Visiting the beach is a must-do in Sydney. This Sydney beaches guide will help you find the best spots to snorkel, swim, and relax.
Sydney’s beaches are stunning. The white sand, choppy blue waters, and charming surfers make Sydney’s beaches a dream.
There are over 100 beaches around the city – visiting one (or ten) is a must-do. This Sydney beaches guide will help you pick the best one for you.
No two beaches are the same. You should choose your adventure based on the type of beach-goer you are. Are you looking for a family-friendly crowd? A quiet swimming spot? Or somewhere you can lay out and tan? Whether you want to hang out in your birthday suit or fight a tourist for a spot on the sand, here’s a guide to the best beaches in Sydney.
If you want to avoid tan lines: Lady Bay Beach
I’ve only seen men on Lady Bay Beach (the irony). It is a nude beach, after all. But that shouldn’t deter you – it’s a super quiet and pretty spot. It might be quiet because you’re sharing it with a handful of naked guys, but that’s better than a screaming family of five (maybe?).
This little sandy outcrop is on the South Head Trail and has a great view of the city. I couldn’t take photos on the beach for ~obvious reasons~, but this view is from further up the nearby trail. Lady Bay Beach is the beach on the left side.
A few ferry routes zoom by Lady Bay Beach. So if you’re going to ditch the bathers, you might get a couple of glances. But honestly, there’s something badass about that. Hanging out naked, on a beach in a world-class city, overlooking an A+ view – without a care about who sees you.
If you want to snorkel: Gordons Bay or Clovelly Beach
Gordons Bay is a popular spot for snorkelers. It’s a small protected bay along the Bondi to Coogee walk.
It’s full of marine life and has an underwater nature trail (yep, those exist!). You can swim the 600-meter, self-guided diving trial by following the chain and buoys under the surface. Keep in mind that there are no lifeguards here, so strong swimmers only!
There’s not much actual sand here. But on sunny days, local sunbathers line up along the rocks.
There’s something about the water here that looks extra blue on a sunny day. The unreal view is why it’s one of my favourite beaches in Sydney.
If you’re nervous about snorkelling in Australia’s riptide and critter-filled waters (🙋🏻♀️), I recommend Clovelly beach.
Clovelly has a unique setup. The beach is small and it opens up into a long, narrow bay, with platforms on each side. It looks like a swimming pool, except one side is a beach and the other is rocks and open ocean. This setup keeps the water quite calm. The beach is also manned by lifeguards for a little extra safety.
It’s another popular snorkelling spot, especially for families. It has calm(ish) waters, lifeguard stations, and a nearby bathroom and cafe. It’s a great snorkelling spot for younger kids (or scaredy-cats like me). But don’t be fooled, the water in Australia does not play around. Make sure you’re an adequate swimmer before taking a dip.
According to local legend, there is a huge Blue Groper here named Bluey. Those things can get huge. I’m not sure if I saw Bluey, but I did see a gigantic blue groper my first time snorkeling here. I literally screamed into my snorkel.
If you want to visit a world-famous beach: Bondi beach
Bondi is one of Sydney’s most visited beaches. Whether you’re here to observe the throngs of tourists, see the Bondi lifeguards in the flesh, or find a spot of sand, it’s a must-visit in Sydney.
It’s got all the fixin’s you need for the perfect beach day: long stretches of sand, swimming spots, two famous ocean pools, and a nearby street lined with restaurants and cafes.
You can spend an entire afternoon eating, lounging, and paddling your way around Bondi beach. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, why not throw in a surfing lesson as well?
If you want to watch the surfers: Tamarama beach
This beach is nicknamed “Glamarama” for the beautiful houses and beautiful people that line this beach. Tamarama is a super popular surfing spot.
Fun (or not-so-fun) fact: Tamarama is one of Sydney’s most dangerous beaches. Its deep water, small size, and frequent riptides, means that more rescues occur here than at other Sydney beaches. So maybe it’s not the best place for a swim, but it makes it a great spot for experienced surfers!
The beach itself is small, but there is a playground, picnic tables, a small cafe, and bathrooms nearby.
My favourite time is to visit around sunset. The views are stunning, and I love to find a place along the cliffs to watch the surfers down below.
In the 1880’s, Tamarama was home to Sydney’s first coastal amusement park. I just had to share that historical tidbit, because the photos are wild:
Can you imagine that rollercoaster ride?! Tamarama went through various versions of amusement parks over the years. But in the 1920s, the NSW Government bought the beach and restored to its present glory.
If you want a quiet, beautiful view of the city: Camp Cove beach or Shark Beach
Camp Cove beach
The city views from Camp Cove beach are unreal. It’s never too busy here, most likely because it doesn’t have the same facilities as most Sydney beaches. There are no picnic tables and the bathroom is tiny, but it lends to the quiet atmosphere of this beach.
The beach is right at the front door of some wickedly gorgeous beachside properties. It’s open to the public, but it feels like you’re on someone’s private beach. Camp Cove is right at the start of the Hornby Lighthouse hike (one of my favourite coastal walks in Sydney). Since it’s in a bay, the water is calm and perfect for a swim after a walk around the lighthouse.
It’s pretty popular for a “hidden gem”, but it’s off the beaten path enough that you’ll be chillin’ with the locals.
Shark Beach also has a stellar view of the city. It’s a great starting point for the Hermitage Foreshore walk, another fabulous coastal walk in Sydney.
Shark Beach is very family-friendly; there are picnic tables, lots of green space, a cafe, and bathrooms. The netted-off swimming area is calm due to its sheltered location, so it’s a super safe spot for a family swim.
If you want to go on a day trip: Hyam’s beach
A day trip to Hyam’s beach is the perfect excuse to get out of the city. This beach has some of the whitest sand I’ve ever seen. The water is a stunning shade of turquoise on a sunny day.
There are great spots for snorkelling, paddle-boarding, and kayaking in the bay. Nearby Hyam’s Beach Trail is a great little walk for birdwatchers.
Hyam’s beach can get pretty busy in the summer, but when I visited in the winter, it was super quiet. It’s about a 3-hour drive from Sydney, and along the way, you cross the famous Sea Cliff Bridge. The drive is so scenic
If you want to go on a gorgeous ferry ride: Manly beach
The 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf is one of my favourite things to do in Sydney. It’s a full harbour tour for under $8 ($2.50 if take the public ferry on Sundays).
The ferry ride takes you between the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. You’ll zoom past affluent beach-front neighbourhoods and Sydneys main headlands before arriving at Manly Wharf. The ferries have outdoor seating (where the tourists and backpackers flock). The ride is salty, windy, and totally worth it.
Manly Beach is always bustling with surfers and sunbathers. There are often events nearby, but I think the ferry ride is the best part of the experience. The beach is worth a pit-stop, but nearby North Head Sanctuary steals the show on this side of the water. It’s one of my favourite coastal walks in Sydney.
With this Sydney beaches guide, you’ll be well on your way to discovering the best beaches in Sydney.
There’s nothing I love more than to beach-hop my way around the city. It’s the best way take in Sydney’s oceanside culture and see some of the prettiest views the city has to offer.
Want to see some more fabulous views in Sydney? Here’s my guide to the 10 best views in Sydney.