14 Best Beaches in Sydney for 2020
Sydney is a city that seems to be blessed with great weather and plenty of awesome beaches. If you are visiting this city in the spring or summer months, then I suggest dedicating a few days to exploring these awesome beaches in Sydney.
I spent the first 20 years of my life growing up in Sydney and throughout those years I have visited all of these beaches and many more countless times. I never realised how much I took these beaches for granted until I moved away to live in Bangkok and Melbourne.
Throughout this article, I will provide a range of beaches in different Sydney coastal regions; Northern Beaches, Eastern Suburbs, Sutherland Shire, and North Shore. I’ve also included some public transport tips on how to get to each.
So, here are 13 of my favourite beaches. Have I missed your favourite? Let me know in the comments section below!
Beaches in the Eastern Suburbs
Don’t let the small strip of sand at the end of this sheltered bay disappoint you. If you are into snorkelling and underwater life, then Gordon’s Bay is one of the best places to be in Sydney on a nice sunny day. Underwater you will find a huge range of marine life including a huge Blue Groper and a whole family of stingrays.
Get here: take a train to Central Station, followed by the 339 Bus to Clovelly Beach, then a short walk to Gordon’s Bay
Bondi Beach is no doubt the most iconic beach in Sydney, part due to the popular TV show Bindi Rescue but more so the mecca of backpacker’s accommodation in the area. On a hot summer day, this beach can see over 30,000 visitors. There are often good surf conditions at the northern end of Bondi Beach. Visit early in the morning to escape the crowds and take public transport to avoid expensive parking.
Get here: take the train to Circular Quay, followed by the 380 Bus or 333 Bus to Bondi Beach
Clovelly Beach is another amazing snorkelling spot right in Sydney. The long, sheltered bay makes this spot perfect for exploring the underwater life, or just swimming a few laps in the ocean in the morning. Watch out for Bluey, the famous resident Blue Groper…. Again, you won’t find much sand here, so do as the locals do and throw down a towel on the rocks or relax by the Surf Lifesavers Club up along the sides of the bay.
Get here: take a train to Central Station, followed by the 339 Bus to Clovelly Beach
Bronte Beach is located just south of Bondi along the famous 6 kilometre Bondi to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk. You will find a great grassy area running from the sand back up the hill, popular for picnics. Bronte Beach is known for its good surf, though the steep waves make it a touch spot for beginner surfers. Less confident swimmers should watch out for the strong rips here and always remember to swim between the flags. Oh… don’t forget to check out the awesome Bronte Beach Rock Pool located down the southern end of the beach.
Get here: take a train to Bondi Junction Station, then catch the 379 Bus to Bronte Beach
Beaches in Sydney Harbour
Milk Beach may be only a tiny stretch of sand, however, it is one of the most picturesque beaches in Sydney! You will get an impressive view looking back towards the city skyline. Right from the sand, you will be able to spot the iconic Harbor Bridge, Opera House, and Centrepoint Tower in the middle of the city. Milk Beach is located in Sydney’s harbour where the water is quite calm and safe for a swim (no large waves or rips here).
Get here: take a train to Edgecliff Station, then catch the 325 Bus direct to Milk Beach
Shark Beach is located around the headland from Milk Beach in the Nielsen Park National Park. You can easily walk from Milk Beach to Shark Beach by taking the 1.8 kilometre long Hermitage Foreshore Track which offers great views of Sydney Harbour in the distance. There are shark nets set up around the swimming area at the beach, so despite the name, it is a safe beach. There are no rips and only small waves, so people of all swimming capabilities are fine here.
Get here: take a train to Edgecliff Station, then catch the 325 Bus direct to Nielsen Park
Parsley Bay Reserve
Parsley Bay Reserve is located just around the headland from Milk Beach in Sydney’s affluent suburb of Vaucluse. The large grassy area is a popular place for Sydneysiders to make a picnic on a sunny day. Again, the water here is quite calm, and shark nets are set up about 150 meters out from the sand, so it is a safe place to swim. Climb the Parsley Bay bridge for a unique view looking back towards the bay from over the water.
Get here: take a train to Edgecliff Station, then catch the 325 Bus direct to Parsley Bay Reserve
Beaches on the North Shore and Northern Beaches
Chowder Bay is situated in the leafy Clifton Gardens, part of the Sydney Harbour National Park. This small secluded beach is on the opposite side of Sydney Harbour from Shark Beach. Being in the harbour, the water here is quite calm and free of rips. Boats commonly moor at the Chowder Bay Wharf so it is best to swim within the designated areas. The 4 kilometre Bradley’s Head to Chowder Bay Walk is a popular coastal walking route which takes about 2 hours and passes by Taronga Zoo.
Get here: take the 244 Bus from Wynyard Station to Chowder Bay
Manly Beach is Sydney’s North Shore equivalent of Bondi Beach. This 1.5 kilometre long stretch of sand sees tens of thousands of people sunbaking on a hot summer day. Manly Beach is renown for its good surf at the far north and south ends, usually quite suitable for beginners too.
Get here: take the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, followed by a short walk to Manly Beach
Head to the southern end of Manly Beach then look east across the water. That short stretch of sand about 500 metres away is Shelley Beach, far more secluded, less crowded, and has calmer water than the popular Manly Beach just next door. Shelley Beach is better suited to sunbaking, swimming and paddleboarding than surfing.
Get here: take the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, followed by a 20 minute walk along Marine Parade to Shelley Beach
If secluded is what you are after, then it doesn’t get much better than Paradise Beach. This small beach is located beside a leafy park on the Pittwater side of the Northern Beaches Peninsula. Like Milk Beach in Sydney Harbour, the water here is also quite calm and without rips. Beware, Pittwater has been known to have quite a few Bull Sharks, so it is suggested to swim within the shark nets.
Get here: public transport from the city takes up to 2 hours one way, it is best to drive
Palm Beach is located right of the northern end of the Northern Beaches Peninsula. This 2.3 kilometre long beach is well known for its great surfing conditions and quite suitable for beginners. Be sure to visit the Barrenjoey Lighthouse at the far northern end of the beach for an awesome view looking back over the peninsula with Palm Beach of the east and Barrenjoey Beach on the west. This is one of the most scenic points in all of Sydney.
Get here: take the L90 Bus from Wynyard Station to Palm Beach
Beaches in the Sutherland Shire
Cronulla Beach is actually divided into two beaches; the smaller and more crowded South Cronulla Beach, and the huge 4.8 kilometre long North Cronulla Beach. North Cronulla Beach is also considered the longest beach in Sydney. There are lots of restaurants and cafes nearby South Cronulla Beach, so this is where you will find most visitors. Between these sections of the beach, there are also two ocean water rock pools which are great for swimming if you want to avoid the rougher ocean.
Get here: take the train to Cronulla station, followed by a short 5 minute walk to Cronulla Beach.
Wattamolla Beach is in the Royal National Park just south of Sydney, a popular weekend day trip destination for locals. At the western end of the beach, you will find a 9 metre tell rock jump. While it is fenced off and “not permitted” plenty of people will be jumping off here in the summer. The beach itself is located on a sheltered lagoon with calm waters which is quite safe for swimming.
Get here: there is no public transport so you will need to drive. A National Park’s parking pass will cost AUD 11 for the day.
There are hundreds of beaches in Sydney, so nailing it down to this shortlist was quite challenging. Here I’ve tried to give you a list of some of my favourite beaches across the different regions of Sydney.
Some area great for surfing, others for sunbaking. Bondi is super iconic, while hardly anyone has heard of Paradise Beach. What they all have in common is they’re awesome.
Have I missed your favourite beach? Let me know in the comments section below and I’ll be sure to check it out.