Bright blue waters, soft sand and incredible surf are just a few things you’ll enjoy at any one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches.
Beaches are a favourite Australian pastime. Whether it’s a game of cricket, an early-morning surf or a lie in the sunshine, beaches play a huge role in the Australian way of life. And with so much coastline to go around, it’s not hard to find a quiet space of sand all to yourself.
From the turquoise seas of Whitehaven to the umbrella-dotted sands of Bondi, here are some of the country’s most breathtaking beaches.
Beaches near Perth
While many of Western Australia’s most impressive beaches lie in remote locations, you’ll find one of the state’s best beach attractions just a 30-minute drive from Perth. A favourite for both locals and visitors, Cottesloe Beach is divided into three sections. The main area of Cottesloe Beach is perfect for swimming and walking, while North Cottesloe Beach is home to Peter’s Pool - a great spot for snorkelling. South Cottesloe doesn’t have any sand for sunbathers, but it does have amazing waves for local surfers.
Down in Western Australia’s southwest 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.
In Broome, located on the northern border of Western Australia, you’ll find Cable Beach. This beach is famous for its 22 kilometres (14 miles) of soft white sand, where visitors can enjoy the serene surrounds and calm blue water. Cable Beach is also known for its camel trains, where guests traverse the beach on the backs of camels for a memorable way to watch one of Western Australia’s epic sunsets.
Beaches near Darwin
East Point Reserve
The Northern Territory is known for its remarkable red dirt, but it also boasts some beautiful beaches. While many of the state’s beaches aren’t recommended for swimming because of their marine life, you’ll find a lovely saltwater lake at East Point Reserve, located just 15 minutes from Darwin. Lake Alexander is a popular spot for paddleboarding and swimming as well as beachside yoga and reading. Nearby, you’ll find a paved nature walk that takes you along the coastal cliffs.
Also near Darwin is Mindil Beach. Although swimming isn’t recommended, the beach is still well worth a visit because of the festivities that happen along its shores during the dry season. At the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, you’ll find food from all over the world as well as an incredible view of the town’s famous sunsets. If you need to cool off, visit Darwin’s Waterfront Precinct. Located just a five-minute walk from the city centre, you’ll find a man-made lagoon for children, a popular wave pool, a saltwater beach and several great eateries.
On the opposite side of Darwin’s harbour, you’ll find Wagait Beach. The quiet, secluded beach is often considered one of Darwin’s local secrets, offering stretches of sand and green forest walks. Wagait Beach is a 90-minute drive or 15-minute ferry from Darwin.
Beaches near Adelaide
As the coastal capital of South Australia, Adelaide is home to several metropolitan beaches. Henley Beach, home to white sand and gentle surf, is popular among locals and visitors. Walk along the jetty out to sea, or stop by one of the many bars and restaurants along the shore to taste local wine and beer.
Glenelg is perhaps Adelaide’s favourite family-friendly beach. Here, you’ll find a tree-lined beach with calm, blue waters. Take a walk down the nearby Jetty Road to find busy cafes and bustling shops.
If you’re keen to get out of the city, don’t miss the incredible experiences at Stokes Bay on Kangaroo Island, about 3.5 hours from Adelaide. Stokes Bay Beach may have an unusual entrance through a natural rock tunnel, but visitors are rewarded with a secluded stretch of stunning white sand. But the scenery isn’t all you’ll enjoy at Stokes Bay. Atop the grassy cliff, you’ll often find kangaroos enjoying a meal. Stay at the Waves & Wildlife Cottages to see native wildlife right outside your door.
Gunyah Beach, located on the Eyre Peninsula, is known for its spectacular surfing, showcasing some of Australia’s biggest rips. But the surf isn’t the only thing that makes this beach famous. Just off the beach lies the amazing Gunyah sand dunes, which stretch as far as you can see.
Near the relaxed wine country of McLaren Vale you’ll find beaches that seem to stretch forever. Spend a morning at Sellicks Beach where you can swim, surf and fish. Or take a drive over to Goolwa Beach to spot dolphins from the sand, cast a line out in the water or dig for cockles with your feet.
Beaches near Cairns
Perhaps the most famous is Whitehaven Beach, 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.
About 1.5 hours south of the Whitsundays lies a beach with bountiful wildlife. Cape Hillsborough plays host to kangaroos and wallabies each day at sunrise, when the sand reflects the golden sky. Wake up early and bring your camera to capture the spectacle.
Beaches near Brisbane
Drive just two hours north from Brisbane and you’ll stumble upon Noosa, a sleepy seaside town with impeccable beaches. Visit Noosa Main Beach for calm waves and beautiful blue water. Sunshine Beach offers 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) of open beach bordered by tropical palm trees.
Burleigh Heads Beach
The Gold Coast, just over an hour south of Brisbane, is another hot spot for beautiful beaches. Burleigh Heads Beach, simply called Burleigh by the locals, is a favourite for a surf, swim and barbecue. Find calm, sheltered waters just out from the sand, or great surf waves when you move to the other side of the seaside cliffs. Step off the sand to find a shady spot for a picnic or barbecue.
For a beach experience of the adventurous sort, start off in Noosa and spend four days on The Great Beach Drive. Along the way you will take your 4WD on the sands of Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island as you spot whales, dolphins and even dingoes en route.
Beaches near Sydney
Thousands of people soak up Sydney’s beaches every year, but there’s more to explore than the big name beaches of Manly and Bondi. Manly Beach’s lesser-known neighbour, Shelly Beach, is not only great for surfing but also snorkelling and scuba diving. The shallow marine reserve offers sheltered water perfect for families as well. After your swim, take the easy track up the headland for scenic views out to the ocean. Alternatively, grab a bite to eat at The Boathouse Shelly Beach, one of the area’s buzzy cafes.
Drive along the coast north from Sydney and you’ll find a chain of beaches aptly named the Northern Beaches. Palm Beach, located just over an hour from Sydney, is known for its clean golden sand and great bush walks. Beyond the beach, you can play a few holes at Palm Beach Golf Club, take a Hidden Treasures cultural tour or dine at acclaimed restaurants like Jonah’s.
In New South Wales’ beachy city of Byron Bay, you’ll find several world-class beaches. Main Beach stretches straight out from the town, offering soft golden sand and crystal clear water. Other local favourites include Wategos Beach and Seven Mile Beach.
If you’re headed south along the stunning Grand Pacific Drive, don’t miss Coalcliff Beach in Wollongong, less than two hours from Sydney. Surrounded by rocks and cliffs, the beach is a great spot for swimming, surfing and fishing. Head to the southern tip of the beach to find a calm saltwater pool perfect for a relaxing dip. Coalcliff faces east, so arrive at sunrise to witness some spectacular colours reflected on the water.
Beaches near Canberra
Because the ACT is landlocked, it doesn’t have any ocean beaches. However, you don’t have to go far to find a stretch of sand by the sea. Head to the Jervis Bay region of the South Coast, located in New South Wales about 2.5 hours from Canberra, for countless beautiful beaches. One of these is Pretty Beach. With glassy water and lush greenery, its name is well-deserved. You may even spot friendly kangaroos sharing the sand.
South Broulee Beach
Huskisson is also a frequented area where you can find stunning white sand beaches perfect for spotting dolphins from shore. South Broulee Beach offers nearby sand dunes that are great for a picnic, while Guerilla Bay provides sheltered waters, dramatic rock cliffs and a secluded spot of sand.
Beaches near Melbourne
Victoria offers expanses of wilderness to explore, but one of the state’s best beaches is just 30 minutes south of Melbourne. On Brighton Beach, you’ll savour the soft golden sand and calm ocean water, as well as the exceptionally photogenic bathing boxes. Over 80 small, colourful wooden structures line the foreshore, making Brighton Beach one of Australia’s most charming.
Further from the city, escape to secluded beaches in Gippsland, a region in southeast Victoria boasting forests, mountains, rivers and villages. One of the most stunning beaches in Gippsland is Ninety Mile Beach, a 145-kilometre (90-mile) stretch of sand that separates the Gippsland Lakes from the Bass Strait. Meander down the coastline, keeping an eye out for dolphins and whales that may pass by.
If you’re driving Victoria’s striking Great Ocean Road, you’ll pass one of the state’s best surf beaches. Bells Beach, located an hour and a half 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.
Beaches near Hobart
Seven Mile Beach
Tasmania is renowned for its jaw-dropping nature, including some exceptional beaches. Just 20 minutes from Hobart lies Seven Mile Beach, a long crescent of sand dotted with hills, pine forests and luxe resorts. Take a dip on the beach’s western end, or embark on a bushwalk across the headland.
Wineglass Bay is one of Tasmania’s most famous beaches, and it won’t take long for you to discover why. 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 3-kilometre (1.9-mile) return hike from the Wineglass Bay carpark to see the vibrant colours from a new perspective.
Bay of Fires
Some of the most unique beaches you’ll find in Australia lie within Tasmania’s Bay of Fires, located a 2.5-hour drive from Launceston. Famous for its brilliant white beaches, turquoise water and bright orange rocks, the Bay of Fires is as stunning as it is secluded. Nearly 30 kilometres (18 miles) of white sand stretches the coast. Head to Binalong Bay to dive into the crystal sea.