Summer is officially here and that means only one thing: a trip to the beach is definitely on the cards. 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 bit the eat beachside—all without sharing the experience with a crowd of strangers and their six kids. Oh, we think we just described what heaven looks like.
What can we say, we’re givers.
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 with perfectly fluffy lemon pancakes 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’re feeling up for it after that feast to remember, 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 6 hours north of Brisbane, the twin beach towns of Agnes Water and 1770 mark the northernmost surf beaches in Australia. 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
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 (don’t lie, we all have them). Oh and did we mention Eden is one of the best locations to spot humpback whales during migration season? Need we go on, friends.
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. It’s official: we’ll see you at the airport.
If tiny beach towns sound like your kind of jam, Wye River is set to be right up your alley. Nestled along one of the most beautiful strips of the Great Ocean Road, Wye River has a permanent population of only 66. 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. A trip to the Wye Beach Hotel will net you not only a surprisingly gourmet dinner, like the vegan and gluten free Nepalese aloo chop, but also a chance to walk away with new friends in the form of the locals. See, we told you it ticks all the boxes.
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 last Black Friday? Why not give Lorne a try instead. Located only a 2-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.
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 something about Australia’s first people while you sip piña coladas by the sea-shore. 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!
A little bit further inland than you’d expect from a typical beach town, Margaret River offers all the perks of beachside living in combination with a booming craft brewery and winery culture. The Margaret River itself feeds into the nearby Indian Ocean, meaning that you get the best of both worlds by dining next to a gently lapping river before working off your meal with a hike down to the beach—which is only a ten minute jaunt away. Margaret River is also home to the Cape to Cape Track; a long-distance trail that stretches between two lighthouses at either end of the town and winds through the limestone caves and dramatic sea-cliffs of Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Inside tip: start your day with a coffee and breakfast at White Elephant Café, which just so happens to back directly onto the beach. Weekend plans = sorted.
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? Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Noosa.
Image credit: Brooke Darling