Discover some of Sydney’s 70 sparkling beaches, from secluded bays to world-famous strips of sand.
Sydney’s beaches will be beckoning before you even land in Botany. You might see them flying in – a long, golden chain split across both sides of the harbour and fringed by green bush and sea. Or the welcome video on the plane might start famous images of Bondi Beach repeating in your head. If you’re an avid surfer, sun-worshipper or just love the sea, you’ll be itching to get onto the waves, smelling the salt air or nestled nicely on the sand.
It’s no wonder they’re calling to you. Sydney has more than 70 sparkling beaches, from secluded bays backed by bush and national park to world-famous strips of sand. What’s more, they are all within easy reach of Sydney’s harbourside heart.
If you want to start with the most iconic, jump on the bus to Bondi Beach, where surfers, hippies, families and local and international tourists converge. Swim or run along the kilometre of golden grains and brave the breaks with a surf school. Watch the passing talent on the promenade or sip a sunset cocktail above the Icebergs rock pool.
You can add crashing waves and fine salt spray to your water views on the winding Bondi to Bronte walk. These chiselled sandstone cliffs become the backdrop for the Sculptures by the Sea exhibition in late October. Walk them to Tamarama (nicknamed Glamarama by the locals for the beautiful bodies it attracts) and family-friendly Bronte. Further along the coast you’ll find the snorkelling havens of Clovelly and Mediterranean-looking Gordon’s Bay, calm Coogee bustling with backpackers and Maroubra with its huge waves.
Complete your tour of Sydney’s eastern beaches with a trip to Watsons Bay, Australia’s oldest fishing village at the southern entrance to Sydney Harbour. The views on the dramatic, cliff-hugging drive there are worth it alone. Eat fish and chips from Sydney’s most famous seafood restaurant, take in the Tasman Sea on a walk past lighthouses and The Gap and swim at small, secluded coves.
When you’re ready to head north of the harbour, hop on a ferry or Jetcat to Manly and see why it’s a Sydneysider’s favourite. Meander through native bushland on the Manly to Spit Bridge walk and ride a bike to Fairy Bower. Swim at the ocean surf beaches or in the tranquil inner harbour. Snorkel at tiny Shelly Beach and watch colourful lorikeets fill the Norfolk Pines at dusk. Manly also has great shops and a dining scene that takes the taste buds on a world tour.
From Manly, local buses take you to the northern beaches of Curl Curl, Dee Why, Narrabeen, Mona Vale, Newport and Avalon - all famous for their laidback lifestyle and surf. Eventually you'll reach Palm Beach, a long and beautiful strip of sand edging onto a golf course, lush bushland and dunes.
Many beaches edge onto harbour waters, but the most popular of them all is gorgeous Balmoral. Strung with cafes and a couple of fine restaurants, Balmoral is a trendy and scenic north-shore suburb with a resident flock of sulphur-crested cockatoos.
If you’re tired of rolling waves, Sydney’s saltwater pools and netted enclosures are the quiet alternatives. They’re perfect for family fun with small children, lap swimming or just floating on your back and looking at the sky. You’ll find some washed by ocean waves, some hugging the harbour and some with million-dollar city views.
You can see why Sydney’s beaches are too seductive to resist.