10 Best Australian Beaches
Australia is an island surrounded by water on all sides. To the east lies the South Pacific Ocean; west the Indian Ocean; to the north the Timor, Arafura and Coral Seas; and to the south the Southern Ocean and Tasman Sea; and the Bass Strait separating Tasmania from the mainland.
Australia has some of the most stunning beaches on the planet and the vast coastline stretches for nearly 37,000 km, which includes 11,011 beaches - more than any other nation, so you're spoiled for choice!
Most of Australia's cities and towns are located on the coast, which amounts to 12 million people, or 85% of Australia's lucky population living within one hour's drive of the coastline.
Australia's coast extends through a wide range of climates from the tropical areas in the north to temperate/maritime areas in the south. Environments include rainforest, mangroves, estuaries, rocky and sandy shores, cliffs, islands, towns, cities and coastal communities. It’s hard to pick just ten, but we’ve done our best…
1. Bay of Fires, Tasmania
The Bay of Fires is in fact a whole 29-kilometre coastline that extends from extends from Binalong Bay in the south to Eddystone Point in the north. Clean white sand, lush forest, azure blue water and dramatic red rocks combine to make this tranquil place one of Tasmania’s top attractions – yet no one is there. It’s a good choice for a campervan destination as there is also an amazing selection of scenic beach camping sites along a well-maintained dirt road. The facilities consist of a couple of long drop toilets, but it's all free.
2. Kirra Beach, Gold Coast, Qld
This beach has for many years has been a favourite surfing point for many bronzed surfers worldwide and many surfing legends learned on Kirra’s rolling waves. Located just above the state line in Queensland’s southernmost town, there are challenging barrels for the experienced surfer, as well as smaller waves closer to shore for beginners. Hard-core surfers will tell you that this beach is only a shadow of its former self, destroyed by a government sand-pumping project in 2002, but this is still iconic Australia. When the swell is right, you’ll see perfect barrels (not to mention perfect bodies).
3. Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, Far North Qld.
Picturesque Port Douglas has become an international holiday mecca and Four Mile Beach is the jewel in the crown. Spanning – you guessed it – four miles down the side of the peninsula the town sits on, it shares the same tropical latitude as Tahiti, and you can tell. The sea is turquoise, the sun is warm, the palms sway, and the low-rise hotels artfully hidden in the trees don’t spoil anything. Port Douglas’ pretty, old-fashioned charm and proximity to the reef attracts thousands of visitors each year but even in the high season you’ll always be able to find a whole section of the beach to yourself.
4. Cable Beach, Broome, W.A.
Renowned as one of the most stunning beaches in the world, whoever said so would be right. Twenty two kms of blinding white silica sand fringe the Bombay Sapphire-coloured waters of the Indian Ocean, providing dazzling surrounds for swimming and relaxing – just don’t relax so much between November and March that you forget about the stingers though! The sunsets are magnificent, there is a variety of watersports available, or you can take one of the sunset camel rides that operate daily along the beach.
5. Hyams Beach, Jervis bay, N.S.W
Famed for having the whitest sand in the world (which squeaks as you walk) - and wear sun block if you decide to stroll along it, because the reflection from the sun even on a cloudy day can give you a nasty sunburn! It’s family-friendly, the water is warm, blue and clear, and the beachside Jervis Blue Café is excellent.
6. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Qld.
On uninhabited Whitsunday Island near the Great Barrier Reef, Whitehaven Beach is a 6km expanse of pure white silica sand gently blending into aquamarine water. The beach, so dazzling that it hurts to look at without sunglasses, can be reached on a day-trip from Airlie Beach on the mainland. There are hundreds of similar tropical islands in this area.
7. Twilight Cove, Esperance, W.A.
Twilight Cove, as the name suggests comes to life at twilight and after dark when there’s a full moon. Esperance, small yet beautiful, is known as the 'Bay of Isles'. Wide sandy beaches, scenic coastlines and the panorama of offshore islands of the Recherche Archipelago are all part of its charm. Twilight Cove is only a 10 minute drive from the Esperance town. It's a pretty spot even in the day with stunningly blue water and unusual rock formations. Located in the Nuytsland Nature Reserve, Twilight Cove is famous along the Nullarbor for its 70 metre limestone cliffs which overlook the Great Australian Bight. Access to the Cove is by 4WD vehicles only through the Nuytsland Nature Reserve so you’ll have to hire one or find someone to drive you – but it’s worth mentioning this magical spot anyway.
8. Cape Leveque, Dampier Peninsula, W.A.
We’ve mentioned Broome but even further north you’ll find equally stunning beaches which are, for now, largely remote, although that’s beginning to change. One of the best things about Cape Leveque is that there are no crocodiles, no stingers, nothing to spoil the fun. You can swim here all day, any day of the year, and that's very unusual at northern West Australia beaches. The red rocks against the turquoise ocean are already stunning during the day, but in the evening sun they seem to really glow.
9. Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, Qld.
A very beautiful beach on a very beautiful island. Lying to the north of this World Heritage listed island, it feels very secluded and far away from everything. You’re on a small island with a small local community of around 200 people. A street runs alongside the beach with a number of holiday accommodation places, restaurants, cafes and bars so you can sit, relax, have a drink and watch the waves lapping against the shore. There’s also Horseshoe Bay Lagoon (a short walk from Horseshoe Bay Beach to the Lagoon Environmental Park) where you‘ll find a wide variety of birds including the Jabira, Brolga, and the Nankeen Night-heron. Horseshoe Bay, and in fact the whole island, is an utterly charming place. Magnetic Island is a short ferry ride from Townsville (which can only take vehicles up to 5m in length).
10. Shelly Beach, Sydney, N.S.W.
Manly Beach is one of Sydney’s most famous but Shelley Beach (just further south) facing north (one of the few on the east coast) and sheltered inside a cove, is a stunning place. Catch a ferry across from Circular Quay in the morning –if it’s summer, take one of the older ferries, which although are slower and take twice as long, you can go on the deck and take longer to appreciate the stunning views looking back at the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The beach itself is a protected marine reserve perfect for lunching, snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving and sunbathing, and it really is stunning coming around the corner of the bay as the Opera House and Harbour Bridge with the backdrop of Sydney skyline slowly unfolds before you.