One of the advantages of living in New South Wales is that this state has a very long coastline, home to some of the world’s prettiest beaches. Some of these beaches are famous all over the world, while others are still very much undiscovered.
With so many great beaches in NSW to choose from, there is no such thing as a top 10 or a top 12. But the below list of 12 beaches is what we believe a good representation of the many beaches we have on offer in New South Wales, Australia’s most beautiful state.
So let’s get straight into it, from north to south, here is our top 12 best beaches in NSW!
1. Byron Bay’s Main Beach
With lots of great beaches to choose from in Byron Bay, the iconic Main Beach is Byron Bay’s most popular strip of sand.
Conveniently situated directly in front of the town’s centre, Main Beach is great for swimming with usually very mild waves.
A large grassy park area right behind the beach is a popular venue, with great facilities such as picnic tables, barbeques, toilet blocks and playgrounds. It attracts locals and visitors of all sorts and backgrounds, creating a pleasantly harmonious atmosphere.
Byron Bay’s main beach is patrolled by surf life savers year-round, with their club house located in the centre of the beach. Established in 1907, the Byron Bay Surf Club is one of Australia’s oldest surf life saving clubs.
2. Wategos Beach
By many considered to be the prettiest beach in the Byron Bay area, Wategos Beach is a pleasantly sheltered strip of sand with a relaxed vibe and great facilities. Wategos produces a friendly surf, suitable for learner surfers.
Located between Cape Byron and the Fisherman’s Lookout, below the Byron Bay Lighthouse, Wategos Beach can be accessed by foot via the Cape Byron walking track. There is also limited parking available along Marine Parade just behind the beach.
3. Umina Beach
Escape the crowds at Sydney’s popular beaches and visit Umina Beach on the Central Coast instead. Overlooking Brisbane Water and Broken Bay, Umina Beach is perfect for swimming and other water-based activities.
Umina Beach is a long strip of sand facing Broken Bay with views of Box Head in the east and Lion Island and Barrenjoey Headland in the south. The northern part of Umina Beach is actually called Ocean Beach which also has its own surf life saving club.
Umina’s long sandy beach is one of the most popular destinations in the Central Coast, great for families to spend a day and for surfers catching waves.
While it does get busy here on summer days, there is usually enough room a bit further away from the main area where the Umina SLSC resides.
4. Palm Beach
The Palm Beach peninsula is one of the most famous beach suburbs in New South Wales, located 41 kilometres north of the Sydney CBD.
Due to its somewhat remote location, it’s a reasonably quiet beach suburb compared to, for example, Bondi Beach or Manly Beach. This is a different story during sunny weekends though, when the area fills up very quickly with day trippers.
The water at the beach facing the ocean can be a bit rough sometimes due to strong winds, whereas the smaller beach facing Pittwater on the other side of the peninsula has much quieter water and is perfect for a relaxed swim.
When visiting Palm Beach, don’t forget to visit the Barrenjoey Lighthouse up the hill. The views from there are absolutely stunning.
5. Whale Beach
Whale Beach is a picturesque, 600 metres long strip of sand in the Northern Beaches region, close to Palm Beach. Not as well known as its bigger neighbour, Whale Beach is usually much quieter and has a pleasantly secluded atmosphere.
Just like many other beaches in Sydney, Whale Beach also has a man-made rock pool. Whale Beach Rock Pool is 25 metres long and is located at the southern end of the beach.
Whale Beach is around 600 metres in length and is surrounded by two 40 metres high sandstone headlands, Little Head at the north end and Careel head at the southern end of the beach. The views from both headlands are absolutely stunning.
6. Manly Beach
Manly and Bondi are perhaps Sydney’s most popular beaches and opinions are divided on which one is the best. But because they are so different we believe they both deserve a spot in this list of best beaches in NSW.
Manly has two main beaches, one facing the Harbour with mostly calm waters and the other one facing the ocean with stronger waves.
Just around the corner of Manly’s main beach is Shelly Beach, a small secluded strip of sand with calm water and excellent amenities.
7. Balmoral Beach
Balmoral Beach is a picturesque Sydney Middle Harbour beach with calm waters, a swimming enclosure and excellent picnic spots.
The Esplanade right behind the beach has lots of cafes and restaurants on offer, while the grassy areas are perfect for a picnic or a leisurely stroll.
Due to its sheltered location, the water always seems to be calm which makes it great for swimming. You can also be a little more active and go stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking or snorkeling.
There are also lots of hiking options in the area, with one walking track connecting with Taronga Zoo on the other side of Sydney Harbour.
8. Bondi Beach
This may come as no surprise, but we do actually want to include Bondi Beach in this list of best beaches in NSW.
Some people love this beach, others hate it, but fact is that Bondi is an icon in Australia, with great swimming ans surfing conditions, lots of cafes and restaurants, a large picnic area and even an outdoor gym!
A special mention should also go to Bronte Beach, just around the corner from Bondi. Bronte Beach is a lot smaller than Bondi Beach and also a bit more family friendly.
Plus, Bronte has a beautiful park situated right behind the beach and a lovely strip of cafes across the road.
9. Coogee Beach
Often referred to as the smaller version of Bondi Beach, Coogee is a popular and characteristic 400m strip of sand facing Coogee Bay in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. While not the best beach for surfing, the water is usually very suitable for swimming.
Goldstein Reserve, the large parkland area located right behind the beach, has great facilities such as tables, barbecues, picnic shelters and trees that provide plenty of shade.
South of Coogee Beach are two private baths that are worth visiting. Surrounded by coastal vegetation and grassed areas, the McIver’s Baths complex consists of a large concrete sea pool, a sunbathing area, change rooms and a small clubhouse. McIver’s is one of the last remaining women’s-only sea pools in Australia.
A bit further south you will find Wylie’s Baths, a large ocean tidal pool that has been in operation since 1907. For a small entrance fee, you can hang out here all day and enjoy the beautiful views of the ocean and Wedding Cake Island.
The best way to get to Coogee is via the famous Bondi to Coogee walk, a beautiful 6km coastal walk offering stunning ocean views from start to finish.
10. Cronulla Beach
The Cronulla Peninsula south of Sydney has no shortage of beautiful beaches, making it a popular weekend destination for many Sydney-siders.
Popular with surfers, North Cronulla Beach is a beautiful 400m long strip of sand facing Bate Bay. Swimming can be hazardous due to the strong rips that are almost always present
The North Cronulla SLSC has an iconic club house located right behind the beach, next to Dunningham Park with a large playground and a few popular cafes and restaurants nearby.
From North Cronulla it’s only a short walk along the shore to Cronulla Beach, a small family-friendly strip of sand backed up by an excellent park with great facilities and lots of cafes to choose from.
11. Jibbon Beach
Jibbon Beach is a beautiful 700 metres long, north-facing strip of sand inside Port Hacking Point, close to Bundeena village in the northern part of the Royal National Park.
Swimming is great at Jibbon Beach but be mindful that there are no surf life saving services provided here and that it can get quite windy at times.
The water is also quite deep a few meters out, which is why you’ll see a lot of boats hanging out here on warm and sunny days. Despite the wind, surfing is virtually impossible at Jibbon Beach.
Check out our list of Royal National Park beaches for more beach options in this beautiful part of Sydney.
12. Hyams Beach
Located in the city of Shoalhaven, 180 km south of Sydney, Hyams Beach is a seaside village on the shores of Jervis Bay and home to one of the prettiest beaches in New South Wales.
Famous for its perfectly blue-coloured waters and fine white sand, Hyams Beach is a popular weekend getaway destination for Sydney-siders, with lots of things to do such as hiking, swimming, snorkelling, fishing, diving and whale watching.