Sydney’s best beaches

So what are Sydney’s best beaches? As we head into another long hot summer, it’s time to nominate our favourite places to chill out in Australia’s biggest city.


Bondi Beach

Sydney's Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

What would a beach article be if we didn’t mention Bondi? Sure it’s crowded, busy, and, dare we say it, overrated. But It still has much to recommend it. Where else can you lie on a stretch of sand this beautiful, then have a meal at such a wide selection of restaurants, go shopping, or even head back to work after your lunch break? While it’s no doubt pretty, even on a busy day, Bondi trumps anywhere else in terms of accessibility, facilities and backpacker party atmosphere.


Clovelly Beach

Clovelly's cute beach and bay

Clovelly’s cute beach and bay

Lovely little Clovelly is an anomaly in Sydney; a very short but deep beach at the end of a rocky inlet (while most beaches are long, wide and flanked by headlands). The waves break far out from the beach, creating a tight lagoon-like environment between the coast and the actual shoreline. The concrete catwalks which line the channel provide additional sun-baking space, while little waves race past into the narrow bay. The beach is backed by a small park, surrounded by trees that make Clovelly a perfect little antidote to the rush of other cityside beaches.




Whale Beach

Sydney's Whale Beach

Whale Beach

A secluded stretch of sand lined by Norfolk Island Pines and ringed by well-to-do villas boasting frangipani trees. No, this is not some faraway South Pacific idyll, this is Whale Beach, just south of more-famous Palm Beach and absolutely part of Australia’s largest city. Not that you’d know it; hidden from busy Barrenjoey Road by a range of green hills (hinterland?), Whale Beach sees far fewer visitors than its neighbours, and the locals like it this way.




Bilgola Beach

Sydney's Bilgola Beach

Bilgola Beach

It’s hard not to like a beach whose only land access route is a snaking, tree-lined road called The Serpentine. Once you’ve parked amid the palm groves, Bilgola Beach delights with its gorgeous little crescent of golden sand, and it’s pretty, secluded setting away from major traffic routes. It’s rarely crowded here, and there are properties right on the beach too – a low key slice of northern beaches beachfront, and a place you’ll find yourself returning to again and again.




Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach

Ok, so it’s not actually part of the harbour, but lovely little Shelly Beach just around the headland from Manly is not exactly your typical ocean beach either. Come to this protected cove any warm weekend and you’ll see lots of families, paddle boarders and snorkelers enjoying the placid waters. Palm fringed, cafe-boasting and accessed by a long walk where you can spot wild water dragons, Shelly Beach is a long-time favourite for many Sydneysiders.


Balmoral Beach

Balmoral Beach and its island

Balmoral Beach and its island

Balmoral is so much more than just a beach; it’s a suburb, it’s a destination, and it’s a state of mind. Despite the throngs of people who crowd the waterfront in peak season, it never quite loses its charm. With a handful of cute cafes, high-end shops and it’s gorgeous pavilion, it’s difficult not to love Balmoral. Spend time on the calm beach, walk across the quaint bridge over to the natural island, or while away the hours sipping a cool iced coffee.

What’s your favourite Sydney beach? Comment below!

This article is based on a series “Sydney’s Best Beaches, Parts One, Two and Three“, originally published in the summer of 2013/14.

Comments (8)

  • Michelle Reply

    Great list! I loved all the beaches in Sydney when I was there. It was a while back though…I can’t wait to go back again! 🙂

    December 10, 2015 at 1:05 am
    • Tim Blight Reply

      They’re beautiful, aren’t they!! Thanks for reading 🙂

      December 11, 2015 at 9:05 pm
  • Andrew Boland Reply

    whats with the beaches though, seriously? And is the coffee any good? 😛 😛

    December 10, 2015 at 9:08 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Ahhhhh, ever the Melburnian, eh? 😛

      December 11, 2015 at 9:06 pm
  • Agness Reply

    Sydney has the best beaches EVER! Seriously, I could keep running here every single day.

    December 17, 2015 at 5:58 am
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Come on down and visit!! The beaches are calling, Agness!!

      December 19, 2015 at 10:18 am
  • Anna @ shenANNAgans Reply

    I am not bias when it comes to beaches, I like them all! 🙂
    Digging your list, although perhaps not all the people that frequent them, crowds on a beach take away from the serenity. Can’t wait to hit up a beach over the holidays, Mollymook has my name on it, but maybe Manly if I get to Syders. Perhaps if we catch up in Syders we go somewhere near water. YEAS!

    December 21, 2015 at 3:20 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      YES YES YES!! Sounds like a plan!! And as for Mollymook – I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard it’s simply beautiful!! And some great places to chow down there too 🙂

      December 23, 2015 at 12:18 pm

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