Sydney’s Best Beaches

With summer well and truly in full force, it’s hard to resist going to the beach every weekend…which is exactly what I’ve been doing! I usually like to make a whole day out of it, and with Sydney’s horrible public transport system I tend to drive everywhere as well. Heading to the beach makes a great day activity, but with so many options, which one is right for you? Here’s a round-up of our favourites, with our little guide covering all the necessities including location, facilities, transport and food options.

BALMORAL

Located on the Lower North Shore, the beach is split into two sections and is a popular spot for families. The area is very flat and has an abundance of seating options including beach, grassy areas and a wooden boardwalk. Known for its calm waves and relative lack of tourists. Paddle boarding rental is available as well.

Transport: Car is the best option but there are also many buses that come here. No immediate train station (the closest one is St Leonards which isn’t very close at all). Paid parking anywhere within 200m or so to the beach, but if you’re happy for a longer walk of 10 minutes up the hill you’ll find an abundance of free parking.

Who you’ll see: Family friendly and patronised by people of all ages. Very few tourists make the effort to come here.

Facilities: Everything you need – showers, toilets, change rooms, BBQs

Food: There are a few options including the famous Boathouse to the expensive Public Dining Room with gorgeous waterfront views. There are a few cheap options but not many. Recommendation is to stop by Mosman (try The Burger Shed) where there are an abundance of cafes and restaurants with takeaway options.

 

BONDI

Arguably Sydney’s most famous beach, even with its own TV show. Large and gorgeous, but despite its size there are some hidden downsides as well.

Transport: Plenty of buses from Bondi Junction station. Driving not recommended as the traffic in and out of Bondi is usually terrible. 95% of parking is paid. There are a few streets nearby which are free but vacant spaces are far and few. Free parking can be found in neighbouring suburbs, but requires approx. 20 minute walk.

Who you’ll see: A lot of good looking, tanned and athletic people, keen to show off their summer shred. But aside from them, everyone comes to Bondi – kids, adults, families and seniors too. And also a lot of tourists, as expected for Sydney’s most famous beach. You might also find yourself on camera for Bondi Rescue, so be sensible in the water!

Facilities: Showers, toilets, change rooms, BBQs and also an abundance of retail stores

Food: Huge range of café and restaurant options, from your corner store fish & chips to gourmet luxury. Try Banana Blossom for some quick tasty fare or Bondi Hardware for a lazy long lunch

 

BRONTE

Bronte is Bondi’s smaller cousin, just a short stroll along the scenic coastal walk. It’s significantly smaller than Bondi, but there’s also the Bronte Pools here which are a more attractive option for those that like calmer waters. Plenty of grassy space for picnic and BBQ-goers.

Transport: Similar to Bondi – plenty of buses from Bondi Junction station. Short walk from Bondi Beach if you’d like to experience both in the same day. All parking in the near vicinity is paid, free parking starts approx. 15 minute walk away.

Who you’ll see: More families compared to Bondi, but overall still a wide range across all age groups. Slightly less tourists. May seem more crowded due to the smaller space.

Facilities: Showers, toilets, change rooms, BBQs

Food: Some nice café options along the road adjacent to the beach. Long lines though given the smaller selection.

 

FRESHWATER BEACH

Located on the Northern Beaches, this is one of the quieter beaches which lets you escape the crowds of Manly, yet  it still proves popular among locals.

Transport: Car is your best option here. The Northern Beaches are not serviced by trains and do have buses, although they are not known to be very reliable.

Who you’ll see: More teens and adults who are local to the Northern Beaches area. Some families will come here as well.

Facilities: Showers, toilets

Food: Few food options here. Best to bring your own food.

 

LITTLE MANLY BEACH

Smaller cousin of Manly Beach on the Northern Beaches, approx. a 10-15 minute walk away. Much smaller, but on the bright side, nowhere near as crowded either.

Transport: Walking from Manly is your best bet (ferries/buses are the best option to Manly). Driving is not recommended due to the limited car spaces which are all taken by residents.

Who you’ll see: Mainly families here. Few tourists as they tend to stay in the populated Manly area.

Facilities: Showers, toilets, change rooms, BBQ

Food: A few food options here with cafes and tuck shops. Otherwise, Manly is a great place for food with an abundance of café and restaurant options.

 

MILK BEACH

A super tiny beach that offers little sand, but is better utilised for the grassy areas where sunbathers lay and hiking trails for those looking for a bit more activity. Spectacular harbour views are on offer here as well with panoramic sights of the Harbour Bridge and the city skyline.

Transport: A combination of train and buses are your best bet to the expensive suburb of Vaucluse. Driving is possible but roads are extremely narrow and parking scarce.

Who you’ll see: Mainly teens, young adults and fitness buffs keen to work on their tan. Few families or tourists around.

Facilities: Nothing. You’ll actually need to make use of the bushes…

Food: Bring your own food and water, there are no nearby stores.

 

MURRAY ROSE POOL

Down a few suburbs from Milk Beach is the Murray Rose Pool. Not technically a beach, but it offers a narrow strip of sand along with an enclosed pool and board walk.

Transport: Friendly to all forms of transport. Trains, ferries and buses will bring you here, and there is plenty of parking in the neighbouring suburbs.

Who you’ll see: Mainly youth, adults and members of the LGBT community. A few families, but not many.

Facilities: Showers, toilets, change rooms.

Food: A small tuck shop on site. For a better selection, walk to Double Bay or Rose Bay for a great selection of cafes.

 

PARSLEY BAY BEACH

A quiet, reserved, family friendly area that offers expansive shallow waters. Situated a short walk from Watsons Bay. Half of it is grassy and the other half sand, offering an abundance of picnic, sporting and sunbathing areas.

Transport: Driving/public transport are your best options here. There is limited parking on site that usually fills up in the morning. Otherwise the neighbouring suburbs also ha street parking. Taking a ferry to Watsons Bay coupled with a short walk is also possible.

Who you’ll see: A lot of families, along with some youth and adults.

Facilities: Showers, toilets, change rooms, BBQ

Food: Bring your own food and water, there are no nearby stores other than the few restaurants at Watsons Bay.

 

ROSE BAY

Wide, expansive and shallow waters makes Rose Bay a popular area for those keen to get into water sports. Paddle boards and kayaks are available for rental and you can even paddle to some other nearby beaches. The shallow waters also make it a popular spot for dog owners with dogs often seen chasing after a ball through the water.

Transport: Friendly to all forms of transport. Trains, ferries and buses will bring you here, and there is plenty of parking in the neighbouring suburbs.

Who you’ll see: A mixture of all types of people, minus the tourists.

Facilities: Toilets

Food: There are an abundance of cafes in the Rose Bay area.

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