Sydney’s Coastal Waters: Where Should You Swim?

Sydney boasts some of the most beautiful and accessible beaches in the world, ranging from family-friendly sheltered coves, secret harbour hideaways and world famous stretches of pure, white sand. With over 100 stunning beaches to choose from, many within 10 km of the city and serviced by cafes, toilets and changing facilities, we’re completely spoilt for choice.

Never be left out on things to do in Sydney this summer. Head out to breathtaking Sydney beaches! Here are our favourites:


Family-friendly beaches

Sydney is home to plenty of beaches popular with kids and parents alike, with many treating visitors to calm water and heaps of shade, as well as changing facilities, playgrounds, BBQ areas, cafes and delightful walking paths to explore.

Some of the best family-friendly beaches include:

  • Nielsen Park, Vaucluse – offering stunning city views, calm and clear water, plenty of shade-providing trees, a café and three picnic areas, this beach is popular year-round for good reason. Soak up the spectacular views by taking a stroll along the Hermitage Foreshore Walk, one of Sydney’s most beautiful coastal trails.
  • Balmoral Beach, Mosman – a sheltered harbour beach with a backdrop of shady parkland, panoramic bay views, coastal and inland walking tracks, as well as plenty of waterside and street eateries.
  • Chinaman’s Beach, Mosman – a kilometre away from Mosman’s Balmoral Beach, this quiet but beautiful beach inside Middle Harbour serves up calm, lapping water that rarely breaks into anything more than a gentle wave.
  • Camp Cove, Watsons Bay – a five-minute walk from the Watsons Bay ferry terminal, this small beach is popular with families due to its calm waters, gorgeous views and safe snorkelling opportunities straight off the beach.
  • Coogee Beach & Wylie’s Baths – boasting two sea baths, including the only women and children’s ocean bath to still exist – Coogee is a wonderful and safe place for a family beach day. Those fancying one of Australia’s greatest coastal walks can start or end the magnificent Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk here.
  • Clovelly Beach – the narrow shape of this small and tranquil bay makes it seem more like a sheltered ocean pool. With steps into the sea, easy snorkelling opportunities, a separate ocean pool and plenty of grassy areas for picnics, it’s an ideal beach for children and families.
  • Cronulla Beach – combine long stretches of beautiful white sand with soft rolling waves, throw in a huge playground, lots of shade, an abundance of cafes and restaurants, an ocean pool and perhaps even a ferry river cruise, and you have the perfect recipe for a fun family day out.
  • Manly Beach – the kids will love catching a ferry to one of Sydney’s most popular beaches where there’s an endless stretch of crystal clear water and fine white sand waiting for you once you arrive. With coves for snorkelling, bike paths, coastal trails, playgrounds and countless cafes to choose from, Manly beach is a super place for kids and grown-ups alike.
  • Greenwich Baths – at the tip of Greenwich Point, users of this netted beach pay a small entry fee but in return are rewarded with safe and gentle waters for kids and babies to splash about in, complimentary use of beach toys, sun loungers and picnic tables, as well as magnificent harbour views, a café and changing facilities.

Secret beach hideaways

  • Shelly Beach, Manly – just a short walk from Manly, this secluded swimming spot off Cabbage Tree Bay is popular with snorkelers and divers as it offers a pristine protected marine environment in shallow waters of just 12 metres. Picnic and BBQ facilities are nearby, as are showers and toilets.
  • Redleaf Beach, Double Bay – with gorgeous views looking out to Darling Point and the Harbour Bridge, this netted beach in the glitzy suburb of Double Bay also has a huge tidal pool big enough to hold plenty of swimmers, as well as walking paths for lazy strolls, plus a café with million dollar views.
  • Milk Beach, Vaucluse – small, isolated and hardly known, this lovely little beach at the foot of Heritage listed Strickland House treats visitors to crystal clear waters, unparalleled views of the city, decent snorkelling and delightful walks along the Hermitage Foreshore coastal path.

Popular Beaches

  • Bondi Beach – known for its wild surf and high number of sea rescues (they even made a TV show about it!), it may be safer to stay out of the water and instead strut your stuff on the beach of this world-famous stretch of sand. When you’re done sunning yourself, soak up the ultra-cool vibe its nearby shops, bars and restaurants have to offer. Worthy of its prestigious international status, Bondi also serves up some breathtaking views on the magnificent walking trail that hug the coast from Bondi to Coogee.
  • Tamarama Beach – known to locals as ´Glamarama´, this small beach might be where the beautiful people go but it’s considered one of the most dangerous beaches in NSW for its strong currents. It’s therefore best you avoid the water and instead sun yourself on the powdery white sand or in the nearby café or surrounding lush parklands.

Stay safe or stay out

Thanks to the hard work of Sydney’s surf lifesavers and the presence of shark netting and helicopter patrols at many beaches, Sydney’s majestic coastal line has never been safer. However, it’s important to always observe water safety:

  • Swim between the red and yellow flags
  • Never swim at an unpatrolled or closed beach
  • Never swim at dusk or night time
  • Never swim after drinking alcohol

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