With over 30,000 kms of stunning coastline circling our sun-soaked shores, it’s no wonder we are known for having some of the best beaches in the world – all 10,000 of them!
Considering 85% of us live within an hour’s drive of a beach, that instinctual pull towards pristine stretches of golden sand and glistening seas is only natural. Although some people prefer to steer clear (think fish n chip fights with seagulls, shaking out towels and soft serve ice-creams melting down your arm) most people relish a seaside escape, even if it’s only a day trip. On any given day during Summer, especially between Christmas and Australia Day, the beaches are packed with locals, travellers and tourists alike. And bearing in mind the turbulent two years our tourism industry has just had, now’s the perfect time for a holiday at home.
Whilst many beaches overseas battle plastic pollution, painful pebble strewn shores and overcrowding, our beaches are almost always picture perfect. Be it wild waves and blue-barrel breaks for some serious surfing, to calm waters for fishing, and rockpools and reefs for scuba diving or exploring with the kids, the best beaches in Australia have it all. Some are cookie-cutter crowded shores, and some are more unconventional, hidden away inland or in far-flung corners of the country.
So, pack your bathers, slap on some reef-safe sunscreen, and starting from the top of Australia, let’s work our way down through the finest beaches and bathing spots in each of our sensational states…
Well-known for its vast desert landscapes and the iconic natural wonder that is Uluru, the Northern Territory (aka The Red Centre) may not be front of mind when you’re thinking of a seaside escape. However, with a coastline over 10,000 km long, it’s no surprise the NT is home to some of the best beaches in Australia.
One of the safest beaches is a saltwater lagoon located in the Darwin Waterfront Precinct. Protected from jellyfish by stinger nets and monitored by local lifeguards, there’s a sandy shore man-made beach for those wanting to relax, and a wave pool for some family fun.
The tropical sands of Wagait Beach are also a must-see, and it’s just a quick ferry ride from Darwin. A people and dog friendly beach, you’ll see WWII Gunner Posts and dingoes on the banks, and spot dolphins, turtles, and manta rays from the shoreline. Other beaches nearby include Inmaluk beach and Harney’s beach, which are home to red volcanic cliffs and freshwater creeks. Ormiston Gorge, near Alice Springs, is a nice novelty, as a lake surrounded by sand, or you can head up to one of the most northern sections of sand in the country - Bremer Island - in Arnhem Land.
When exploring the waterways of the NT, always be sure to consult locals first about Sacred Sites and the safest spots to swim to avoid crocodiles and jellyfish!
They don’t call Queensland the Sunshine State for no reason, and with over 1,700 beaches within it, it’s well worth a visit (for the first time, or umpteenth time).
If you’re keen to sightsee on the Sunshine Coast, you can’t go past the stunning white sands and big surf waves of the Noosa Main Beach. Or on the other side of Brisbane, down South on the Gold Coast, Burleigh Heads is a great place to unwind and soak up the sun, and makes for a more laid-back alternative to some of the area’s livelier beaches.
On Fraser Island you’ll discover a freshwater beach, Lake Birrabeen, or nestled nearby, Rainbow Beach, most coveted for its rippled rainbow dunes. Often dubbed ‘Australia’s cleanest beach’, the Hawaiian-style beach Palm Cove is 20 minutes north of Cairns and lined with picturesque palm trees, or if you’re more into fauna than flora, you can watch wallabies out and about at sunrise at Cape Hillsborough National Park’s Casuarina Beach. And don’t forget the aquamarine waters of Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas, which was actually named after a local family, not the literal length of the beach (which is 4 kms not miles).
Other spots such as Kings Beach, Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island, and Whitehaven Beach in The Whitsundays are also contenders for some of the best beaches in QLD. And if you’ve always wanted to make a James Bond-esque entrance, you can splurge on a helicopter ride to Vlasoff Cay in Far North Queensland – a secluded smudge of sand in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef.
New South Wales
When you think of a quintessentially Aussie Summer afternoon on the beach, you’ll probably think of Sydney’s Bondi Beach. From swimming, surfing and frisbee between the flags, to building sand castles or playing cricket on the shore, Bondi suits all ages and abilities. Already a tourist attraction (made even more so by the Bondi Rescue boys), you can swim on the beach or in the Icebergs Pool which overlooks it, whilst Manly Beach is the jewel in the Northern Beaches crown.
Some of the best beaches in NSW require you to venture a little further out. Wattamolla Beach is snuggled between a green lagoon and the ocean, whilst Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay is in the Guinness Book of Records for having the whitest sand in the world, juxtaposed against pristine sapphire blue waters – very worthy of a place on your Instagram feed!
If the main beach in Byron Bay is a bit busy, you can always wander over to little Wategos Beach, tucked away from the town centre and popular with surfers and families alike.
Other hot spots include the soft sands of Cabarita Beach on the Tweed Coast, Seven Mile Beach in the Shoalhaven area, and the riverside Wagga beach. On Lord Howe Island, you can handfeed friendly wild fish at Ned’s Beach, or take a dip at Blinky Beach - ideal for keen surfers, bodyboarders and strong swimmers.
On Australia’s southeast side, the beautiful beaches list continues. Wilsons Prom claims Squeaky Beach, which (as the name suggests) is fun for all the family, with impressive granite boulders marking either end, whilst the secluded Refuge Cove offers a peaceful, shaded spot.
Ocean Grove has a great family atmosphere, with a Surf Living Saving Club and canteen. Ninety Mile Beach in Gippsland is shouldered by sand dunes, and the views are flat and never ending, and Mallacoota has a trio of hidden coastal gems: Betka Beach for the kids to paddle in, Quarry Beach has colourful rock stacks, and Secret Beach has rockpools and small sea caves to explore.
Travel along the famous Great Ocean Road and you’ll come across some of the best beaches in Victoria – too many to mention, in fact! At the start, near Torquay, is Bells Beach, famous for holding the annual The Rip Curl Pro surfing competition. Further along, Apollo Bay’s swimming beach has a grassy foreshore perfect for a picnic. At the tail end, The Twelve Apostles. If you’re feeling fit and keen to see their majesty up-close, you can walk down the cliffs to the beach - Gibson Steps – and marvel at two of the legendary limestone stacks from the water or shore.
Or if you’re a city slicker keen to stay in Melbourne and make the most of daylight savings, you don’t have to travel far to go to the beach and back. St Kilda beach has a great view of the city skyline from the pier, with the Palais Theatre and Luna Park on its doorstep, and Brighton Beach is picture perfect with its iconic painted bathing boxes.
Famous for having the freshest air in the world, Tasmania is jam packed with stunning scenery. Hobart may be the capital, but it still has its secrets. Coningham Beach is just a short drive away, but it’s often deserted and the views are spectacular, with Mt Wellington on one side, and Bruny Island on the other.
A perfect beach prototype and one of Australia’s most photographed spots, Wineglass Bay is a crescent moon shaped strip of snow-white sand and green-blue waters and a must-see for travellers. Bay of Fires is a blend of azure blue sea and burnt orange boulders, and Boat Harbour Beach is a quiet slice of paradise, with civilisation never far away (the town centre sits high above sea-level, and there’s a small community below between the two rocky headlands).
The curved Hopground Beach on Maria Island boasts incredible marbled, honey-coloured Painted Cliffs, sandstone streaked in red, orange and yellow, and lapping crystal-clear waters. They’re wonderous to behold, and even more excitingly, the area is home to endangered Tasmanian devils!
And not all of Tasmania’s beaches are on the coast. Buried deep in the Denison Ranges, Lake Rhona’s quartzite sands are a stunning sight, completely surrounded by rugged bushland and towering pinnacles.
Starting in and around Adelaide, there’s the family-friendly Glenelg beach (the most popular metropolitan beach), Henley beach (surrounded by seafood eateries), and Semaphore beach (with a beautiful boulevard of Art Deco buildings). A bit further out, and Port Noarlunga, Christies Beach and Moana are perfect for families as swells never get too rough.
The Fleurieu Peninsula is renowned for its world-famous wine and beaches, including Rapid Bay and Maslin Beach - and fun fact: the southern end of the latter has the distinction of being Australia's first legal nudist beach!
Kangaroo Island has an array of gorgeous beaches. Stokes Bay is squeezed between giant boulders, whilst Vivonne Bay Beach adds a touch of the tropics with its jetty and glass-like water, and is often referred to as the prettiest beach in the region.
And the Eyre Peninsula features two very Insta-worthy spots: Almonta Beach inside Coffin Bay National Park and the rock pool retreat that is Greenly Beach.
As Australia’s largest state (covering almost one third of the country), Western Australia is brimming with natural beauties.
Pretty as a picture, Cottesloe Beach is a 1km long Perth icon. Only 20 minutes’ drive from the city centre, Scarborough Beach has the option of a heated open-air pool, whilst 30 minutes from Perth, you’ll find Burns Beach with its spectacular white-sands. Cable Beach, in Broome, is shoreline is well-known for camel rides, south sea pearls and water sports, whilst Eighty Mile Beach, situated between Broome and Port Hedland (actually 220km, and the longest uninterrupted beach in WA), is scattered with tropical seashells, rocky shores, seagrass meadows, tidal creeks and mangrove-lined muddy bays.
Rottnest Island (home to the adorable Quokka) has some great beaches, in particular The Basin or the more sheltered Little Salmon Bay, and be sure to check out Bathurst Lighthouse atop chalky white cliffs on the banks of Pinky Beach. Albany has Middleton Beach, Little Beach and Waterfall Beach, Coral Bay Beach has an abundance of marine life to swim with, or you can visit the serene Duke Of Orleans Bay - just over an hour’s drive from Esperance.
There are still a lot more vying for a shout-out on the best beaches in WA list, and notable mentions include Turtle Bay (in the Shark Bay World Heritage area on the edges of the Indian Ocean), Mullaloo Beach, Meelup Beach in Margaret River, the umbrella lined Rockingham Beach, the stunning Turquoise Bay, the rocky Red Bluff Beach on Quobba Station and Lucky Bay – home to blue waters and wallabies! And for something a little different, check out Shell Beach (with shoes on) for a stunning vista of 70 kms of tiny white shells – no sand – that’s up to 10 metres deep!
People4Ocean are committed to leading by example. A percentage of all sales go back into restoring our reefs which is the passion behind the brand. So, whether it’s using our sunscreens or doing your bit and picking up rubbish when you’re at the beach, let’s keep our beaches in a great state to be enjoyed by many generations to come...