Sydney is known for its numerous beautiful beaches, golden sand, and watersport activities.
The Harbour City boasts a royal national park system, a national surfing reserve, and some of the best beaches in all of Australia.
No matter what kind of activity you’re looking for, Sydney has a beach for you.
From hitting a golf course and playing beach volleyball to checking out sea creatures and sitting under a beach umbrella with a cold drink, there’s something for everyone in Sydney.
16 Top-Rated Beaches in Sydney, Australia
1. Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach is one of the two best beaches in Sydney and gets its name from an aboriginal word meaning “noise of water breaking over rocks.”
Pretty much anyone who visits or lives in Sydney visits this beach, as it’s one of the best in Sydney.
One big attraction here is the Bondi Bath at Icebergs, which is a 50-meter Olympic swimming pool right on the oceanfront. The facility also has a pool for children, a small museum, and a restaurant and bar.
Also, market stalls, restaurants, and attractions line the beach, so even if you need a break from the sun, you’ll have something to do.
It takes around 15 minutes to drive to Bondi from the city center, but you can also stay in apartments or studios right on the coastline.
2. Manly Beach
Next to the famous Bondi Beach, Manly Beach is Sydney’s second most frequented beach. The best way to get there is by taking a ferry from Circular Quay, which is also a great way to take in Sydney Harbour.
Manly Beach has two beach fronts. One is a calm-water beach with a netted area for kids to swim in, and the other is a rougher beach with consistent swells that are perfect for surfers.
Additionally, Manly Beach is one of the more famous surfing beaches, and you can rent surfboards or enroll in surf schools while you’re there.
Manly is also home to the Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, which on its own is worth a visit. Aside from that, you can find many shops, cafes, restaurants, and activities right along the beach.
3. Palm Beach
Palm Beach is one of the best northern beaches in Sydney because there’s never a shortage of activities since on each side of the peninsula, you can get a different beach experience.
Station Beach, a small beach facing Pittwater on the southern end, has calm waters, making it an excellent picnic spot, and has a large ocean pool. The north end of Palm Beach facing the ocean is a fantastic surfing beach with stronger waves and currents than Station Beach.
Additionally, the Palm Beach Wharf is an excellent place for fishers to cast a line. Or, you can hike up to the lighthouse on Barrenjoey Head.
Furthermore, the peninsula is home to one of the most famous suburbs in New South Wales. So, outside the beach, the suburb areas are a little more affluent than on other beaches and have fantastic cafes and shops.
4. Shelly Beach
This tucked-away beach forms part of the Cabbage Tree Bay and is the perfect escape from the busier beach at Manly. The calm waters of Shelly Beach are a favorite spot for scuba divers and snorkelers since they can head right out from the sands.
Also, Shelly Beach is part of an aquatic preserve and is a protective zone for many species of marine life. So, while scuba diving, you can view sharks, wobbegongs, cuttlefish, and sea dragons darting through the seagrass.
A part of the Manly Scenic Walkway, Shelly Beach is an excellent place for hikers and beach explorers to start their journey. On top of that, the picturesque Shelly Beach has an excellent viewpoint for sunsets.
While you’re here, you can also check out the famous Boathouse Shelly Beach, which is a upscale restaurant that overlooks the bay.
5. Bronte Beach
Bronte Beach is only a kilometer away from Bondi Beach but is almost always less crowded. The rough surf makes it a surfer paradise, but there are also plenty of other options for beachgoers to enjoy.
For example, the Bronte Baths is a 30-meter saltwater pool available to the public, plus the beach has a few rock pools near the baths. Bronte Beach also has plenty of grassy areas with gazebos for visitors to sit and relax.
6. Coogee Beach
Coogee Beach is one of the most frequented South Sydney beaches and is an excellent stop for swimmers. Wedding Cake Island shields the beach from most of the rougher surf and currents you would normally expect in the area, keeping the water calm and reasonably safe.
The McIver’s Baths, dating back to 1886, are the only saltwater pools in Australia exclusively reserved for women and children. You can also pay a small admission to get into the Wylie’s Baths tidal pools.
Coogee Beach is also on the Bondi to Coogee walk, a popular hiking trail between Bondi and Coogee beaches.
7. Balmoral Beach
Balmoral Beach is a calm-water area in Sydney Harbour that’s well known for being a family-friendly area. The beach has enclosed shark nets to ensure safe swimming for children and plenty of park areas for cookouts.
Windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, scuba diving, and kayaking are all popular water sports for the beach. Additionally, the 1920’s building, the Balmoral Bathers Pavilion, features an upscale restaurant with a spectacular view of the ocean.
8. Freshwater Beach
Known as the birthplace of surfing in Australia, Freshwater Beach is just to the north of Manly Beach. Consistent swells, rough surf, and strong currents make swimming hazardous, but the conditions are perfect for surfers.
Outside of the ocean, you can splash in a white-washed rock pool or swim in a 50-meter saltwater pool. Freshwater Beach is part of the Manly-Freshwater World Surfing Reserve since it is one of the World Surfing Reserves that recognize the historical and cultural importance of surfing.
9. Milk Beach
Milk Beach may be home to the best coastal walk in Sydney. The secluded beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has a fantastic view of the Sydney Harbour bridge and has a beachside heritage-listed mansion.
Milk Beach is one of the stops on the Hermitage Foreshore Walk. If you’re looking for a harbor beach without many people around to laze away the day, then Milk beach is a perfect choice.
10. Shark Beach
Shark Beach and the adjacent Nielsen Park are inside of the Sydney Harbour National Park. While the beach’s name sounds intimidating, the waters, like most of Sydney’s harbor beaches, has shark nets to keep swimmers safe.
Walking trails and picnic areas in the park, a small cafe offering drinks and snacks, and a family-friendly natural setting make Shark Beach one of the most enticing of Sydney’s harbor beaches.
11. Collins Flat Beach
Collins Flat Beach is a soft sand beach just six minutes away from Manly. The water is calm, the beach is quiet and peaceful, and a river mouth empties into a nearby waterfall.
For beach lovers who want a more private beach, Collins Flat Beach is a must-visit. While not far from more populous areas, the seclusion and immersion into nature are second to no other beach in Sydney.
12. Clovelly Beach
Clovelly Beach is a tiny bit of golden sand at the end of a narrow bay lined with concrete. The water is almost always calm, but the further you get towards the ocean, the stronger the current becomes.
This tiny beach is one of the most popular beaches for underwater exploration. You can snorkel or scuba along the Gordon’s Bay Underwater Nature Trail, a 500-meter trail weaving through kelp beds and natural reefs.
13. Whale Beach
Whale Beach is on the south end of Palm Beach and has a quiet and secluded feel to it. Here, you can find an artificial rock pool on the beach’s southern end, but the beach’s real claim to fame is its sandstone cliffs.
On the south end of Whale Beach, you can find Little Head, while on the north side, there is Careel Head. Both of these sandstone headlands stand at around 40 meters in height, and you can scale them for amazing views of this Sydney beach and its surrounding ocean.
14. Cronulla Beach
Cronulla Beach has four beaches: North Cronulla Beach, South Cronulla Beach, Wanda, and Elouera. Also, it’s the only beach accessible by train, so there’s no need to worry about overcrowded parking lots.
Aside from excellent surfing conditions and calm rock pools to play in, the beach has an amazing multi-cultural scene. You can find almost any kind of food your heart desires here, as well as surf shops to help you start catching waves.
15. Bilgola Beach
Another one of the northern beaches in Sydney, Bilgola Beach has one of the most private atmospheres you can find. However, to reach it, you’ll need to drive down a winding road aptly named “The Serpentine.”
Bilgola Beach stands out for how tranquil and empty it is at times while still having amenities like a rock pool and lifeguard-posted flags designating swimming safety.
You can sometimes get good surfing conditions here, but the neighboring Newport Beach is much more consistent.
16. Fisherman’s Beach
Fisherman’s Beach sits inside the Long Reef Aquatic Reserve. It has two rocky ridges surrounding it, making it the only sheltered beach inside the reserve.
The ocean pools and adjacent reefs make the sands one of the prime beaches for seeing marine life.
Here are a few other beaches worth checking out in Sydney.
- Camp Cove Beach
- Avalon Beach
- Watsons Bay Beach
- Lady Martins Beach
- Garie Beach
- The beach at Gordons Bay
Many of the best beaches in Sydney are famous beaches known around the world. The golden sand and long surfing history are all many people need to visit, but the beaches also offer world-class people-watching, water sports, and ocean views.
Just remember that any time you head to the beaches, you should check the surf flags. Red and yellow flags mean the rip currents and surf are more dangerous to swim in than if there’s a green flag, so extra caution is needed if you plan to enter the water.
Table of Contents
- 16 Top-Rated Beaches in Sydney, Australia
- Honorable Mentions