Things To Do

Your Ultimate Guide To The Best Sydney Beaches

By Sammy Preston

best beaches sydney manly

From the sparkly sand of Bondi to pretty Palm Beach and every stretch of sand in between, Sydney/Eora is home to some of the best beaches in the world.

Whether you're a local looking for a dip or a tourist seeking sand between your toes, these are Urban List's picks for the best beaches in Sydney.

Manly Beach

Manly

best beaches sydney manly beach nsw
Image credit: Destination NSW | Paul McMillan

Framed by towering Norfolk Island pine trees, Manly is one of Sydney’s most iconic beaches—it was even named the #13 beach in the world in TripAdvisor's 2023 Travellers’ Choice Awards.

It's a hotspot for Sydney beach culture, and all things swim, surf, and snorkelling. If you're not a local, the thing to do is catch the Manly ferry from Circular Quay and make a beeline for the glorious sand and surf before grabbing some fish and chips at one of Manly's best restaurants nearby.

Coogee Beach

Coogee

Sydney's beaches east of the city are some of our most famous, and Eastern Suburbs locals love Coogee Beach. This sandy strip is super family-friendly, with calm waves and an abundance of facilities to make your beach day a no-brainer.

Bring a picnic rug and spread out on the lawn, or head down to the ocean baths at the southern end of the beach. Mid-beach is where you’ll find the showers, so hit those up before heading up to Coogee Pavilion for an afternoon margarita. 

Freshwater Beach

Freshwater

best sydney beaches freshwater beach
Image credit: Destination NSW | Alexandra Adoncello

Just north of Manly in the Northern Beaches, Freshy is a classic Sydney beach for gentle, reliable waves and good times. It's one of Sydney's favourite family beaches and it's less touristy than Manly with a long history of surfing and surf club culture (keep an eye out for swim events and surf boats).

The 50-metre ocean pool at the north end of the beach is the perfect spot to pump out some freestyle and live your best life. Hungry? Hit up the Harbord Hotel for a casual pub lunch post-swim. 

Bondi Beach

Bondi

best beaches sydney nsw bondi
Image credit: Destination NSW | Daniel Boud

The sparkly jewel of the Sydney beach scene, Bondi is one of the world's most famous beaches—it's the reason some people make the trek to our wonderful country, and we don’t blame them.

All year you’ll find fun things to do in Bondi, from the ultra-popular coastal walk to Bronte, to learn-to-surf classes, Sculpture by the Sea in spring, and a cheeky cocktail at the beautiful Bondi Icebergs.

Check out our guides to the best restaurants in Bondi and the best bars in Bondi right now for some post-beach treats with a sea breeze.

best beaches sydney urban list quote

Milk Beach

Vaucluse

best beaches sydney nsw milk beach vaucluseImage credit: Destination NSW | Andrew Gregory

Score front seats to Sydney’s best harbour and sunset views and set yourself up on the small but stunning Milk Beach. It’s tucked into the base of Hermit Bay by the heritage-listed Strickland House, with easy access via the Hermitage Foreshore Walk and it’s the ultimate seaside nook for fishing, snorkelling and swimming.

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Palm Beach

Palm Beach

Another glamorous stretch of sand that deserves a spot on any list of Sydney's best beaches, Palm Beach is a 2.3km shoreline with as many drawcards as there are Home and Away episodes (which made this beach famous).

As well as the stunning water, you’ll find a golf course, markets, kayaking, cruises, a lighthouse walk, and incredible restaurants like Barrenjoey House, so your day is guaranteed to be action-packed.

Camp Cove

Watsons Bay

best sydney beaches camp cove beach
Image credit: Destination NSW | Andrew Gregory

Camp Cove is not far from famous Watsons Bay, which you can get to via ferry, but this quiet cove is perfect for families with calm waters and picture-perfect views of Sydney Harbour. Here you can picnic, snorkel, kayak, and even soak up the history of this special spot, and treat yourself to a juice or coffee from the popular kiosk.

A rock shelter at the northern end of the beach features some undated shell-midden deposits—evidence of the Gadigal people and their deep connection to the area.

Cronulla Beach

Cronulla

Cronulla is the only beach in all of Sydney that you are able to reach by train—meaning you don’t have to look for (and pay for) parking, and your stay can last all day.

With year-round pro lifeguards, beautiful rock pools, and a strand of phenomenal restaurants, Cronulla is giving us good vibes only, and is hands-down one of South Sydney's best beaches.

Gordons Bay

Coogee

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Image credit: Destination NSW | Jem Cresswell

Gordons Bay might be considered to be one of Sydney's great secret beaches, but "secret" is a bit of a stretch, considering it is a firm favourite with inner-city locals looking to hang out on the rocks and snorkel the self-guided Gordons Bay Underwater Nature Trail on sunny weekends.

Wedged between Coogee and Clovelly, it's a calm and spacious spot—but only accessible by foot. The actual sand part of this Sydney beach is fairly limited, so make sure you wear appropriate footwear to climb across the rocks for the perfect picnic spot.

Avalon Beach

Avalon

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Image credit: Destination NSW | Guy Williment

Avalon Beach has all the goods, with just about something for everyone. Up north, you’ll find the old trusty longboarders who’ve been surfing this particular break for centuries (pretty much), or head further south and find flags, as well as a few easy waves for the newbies on the block.

Finally, rock up at the edge of the south cliff, known as Little Avalon, for some insane swell and crazy fast barrel surfing.

Bronte Beach

Bronte

The more low-key little sibling of Bondi, Bronte Beach has one of Sydney's best natural ocean pools that little ones (or those who don't want to brave the ocean) will love. Families flock to the protected baths on Sydney’s scorchers and the lap pool at the south end of the beach is one of the best ocean pools in town.

There are heaps of picnic spaces in the grassy park behind the beach, making it a favourite spot for weekend beach BBQs. 

Whale Beach

Whale Beach

best sydney beaches whale beachA little south of Palm Beach, Whale Beach is another Sydney favourite, especially among surfers. "The Wedge" at the north end of the beach is a popular surfing break for more experienced surfers, but if you're not Kelly Slater in the making, Whale Beach also has good beach breaks for body surfing and swimming. You'll also find a playground, picnic area, and a 25m ocean pool. 

Shelly Beach

One of Sydney’s most popular snorkelling and scuba diving beaches, Shelly Beach is definitely a gem you must tick off your list, stat. With a max depth of about 12 metres, a massive variety of marine life, bushwalking tracks and picnic areas, it’s all ticks from us.

Lady Martins Beach

Point Piper

Lady Martins Beach is the backyard of some of the most expensive real estate in the country, and for a good reason. The water here is the up there with the clearest in Sydney and the sand is just as amazing. Bring your dog along and set up camp because this is also one of Sydney's best dog-friendly beaches.

Newport Beach

Newport Beach

This east-facing Sydney beach is known for talented local surfers who hang out around the south headland, known as The Peak, as well as the long stretch of calmer water smack bang in the middle of the beach which is perfect for swimming.

Once you’re done on the sand, there are a few drinks waiting for you at The Newport nearby.

Wattamolla Beach

Royal National Park

best sydney beaches wattamolla beach
Image credit: Destination NSW | Filippo Rivetti

Wattamolla Beach has something to suit everyone. The emerald-green coloured lagoon is perfect for snorkelling and low-key lilo vibes, the beach is an ideal fishing spot, and the picturesque picnic and BBQ area is one of the best in Sydney.

Bilgola Beach

Bilgola Beach

Flanked by the tall cliffs of the Bilgola Bends, this beach feels secluded and tropical. Make sure you stick between the flags at Bilgola Beach, otherwise, you may end up amongst its notorious rips. Head down at the crack of dawn for one of Sydney’s best beach sunrises.

Lady Bay Beach

Watsons Bay

Lady Bay Beach is a low-key harbour beach made for those who love to go for a quiet dip and catch up on a good book. Cozzies are optional here as this is one of Sydney’s few designated nude bathing areas. Be free Sydneysiders. 

Parsley Bay

Vaucluse

best sydney beaches parsley bay beach
Image credit: Destination NSW | Paul McMillan

This insanely Instagrammable beach is one of Sydney’s best-kept beach secrets. There’s a playground to keep the little ones busy and you will have no problem finding shade under the ring of trees that surround the bay.

Hot tip: head here on a weekday before 3pm and it will pretty much feel like your own private beach in the heart of Sydney. 

Murray Rose Pool (Redleaf Beach)

Double Bay

best sydney beaches murray rose pool red leaf beach
Image credit: Destination NSW | andre&dominique

This ocean pool is one of Sydney Harbour’s largest beaches, and it's big enough that you can almost always find a spot on the grass or wrap-around pontoon.

The pool is fenced off so you won't have any unpleasant run-ins with boats (or... other things), and the kiosk turns out snacks and coffees so you can stay all day.

Balmoral Beach

Balmoral

Balmoral Beach is one of Sydney’s best and most popular harbour beaches. It’s also an epic spot to grab some takeaway, have a bite to eat, have a quick dip and soak up a warm Sydney afternoon.

For more summer fun, check out

Main image credit: Destination NSW | Daniel Tran

Urban List Best Of: has our highest stamp of approval—curated lists of the very best recommendations for you to eat, do, see, buy or book, carefully chosen by our Editors.

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