With endless stretches of coastline, and more than 10,000 beaches in Australia where you do you start trying to choose? With us! We've picked the top nine spots in NSW to swim at or just get your towel and toes out into the sunshine.
Bondi Icebergs has been the home of crazy winter swimming since 1929 and this famous pool at the southern end of Bondi Beach is open all year, even when it’s hailing. The pool’s a total rush when the ocean’s roaring over the side, covering you in spray as you do laps up and down it. After a bracing dip, nothing beasts shucking some oysters at the fully licensed clubhouse, served with cold pressed organic lemon dressing. Open to members and guests, the clubhouse has views over the pool and the beach. And there's a sunny balcony where you can count people doing laps below.
Come for the beach, stay for the incredible people-watching. Australia’s most famous beach is crowded with surfers, sunbathers, swimmers and walkers heading off on the famous Bondi to Coogee coastal walk. Yes it’s busy but it’s an iconic Sydney landmark, offering a cool refuge to inner-city Sydneysiders just 10km from the city centre.
Bondi isn’t just a beach. There’s farmers and craft markets, great shopping and restaurants to keep you entertained. Bondi also hosts a number of surfing, running and art festivals throughout the year and thousands of revellers converge on its shores to watch the fireworks on New Year’s Eve. (There’s even an ice-skating rink on offer during winter as part of the Bondi Winter Magic Festival.)
After a day of swimming, sunbathing and people-watching, you’ll be ready for a drink at one of the many great watering holes in the area. There’s the authentic Bondi experience at the Bowling Club, where Bondi locals young and old converge in the weekend to play a game of bowls and enjoy a reasonably-priced larger and seafood pie.
The name doesn’t match the décor at this spectacular outdoor pool in Newcastle. Bogey Hole should be called ‘Amazing Achievement Of Convicts Hole’ as it was built by convict labour in 1819. The construction of the pool, which involved digging into hard ocean rocks by hard men in the harsh outdoors, was ordered by Commandant Morisset who wanted a nice pool to splash about in. The poor convicts didn’t even get to use it but at least now anyone can enjoy it and take a wild dip. Bogey Hole's a popular spot for city dwellers who don't like getting sand in their shoes.
A favourite with locals and bypassed by most tourists, Lady Martin’s Beach between Point Piper and Woollahra Point is a narrow strip of golden sand offering sweeping views of the harbour. You’ll be surrounded by some of the area’s most affluent beachfront properties as well as a few in-the-know Sydneysiders.
To get there, head down the narrow laneway alongside the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club. You’ll come across the club’s jetty which is private but the beach remains public.
Located just inland from the old Quarantine Station and accessible via water only, this beach is perfect for those looking to escape Sydney’s busy Manly Beach. To get there, hire a kayak at Manly Wharf and set out on a 20 minute paddle to reach this sheltered sanctuary. You’ll feel like you’re on a remote island in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef rather than just minutes from the hustle and bustle of central Sydney.
Unless you have access to a boat, it can be difficult to reach Resolute Beach in Sydney’s Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Your only other option to get there is a steep 2km downhill walk from the carpark at Resolute Picnic Ground. Once you’re there, you’ll be treated to amazing views of Pittwater and the Barrenjoey Headland as well as a virtually-deserted beach. Work on your tan or bathe in the emerald-green water while looking out to Station Beach.
If you’re looking for some exercise, take the 2.5km Resolute loop trail across to to West Head lookout. The track boasts a small site with well preserved Aboriginal engravings as well as healthy native bird populations and blue tongue lizards.
Wattamolla is an Aboriginal word that means ‘place of running water’ and with a beach, lagoon and waterfall all in one place, Wattamolla is well named. At the falls, the water plunges over flat smooth rocks creating quite the spectacle after some rain. You might be tempted, but don’t jump off the top, there’s good reason why it’s banned. The lagoon, accessed further along the Royal Coastal Walk is safe for small people, or big people on lilos, or kayaks. It’s also worth donning a snorkel for a good look under the water. And then there’s the beach, which is also sheltered and usually calm but there are no surf life savers. Only 50 km from Sydney, Wattamolla is a little oasis where you can seriously lose hours, big time.
Scenic clifftop walks, great diving, and enough watersports on offer to keep the most restless entertained, Hyams Bay has it all. The beach has gained a reputation as the playground of the rich and famous but don’t let that put you off. Anyone can enjoy the great snorkelling and diving in the calm, protected waters of Jervis Bay. The flat, shallow waters also make for great kayaking and for those learning to sail or windsurf. Aside from the pure white sand beach, there’s also an array of walking trails through the native forest and clifftop walks.
The sand here is regarded as the whitest on Earth, according to Guinness World Records. It’s also incredibly soft so make sure you take a barefoot walk along the beach. You can grab an icecream or takeaway coffee from Hyams Beach Store and Cafe, located 30 meters back from the beach.
You don’t have to be a surfer to appreciate Main Beach in booming Byron Bay. With it’s soft white sand, turquoise water, a surf patrol for children and stunning sunsets, this beach is ideal for everyone. It’s only a short stroll from the centre of town and offers great views over to Julian Rocks and the iconic Byron Lighthouse. Take your snorkel to spot some tropical and temperate fish just off the shore or spot travellers banging drums and holidaying schoolies playing frisbee along the beach.
Take a walk to Byron Lighthouse or check out one of the great organic cafes in the main town behind the beach. Beach Hotel, the famous pub across the road from the beach, is a great spot for a cold ale.
If you’re looking to escape Sydney for a beachy weekend away then head to Garie Beach, nestled in the southern end of Royal National Park. This unspoilt stretch of coast is only an hour away from Sydney yet you’ll feel you’re miles away as you spot whales coasting by and rare peregrine falcons flying past in the coastal breeze. Garie Beach is a great spot for swimming and surfing and you can also try your hand at some beach fishing. Spend an afternoon relaxing in the sun or get your weekend exercise-fix with a 26km walk along the stunning coastline. Make sure you explore the rainforest gullies around the beach where you’ll be able to find a shady spot to read a book. Another must-do is taking in the view from Governor Game lookout.
In Bouddi National Park, 20km south-east of Gosford, you’ll find the family-friendly Maitland Bay beach. It’s a 20 minute walk from the Maitland Bay information centre through an eucalypt forest to reach the sand. Spend a day swimming and enjoying a leisurely picnic or take advantage of one of the many bushwalks on offer. At low tide you can still see the wreck of the Maitland ship which ran onto rocks in 1898. The shipwreck is also a great spot for snorkelling.
However you spend your time at Maitland Bay, make sure you conserve some energy for the uphill walk back to the car!
Spot longboarders, bottle nosed dolphins and sea turtles riding the waves at this exclusive beach located just northwest of Cape Byron and the lighthouse. Protected by the headland and complete with free beachside barbeques, this is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic lunch and relax away from the crowds of Byron Bay. You can also be one of the first people in the country to watch the sunrise as you walk along the beach.
Do make sure though, that you’ve cooled off in the water before attempting to walk up the steep steps back up to Cape Byron and the lighthouse.