From the crashing waves of Bondi to the soft sands of Manly, these are the best beaches in Sydney for an essential summertime dip
Synonymous with coastal living, salty air and ocean tides, Sydney is Australia's definitive beach capital. The sandy shorelines of the North, East and South meet the bustling urban and quiet suburban landscapes. With over 100 best beaches to choose from, it's hard to decide where to go. Bondi and Manly always come up top trumps, but if you're keen to explore Sydney's lesser known spots, we've selected the most beautiful and best beaches in the city, that should definitely be on your radar this summer.
LOWER NORTH SHORE
Just down the road from the hustle and bustle of Spit Road, Balmoral is the Lower North Shore's coastal oasis. Locals and tourists alike travel down to Balmoral to splash around in the gentle currents of Hunters Bay and the harbourside ocean pools. Come summer, sandcastles and moats pop up around beach umbrellas and the shallow rock pools become exploration sites encounters with marine life. Picnickers and bathers spend lazy days along the grassy area of the promenade with the beautiful Morton Bay Figs providing ample shelter at the southern end of the beach.
The Esplanade, Balmoral
The calm waters of Chowder Bay and open parkland make this one of the best beaches for locals and Sydneysiders alike. Whether you’re here for the water, a barbeque by the harbour or a meandering bushwalk through adjoining Chowder Head and Sydney Harbour National Park – when the sun is out, this is the spot to be for the day.
Morella Road, Mosman
Located a kilometre away from the bustling Balmoral Beach, Chinamans Beach is a beautiful 250m stretch of sand that’s the definition of ‘secluded.’ Once you’re there, you won’t want to leave, so bring snacks, sunscreen and drinks to last the day. The unpatrolled beach is known for its flat water, making it perfect for water sports, while the playground keeps kids entertained between swims.
McLean Crescent, Mosman
Next time you’re heading Vaucluse way, skip the popular Nielsen Park and stop at Parsley Bay instead. This local gem is as pretty as a postcard, with crystal clear water, a waterfall and a wooden bridge harking back to the 1920s. Given its location at the very tip of the Eastern Suburbs, Parsley Bay doesn’t attract the kind of crowds that neighbouring beaches do. It mostly appeals to locals going for their daily dip – and now you can join them!
Parsley Road, Vaucluse
Now, Mackenzie’s Bay isn’t ‘hidden’ as such – it just doesn’t exist most of the time. Let us explain. Usually, this small cove between Bondi and Tamarama Beach is just a rocky bay that attracts surfers, fishermen and a few brave sunbathers. But every few years at the beginning of winter, the bay becomes a beach overnight. Yes, really! It’s a mystery in that no one knows exactly when it will happen, but experts believe it’s due to a special combination of shifting sand and low tide. How cool is that?
Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk, Tamarama
Rugged foreshores, ocean baths and the promenade make Bronte one of the best beach hangout year-round. The parkland that flows up the hill from the beach is a popular gathering spot for locals and visitors alike. Barbeque and picnic facilities, a beautiful playground and a miniature railway for the kids to ride on, all of which is across the road from a cluster of cafés.
East end of Bronte Road, Bronte
Situated between Clovelly and Coogee Beach, Gordons Bay is an aquatic playground only accessible by foot. Talk a stroll down the coastal trail along the boardwalk and as the bush clears you will be treated to a beautiful view of the rugged coastline as it meets the bright, blue water. Popular with divers, underneath the surface lies the Gordons Bay Underwater Nature Trail- perfect for those feeling a bit adventurous.
Major Street, Coogee
Closer to the city, Redleaf Beach provides a coastal escape for Sydney's urban dwellers. Boasting views of Darling Point and the Harbour Bridge, Double Bay's Redleaf Beach is an idyllic setting for beach-goers. At one end of the beach, you have Murray Rose Pool providing a calm ocean swimming enclosure. If you are wanting to take a walk, the wrap-around pontoon will take you closer to the boats and lead you to the café.
536 New South Head Road, Double Bay
If you’re after one of the best beaches scheduled with decent-sized waves, head to Bungan Beach in Newport. Just take your time walking down the steep private driveway (on Myola Road), as that’s the only way in. When you reach the Bungan SLSC clubhouse, you’re there. The beach is only 600m long, but spectacular thanks to the sandstone cliffs that loom on either side. There isn’t much parking around, so carpool if you can and spend the day swimming, snacking and surfing the breaks.
Myola Road, Newport
This is where Sydneysiders come to swim in the waters of Middle Harbour and laze beneath leafy treetops. Families gather along the sandy shores to play in the calm waters, launch their small boats and kayaks or play at the large nautically-themed playground. This is a popular spot to settle in for the day so arrive early to ensure you get a car park.
Sandy Bay Road, Clontarf
One of the best beaches along the Northern Beaches and the birthplace of surfing in Australia (thanks to Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku), Freshwater Beach has an ocean pool at the northern end of the beach, and the adjoining park has a small playground with views over the beach. Freshwater Reserve, just behind the beach, is perfect for social gatherings beneath the trees. This Northern Beaches hideaway is a stunning spot that is protected by headlands and boasts a host of cafés and restaurants a short walk away to keep your visit lively.
Moore Road, Freshwater
The southern end of Palm Beach is a North East facing oasis which is consistently protected by the headland separating it and Whale Beach to the South. The protected southern end also boasts an ocean pool. The Boathouse on the Pittwater side of the peninsula offers the perfect place to refuel and recover.
In the spectacular surrounds of Manly and the Northern Headlands, this beautiful parkland extends from the calm waters of Manly Cove and has everything you need for a quick visit or a whole-day trip. Popular with families, this park has a kiosk, a quiet beach that is suitable for kids, a playground and walks that extends around to Little Manly Point.
Stuart Street, Manly
Tucked away on the harbour side of Manly, Collins Flat Beach is an idyllic spot that offers sprawling skyline views and a ton of privacy. It’s accessible only via water or walking trails, and is the kind of place that prompts Instagram posts captioned with, “How’s the serenity?” And serene it is. The water is calm and shallow, and the beach is quiet most of the time. Our advice? Pack a picnic hamper and head to this one of the best beaches in Sydney with the person you care about most. #romance.
Collins Beach Road, Manly