Boiling Pot Lookout, Noosa, Queensland © Tourism & Events Queensland
Australia’s best beach holiday destinations
Not every stretch of sand is the same in Australia. Discover the different ways you can experience Australian beach culture at these incredible beach holiday destinations.
By Amy Fraser
A beach holiday in Australia isn’t just about sand and sea. It’s also about embracing the local lifestyle and its unique beach culture – which can greatly differ across the country. From bustling cities to quaint beach shacks, sunrise yoga to major festivals, every beach getaway here has a vibe of its own. And with over 12,000 beaches on offer, you’ll have no trouble finding one that speaks to you.
The Gold Coast
Great for: Surfing and dining with awe-inspiring views
The Gold Coast’s 70km (44mi) of sun-drenched coastline is a mecca for surfing. From Burleigh’s beginner-friendly waves to the gnarly swell that hits Snapper Rocks, if there’s ever a place to pick up a board, this is it. But it’s not all about surfing in the ‘Goldie’ (as it’s affectionately called by locals) – dotted along these golden beaches are a host of hip restaurants and bars that offer sweeping views of the ocean. Don’t miss the renowned Rick Shores, the family-friendly Currumbin Beach Vikings Surf Life Saving Club or Surfers Paradise’s sophisticated Seascape.
Great for: Powder white sands and playful marine life
This small town on Australia’s east coast shines just as bright as its powdery white sand. In Jervis Bay, you’ll find some of the country’s most picturesque beaches, many featuring more wildlife than people. From the Instagrammable Hyams to the hidden pockets of Booderee National Park, there’s an idyllic spot for everyone here. When you’re not kicking back, join a dolphin cruise to meet the town’s friendly marine life including dolphins, turtles, fairy penguins and, in season, whales.
Great for: Cool-climate wines and incredible diving
The Mornington Peninsula’s beaches are a showy bunch, thanks to a rainbow of beach huts (and the colourful locals who own them) peppered along the sand. Under the ocean, things get even better. Mornington boasts some of the best diving sites in the country, putting you up-close to rare leafy sea dragons, seahorses, stingrays and puffer fish. But what the region’s beaches all have in common is their proximity to Mornington’s luxuries; known for its impressive collection of vineyards and breweries, you’re never too far away from a sip of cool-climate wine at a picturesque vineyard.
Great for: Easy access to the reef and rainforest
This tropical town isn’t your average beach destination. While your first impression might be the beautiful palm-fringed coastline, there’s even more to Port Douglas than you might think. It’s here where two UNESCO World Heritage sites meet: the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Barrier Reef. With picture-perfect beaches and bucket list experiences in literally every direction, Port Douglas has well and truly earned its reputation as one of the best beach holiday destinations in Australia.
Great for: Gourmet food and wine and outdoor adventures
Margaret River has it all: exciting outdoor adventures, an epicurean food and wine scene and a coastline that’ll dazzle even the most seasoned travellers. The region’s beaches are just as diverse. Explore the family-friendly Busselton foreshore and jetty, surf the same waves as pro surfers, or leap into the ocean on a canyoning adventure. If you prefer ocean views over watersports, lace up your hiking boots to traverse the Cape to Cape Walk or spot marine life from Busselton Jetty’s observatory. There’s no denying it – Margaret River’s charm is infinite.
Great for: Wellness experiences and trendy town vibes
Byron Bay has a perfect balance of laid-back beaches and chic restaurants, bars and shops. Its coastline, laced with breathtaking beaches and wellness experiences galore, makes it easy enough to switch off and find your own pocket of stillness in the day. Breathe deeply at a sunrise yoga class, surf crystal clear waves and find your zen after walking the palm-fringed coastal path. Come evening, Byron’s trendy restaurants and live music bars are the perfect place to hang out and soak in that relaxed holiday lifestyle.
Great for: Epic adventures and off-the-beaten-path escapes
Leave busy behind. At beaches all along the Eyre Peninsula, the only footprints you’re likely to see in the sand are your own. Every inch of this coastline is nothing short of breathtaking, and if you’re not hopping along the endless string of beaches, you might find yourself cage diving with great white sharks, snorkelling with adorable sea lions, spotting kangaroos from your campsite or cruising along a deserted beach in a 4WD.
Great for: Natural beauty and wildlife
If you’re looking for a beach holiday that’s a little (or a lot) off the beaten track, don’t miss Esperance. The region’s white-sand beaches are just as hypnotic as its striking pink lakes and jaw-dropping national parks. But one of Esperance’s most iconic draw cards sits on the outskirts of Cape Le Grand National Park. Camp or day-trip to Lucky Bay to spot kangaroos lazing on the beach next to the impossibly bright turquoise waters. This only-in-Australia moment is truly one for the memory book.
Great for: An urban beach holiday
Sydney serves up the best of both worlds on a beautiful blue platter; one minute you can be enjoying bustling city attractions and the next you’re stepping foot on a dazzling beach. There are over 100 beaches in Sydney, each with their fair share of ocean-loving residents, unique charm and daily activities – which are best experienced by mingling with friendly locals. In Bondi, join the crew for a sunrise surf or a coastal run; over in Manly, try an ocean swim from Shelly Beach; or at the family-friendly Balmoral, take a dip in the calm harbour-side ocean – all followed by an Aussie coffee of course.
Great for: a cold one at the local surf club
The easy going lifestyle rings true in Noosa, a quintessential beach town that’s surrounded by lush national park, beautiful lakes and an ocean lined with surf breaks. Families will love spotting wild koalas in the hinterland, watching an impressive number of longboarders (and their dogs) ride waves at the Noosa Surfing Festival, and perusing the quaint town centre which, at nightfall, is adorned with twinkling fairy lights. At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with a cold drink and an epic view at the local surf club.