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Australia's whitest sands

Where is the world's whitest sand? In Australia, of course!


By Simon Webster

There’s something incredibly exotic about a white-sand beach. The first sight of brilliant white, contrasting beautifully with aquamarine waters, is enough to take your breath away.

Australia has more than its fair share of beaches that can claim to be among the whitest on the planet. Here are some of the best – along with science’s verdict on just how white they are.

Marvel at Australia's whitest sands

Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia

Down in Western Australia’s South West corner, Lucky Bay is a stunningly beautiful crescent of white sand and turquoise water, sitting untouched within the protection of Cape Le Grand National Park. Views of the islands of the Recherche Archipelago, and sharing the beach with sunbaking kangaroos, make a trip to Lucky Bay an unforgettable experience. 

And visitors can claim with some authority that they’ve stood on the whitest sand in Australia. When soil scientist Noel Schoknecht set out – initially for a bit of fun – to discover the nation’s whitest sand in 2006 (and again in 2007, following a challenge from Queensland), Lucky Bay came out number one both times. 

“In reality, any of the beaches in this area could have been winners – Hellfire Bay, Thistle Cove and Wharton Beach (just to name a few) are all magnificently white,” Schoknecht writes.

Hyams Beach, New South Wales

Hyams Beach (a three hour drive south of Sydney, in the Shoalhaven region) is often cited as having the whitest sand in the world – although this is hotly contested.

Whatever the case, when you arrive at Hyams you’ll see there’s something undeniably special about this place. After a swim in the gentle, protected waters of the area (home to lots of dolphins), you may wish to  join a dolphin cruise, take a bushwalk, have a snorkel at neighbouring Murrays Beach – also home to blindingly white sand – and grab a bite to eat at Hyams Beach Store & Cafe.

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Queensland

Another iconic Aussie beach that perennially appears on world’s-whitest-sand lists is Whitehaven Beach, on Whitehaven Island, the largest of Queensland’s amazing tropical Whitsunday Islands. So stunning is this seven kilometres (4.3 miles) of blindingly white, pure silica sand, that Whitehaven was recently voted number two among the World’s 50 Best Beaches

You can get there by seaplane or boat from Airlie Beach on the mainland, or from Hamilton Island. Or charter your own yacht for a few days and drop anchor at Whitehaven in style.

Elsewhere in Queensland, a relatively unsung beach that performed surprisingly well in the whitest-sand study (coming second only to the beaches of Cape Le Grand) was Tallebudgera Creek Beach, tucked away between Palm Beach and Burleigh Heads National Park on the Gold Coast. The swimming is very family-friendly and the water perfectly clear.

More pristine white sand

You don’t have to go to the tropics, or even the subtropics, to find beach bliss. Australia’s southern states are also capable of producing whiter-than-white sand. You need a pristine environment, a good distance from rivers (which deliver brown clay contaminants) and the right geology, says Schoknecht.

Tasmania comes up trumps with several beaches on its east coast (including Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park), as well as the largely unheralded Boat Harbour in the north-west of the island, recently voted among Australia’s top 10 beaches

Meanwhile, at Victoria’s Wilsons Promontory, the southernmost spot on the Australian mainland, you’ll find Squeaky Beach, named for the noise that the sand makes underfoot.

Like many white sand beaches, Squeaky Beach is made of quartz (which is rounded) rather than shells (which have sharp edges). Hence the squeak, or so the theory goes. Yet another reason to visit some of the world’s whitest beaches.

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