No matter the season, it's always a good time for a beach getaway. But who wants to share their hard-earned time by the ocean with the rest of the population? Certainly not us, which is why you need to cast your net a little further afield and check out Australia’s best under-the-radar beach towns.
Think golden sand, palm trees, turquoise waters and ample opportunity for a cheeky bite to eat beachside.
Fire up the group chat and start planning your next getaway.
Nestled on the Sunshine Coast between Mudjimba and Noosa, Marcoola is the quiet beach town you didn’t know still existed in Queensland. Providing the perfect blend of blissfully tourist-free beaches with a thriving organic foodie culture and accommodation that won’t cut into your retirement fund, Marcoola is a well-guarded local secret for a very good reason. Our recommendation: start your weekend getaway a cold pressed juice at The Grilled Gecko Café, stock up on produce from the attached organic grocer and then head to the beach for a picnic next to the sea. If you've got room left, you could always make the two kilometre journey along the beach to nearby Mudjimba and finish the afternoon with a tipple at the High Tide Bar & Grill. Queensland, you spoil us.
Agnes Water and 1770
Located about six hours north of Brisbane, the twin beach towns of Agnes Water and 1770 mark the northernmost surf beaches in Australia and they're absolutely dreamy. They also happen to be situated on the southernmost point of the Great Barrier Reef and all the beauty that entails. So, basically, they’re a little slice of tropical beach heaven without the exxy resort fees. These quaint coastal towns offer the opportunity for visitors to surf, swim and snorkel—all in the same place—while getting some much needed R&R against a stunning coastal backdrop. Sounds rough, right?
New South Wales
While many flock to Byron Bay when they're in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, if you’re after chilled out vibes, dreamy beaches and an epic food scene minus the backpackers and tourists, then we suggest making tracks to Yamba. Once a sleepy fishing village, the town (about a three hour drive south of Brisbane) is now home to a bunch of drool-worthy restaurants. We recommend treating yourself to a gourmet meal at Karrikin, before catching the sunset (with a beer in hand of course) at the Pacific Hotel perched at the top of Main Beach. There’s a beach here for every type of holiday, but our favourite (and a local's secret) is Spookys in nearby Angourie. Throw a towel down, watch the surfers do their thing and marvel in the fact that this piece of paradise is in our backyard.
Any beach town with a name like Eden has to be pretty dang idyllic, and it more than lives up to the hype. Eden is a nature lover’s paradise characterised by a sweeping, rugged coastline, golden sand dunes and ancient forests all within a hop, skip and jump of the town’s centre at Twofold Bay. If you’re planning on spending any time in Eden, expect to end up in a boat as this beachside escape is home to the deepest natural harbour in the Southern Hemisphere. It also happens to be smack bang in the middle between Sydney and Melbourne—making it a perfect destination for any coastal road-trip dreams (when the borders re-open anyway). Oh and did we mention Eden is one of the best locations to spot humpback whales during migration season? Need we go on?
South West Rocks
Another beachside pleaser for every type of traveller, South West Rocks has all your needs covered. From foodie delights to exploration opportunities to beachside chilling, this coastal town has got ‘em all. A typical day in South West Rocks could look like fuelling up on maple-glazed bacon French toast at Malt & Honey, making the trek to the gorgeous Mermaid Pools and then trying your hand at one of the world’s best cave dives at Fish Rock Cave. The next day, hike up to the Smoky Cape Lighthouse and drink in those sweet, sweet ocean views. Think clear waters, a dramatic, lush headland and sand for days.
If tiny beach towns sound like your kind of jam, Wye River is right up your alley. Nestled along one of the most beautiful strips of the Great Ocean Road, Wye River has a permanent population of less than 100. While this number does increase during the tourist season, if you’re looking for a beach escape far from the madding crowd Wye River is just about perfect. The landscape is the ideal ratio of rugged cliffs and lush mountain foliage with a sandy beach peppered by rock pools providing for plenty of opportunities to go exploring. For a tasty meal, make tracks to the Wye Beach Hotel. Due to COVID they're currently offering takeaway only but they're just as tasty. You can't go wrong with the butternut pumpkin pithivier and Korean fried chicken burger.
Can’t get the idea of sipping ouzo by the Mediterranean out of your head but also can’t afford it after the damage you did to your credit card during those lockdown shopping sprees? Why not give Lorne a try instead. Located only a two-hour drive from Melbourne, this coastal town is Australia’s very own slice of Mediterranean vibes, helped along by a thriving arts community and beach views to die for. The beach is peppered with rock pools while the iconic Lorne Pier is the perfect spot for keen anglers to let loose a line. If you can tear yourself away from the beach for long enough, Lorne’s main shopping strip is a quaint collection of boutiques and killer restaurants worthy of any Instagram feed. Just don’t forget to head up to Teddy’s Lookout in between all that relaxing for truly ‘gram worthy views.
Not to be confused with the European country of the same name, this stunning town is a beach-lovers dream. Long living in the shadow of Margaret River, Denmark should go to the top of your must-visit list. Located in the Great Southern Region along the Rainbow Coast of Western Australia, Denmark is home to lush forests that meet sugar white sand beaches. Must do swimming holes include Greens Pools where the crystal clear water rivals the Greek Islands. And for the ultimate Insta pic you have to check out Elephant Rocks where larger than life boulders shoot out of the sand along the ocean. When you’ve had your salty fix, pull on your trainers and head to Harewood Forest where you’ll immerse yourself in nature amongst the beautiful karri trees. Breathe in that fresh air, feels good doesn't it?
Set on the Indian Ocean, Broome provides more than your typical beach holiday experience. Its rich multicultural heritage, symbolised by the many Aboriginal monuments and places of interest sprinkled across town, provides the chance to learn important stories from Australia’s First People. But it’s the beach where Broome really shines. Think turquoise waters, uncrowded shores, palm trees and a stunning red-dirt backdrop. Hopping on a sunset camel ride across the golden sand is a must, of course, and you can also embark on a cruise to a local pearl farm for a peek inside Broome’s history as the pearling capital of Australia. Getting to sunbathe under a palm tree and getting up close and personal with Australia’s answer to wild horses? Sign us the heck up!
Located only 90 minutes from Adelaide, Second Valley is a small coastal town that packs a punch in the scenic department. Like many of the beaches in this part of the world, Second Valley features pristine white sand, a coastline boasting colourful rock formations and accommodation that spans everything from five-star house rentals to traditional beach shacks. The beach is secluded, meaning you can enjoy that hard-earned ocean-time without having to worry about being swarmed by a horde of tourists. Second Valley is also close to Deep Creek National Park so you can break up your beach hangs with a ramble through the bush. Just remember to head to the Second Valley jetty afterwards and keep your eyes peeled for the tell-tale splash of the leafy sea dragon, which can only be found in the southern waters of Australia.
Really feeling those beach vibes? Check out Australia's most stunning islands.
Image credit: Brooke Darling, Kempsey Shire Council, Wenhao Ji, Tourism Australia, Visitagnes1770, Tourism and Events Queensland, Tourism WA