Sydney is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. A quick Google search tells us that Sydney has over a hundred beaches scattered across the city, and that’s just the recorded number. There are heaps of hidden beaches that manage to stay under the radar. Unsurprisingly, if you were to visit a new beach in Sydney every day, it would take you nearly four months to visit them all.
Here are some of our favourites Sydney beaches around town, perfect for a lovely swim, a refreshing dip, and a cool day by the water.
1. Manly Beach
Both Manly and Bondi enjoy immense popularity locally and internationally but opinions are starkly divided on which one is better. Manly is simultaneously laidback and surfy. It is also surrounded by heaps of bars, restaurants and shops making it an overall holistic trip that side of town. Manly sunsets are also hands down some of the finest we’ve witnessed.
Getting to Manly is part of what makes it so fun and famous. The best way to get there is by taking a ferry from Circular Quay. The ferry ride is lovely and you get to witness the Opera House and Harbour Bridge up close.
2. Shelly Beach
If Manly is too busy for you, take a detour to Shelly beach, a popular spot for scuba divers and snorkeling thanks to its marine life. It also serves as a great starting point for the beautiful Manly walk. This relatively sheltered beach is peaceful and pristine thanks to the waters being part of the no-take aquatic reserve which protects the diversity of marine life in the area.
3. Bondi Beach
Sydney beach culture is synonymous with Bondi and for good reason. The world-famous beach is an absolute stunner with overall amazing views, an iconic pool, shops and eateries in close proximity and a thriving cafe culture. There’s also heaps of street art to enjoy especially at the Bondi Sea wall. Unfortunately, as most popular spots around the world go, Bondi can sometimes be a victim of its own popularity with too-crowded spaces and lack of parking. However, that still doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a world-class stunner and an absolute must-visit.
4. Coogee Beach
Another popular staple when it comes to Sydney beaches, we’d argue Coogee is also an excellent all-purpose beach. It’s central with great connectivity to public transport and overall sheltered conditions which makes it great for families. It’s also got a women’s bath – McIver Ladies Baths – the only one in Sydney.
5. Dee Why Beach
Dee Why has a culture of its own and the best part- a general lack of crowds compared to other popular beaches. It’s also surrounded by great eating places. The beach is popular amongst surfers and the south end of Dee Why is home to Isa Wye Rockpool previously called the Dee Why Rockpool. The best way to get to Dee Why is to take a B1 bus from Wynyard; there’s one every few minutes and it’s a scenic drive to the beach.
6. Mona Vale Beach
Further down the northern beaches lines, Mona Vale is a relatively peaceful and quiet suburb. The beach is easily accessible and a popular spot for retirees and young families. Mona Vale beach is actually two beaches divided by a dramatic rock pool which is a favourite among drone photographers. We highly recommend making a pitstop at Armchair Collective for a delectable brunch and Coffee Brothers — a hip coffee shop around the corner. Keep in mind, the beach can get very wild so take all the precautions before stepping into the waters for a foamy swim.
7. Bilgola Beach
Bilgola sits between the debatably more popular Avalon beach and Newport beach. It also has a natural rockpool and its proximty to the CBD makes it a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. Yet somehow Bilgola manages to stay criminally underrated. It’s a gorgeous hidden gem on the Tasman sea along the picturesque Barrenjoey Peninsula.
8. Palm Beach
Sydney’s much-loved Palm Beach was the film location for the popular Aussie series Home and Away, and you will hear of it when you visit the beach. Apart from that, Palm Beach offers a host of activities. We recommend doing the hike to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse for some magnificent views. The south side of the beach makes for a great retreat for picnics and getaways while the north side of the beach is great for surfing. It’s also home to one of our favourite brunch spots – The Boathouse.
9. Queenscliff Beach
Queenscliff Beach is situated at the northern end of Manly and if you want to escape the tourists, this is the beach to head to. Unsurprisingly, Queenscliff Beach has often been referred to as Sydney’s finest beach thanks to its good views, good vibes and accessibility to public transport. It’s also got a lot of lovely little hidden gems, the most popular of which is the Manly Wormhole.
10. Freshwater Beach
A short walk from the North of Manly, if you manage to find the Manly Wormhole, you will land straight at Freshwater Beach. Freshwater has a generally small swell which makes it great for families and kids to splash around in. It’s a great place to start if you’re only beginning to surf or swim. It has also got a large ocean pool which is relaxing and abundant in panoramic views.
11. Curl Curl Beach
Further down lies Curl Curl beach. The beach is approximately 1.2 km long and is divided into North Curl Curl and South Curl Curl. Since all the tourists swamp to Manly, Curl Curl is the preferred option for locals. It’s also got some of the most picturesque views around. An absolute must-do is the Freshwater to Curl Curl walk.
12. Balmoral Beach
Balmoral Beach has a striking quality to it, its got a bit of pizazz and charm that makes it truly unique. It’s got a bit of a reputation for being the beach for the high-society folks living along the north shore. Surrounded by some elegant houses and cafes, it’s a lovely little beach to unwind with a book, go for a romantic stroll, or take the kids to.
13. Bronte Beach
Bronte is up there as one of the best beaches in Sydney and rightfully so, its got a bit of everything and then some. Additionally, its close to public transport and offers an expansive view from the headlands. The Bronte to Bondi walk is an absolute stunner and we’d highly recommend staying for the sunset view from Bronte.
14. Tamarama Beach
If the crowds at Bondi and Bronte get too much, head down to Tamarama. The quieter, more relaxed, less hyped but equally pretty beach. Sitting comfortably between two prominent headlands on the Bondi to Coogee walk, it’s great for surfing but take extra precaution, it’s famously one of Australia’s most dangerous and heavily patrolled beaches.
15. Milk Beach
Milk Beach is a 50 meter long and 5-metre wide strip of sand hidden in the heart of Vaucluse. It’s a beautiful spot to unwind with a refreshing swim and offers some magnificent views of the Harbour.
Highly recommended to get there by following the Rose Bay to Watsons Bay walking track.
16. Chinamans Beach
Found in the residential suburb of Mosman, Chinamans Beach is a small beach with only a 250 meter stretch of sand which makes it popular for kids to play around in. It was named after the local Chinese residents who once organised markets in the area. It’s also just a 1km walk from Balmoral if you’re keen to explore an underrated spot in the area.
17. Whale Beach
If you’re after a beach that’s almost always secluded, head down to Whale Beach. Despite its proximity to the ever-popular Palm Beach, Whale Beach manages to stay hidden for the most part. It has also got a very pleasant atmospheric quality to it that makes for a lovely little getaway from the city.
18. Kutti Beach
A hidden gem when it comes to Sydney beaches, Kutti remains largely undiscovered except for the few locals who live in the area. Nestled between Parsley Bay Reserve and Watsons Bay, Kutti beach is very hard to find and accessible via a very narrow staircase that almost looks like the end of the road but keep digging around and you’ll end up on this little gem.
19. Cronulla Beach
Another local favourite, Cronulla is the only beach in Sydney which is accessible by train. It also has a holistic culture about it replete with cafes and shops. Cronulla also has decent surf all year round which makes it popular among surfers and swimmers alike.
20. Clovelley Beach
Another jewel along the Bondi to Coogee walk, this beach is super popular for snorkelling and boasts some stunning local marine life. It also has a little beachside pool which is ideal for swimming.