Although we’ll forgive you for sprinting off the plane and making straight for Bondi Beach, remember, Sydney is home to over 100 beaches (the show-offs!). This means it’s definitely worth conducting a little recce to make sure you find the place that really speaks to your inner swimmer/sunbather. Plus, trust us – there’s hunky lifeguards all over Sydney, not just at Bondi! Here is our guide to the best beaches in Sydney…
BEST FOR SWIMMING…
Bronte Beach, located around the headland from Bondi, has something to offer all types of beach lover, whether you want to dodge the waves, lounge around in the rock pool, or bash out some lengths at Bronte Baths.
TRANSPORT: Catch the 378 from Central Station, or get a train to Bondi Junction, and hop on the 360 or the 361.
With its gentle currents, and enclosed swimming areas, Balmoral Beach, and its surrounding parklands are a relaxing choice. It’s great for sailing, kayaking, and stand up paddleboarding, and just around the corner is Little Sirius Cove, one of Sydney’s best secret beaches.
TRANSPORT: Catch the ferry to Taronga Zoo then get the 225 or the 226.
At Redleaf Beach close to Double Bay you’ll find Murray Rose Pool, a netted area surrounded by a raised boardwalk, which works wonderfully as a launch pad for perfecting your ‘bombing’ technique. There’s also a floating pontoon to commandeer.
TRANSPORT: From Circular Quay jump on a ferry to Double Bay, and the beach is short stroll from the dock.
BEST FOR SURFING…
Known as ‘bra’ to the experienced surfer dudes that frequent this patch, Maroubra is one of Sydney’s best breaks. This is a destination for those who know what they’re doing…or for people who enjoy watching those that know what they’re doing ;-).
TRANSPORT: Flag down the 316, 317, or 353 from outside Bondi Junction.
Nestled between Bondi and Bronte, this tropical beach attracts fewer tourists, so is far preferable to surfers not down with competing for waves with every backpacker in Sydney. Beware of rips, especially at the western end of the beach.
TRANSPORT: Catch the 361 from Bondi Junction.
Any self-respecting tourist should have Manly jotted down on their Sydney to-do list in permanent ink. Not only is the ferry ride a sightseers delight, but the beach is known for its excellent waves.
TRANSPORT: Hop on the ferry from Circular Quay, and you’ll be in Manly in 30 minutes.
Freshwater Beach, north of Manly, is officially recognised as the birthplace of surfing in Australia. It was on these very sands that an enthralled crowd watched as Hawaiian tourist, Duke Kahanamoku, fashioned something resembling a board out of local timber, and showcased his best tricks back in 1915.
TRANSPORT: Catch the 136 from Manly Wharf bus stop.
Curl Curl Beach
Averaging 1.6m waves, Curl Curl is a firm fave with Sydney’s surf gang. The 1.2km beach is divided into North and South Curl Curl, both are popular with swimmers, as is the lagoon you’ll find in the north, which spills out into the ocean.
TRANSPORT: Take the 139 or the 159 from Manly Wharf.
BEST FOR PEACE AND QUIET…
Hire a kayak in Manly, and paddle around to Store Beach, which is only accessible by boat. Keep your eyes peeled for the adorable fairy penguins that knock around these parts.
TRANSPORT: Catch the ferry to Manly, hire a kayak, and paddle away.
Earn your dip with a stroll south along the promenade from Manly to this quiet cove. Take a dip in calm waters, or pack your snorkel and flippers, and go in search of exotic fish.
TRANSPORT: Follow the promenade north from Manly Beach.
Forty Baskets Beach
For lovely views, gentle waters and bags of lounging room on shaded grassy lawns, enjoy a peaceful day at Forty Baskets Beach, one of Manly’s best-kept secrets.
TRANSPORT: Follow the Manly to Spit scenic walk.
FOR THE BEST VIEWS…
Here’s another for those in search of the perfect photo op! Camp Cove, at the mouth of the harbour, is an ideal place to watch the sunset over the water. With the Tasman Sea in one direction, and the city skyline in the other, you’ll be spoilt for Instagram fodder.
TRANSPORT: Catch a ferry from Circular Key to Watson’s Bay, and from there it’s just a short walk.
Milk Beach is known for its incredible views of the Harbour Bridge, and Opera House. Although it can get busy in summer (especially if hosting one of many banging parties), usually you’ll only need to compete for space with the kayakers who stop here for lunch.
TRANSPORT: Hop on the 324, the L24 or the 325 from the city, and get off when you reach Strickland House in Vaucluse.
Completely protected from the elements and with some of the city’s clearest water, Gordon’s Bay in between Coogee Beach and Clovelly Beach (another great snorkel spot), is a must for underwater explorers. Take a picnic up to the rocks, and enjoy views of the rugged coastline.
TRANSPORT: Take the 362 from Bondi Junction, or the 339 from Central.
This peaceful bay, just around the corner from the mayhem of Maroubra, is protected from surf and wind, making it ideal for an afternoon of relaxed snorkelling.
TRANSPORT: From Circular Quay, hop on the 394, the L94, or the 399.