Sydney's Best Beaches
The Land Down Under is known for its pristine beaches and laid back, surfer lifestyle, so of course when you visit you have to check out at least a handful of the most popular ones. The focus here is Sydney; from the most popular of locations, like the iconic Bondi Beach, to some better kept secrets, like Shelly Beach, where you can enjoy a day of pure relaxation.
1. Bondi Beach
Naturally Bondi Beach is number one on our list, as it’s the most popular and most-visited beach in all of Australia. The crescent-shaped, white sand beach offers some of the best surf, unreal views of the iconic Bondi Icebergs, and a neighbourhood of great hole-in-the-wall boutiques and eats.
When visiting Bondi, we recommend getting there early so you can get a spot on the beach. From the sun-soaked sand, you’ll be able to watch the locals ripping through waves and see humpback whales swimming past during the annual whale migration (May – Octoberish).
Aside from soaking in the sun and getting in some quality swim time in the bright blue ocean, you should also take some time to explore the Bondi neighbourhood. For starters, take a long stroll along the entry way of the beach and snap photos of the never-ending wall of murals and street art. Then head out past the beach and shop around the stores and restaurants for a real taste of Bondi’s artistic culture.
You can – and should – spend a whole day here. From a coastal walk that connects Bondi and Coogee (another of our top-rated beaches), to dinner on the water at North Bondi Fish, you’re in for an awesome time at Australia’s most renowned beach.
Coogee is another great spot adored by visitors and locals alike. You can walk here all the way from Bondi’s coast, or you can hop on the bus and zip outside the city centre to experience these relaxing vibes.
The beach town is one of the oldest in Sydney, with the only remaining lady's-only ocean baths in the entire country. These baths are small natural pools that sit on the edge of the water, protected by rocks and sand walls. Wylie’s Bath and McIver’s Bath sit right on Coogee’s headlands and offer great views of the entire ocean.
Coogee is also a great place to snorkel and surf. Sign up for a surf lesson or bring your own snorkel gear and get to know what’s underneath the bright blue waters. The entire beach is lifeguard-patrolled too, so it’s the perfect place for the whole family to take a dip.
3. Manly and Shelly Beaches
For the young, hip and carefree (or footloose and fancy free), Manly beach is the ideal destination. Manly is a suburb just outside of Sydney that’s easily accessible by the famous Manly Ferry - the views from the ferry are worth it alone.
Manly Beach was the site of the first-ever World Surfing Championship in 1964, and it hasn’t lost any of its surfer charm since then. You’ll still see locals tearing up the waves amongst the divers and snorkelers.
At the northern end you’ll find the Queenscliff headland, an area that boasts an off-shore, submerged reef that creates a natural wave pool – perfect for surfing. On the other end, you’ll find Shelly Beach, a sheltered area where you can snorkel, swim, and enjoy a barbecue in the park.
After a day at the beach, make sure to walk around the town too. Manly is somewhat of a mini-Sydney, with a vibrant buzz and plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants to visit.
Bondi's little sister! Just like the other beaches, Bronte has great eating spots that you can enjoy while soaking in the sun. This stretch of beach is only a stones throw from Bondi, so it’s easy to do both in one day.
Bronte’s rocky coast makes for great views and equally great surf, but even better, it forms the perfect natural ocean pool. The small pool sits right on the lip of the beach and stays relatively shallow.
5. Gordon's Bay
For those looking for a calmer piece of the big blue ocean, try Gordon’s Bay. This teal-coloured oasis is tucked between Clovelly and Coogee and is home to a 1,640-foot underwater trail.
This natural underwater trail is perfect to follow on a snorkelling expedition. It will guide you past reefs, sand flats, and kelp forests. The shallow, clear waters make it the perfect place to splash about for swimmers of all skill levels.
The bay is predominantly surrounded by rock, so take your pick and set up shop on one of the many options – it’s the perfect spot for sunbathing. After your day at the bay, explore the surrounding suburb and grab a bite to eat nearby in Clovelly.