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An Expat’s Guide: Best Beaches in Sydney

One of the first things you think of when Australia comes to mind is its beaches. Annnnd maybe the hot surfers that usually go along with those very beaches. I mean what’s not to love? The beautiful vibrant colors of the ocean offset against the massive rock cliffs and headlands. The endless walks along the beach with something new to look at with every corner. There’s surfing, beach volleyball, cricket, walks, snorkeling… Or you can spend the whole day laying out on your towel reading a great book (wearing lots and lots of sunscreen of course!)

While Sydney is known on postcards around the world for Bondi Beach, Manly Beach and Coogee Beach, I thought I would put together a little list of the best beaches coming from an expat’s perspective. These beaches are Sydney’s true gems and some of the best kept secrets from the tourists.

1.) Milk Beach


Tucked away at the bottom of Hermit Bay within the Sydney Harbour National Park, Milk Beach truly is a hidden gem. First off, it’s quite difficult to actually get to without a car, but once you hike through a bit of the National Park, and you see the view Milk Beach has to offer, it definitely is all worth it. We had the entire beach to ourself, which is a small beach to begin with, but it’s a perfect little getaway with the city just a few kilometers away. Milk Beach has an uninterrupted view of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, City Skyline and North Sydney. Once you’re there, there’s plenty to do – fishing, snorkeling, relaxing, etc. It’s one of my favourite spots in Sydney.

2.) Freshwater Beach


Ahh Freshie – a cute, little beach wedged between two headlands in the Northern Beaches. Freshwater has one of the best rock pools in all of Sydney with eight lanes, offering an alternative to swimming in the ocean. It’s not as crowded as the very close Manly Beach, but still offers plenty to do. It’s a local family beach, with the claim to fame as the first beach to popularise surfboard riding in Australia.

3.) Palm Beach


Situated at the very end of Sydney’s long stretch of Northern Beaches, Palm Beach has its own unique spin on the Sydney lifestyle. It’s about an hours drive North from the city, and oozes a sense of small beach town vibes. From restaurants inside a boathouse and small fish & chips shops all across the main road, you can feel the difference between Palm Beach and the beaches closer to the city. Not only is the drive to Palm Beach stunning in itself, the actual beach is a massive stretch with the headlands on both sides. It’s a great spot to spend a few days and totally relax!

4.) Newport Beach


Facing due East, Newport Beach is open to swells coming from any direction, which is why it’s one of the better spots for surfing! Newport boasts of a long stretch of beach making it great for a long walk on the sand, and also has a rock pool at the south end. I love Newport because there’s always something going on here, whether it’s a run or a beach swim or community event. There’s also some great bars in the area as well!

5.) Balmoral Beach


“pic credit – my boating life”

While it’s not necessarily a beach, Balmoral is hands down one of my favourite spots in Sydney. It’s more of a bay with giant, expensive houses and boats surrounding the area and a gorgeous view of the “heads” opening up to the ocean. There’s great spots for a Bacon & Egg Roll for brekkie or fish & chips for lunch with big trees offering shade on the lawn. If you walk from the North to South you can truly see how much there is to do across the beach and into the bay!

6.) Shelly Beach


Most tourists have walked around the iconic Manly Beach, but what they don’t know is just a short walk away lies a stunning, little beach with some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling around. Shelly Beach has a maximum depth of 12 meters and has a large variety of marine life to swim around with! It’s not only a great beach with barbecues and picnic tables, it’s also a really beautiful walk from Manly, as well.

If you’re in Sydney, you’ve got to give these beaches a go! They truly capture the Aussie spirit and you will never forget the beauty and fun. I hope you get to experience these beaches one day, of course with loads of sunscreen on 😉

Do you know of any beaches in Sydney that can top these?


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  • Reply Laura March 31, 2015 at 10:31 am

    ah! I miss those beaches. Balmoral is definitely my favorite, with Milk Beach coming in a close second. I never made it to Newport, but I heard it was a great spot.

    • Reply KP Schwan March 31, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      Balmoral truly is amazing! Have you ever done the Balmoral Burn running up the big hill??

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