There’s no better place for people watching than Bondi Beach, and Byron Bay is unrivalled for its hippie luxe vibe, but there’s a whole gorgeous coastline out there filled with shimmering ocean waves, pure white sand and cute surfers just waiting to be discovered.
If you’re willing to jump in the car and venture out a little, there’s a heap of super charming beach towns that offer epic scenery, chic cafes and lots of activities, minus the crowds.
Here’s our pick of the beach gems worth checking out this summer. What are you waiting for? Pack your bags already!
Is Brunswick Heads the new Byron Bay? We sure hope so. Just 20 minutes north of Byron, this little beach town punches well above its weight in terms of good food. Brunswick Head’s Fleet is a degustation restaurant that people travel miles to get to, Table View does Scandi-inspired lunches to perfection, while Footbridge attracts droves for their fresh breakfasts. And the beautiful Hotel Brunswick’s beer garden was practically made for Sunday sessions. When you add in swimming in the calm Brunswick River or sunbaking on the enormous length of beach, this is a beach town worth flocking to.
Chilled to the core, the relaxed beach town of Yamba, around 4.5 hours south of the Sunshine Coast, is a place to get back to nature and camp by the beach. Look out for dolphins frolicking in the waves next to surfers or head up to the Yamba Lighthouse to get a good vantage point for whale watching. If you don’t travel to anywhere without good coffee, know that local favourite, Beachwood Café, serves up great brews and is known for its authentic Turkish meze later in the day.
Around 3 hours North of Sydney is an up and coming beach town with an unusual name: Old Bar. This seaside gem has great waves so swimming is a must, but there’s also really incredible fishing spots, mountain biking and nature tracks where you can see wallabies, koalas and spiky echidnas! If you’re staying for the weekend, check out the hilariously named Boogie Woogie Beach House. Inspired by music, the boutique hotel has styled their rooms to honour famous musicians; the ‘Ziggy Room’ comes complete with a David Bowie mosaic on the wall.
You just have to look at the photos of Gary Pepper Girl blogger Nicole Warne’s photos in her hometown to feel the allure of stunning North Avoca Beach. While it’s only a little over an hour north of Sydney, North Avoca is a world away from the pace and stresses of city life. When you’ve had enough of relaxing and reading on the beach, check out some of North Avoca’s best cafes, including coffee haven Like Minds, which was once the old general store, and The Boy and The Rose Café who do a great trade in spelt waffles.
If you like your beach escapades with a dash of luxury, set your compass for Mollymook, a 3-hour trip south of Sydney. Mollymook is famous for being the home to celeb British Chef Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant and the cliff top luxury hotel Bannister’s. And did we mention that Mollymook Beach boasts an epic break spot for good surfers and a large natural rock pool for snorkelers? Paradise found.