Sydney's beaches

Floating at Camp Cove, Watsons Bay. Photo Lonely Planet Oliver Strewe
Floating at Camp Cove, Watsons Bay
Follow these tips from our Insider to find the best sand, sun and surf in Sydney.

Show off your tan

Not surprisingly, some of Sydney's beaches are perfect for showing off a well-toned frame. Tamarama isn't the biggest beach in the eastern suburbs (the sandy area is deep rather than long) but they don't call it "Glamarama" for nothing. It's the place to see and be seen, although swimming isn't advised — this is possibly the most dangerous beach in Sydney. For an "all-over" tan, if you know what we mean, the most famous place to head is Lady Bay, below the naval station at South Head. Cobblers and Obelisk beaches, at the end of Middle Head, aren't easy to access but if you want to get your kit off, they are also legal nude beaches.

Good for kids

As well as world-class surfing on the ocean beaches, there are also protected harbour beaches that are perfect for family outings or for those who aren't comfortable battling waves. Camp Cove, in the posh suburb of Watsons Bay, is well protected and even offers some good snorkelling. Nearby, Shark Beach in Nielsen Park is protected by nets and has a beautiful picnic area. On the other side of the harbour, folks flock to Shelly Beach. There are free barbecues, good snorkelling spots and even an eco-sculpture walk. Balmoral Beach is one of the busiest harbour beaches on the weekend, so if the crowds are too much, head around to Chinamans Beach.

Surf days:

Beginner surfers have so many options that it's hard to know where to start. You can take classes at Bondi and Manly, and head from there. North Narrabeen on the northern beaches, with its left-hand barrel, is one of the most consistent breaks on Australia's east coast. It's also the home break of the legendary Simon Anderson, who developed the three-fin board known as the "Thruster". Close by, try Avalon, Curl Curl and Dee Why, as well. Maroubra to the south of the city is another great spot to catch a wave, although the locals here are fiercely territorial, so make sure you don't get in anyone's face. It's also the home to Australia's first surfing walk of fame.

Hidden gem:

On the walk from Coogee to Clovelly is a tiny beach (sometimes underwater, at other times covered by tiny boats) called Gordons Bay. It's an extremely popular dive spot, but you can still see a fair bit with a snorkel and mask, including rays, wobbegongs and plenty of fish. The large rocks that protrude from the water are the perfect spot to bask after a swim, too.

Further afield:

If you love the beach and you've got some time on your hands, there are some gorgeous spots a few hours south of Sydney near Jervis Bay. Dip your toes into the whitest sand ever seen at Hyams Beach, while Greenpatch has calm water and a camping ground. Plus, when you've had enough of the beaches here, you can head out on one of the area's many whale and dolphin watching cruises.

Got any other beach tips? Have your say using the comments form below.

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By Sydney Insider, Carrie Hutchinson

Back to Sydney travel

User comments
I can walk out onto my local beach at any time of the day, look to the left &then to the right, & if i see more than 3 couples,i say the beach is crowded. Except at holiday time when you might get as many as 50 people in some 15ks .of beach.There is never any parking problems & its all free.

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