Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo Island, South Australia © Jess Caldwell
The best beaches in Australia
Bright blue waters, soft sand and incredible surf are just a few things you’ll enjoy at any one of Australia’s most iconic beaches.
By Amy Fraser
Beaches are a favourite Australian pastime. Whether it’s a game of cricket, an early-morning surf or a lie in the sunshine, beach culture truly encapsulates the 'no worries' attitude that defines so much of Australia. The beach is a place that exudes calm and relaxation, and with so much coastline to go around, it’s not hard to find a quiet space of sand all to yourself.
Vivonne Bay Beach
Great for: Natural beauty and local wildlife
South Australia’s Kangaroo Island is enveloped by picture-perfect beaches, with Vivonne Bay Beach often dubbed the most beautiful. There’s not a lot around this beach – but that’s what makes it so special. Picture an immaculate stretch of sand, crystal-clear waters home to playful seals and dolphins, and miles of unspoiled bush known as the Vivonne Bay Conservation Park.
Explore Kangaroo Island
Great for: Incredible photo opportunities and Great Barrier Reef marine life
Perhaps the most famous of Queensland’s spectacular beaches is Whitehaven, and it’s no mystery why. Located in the breathtaking Whitsunday Islands, the sand seems impossibly white as it swirls together with pristine turquoise water. Visit the beach during a variety of Whitsunday cruises, or stay on Hamilton Island and take the 30-minute boat ride.
Get to know the Whitsundays
Great for: Testing your surfing abilities (or watching the pros)
If you’re driving Victoria’s striking Great Ocean Road, you’ll pass one of the state’s best surf beaches. Bells Beach, located 1.5 hours from Melbourne, is the arena for the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, which draws some of the most impressive surfers from around the world. The beach is enveloped by rock cliffs, giving visitors a sweeping view of the sand below.
Explore the Great Ocean Road
Great for: Spectacular lookouts and wild beauty
Wineglass Bay is one of Tasmania’s most notable beaches. Located about 2.5 hours from Hobart among the wild beauty of Freycinet National Park, Wineglass Bay is a perfectly curved expanse of white sand bordered by incredibly clear blue water. Although you can walk to the beach itself, one of the most beautiful ways to enjoy the beach is from a lookout above the bay. Set off on the three-kilometre (1.9-mile) return hike from the Wineglass Bay car park to see the vibrant colours from a new perspective.
Read our Guide to Freycinet
Great for: Coastal lifestyle alongside big city culture
You can’t go to Sydney without experiencing the buzz of Bondi Beach. Stretch out on the iconic sun-drenched sand, try a surf lesson in the waves or take a dip at the picturesque Icebergs ocean pool. Not into ocean activities? Don’t sweat – there’s no shortage of boutique shops and oceanside dining in Bondi.
Find out more about Bondi Beach
Great for: Camel rides and magical sunsets
The iconic Cable Beach is located in Broome, on the northern border of Western Australia. This beach is famous for its 22 kilometres (14 miles) of soft white sand, where visitors can enjoy serene surrounds, calm blue water and show-stopper sunsets. Soak up the golden glow on a camel train, where you’ll traverse the beach on the back of a camel during sunset.
Great for: Laid-back family fun in the sun
The Gold Coast, just over an hour south of Brisbane, is another Aussie city known for its unbeatable beaches. Perched next to the bustling Surfers Paradise sits Burleigh Heads Beach, or ‘Burleigh’ to the locals. A haven for surf, sunshine and good vibes, Burleigh combines Byron Bay’s bohemian vibes with the essence of chic city life. Enjoy its shaded foreshore lined with towering pine trees for a barbeque or picnic, oceanfront dining and a leisurely market stroll.
Discover the Gold Coast
Great for: White sands and frolicking dolphins
When it comes to secluded, sugar-white sand beaches, Jervis Bay holds the crown of the New South Wales south coast. If you thought the Whitsundays was beautiful, wait until you lay your eyes on the remarkably white sand of Hyams Beach. This patch of paradise is where pristine ocean, vivid national park and native Australian wildlife meet.
Read our Guide to Jervis Bay
Great for: Australia's iconic sunbathing kangaroos
If your idea of a beach day involves hanging out with laid-back kangaroos on dazzling white sand, then Lucky Bay’s name rings true for you. Down in Western Australia’s southwest corner, Lucky Bay is a beautiful crescent of white sand and turquoise water, sitting untouched within the protection of Cape Le Grand National Park. Views of the Recherche Archipelago islands and sharing the beach with sunbaking kangaroos make a trip to Lucky Bay an unforgettable experience.
Discover more about Esperance
Great for: Vibrant markets and colourful sunsets
Mindil Beach, located in the Northern Territory’s Darwin, is much more than just a beach. Swimming isn’t recommended, but the beach festivities more than make up for it. There’s always something going on – whether it’s fun runs, festivals or the beloved Mindil Beach Sunset Markets where you’ll find flavoursome food in abundance.
Find out more about Darwin
Great for: Beachside dining and exciting watersports
While many of Western Australia’s most impressive beaches lie in remote locations, you’ll find one of the state’s best just a 30-minute drive from Perth. Cottesloe Beach is a long-standing favourite spot for both locals and visitors. This sparkling stretch of pure white sand plays host to art exhibitions – including the annual Sculpture by the Sea – exciting surf, family-friendly cycling trails and delicious eateries. Good vibes aren’t hard to come by at Cottesloe.
Read our Guide to Perth