First published on 3 Apr 2012. Updated on 16 Apr 2012.
The most important thing for a good family beach is that there’s either a kids pool where they can splash about safely, or that it’s sheltered enough to be safe from big waves or dangerous rips. Fortunately the Harbour City has plenty of beachside nooks that tick all the boxes.
The western side of Bondi Beach has a children’s pool that is a safe and supervised place for the kids to splash around. It’s worth checking the wind, though: when there’s an easterly wind, it often blows bluebottles to the shore.
Head for the south end of the beach, where the rocks give some protection from the waves – and there’s a park to run around in once the sand loses its allure.
Parking is easy on this netted beach, there’s a nearby kiosk, and you can get there via ferry. There is an entry fee, but you get a very sweet location.
Dawn Fraser Pool
Another entry fee to get in, but it’s perfect for kids: lots of shelter and shade, kiosk, changing rooms and a very nice small beach area at low tide.
The cooler, indie-er cousin to Palm Beach is far superior for the kids. The southern rock pool is perfect for splashing around, though it only fills at high tide. The ocean pool is good for littlies, though, and there’s a good playground nearby too.
Parking is easy (though not cheap), but there’s plenty of lawn for running around upon and a nice netted beach.
Red Leaf Pool
A bit of a Double Bay secret, this one, with lawn, a netted beach, and a very decent kiosk. Keep it to yourselves, though.
The surf can get up here so you'll want to keep an eye on things, but there's a good play area and nearby parkland for when the waves get a bit rough.
Nicely sheltered on the south end, this is another netted beach, and its worth noting that there’s a very good fish’n’chips place nearby (not to mention the Bathers Pavilion).
OK, the name's a bit offputting – but the spot itself is lovely, and a prime viewing spot for the NYE fireworks, and Nielsen Park is a big favourite with families.
The main beach at Cronulla gets serious surf, making it a terrible place for the kids to splash around – but head south to Shelly Beach and you’ll find a great rockpool for the kids and a large park for picnicking and BBQing.
Little Manly Cove
Manly Beach does gets powerful surf, but on the other side of the peninsula there’s nothing at all: that’s what makes the sheltered Little Manly Cove perfect for kids. And there are bollards to leap off, which is super fun, and a very decent café.
South Curl Curl
As with Bondi you want to avoid the main beach, where the surf can get pretty choppy, and head for the rockpool at the south end, although the south beach is reasonably sheltered itself. There’s also a kiosk and café in the South Curl Curl Surf Lifesaving Club.