Surfer dudes, sun worshippers, shore-side paddling toddlers – whatever your reason for heading to the beach, Sydney has some of the finest coastal spots in the country. Strike that – on the planet. All you have to do is decide what kind of beach vibe you’re after.
1) Bondi Beach
It’s only right to start with this one. Bondi is justly famous as one of the best beaches in Sydney for its golden sands, its great surf and, of course, its TV-friendly lifeguards. If the water doesn’t beckon you, there’s a running track, the famlous Icebergs sea pool, and plenty of trendy bars and restaurants too. Visiting in the southern hemisphere winter? Keep your eyes peeled and you might spot a minke whale just beyond the breakers.
2) Manly Beach
If you’re new to the world of surfing, the gentler swells of Manly could help you get in some practice. This is a long stretch of sand, with scenic walking routes behind the beach itself. Walking or cycling is also a great way to explore all the hidden coves and bays in the area, which are perfect for a picnic.
3) Coogee Beach
Do a spot of shopping in the morning then hit the beach 20 minutes later. Coogee is literally that close to Sydney’s city centre. The locals come here to hang out and have fun. There are a couple of ocean baths here too, where you can enjoy a soothing swim in placid water. It’s ideal for the kids.
4) Balmoral Beach
If you’ve brought the little ones to Sydney, you should introduce them to Balmoral. This shallow sloping beach has gentle currents that are perfect for paddlers, and there’s lots of parkland behind the beach to explore too. Watersports on offer here include scuba diving and sailing, so you can keep all the family entertained.
5) Palm Beach
Hiring a car? Here’s a place that’s worth the petrol money. Palm Beach is Sydney’s most northerly beach, and the glittering sands and clear waters make a sublime place to kick back for the day. There’s good surfing towards the northern end of the beach, plus a generous handful of restaurants and cafes nearby. fans of soap opera Home & Away may be interested to learn that Palm Beach is used for exterior shots of fictional Summer Bay.
6) Avalon beach
With its headland and sandbank, Avalon is fast becoming the surfers’ favourite. The local geography helps to create classic tube waves and you’ll see surfers vie for position to catch the next one. If you’re going to join them, make sure you know what you’re doing. And brush up on your surfers’ etiquette, because it can get popular among the breakers.
7) Collaroy Beach
With its gentle swells, Collaroy is just the place for beginner surfers – and it offers good swimming conditions too. The peach-hued beach also has a freewheeler wheelchair that can go into the water. You’ll find a café, a few restaurants and a cinema here as well.
8) Bronte Beach
With fewer visitors and a more intimate atmosphere, pint-sized Bronte feels like Sydney’s little secret. It’s when you’re strolling the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk you’ll come across Bronte. The surf looks imposing at first sight, and to tell you the truth it can be powerful, but there’s a child-friendly natural ocean pool and a saltwater pool to enjoy too.
9) Cronulla Beach
South of the city centre and accessible by train, Cronulla is a magnet for Australia’s surfing community. But you don’t have to know your way around a board to enjoy this bay. There are lots of picturesque walking trails fringed by water and you might just catch a glimpse of dolphins frolicking in the waves.