Australia probably has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. In fact, it has many of the most beautiful beaches in the world! I only say “probably” to be safe but the fact is, many Australians are adamant that they indeed have the most beautiful beaches in the world, especially in Perth. And I have to agree with them… The beach is a very strong element of the Australian lifestyle and this is especially true in Sydney. Having lived here for some time now, I am familiar with many beaches in Sydney but I spent a few days touring the coast in order to find the most beautiful Sydney beaches. The result? You can live in a large metropolitan city and have a huge range of magnificent beaches to choose from…
Sydney Beach Accommodation
It’s easy to find accommodation near the best beaches in Sydney. There are many options on AirBnb, including if you are looking a home near Sydney hidden beaches…
Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs
The Eastern Suburbs of Sydney are a popular destination for visitors and with good reason. They are lively, busy and very iconic.
Bondi Beach has to be the most famous beach in Sydney, and also in Australia. It is a must-see when visiting Sydney and it’s fair to say there is a lot of hype around it. But the hype is justified. It’s a beautiful place, with many elements of what Sydney is all about: surfing, dining and drinking. With its perfect cove and surfers all year long, Bondi Beach feels like a perpetual summer and it’s one of the best Sydney beaches.
Bondi Beach has plenty of restaurants and bars, the most iconic one being Icebergs, famous for its turquoise blue ocean pool. Bondi is also very popular with international backpackers and has plenty of relevant accommodation. There is some good shopping, especially at the weekly Bondi Markets. Personally, I find Bondi a little too busy and the crowd a little random, but it’s where the Bondi to Coogee walk starts. And I can’t get enough of that pool view.
For accommodation, I found this great Cliffside Penthouse in North Bondi.
How to get there: Take the train to Bondi Junction, then the 333 bus. The 380 bus also leaves from Circular Quay.
Tamarama Beach, Sydney is a leisurely walk from Bondi Beach. Smaller and more intimate, it is popular with volleyball-playing locals and is one of the lesser known Sydney southern beaches. The local surf life-saving club is a charming building. The walk from Bondi to Taramara holds the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition every October, which enhances the scenery in a beautiful way.
How to get there: Take the 333 bus from Circular Quay or Bondi Junction.
For accommodation, I found this top-floor paradise apartment in Bondi.
While the crowds of tourists can be overwhelming at Bondi, Bronte Beach, Sydney is a much more “local” beach. With more families in attendance, Bronte is the pick of the locals, and yet still has that fashionable surfing feel. The grass area is equipped with barbecues and picnics tables, making it an ideal destination for a relaxed day out. Bronte Beach also has an ocean pool.
How to get there: Take the train to Bondi Junction, then the 440 bus.
For accommodation, I found this beachfront apartment in Bronte.
Amongst the beaches of Sydney, Clovelly is an interesting discovery. It’s a narrow bay between two rocky ridges, with only a small area of sand. Furthermore, there are concrete platforms on each side and an ocean pool. The concrete platforms are not necessarily what I would expect from a Sydney beach, but if there aren’t too many people, it’s equally pleasant. Also, it is quite sheltered from the wind.
How to get there: Take the 360 bus from Bondi Junction.
For accommodation, I found this beach bungalow in Bronte.
If Clovelly Beach is too tiny for you, the much grander Coogee Beach is a few minutes away. A long and wide strip of sand, it has good surf and several restaurants. One of the top Sydney beaches, Coogee Beach is also known for its ocean baths. Wylie’s Baths have a 1930’s feel and McIvers Baths are an ocean pool open to women and children only, the last of its kind in Australia. After a refreshing dip in the ocean, I recommend attending the Coogee Bay Hotel, which has several restaurants and bars, and excellent food.
It’s a great place for Sydney beach walks and you can stay at this spacious apartment just 100 m from Coogee Beach.
How to get there: Take the 353 bus from Bondi Junction.
Further to the South lies Maroubra Beach, Sydney. Maroubra Beach is a less affluent suburb than Bronte or Coogee, but it’s one of the Sydney best beaches for surfing, thanks to its consistent waves. Maroubra has a reputable surfing school and is a quieter beach.
It may have fewer facilities and restaurants, but the Malabar Headland gives it a wild element and you almost wouldn’t believe it’s within the Sydney metropolitan area.
How to get there: Take the 396 bus from Circular Quay. For accommodation, this stylish Maroubra apartment has stunning beach views.
There are few quiet beaches in Sydney, due to their popularity. Wedged between Malabar Headland and the Randwick Golf Course, Malabar seems to remain discreet most of the time. There is a great park with facilities and several cafés. Malabar is also a start or finish of the Malabar Headland National Park walk.
How to get there: Take the 399 bus from Circular Quay. For accommodation, I suggest this beachside tiny house with pool access in Malabar.
Little Bay Beach
Little Bay is a short distance from Malabar and one of the few secluded Sydney beaches. It’s small and it gets busy in summer however it’s a great snorkelling and fishing spot.
How to get there: Take the 394 from Circular Quay, then walk to Little Bay (about 10 mns). For accommodation, I found this high-end apartment by the sea in Little Bay.
Sydney’s North Shore
There are a few beaches within the heads, inside the harbour. They don’t get big waves like the ocean beaches but they are a great option if you prefer calm waters.
Balmoral Beach, Mosman is a very pretty beach, just on the north side of Middle Head, inside the harbour, and facing the suburbs of Clontarf and Manly. This is a very affluent suburb and Balmoral has been a popular beach since the tram made its way there in 1922. Due to being inside the heads, there is no surf to speak of, the beach is ideal for families or for those who don’t like the swell. Despite this, Balmoral is one of the best beaches in NSW, with a great range of restaurants, including a fish and chip shop, a sports oval and a sailing school.
The majestic bath pavilion in the middle of the beach is Bathers Pavillion and it has a cafe, a kiosk and a fine dining restaurant, something for everyone. Whilst Balmoral can get busy, its finite parking options mean that it doesn’t get as busy as some of the beaches in the Eastern Suburbs. I have a soft spot for it, I especially like that it comes alive early in the morning with winter swimmers, dog walkers, joggers and families taking their breakfast to the beach…
How to get there: Take the 245 bus from Wynyard. You can also get there by ferry from Circular Quay. Take the ferry to Taronga Zoo, then the 238 bus. If you want to stay in Mosman, this Balmoral beach beauty is perfect.
Sydney’s Northern Beaches
The coast north of Sydney Harbour goes by the name of “Northern Beaches”, and that says it all. The area is less populated than the Eastern Suburbs and less touristy in my view. Some areas really feel removed from the Sydney hustle and bustle.
Manly Beach, Sydney is sometimes compared to Bondi Beach. I personally like it better, as it has a more local feel and the row of Norfolk Pine trees on the beach front is very majestic. Manly is one of the famous Sydney beaches where the surf culture is alive and well and reflected in the shopping strip of the Corso. Furthermore, there is plenty of nightlife in Manly, with bars, restaurants and pubs. Manly is a beautiful way to end the coastal walk around North Head. It is also the final destination for the Spit to Manly coastal walk. A typical treat at Manly is to have an ice-cream on the beach and watch the surfers ride the waves.
How to get there: Take the ferry from Circular Quay, probably the best ferry ride in Sydney. And for accommodation, this stylish Manly apartment has panoramic ocean views.
Shelly Beach, Manly is a small stretch of sand, tucked away within Cabbage Tree Bay. Popular with scuba divers and snorkelers due to a good marine life in shallow waters, Shelly Beach is one of the best small bays in Sydney. Manly Beach is a large strip of sand, yet Shelly Beach is small and cute. The BoatHouse Restaurant offers good food and ice-cream.
How to get there: Shelly Beach is a 10-minute walk from the south end of Manly, following the boardwalk. The view up the coast to the Northern Beaches is especially stunning towards the end of the day.
Freshwater Beach, Sydney is the next beach over, north of Manly. Very much a local and family beach, it is famous for hosting the first surfing attempt in Australia, in 1915. If the swell is too strong, there is an ocean pool just under Mary McKillop Park.
How to get there: Take the 139 bus from Manly Ferry Wharf. For accommodation, this brilliant hideaway is within walking distance of Freshwater Beach.
Curl Curl Beach
Curl Curl Beach claims to be one of the best beaches for surfing on the Northern Beaches. Again, there is an ocean pool. For accommodation, this garden unit in Curl Curl Beach looks like a dream…
How to get there: Take the 139 bus from the Manly Ferry Wharf.
Dee Why Beach
Dee Why is a busy commercial centre of the Northern Beaches in Sydney. This large beach hosts a lot of sporting and public events such as New Year’s Eve fireworks or Anzac Day celebrations. I tend to skip Dee Why Beach altogether, as I find it less attractive than others along the coast but it’s a very lively area.
How to get there: Take the L88 from Wynyard to Pittwater Road. You can then walk or take the 136 bus. For accommodation, this north facing apartment in Dee Why looks just the ticket!
Narrabeen Beach is my personal pick and one of the really nice beaches in Sydney. It’s not too far, and yet not too busy compared to Manly or Dee Why. A long strip of golden sand, with good surf, sometimes a little rough…
How to get there: Take the L90 bus from Wynyard. For accommodation, I would pick this beachfront gem in Warriewood.
Beyond Narrabeen and Collaroy beaches, you enter the realm of Sydney’s North. It’s further away from the city and you get a strong “holiday” feel. A number of homes there are secondary homes, even though they are still in the Sydney metropolitan area. The view from North Bilgola Plateau is stunning, and it’s one of the top beaches in Sydney for whale watching.
How to get there: Take the L90 bus from Wynyard. For accommodation, the Seabreeze beachfront living in Mona Vale is a perfect choice.
Avalon Beach, Sydney is famous as a sea change destination, and it does feel so different from the city… I visited on a hazy day, due to controlled fires burning. It gave the place a mysterious feel. Avalon ranks high in the Sydney beautiful beaches, the only sad note is the headland on the north end, falling into the ocean…
How to get there: Take the L90 bus from Wynyard. For accommodation, I found this perfect garden flat with beach access in Avalon.
Whale Beach, Sydney is a relatively small and family-like beach. There are still plenty of surfers but there is a lovely intimate and local feel to it. There is a good selection of cafes and restaurants on the beach front.
How to get there: Take the L90 bus from Wynyard. If you want to stay and extend the magic, this peaceful beachfront retreat in Whale Beach is perfect.
Palm Beach, Sydney is the northernmost beach in the metropolitan area. A thin stretch of sand between Pittwater Beach and the ocean, Palm Beach (or Summer Bay) is a year-round film set for the ever-popular TV series “Home & Away”. This makes Palm Beach one of the most famous beaches in Australia!
You can get stunning views over the area and the NSW Central Coast by climbing to Barranjoey Lighthouse on the headland. There is a new service track going up the hill, which makes the climb a lot easier and the views are well worth the effort. Also, there are free guided tours of the Lighthouse on Sundays. Palm Beach is over an hour away from Sydney, and it is worth combining the trip with a visit to West Head if you don’t mind the drive around Pittwater. The views of Barrenjoey Lighthouse and the Central Coast are stunning.
How to get there: Take the L90 bus from Wynyard. For accommodation Shutters by the Sea in Palm Beach is a good place for a staycation.
There are a few secret beaches in Sydney, and The Basin is one of them. Tucked away in Pittwater, on the edges of Ku-Ring-Gai National Park, you can only access this secluded spot by ferry from Palm Beach. The Basin, Sydney is a fantastic day trip away from it all. You can also camp overnight.
How to get there: take the ferry from Palm Beach ferry wharf.
Beaches in Sydney, Australia
As you can see, there is no shortage of beautiful beaches in Sydney. Coming from Europe, I am still in awe at how much choice there is and how beautiful they all are. Whether you choose to live in Sydney or are simply visiting, a trip to the beach is a must, in any season.
Do you have a preferred beach in Sydney? Tell me which and why in the comments below.
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