Beyond Bondi: The most spectacular beaches in Sydney

By Elin Tough

Sydney, Australia is home to some of the most famous beaches in the world. But before you jump off the plane and make a beeline for Bondi or Manly, consider this – there are actually over 100 beaches in Sydney. From breathtaking stretches of sand and surf on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, to secluded harbour coves with tranquil, swimmable waters. If you’re heading Down Under, don’t miss out on these secret gems.

Here’s our pick of the power six:

Palm Beach

Photo: AdrianwithaW

Look familiar? If you grew up in the 90s you will have seen this 2km stretch of golden sand every day from your living room. Avid watchers of Channel 5’s Home and Away will instantly recognize this stunning patch as the fictional town of Summer Bay. Sacred surfing spot of the Braxtons and beautiful backdrop to many a family drama. The show is mostly filmed inside a studio in Sydney with location shots outside in ‘the bay’, so while you might well catch a glimpse of Alf and co, non-soap fans shouldn’t be put off – it’s pretty peaceful here, despite its fame. ‘Palmy’, as it’s affectionately known by locals, is at the furthest point of Sydney’s northern beaches and the most beautiful too. Swim at the south end, then take a walk up to the headland to check out the lighthouse. It’s at the tip of the peninsula, with the crashing surf of Palm Beach on one side and the more tranquil Pittwater – great for kayaking and sailing – on the other and separated by a thin stretch of bushland. It’s about an hour north of the city centre, which allows for a good day trip, easily accessible by bus. Or, if you’re feeling fancy you can get a seaplane from Rose Bay in the east and tick off every beach from above en route.

Milk Beach

Photo: Crystal Luxmore

If you like sunbathing with a view, you won’t get a better one than from this teeny tiny, secluded sandy cove. Dubbed one of the eastern suburbs best kept secrets (shhh), it offers one of the best views of Sydney Harbour from your beach towel. Plus, because this stretch of coastline is pretty isolated, on a good day you might even find yourself with the whole beach to yourself. Think serious Instagram fodder. Get there via the Hermitage Foreshore walking track, starting at Nielsen Park (around 20 mins). Pack a picnic and spend a few hours snorkeling, fishing or just admiring that awesome view.

Maroubra Beach

Photo: Franklin Samir Dattein

Sydney’s eastern suburbs are home to some of the city’s, if not the state’s most popular beaches – Bondi, Bronte and Coogee. And while they’re well worth a visit (the 6km coastal walk between them is too) on a hot day they’re teeming with tourists and locals jostling for space on the sand. Head 10 minutes further south and you’ll find the equally impressive but far less busy Maroubra. Ok, it’s not unspoilt, but you’re unlikely to be touching towels with strangers along this kilometre of sand. More suitable for surfing than swimming thanks to the thundering waves, Maroubra is a dedicated National Surfing Reserve and has some of the best swell in Sydney. While the area isn’t choc-a-block with restaurants and bars like its eastern suburbs counterparts, there are enough cafes and pubs nearby to keep you fed and watered so you can happily spend the whole day here.

Shark Beach

Shark Bay

If your dream beach has more of a Mediterranean vibe – think still azure water, children building sandcastles, yachts gliding by – then this is the spot for you. And before you ask, it’s protected by very visible shark nets, so there are no sinister Jaws moments to fear. The beach itself is located in Nielsen Park, in the affluent eastern suburb of Vaucluse and is a beautiful little protected 400 metre enclave with shallow water and soft white sand. Popular with families, steps lead up to a park and an esplanade where you can make use of the free picnic tables and barbecues. It’s a bustling beach, but because of its size you won’t feel overwhelmed by the crowds on a busy day. There’s a great little café there too and a kiosk where you can grab ice cream or fish and chips and just sit and watch the world go by.

Chinaman’s Beach

Photo: Angus Veitch

Aussie beaches might be synonymous with big waves and perfect surf conditions, but Sydney has the luxury of ocean beaches that fit the stereotype and also harbour beaches where the conditions are altogether different. Waves are practically non-existent at Chinaman’s as it’s nestled inside Middle Harbour. So if you prefer your water a little calmer, especially if you’ve got small kids in tow, this cute, sheltered beach is the perfect spot. Just 250 metres long and less than 20 minutes north over the bridge from the city, it’s compact and convenient too. And with yachts sailing slowly by and little boats stopping off to offer fresh smoothies and ice lollies, the vibe couldn’t be more relaxing.

Hyams Beach

Photo: Gregory Naud

Ok, so this one isn’t actually in Sydney. In fact it’s about two and a half hours south in Jervis Bay National Park… but, stay with us – we can guarantee it’s one of THE most beautiful beaches you’ll ever visit and the perfect destination for a cheeky road trip. Why? Well, for starters it has the whitest sand in the world. Fact. It’s also slap bang in the middle of a national park, so it’s beautifully unspoilt. Think turquoise blue waves lapping at sand so soft and white it squeaks, with a backdrop of lush bushland. And if spotting a kangaroo is on your Aussie bucket list, skip the zoo and head here – chances are you’ll find yourself sunbathing alongside a furry friend or two.

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About the guest author

elin tough woman's day

Elin Tough

Elin Tough is lifestyle editor at Woman's Day, Australia

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