Time Out Sydney

Sydney beaches guide

Get the most out of the coast with our guide to the best things to do, places to eat and cocktails to drink at Sydney's top beaches 

Balmoral Beach

Balmoral Beach

This Mosman enclave is home to a bunch of big, beautiful houses and a calm, family-friendly strip of beach. For a snazzy brunch head to Bather’s Pavilion, housed in an Art Deco building originally built as a bathing house. For lunch, grab fish and chips from Bottom of the Harbour and head across the overpass bridge for a picnic on a little rocky island where you can watch the paddle boarders. Want to have a go yourself? Make your way to the Balmoral Sailing School (southeast end of the Esplanade).
Did you know? The last fatal shark attack at Balmoral Beach was way back in 1955, when a 13-year-old boy was lobster baiting with raw meat. There are now nets at the south end of the beach.
Getting there: Take the E70, E68, 246 or 245 just past Mosman and walk down to Balmoral Beach.

Bondi and Tamarama

Bondi Beach

If you’re going to do the famous cliff walk between these two beaches, we say start with a dip at Tamarama – so beautiful, so secluded – and finish with an eats-and-drinks-fest at Bondi. Start with a stop at Icebergs Bar above the world-famous pool for a post-hike cocktail with a view and kick on at small bar Neighbourhood. Then hit Sean’s Panaroma for a classic Sydney dinner – go the roast chook! – or the Stuffed Beaver for some poutine and Canadian beers.
Did you know? In 2007, the Guinness World Record for the largest swimsuit photo shoot was set at Bondi Beach, with 1,010 bikini-clad women taking part.
Getting there: Catch the 333 from Elizabeth Street opposite Bathurst Street for your quickest journey.

Bronte Beach

Bronte Beach

We love this beach for its park full of pine trees, the gorgeous baths at the southern end and for providing a nice pitt stop on the Coogee-to-Bondi cliffside trail. There’s plenty of coffee-and-smoothie action on Bronte Road – try a Barramundi burger at Café Salina – but eats-and-drinkswise, get off the bus a few stops away from the beach. Near the intersection of Macpherson and St Thomas streets you’ll find Three Blue Ducks, our pick for the best brekky in Sydney (scrambled eggs and black pudding, anyone?). Slightly farther away, Charing Cross has you covered for super-traditional pizza with Vacanza.
Did you know? The late Heath Ledger called Bronte home for a stint, as did Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch.
Getting there: The 378 goes directly from Central Station to the beach.

Clovelly Beach

Clovelly Beach

The real fun at Clovelly starts when you get in the water for a snorkel. There’s easy entry from the concrete steps near the surf club, and plenty to see when you’re under, including moray eels and blue gropers. Afterwards, you can tell your tallest tales at popular local haunt, the Clovelly Hotel.
Did you know? Legend has it that the same blue groper, Bluey, has been swimming in these waters for decades.
Getting there: The 339 bus will get you from Central to the sand in less than 45 minutes on a good day.

Congwong Beach La Perouse

Congwong Beach

Look, it’s a fair schlep to La Perouse – 13km from the city down Anzac Parade – but it’s worth it for the old-world seaside feel. Congwong is just a short walk along a sandy path from the bus stop, and if you’re a free-thinker, the next beach along is clothing optional. ‘La Pa’ has a lot to offer besides its beaches: you can tour former military fort Bare Island or snorkel in the surrounding reefs.
Did you know? The climax of Mission Impossible: II was shot in La Perouse – the bridge to Bare Island (in the role of villain’s lair) is even blown up.
Getting there: It’s going to be an hour’s travel, so be prepared – grab an L94 or X94 express bus from Elizabeth Street.

Coogee Beach

Coogee Beach

Coogee is one of the few beaches where you can drink at the beachside parks (though not between January 25 and 27) – so fire up one of the free park barbecues. For eats and drinks you don’t have to grill yourself, most of the action is on Coogee Bay Road – grab a coffee at Gusto Espresso Bar, a serve of fresh fish from A Fish Called Coogee and a frothy one in the mammoth Coogee Bay Hotel beer garden.
Did you know? Coogee drew international attention in 2003 when people believed they saw an apparition of Mary in the fence posts at Dolphin Point.
Getting there: Take the M50 bus from Elizabeth Street or the 372 or 374 buses from Central Station.

Manly and Shelly beach

Manly Beach

Hop off the ferry and hit Pure Wholefoods (5/10 Darley Rd) for a killer organic breakfast, and Chica Bonita later for margaritas and fiery Mexican. Local favourite the Hotel Steyne has a sprawling, beer garden and house-infused rum at the bar upstairs. Shelly Beach is a 15 minute stroll around the corner – bring your snorkel: it’s a hotspot for local divers.
Did you know? The Manly fairy penguins are the only wild breeding colony left in mainland NSW. If you miss seeing them in the wild head to Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary (West Esplanade).
Getting there: Take the F1 ferry from Wharf Six at Circular Quay.

Palm and Whale beach

Palm Beach

The city’s farthest-flung beaches are found on the northern peninsula, where the waves are big, the water’s clear and the sand is soft. Down the very southern end of Palm Beach you’ll find small rolling waves, which are perfect for beginners. Hit up Manly Surf School to borrow a board or join in on a lesson. Done hanging ten? Head to the Boathouse (Governor Phillip Park) for smoothies the size of your head, and brunch with a sublime waterfront view. Walk it off on the Barrenjoey Lighthouse trail walk, but make sure you’ve got proper footwear: there are a few steep ridges and it’ll take an hour and a half, but the view at the end is worth it.
Did you know? Super-popular long-running local soapie Home and Away is filmed around Palm Beach. Hold me in your arms....
Getting there: Consider renting a car – public transport can be tricky up here. Otherwise the L90 departs from Wynyard and takes around an hour and a half.

Redleaf Beach

Redleaf Pool

Murray Rose Pool can be found at the western end of this Eastern Suburbs fave and provides swimmers with a safe harbourside tidal enclosure. There’s a wrap-around pontoon, which makes for a lovely walk, and if you’re feeling peckish head to the kiosk on the hill, grab a snack and take in the views of Sydney Harbour.
Did you know? Council resolved to rename Redleaf Pool ‘Murray Rose Pool’ in honour of Olympic swimmer Murray Rose in August 2012.
Getting there: Take a ferry from Circular Quay to Double Bay (it’s about a ten-minute walk from there) or take the 326 from Elizabeth Street.

Watsons Bay

Watson's Bay Baths

Located on the southern head of the entrance to Sydney Harbour, Watsons Bay is famous as the home of fish-and-chip favourite Doyle’s (11 Marine Pde). You could eat at the restaurant, but we say grab a take-away box and make for the park. Finish your afternoon at the Beach Club at the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel – the beer garden-like space with some of Sydney’s best views is the beautiful people’s hotspot right now.
Did you know? Watsons Bay is named for Robert Watson, Sydney’s first harbourmaster, appointed in 1811.
Getting there: Catch a ferry to Watsons Bay from Circular Quay for a scenic route.

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First published on . Updated on .

By Cassie Huckstepp, Jordan Kretchmer, Joel Meares   |  
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