)

One of Sydney’s best-kept secrets, Turimetta has deep, golden sands, but no lifesavers, so be extra careful! The facilities are pretty much non-existent – hence the lack of tourist hordes – but Turimetta is perfect for escaping the crowds.

North Narrabeen

North Narrabeen Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 27km (29 minute drive)

Narrabeen may just be one of the most iconic surfing and swimming beaches near Sydney. You can expect no less than four lifesaving clubs, providing voluntary public care. There are also showers and BBQ sites for when you’re out of the water. Swimmers should always stick between the flags as there are some strong rip currents along the beach.

Collaroy

Collaroy Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 21.4km (28 minute drive)

In terms of convenient facilities and attractions, Collaroy has everything you need: disabled toilets, playground, a beach reserve, rock pools, picnic areas, and freewheeler wheelchairs, meaning that handicapped people can enjoy the water too!

Here’s what James Dakin from The Sydney Beach House said:

“Collaroy Beach is in the heart of Sydney’s northern beaches, found between Manly and Palm Beach. Beautiful Long Reef Headland is just a short walk from Collaroy Beach, giving great views of the long stretch of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, a marine wildlife sanctuary, and the best place in Sydney to see dolphins and whales, without having to hop on or in the water. A must for anyone wanting to experience true Aussie beach culture!”

Fishermans

Fishermans Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 21km (28 minute drive)

It’s all in the name: Fishermans Beach is a wonderful place to cast a line. Snorkelling is also popular on this quiet stretch of sand and sea. Between the surrounding rocks, you might even find some fossils!

Long Reef

Long Reef Beach

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Distance From Sydney: 21.5km (29 minute drive)

Long Reef is a lovely, white sand beach, perfect for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Beginner and intermediate boarders will enjoy the surf on Long Reef, and might even be able to spot migrating whales!

Dee Why

Dee Why Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 17.9km (23 minute drive)

Head to Dee Why if you want to catch some of Australia’s hottest annual events, such as the New Year’s Eve fireworks and Australia Day. It also boasts a funky outdoor table tennis table and free Wi-Fi, so it’s a wonderful place to kill some time. Lizotte’s is the best place to pick up some grub, while listening to local live music.

Here’s what Nick from The Wild Water Grill said:

“There’s plenty of action, but it’s never frenetic – your chance to lose yourself to the sound of the roosting rainbow lorikeets as the sun dips and you sip on the best cocktails that the beach has to offer – Wildwater Grill, the romance never ends!”

Curl Curl

Curl Curl Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 18.1km (24 minute drive)

Usually frequented by locals, Curl Curl is great for surfing, but isn’t too crowded. North Curl Curl has its own lagoon, which is much loved by kids and adults alike. Beware of the infamous Garbage Bowl rip at the southern end of the beach; it can be quite dangerous.

Freshwater

Freshwater Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 16.4km (21 minute drive)

A short walk from Manly, you can find the home of surfing, Freshwater beach, where Duke Kahanamoku popularised boarding in Australia. Its saltwater pool is a favourite with lap swimmers and the surf is consistent.

Here’s what Gayle Taylor from Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club had to say:

“One of the Northern Beaches’ smallest but most beautiful beaches, just north of busy Manly. Known as Freshie by the locals. Child friendly beach but also good for surfing. Lifeguards 7 days a week and flags always in use.”

Queenscliff

Queenscliff Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 16.4km (21 minute drive) 

For a lazy weekend jaunt, Queenscliff is ideal. Yes, it can get a little busy, but you won’t have to fight for a spot on the sand. The beach is surrounded by plenty of grassy areas, perfect for a sumptuous picnic in the sun. Head to Ginger Mai’s for a mouth-watering Aussie lunch.

Manly

Manly Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 14.7km (20 minute drive)

Manly is an immensely popular beach, and once you’re there, you’ll see why. Manly is everything an Australian beach should be: golden sands, coves, pine trees, fish and chips, boats, divers, fishing, and cold beers. With gorgeous views and an oceanfront promenade, Manly beach is a must-visit. You need to try Brezel Bar for some baked goodness and an iced coffee on a hot day.

Here’s what the folks over at Moo Gourmet Burgers had to say:

Manly beach would have to be one of Sydney’s best beaches, it’s several times bigger than Bondi and has a great family friendly, village atmosphere. Even local Sydneysiders feel like we are on holiday whenever we visit Manly Beach.

Shelly Beach (Manly)

Shelly Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 16.7km (24 minute drive) 

If the Manly crowds get too much, head to Shelly Beach to take some time out in peaceful surroundings. It’s popular with families because the waves aren’t manic. It’s a great place to discover colourful fish and watch the world go by.

Here’s what Hassan M’souli from Out of Africa said:

Take the stunning walk from North Steyne Beach and you arrive at the little haven, full of wildlife so close to the surface. Shelly Beach feels like a secret beach that has been discovered. No matter if you’re one of 100 or the only one there, there is something special about Shelly.

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 8.4km (14 minute drive)

The celeb-studded sand of Bondi Beach is always packed – unsurprising, seeing as it’s one of the world’s most famous beaches. Swimming and surfing is popular here, as well as Bondi’s ice cream bars. Everyone has to go to Bondi Beach at least once, so check it out.

Here’s what Andy Penney from The Anchor said:

It’s better than Blackpool.” 

Tamarama

Tamarama Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 8.5km (15 minute drive) 

Tamarama is one of the most dangerous beaches around Sydney, because of the severe rips – the waves should only be tackled by the most experienced surfers. As a consequence, most people just sunbathe on the sand. Tamarama has a reputation for attracting the LGBT community in Australia, and in the ‘80s earned the nickname ‘Glamarama’.

Bronte

Bronte Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 8.3km (14 minute drive) 

Not a large beach, Bronte’s charm lies in its exclusivity. It’s not suitable for novice surfers, but you can enjoy a swim in the Bronte Baths, which are protected by a rock face that’s perfect for base jumping. The lagoon is a popular site for families that want to play safely with toddlers.

Here’s what Kimberley Smith from East Side Crew said:

We think that Bronte is the most beautiful beach in the world! It has amazing cafes, friendly locals and a fun, laid-back atmosphere. If you are feeling energetic, definitely have a run along the coastal path from Bronte to Bondi.  It is absolutely stunning.

Clovelly

Clovelly Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 8.7km (15 minute drive)

Scuba divers flock Clovelly for the crystal-clear underwater visibility – it even has its own deep sea chain to guide divers to the reefs, sand flats, and kelp forests. Families will love how safe this area is for the kids, letting them chill out in the Australian sun.

Here’s what the folks over at Burnies had to say;

Apart from the great Breakfast at Burnies, Swimming at Clovelly Beach is like diving into Champagne… totally refreshing.

Gordons Bay

Gordons Bay Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 9km (16 minute drive) 

Close to Clovelly, Gordons Bay is also a fantastic place to go diving. Surrounded by diverse, native flora, Gordons Bay attracts a lot of wildlife.  This protected aquatic reserve comes with free parking and hours of calm swimming in the translucent ocean.

Coogee

Coogee Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 8.8km (14 minute drive) 

Shark shy? Coogee’s swimming baths are a great place to get some exercise without imagining scenes from Jaws and swearing you can see a dorsal fin out of the corner of your eye. Locals tend to prefer Coogee beach to jam-packed Bondi. Surrounding parkland offers up a great opportunity to go for a gentle, shaded walk. Foodies, head to X74 – you won’t regret it.

Here’s what Rod Sen from Barzura said:

Coogee beach is a great place to bring families and friends.  Safe swimming and a choice of four ocean pools ( one for women only ) makes it an ‘ all things to all people’ kind of place.  Some great new cafes have opened up near Barzura so if you can’t get in you won’t go hungry.

Maroubra

Maroubra Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 9.8km (15 minute drive)

A great surfing beach, Maroubra has garnered a bit of a bad reputation because of its tough boarding subculture. However, it still has a tight-knit community and is a wonderful place to relax with a bevvy, as it’s often less visited than other surfing beaches. 

Here’s what Shirley Struck from Pavilion Beachfront had to say:

Life’s a beach and Pavilion Beachfront at Maroubra, with its fabulous scenic views, is the perfect place to enjoy it. Relax and enjoy the great food and beverage whilst watching the surfers, dolphins and whales which regularly visit during migration season.

Malabar

Malabar Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 12km (17 minute drive) 

Once known as one of the dirtiest beaches in Australia, Malabar has cleaned up its act and is now as safe as Dee Why for swimming. In the bay, there are two shipwrecks, MV Malabar and Goolgwai, which are popular with divers.

Little Bay

Little Bay Beach

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Distance From Sydney: 17.1km (20 minute drive)

Not a surfing beach, Little Bay offers a ring of rocks called ‘Little Bay Baths’, which provided shark-free swimming to the nearby Coast Hospital in the early 1900s. Rock fishing is popular here, but it’s worth being especially careful while you’re on the beach, as there are no lifesavers patrolling Little Bay.

Boat Harbour

Boat Harbour Beach

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Distance From Sydney: 17.1km (20 minute drive)

Not a surfing beach, Little Bay offers a ring of rocks called ‘Little Bay Baths’, which provided shark-free swimming to the nearby Coast Hospital in the early 1900s. Rock fishing is popular here, but it’s worth being especially careful while you’re on the beach, as there are no lifesavers patrolling Little Bay.

Wanda

Wanda Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 30.3km (34 minute drive) 

‘Wanda’, believe it or not, is an Aboriginal word that means ‘beach’ or ‘sand hills.’ After World War II, a group of ex-soldiers got together to form the Wanda Surf Lifesaving Club, and it’s still going strong to this day!

Cronulla

Cronulla Beach Sydney

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Distance From Sydney: 30.4km (33 minute drive)

The only Sydney beach that you can reach by train, Cronulla will save you a fortune in parking fees. Grab your board and get surfing, or take refuge from the sun in the surrounding parks.

Discover Sydney’s 31 Beaches was last modified: June 27th, 2019 by Olga Szoke
Author: Olga Szoke (9 posts)

Olga is a Hungary native, but London liver who often travels with her young family and enjoys tracking down under-discovered gems.