When it comes to listing the best beaches in Sydney, it’s hard to know where to begin because there are so many to choose from. There are around 100 beaches located around the city and along its far-reaching north and south coasts. Whatever your preference – a safe paddling beach for the kids or a test of your balance at a pounding surf break – you're guaranteed to find it.
Here are 10 picks of great beaches to visit nearest the city, grouped by their locations to the east and north of the CBD. If you plan to visit one of these beaches, why not rent a car from our Sydney office?
The Northern Beaches
Sydney’s northern beaches; Tourism Australia
If you want to do some celebrity spotting, head here to the scene of the long-running TV soap ‘Home and Away’ and the suburb that some of Sydney's richest residents call home. At the furthest point north of Sydney, a good 45-minute drive from the CBD, it's worth making the effort to get to Palm Beach on a sunny day and enjoy the postcard-perfect 3km of sandy beach looking out to the Pacific Ocean to the east, with the boaties’ paradise, Pittwater, to the west.
The view of Palm Beach, from Barrenjoey Head; Tourism Australia
Whale Beach is also north of Sydney and is about a 40 km drive from the CBD. Named following a famous whale-beaching at its shore, here you will find a 600m long beach which is one of the most beautiful of the peninsula. It also has good facilities, some shade and is perfect for kids to explore as currents here are not as strong as elsewhere on the peninsula.
Whale Beach at sunrise; Andrew Gregory, Destination NSW
There is plenty to do at Avalon Beach. It has an ocean pool where no matter the season, hardy swimmers will be doing lengths and on the main beach itself, there will be plenty of swimmers and surfers enjoying the waves. Avalon has become a popular destination for Sydney-siders looking to enjoy a surfer lifestyle, so there are plenty of surf schools around. Avalon’s relaxed shopping village is an easy walk across the road from the beach, for boutique browsing and casual meals.
Avalon Beach; Tourism Australia
Manly is the destination of thousands of Sydney day-trippers and many people from Australia’s country regions on extended beach holidays. Since the early 20th century, Manly’s slogan has been ‘seven miles from Sydney and a thousand miles from care’, for the immediate holiday feeling it brings visitors whether staying for two hours or two weeks. The beach is surrounded by dozens of restaurants, cafes, shops and bars and with its 2km promenade along four beaches, from snug Shelly, past Manly and North Steyne, to Queenscliff Beach, there’s plenty to do and see on foot or in the water.
Manly Beach; Tourism Australia
Dee Why Beach
At the centre of Sydney’s northern suburbs, Dee Why's 1.2km long beach attracts people from all over Sydney to enjoy its clean water and natural beauty. This beach is suitable for everyone thanks to its two tidal pools, children's playground, large parkland for picnics and great surf, too. A strip of popular restaurants and cafes flanks the beach along its road, The Strand.
The foreshore at Dee Why Beach; Hamilton Lund, Destination NSW
Eastern Sydney beaches
Eastern Sydney beaches; Hamilton Lund, Destination NSW
Bondi is possibly the best-known Australian beach. It’s a magnet for huge summer crowds in the tens of thousands, made up of locals and backpacker tourists alike. But at 100 metres wide and more than a kilometre long, there’s room for everyone. You can learn to surf here most days during summer or cool off in the famous Bondi Icebergs rock pool. Don't miss a chance to visit one of the city's most iconic attractions for celebrity-spotting, people-watching, dining and maybe even some swimming too.
Take a surfing lesson at Bondi Beach; Destination NSW
Just around the corner from Bondi in the eastern suburbs is Tamarama, or ‘Glamarama’, as many prefer to call it, thanks to the number of beautiful people that can be spotted on the sand. The beach itself is small and intimate, but be aware that this is one of Sydney's more dangerous beaches because of the number of rips coming in from both sides of the bay, so it’s one for stronger swimmers and surfers.
Tamarama Beach, near Bondi; Hamilton Lund, Destination NSW
More family-friendly than Tamarama, Bronte Beach offers protected ocean swims in its rock pool. It has well-maintained barbecue areas for gatherings and plenty of parkland, too. It’s a glorious place to laze about, but if you need a break from sunbathing, take a stroll on the scenic cliff-top walking paths south to Coogee, via the Waverley Cemetery.
Bronte rock pool and beach; Andrew Gregory, Destination NSW
Heading south from Bronte along the coast, Coogee is well-known for the number of backpackers who flock here, and who can blame them when they get to experience year-round Aussie beach culture at its finest? The Marine Reserve attracts snorkelers and scuba divers, and the waves here attract surfers from all over the world throughout the year.
Coogee Beach; Kajo Merkert-Ohlheiser Destination NSW
There's lots of history to be found at Watson's Bay, the harbour beach this where Governor Phillip first landed in Australia and the country's oldest fishing village, established in 1788. Nowadays the bay is famous for its gourmet quality the fish and chips at Doyles Restaurant, which was founded in 1845. You can dine in or do as the locals do and buy takeaway to eat on the sand or the nearby grassy reserves.
Camp Cove at Watsons Bay; Andrew Gregory, Destination NSW