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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.