A combination of superlative waves, swathes of soft sand, and outstanding nature reserves make Australia’s beaches utterly beguiling. As the sixth-largest country in the world, spanning the tropical shores of North Queensland to the vibrant city beaches of Sydney in New South Wales, and Tasmania’s quiet coves in the south, Australia has a pristine shore to suit every type of beach lover.
Discover the 15 best beaches in Australia below.
Bondi Beach, Sydney
One of the most famous beaches in Australia, Bondi is a beautiful blond swathe of Sydney’s coastline easily reached from the city center. At just under one mile long, Bondi has plenty of space in which to sink your toes into the soft sand. Join locals in the surf and indulge in the area’s renowned café culture on Campbell Parade, which lines the beach.
Beach facilities include public showers, a surf school, and board hire. If you’re visiting on the weekend, stop by Bondi Farmers Market on Saturday or Bondi Markets on Sunday, located within the grounds of Bondi Beach Public School, for delicious local produce and arts and crafts.
Head off on the three-and-three-quarter-mile Bondi to Coogee walk for more breathtaking views. Start at Bondi Icebergs Club—a swim club where the ocean pool seamlessly blends with the sea—the coastal walk takes in Tamarama, Bronte, and Clovelly beaches.
You’ll have earned an ice-cold beer, glass of wine, or refreshing soda by the time you reach Coogee. There’s a raw bar serving freshly shucked oysters, juicy shrimp, and sublime snapper ceviche at Coogee Pavilion.
Noosa Heads Main Beach, Queensland
Noosa Heads Main Beach is a gleaming white stretch in the laid-back town of Noosa. Lying 86 miles north of Brisbane, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Noosa Heads Main Beach is one of the best beaches in Australia for its pristine sand and shimmering clear waters.
From jet skis to paddleboarding, an abundance of watersports facilities are available. Depending on the timing of your visit, whale watching tours are also a possibility. You can walk a section of the Noosa Trail Network, made up of eight bushwalks offering fabulous bird watching and horseback riding opportunities.
Aside from its beach, Noosa Heads is a vibrant town with ample shopping, dining, and drinking options. Wander down Hastings Street, home to some of the best independent stores and restaurants on Australia’s east coast.
Balmoral Beach, Sydney
Beautiful Balmoral Beach is an effortless day trip from downtown Sydney. Take the F2 ferry service from Circular Quay to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, a journey that takes just over 10 minutes, and walk to Balmoral Beach from there, which will take another 30 minutes.
Balmoral’s golden sweep is punctuated by a timber jetty, leading to boats that gently bob in the harbor. There’s a lovely headland walk to the nearby Cobblers Beach, an idyllic cove just to the east of Balmoral.
Positioned harborside, Balmoral Beach is shielded from the big waves and high winds that some of Sydney’s other famous beaches are exposed to, making it perfect for swimming.
You could also rent a kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or don your snorkel gear to take advantage of the calm waters. A well-stocked beach kiosk and several restaurants by the beach serve everything from fish and chips to modern Australian fare.
Nudey Beach, Fitzroy Island
Fitzroy is a lush, rainforest-covered island located just off Cairns, in Tropical North Queensland, home to the serene Nudey Beach. Take a 45-minute ferry from Cairns to Welcomes Bay and head off on the Nudey Beach Walking Track, weaving through the rainforest to reach the secluded beach.
Look out for some of the island’s remarkable wildlife on the way, including chalcophaps, also known as emerald doves, ospreys, and buff-breasted paradise kingfishers.
Nudey is a coral and white sand beach with a scattering of dramatic, giant boulders. Being surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef means snorkeling is one of the most popular activities here. Remember, it’s illegal to damage or remove coral—even the dead coral found on the shore.
Shelly Beach, Sydney
Lesser-known by tourists but loved by locals, Shelly Beach in Manly is one of the best beaches in Australia for its glistening cove and protected marine reserve that forms part of Cabbage Tree Bay.
Pack a snorkel and goggles because Shelly Beach is a desirable spot for viewing the local marine life. There’s also a lovely headland bushwalk that traces Manly’s coastline, providing spectacular views of North Head and the Northern Beaches.
Facilities at Shelly Beach include showers, bathrooms, two electric barbecues that are free to use, and The Boathouse, a popular lunch spot for its delicious brunch and fresh seafood options.
Whitehaven Beach, The Whitsundays
Central to the Great Barrier Reef, the unspoiled Whitehaven, within the Whitsunday Islands National Park, is one of the best beaches in Australia.
Getting to Whitehaven Beach is a thrilling adventure involving a breezy ferry journey from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island, followed by a high-speed catamaran jaunt. You could also opt to take in Whitehaven Beach by helicopter or seaplane from the mainland.
One of the most beautiful places in Australia, you’ll be met with almost four miles of pristine white sand and candy-like swirls of turquoise water here. Pack all that you’ll need for a day at the beach, including sunscreen, a towel, and refreshments. You’ll also need sunglasses; the sand here is dazzlingly bright. Make sure there’s a full charge on your smartphone, as you’ll be taking photos in every direction.
Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast
Less than an hour’s drive south from Brisbane, you could find yourself in Surfers Paradise, one of the most famous beaches in Australia, loved, as its name suggests, by surfers.
If you’re planning on trying a surf lesson, this is the spot to do it. Hire a board and book a lesson or simply sink your toes into the sand and soak up the endless ocean views.
You’ll find plenty of restaurants and bars among the high-rise beachfront condos and hotels that line Surfers Paradise. You can also check out SkyPoint Observation Deck on the 77th story of the Q1 Building, the world’s tallest residential building (for context, it’s taller than the Chrysler building in New York City).
Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas
Four Mile Beach is a wonderland of palm-fringed wispy sand, bordered by thick rainforests and colorful reefs in Port Douglas, North Queensland. One of the best things to do in Port Douglas is join a boat tour to explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed and famed Australian landmark, the Great Barrier Reef.
Take a dip in a section of the lifeguard-protected ocean at the north end of the beach and kick back in the shade under an umbrella. If you’re feeling active, one of the best things to do in Port Douglas is to follow the trail to Trinity Bay Lookout on Flagstaff Hill for stunning views of the Coral Sea.
Directly off Four Mile Beach, Macrossan Street is Port Douglas’s commercial center, with stores selling souvenirs and crafts and casual bars, restaurants, and cafés lining the vibrant row.
Bells Beach, near Melbourne
Bells Beach is nestled on Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road, a 150-mile route that snakes from Torquay to Allansford, and an easy day trip from Melbourne. Home of the Rip Curl Pro Surfing competition, Bells Beach attracts some of the world’s top surfers and is one of the best beaches in Australia for riding the waves.
Once you’ve taken in the views of the ocean from the green-covered cliffs on either side of Bells Beach, pay a visit to one of the outstanding local wineries. Bellbrae Estate Winery is a good choice, just a short drive from Bells Beach. Savor a wood-fired pizza and a flight of the Estate’s wines at Bellbrae’s Cellar Door.
Nobbys Beach, Newcastle
Nobbys Beach is a long, curved strip in Newcastle, New South Wales, found at the northern point of Bathers Way walk. This family-friendly shore is backed by soft dunes, which creates the perfect setting for a relaxing day at the beach. Facilities include a kiosk selling food and drinks and surf lessons led by Newcastle Surf School.
Enjoy a walk from the beach to Nobbys Head Lighthouse, which has guarded the harbor since 1854, and look out for dolphins playing in the ocean. You could also follow Shortland Esplanade south of Nobbys Beach to admire the art deco Newcastle Ocean Baths on the waterfront at Newcastle Beach. Better still, drop in for a swim at the ocean pool.
Palm Cove, Cairns
Palm Cove is one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches, known for its charming esplanade with cafés, restaurants, and centuries-old Melaleuca trees. While the honey-hued Palm Cove will inevitably lure you in, you could combine your time here with an unusual excursion.
Just a 30-minute drive from Palm Cove is the Kuranda Scenic Railway, a vintage train that chugs through the dense rainforest, stopping at the village of Kuranda. Here you can visit the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, the largest butterfly flight aviary in the southern hemisphere, and stop by Kuranda Heritage Market to pick up homespun crafts and art.
One of the best things to do in Cairns if your plans include lazing on the beach is to find a patch of sand from which to watch locals fishing for mackerel, whiting, and grunter, off Palm Cove Jetty at the north end of the beach.
White Beach, near Hobart
White Beach is huddled in Wedge Bay, on the Tasman Peninsula, just 10 minutes from Port Arthur Historic Site and roughly a 90-minute drive from Hobart.
You’re more likely to bump into local dog walkers than visitors here, so if you’re searching for a chalk-white beach with a wild, authentic feel, this is the one for you. Popular activities on White Beach include swimming, walking, and sunbathing. The only facilities are a parking lot and WC.
On your way back to Hobart, stop by the pretty Port Arthur Lavender farm, home to 18 acres of lavender fields, forests, and lakes overlooking the vast blue ocean. Wander around the fragrant, purple fields, typically in flower in December and January. Try a refreshing lavender ice tea before continuing on your journey.
Bittangabee Bay, Eden
This New South Wales nook is tucked into a crescent-shaped cove, framed by Ben Boyd National Park, just a 50-minute drive south of Eden. Bittangabee Bay is accessed from the southern precinct of Ben Boyd National Park and provides extraordinary views of the Pacific Ocean.
Pack a picnic to enjoy lunch on the shore. Binoculars are handy, too, for spotting native birdlife. You may even spot seals and humpback whales, depending on the timing of your visit.
There’s a lovely 15-minute walk from Bittangabee Bay to Green Cape, which takes in the tail end of the signposted Light to Light walk, skirting through the bush. Keep your eyes peeled for possums and marsupials such as wombats and bandicoots.
Currumbin Beach, Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is home to some of the most magnificent beaches on the planet, and Currumbin is one of them. A stunning swathe of white sand, Currumbin Alley, or “Alley”, as it’s known to locals, is just over an hour’s drive south from Brisbane.
Pick up a board to take advantage of the consistent, year-round waves, with Currumbin Alley Surf School offering surf lessons for all ages and abilities. A handful of casual eateries dotted around the beach mainly serve fresh seafood, but you’ll find a range of dishes at the beachside Currumbin Beach Vikings Surf Life Saving Club.
Following a beach session, stop by to meet the residents of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, just a short walk from the beach. You’ll see some of the famous wildlife that Australia is known for, including koalas, kangaroos, crocodiles, and emus.
Airlie Bay, Airlie Beach
Located in the Whitsundays region of Northern Queensland, Airlie Beach’s eponymous shore is a palm-fringed bay with attractive turquoise water. Airlie Beach has a lively ambiance, with a buzzy oceanfront promenade that was given a sleek makeover in 2019, bursting with alfresco restaurants, cafés, bars, markets, and shopping.
While Airlie Beach is a destination in itself, it’s also the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef, with boat tours, snorkeling, diving, and swimming all popular activities to try.
Australia’s beaches are among the best in the world. Explore luxury cruises to Australia and discover the country’s gorgeous beaches, all within easy reach of exciting destinations including Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Hobart.