Where are you going?
Or, let us surprise youSpin the Globe ®

Sydney’s Beaches

Iconic Bondi Beach
Sydney’s Beaches
With more than 100 beaches, Sydney is a sun-worshipper’s paradise. You’ve probably heard of the popular Bondi and Coogee beaches, but there are several other sandy spots throughout the city for visitors to discover.
By Julie Schwietert Collazo, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by José Fuste Raga/age fotostock
  • 1 / 9
    Iconic Bondi Beach
    Iconic Bondi Beach
    About five miles from the city center, the gentle white curve of Bondi Beach has attracted locals and tourists alike for generations. Thousands of beachgoers converge here on any given day, though conditions vary considerably from calm waters to notorious rip currents—ask around for safety tips. Pre- or post-swim, head to one of the many restaurants or bars along the beach. Sean’s Panaroma is a highly regarded spot that serves simple yet exquisitely prepared dishes, while Bills is beloved for breakfast and brunch. For an unbeatable summer treat, don’t miss Gelato Messina.
    Photo by José Fuste Raga/age fotostock
  • 2 / 9
    Lesser-Known Beaches
    Lesser-Known Beaches
    If you’re looking to escape the crowds at Bondi, you don’t have to go far—a few of the most secret, secluded beaches are close to the city, including Obelisk, Flat Rock, and Lady Martins. Several lesser-known spots can also be found along coastal trails like the Manly to Spit Bridge walk and the Hermitage Foreshore track in Vaucluse. Further south, there are the beaches of Royal National Park, as well as Little Congwong, which is ideal for those wanting to show more skin than usual. No matter where you go, be sure to “slip, slap, slop,” as the locals say. The Australian sun is strong and many a vacation has been ruined by a bad sunburn.
    Photo courtesy of Mike Newling/Tourism Australia
  • 3 / 9
    Snorkeling in Sydney
    Snorkeling in Sydney
    Many of Sydney’s beaches feature rocky shelves and seagrass, making them ideal for snorkeling. The most popular spot is Bare Island, where you’re practically guaranteed to see sand rays, seahorses, and sponge gardens among the thriving reefs. If you’re seeking something slightly more accessible, try Clovelly Beach—it’s mostly protected so that swimmers of all levels can enjoy the blue grouper, octopus, and moray eels—or Oak Park in Cronulla. At the other end of the spectrum, Captain Cook’s Landing in Kamay Botany Bay National Park is ideal for skilled snorkelers. While there, keep your eyes peeled for the wildly colorful weedy sea dragon.
    Photo courtesy of Darren Jew/Tourism Australia
  • 4 / 9
    Sydney’s Surf Breaks
    Sydney’s Surf Breaks
    In 1914, famed Hawaiian log-rider Duke Kahanamoku introduced surfing to Sydney, setting off a local obsession that’s still going strong. Nearly 70 of Sydney’s 100-plus beaches offer surf-worthy waves, meaning there’s something for every ability. Bondi is a prime spot—its southern end tends to produce advanced waves—as are Cronulla, Manly, Maroubra, and Narrabeen, all of which are featured as top surfing beaches on Australia’s National Surfing Reserve register. At every beach, there are several outfitters and instructors offering lessons, as well as surf shops for rentals and other gear.
    Photo courtesy of Eugene Tan/Tourism Australia
  • 5 / 9
    Beaches for Families
    Beaches for Families
    Anyone with kids knows that a truly family-friendly beach has calm water, lifeguards, changing rooms, extra activities, and plenty of places to buy food and drinks. Among Sydney’s many beaches, three fit the bill especially well. Bronte Beach, between Bondi and Coogee, features barbecue grills, picnic areas, a café, and a play area, plus its Bogey Hole rock pool is perfect for children who want to swim without encountering marine life. Newport and Coogee are also good options. The latter, like Bronte, has rock pools, as well as a kids’ zone at the Coogee Pavilion.
    Photo courtesy of Jonathon Marks/Tourism Australia
  • 6 / 9
    You Should Be in the Movies
    You Should Be in the Movies
    Roughly 200 films have shot in Sydney, with many giving the city’s beaches at least a cameo role. Bare Island was featured in Mission Impossible II, Coogee Beach played prominently in the 2012 film Careless Love, and Cockatoo Island served as the backdrop for Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken. If you’d rather watch a movie than chase down the settings of your favorite films, head to an outdoor movie night. Bondi Beach hosts a summer series called Ben & Jerry’s Openair Cinemas, which showcases family-friendly films, classic movies, and new releases.
    Photo by Robert Francis/age fotostock
  • 7 / 9
    Schooners Are Not Just for Sailing
    Schooners Are Not Just for Sailing
    If you’re going to quaff a “coldie” or “tinnie” near the beach, you need to know the local lingo. When you want to order a beer in Sydney, ask for a “schooner,” which is just short of a pint. Top spots to sip brews near the beach include 4 Pines Brewing Company, a local microbrewery across the street from Manly Beach, and Sugar Lounge, a tiki-themed bar that serves suds alongside tropical cocktails. If you’re looking for something closer to Bondi or Coogee, try The Bucket List and Coogee Pavilion, respectively.
    Photo courtesy of Merivale
  • 8 / 9
    Beachside Sydney Sunsets
    Beachside Sydney Sunsets
    Located on Australia’s Pacific Coast, Sydney has several beaches where you can enjoy the southern hemisphere sunset. Turimetta Beach is photogenic any time of day but it’s particularly spectacular at sunset, when light plays off its sheer cliff faces and moss-covered rocks. Closer to the city center, Clovelly Beach also offers a lovely natural light show. While not technically on the beach, several locations offer sunset views over the sand, including BridgeClimb Sydney (on the Sydney Harbour Bridge) and 360 Bar and Dining (1,000 feet up the Sydney Tower Eye). For something truly exceptional, take a sunset helicopter ride over Sydney Harbour.
    Photo by Petrina Tinsley
  • 9 / 9
    Beach Sports
    Beach Sports
    Sydney’s beaches aren’t just for lounging around, soaking up the sun, and frolicking in the waves; they’re also prime places for outdoor sports. Nearly every major beach has an official volleyball association that sponsors tournaments, special events, and classes for wannabe ballers. Though many Sydneysiders are serious about their game, they’ll often welcome visitors to join in the action. If you’re keen to test your skills, you may want to hold out for the SLAMFest on Cronulla Beach, which gives amateurs the chance to compete for cash prizes.
    Photo by age fotostock