Australia is blessed with an abundance of beautiful beaches that travelers from far and wide flock to. If you’re planning a getaway in a near future, tailor your trip around one of these top 15 Australian beaches.
Experiencing any beach at the top or the bottom of the driest continent in the world, a world the Aussies proudly call “Down Under” is to experience some of the prettiest beaches in all of the creation. Apart from the odd shark, the odd blue bottle or saltwater crocodile to inhibit the abilities of a swimmer, generally, there is no ‘Swim at your own risk’ signs to worry about. Australia is renowned for its beaches and the people here are proud to keep them pristine. From the 90 mile beach in the far reaches of Victoria, to some of the most beautiful in Tasmania and over in the west to the top of the world, there’s a beach that will have you reaching for your camera.
All around the world, Australia is renowned for its beaches, some of the longest stretches of sand-covered coastline in the world, Australia’s beaches are not only plentiful but also of an almost universally high quality.
Take a look at the below list of Top 15 Best Beaches of Australia
15. Palm Cove, Queensland
Palm Cove, Queensland in all that ‘Feels like Summer’ sunshine with it’s warm sapphire and turquoise water is a mini Hawaii except it lies on the north eastern Queensland coast, a little way north of Cairns. With the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands just ‘Across the Road,’ it is as near as you’ll get to the Caribbean or Maui. There are restaurants and cafes to sate a hunger at the end of a sunshine filled day, a boutique or gallery to wander through, and a stretch of sand to wander along as the sun goes down for another day. As close to paradise as one can get in the city, Palm Cove is a slice of heaven for lovers who prefer the quietude of lapping, gentle waves on a deserted shoreline.
14. Turquoise Bay, Exmouth
Western Australia’s Turquoise Bay has been deemed the second best beach in the country, thanks largely to its stunning reef and snorkeling opportunities. Let the current take you towards the exquisite Ningaloo reef, but be wary of the strong current near the sandbar. Take to the water to spot creatures like anemone fish, colorful parrotfish, moon wrasse, starfish and reef sharks.
13. Bells Beach, Victoria
Beloved by surfers all over the world, Bell’s Beach is cited by Lonely Planet as one of Australia’s beach beaches for surfing. Known for its huge swells and powerful surf, it’s not the safest beach for swimming, but more than makes up for it by catering to those with a board. It’s the site of the Rip Curl Pro Surf Competition which takes place annually over Easter, drawing some of the best surfers from all over the world and plenty of spectators.
High cliffs add a touch of drama to this setting, though the exposed reef and point break is best suited to those who know what they’re doing in the water.
12. Bondi Beach, Sydney
Location: Bondi, Sydney, NSW
Locals and travellers alike love Bondi, which has a thriving atmosphere and provides plenty of people-watching opportunities. The iconic beach is home to the first Surf Life Saving Club in the world, which was founded more than 100 years ago. These days, Bondi is typically crowded with sunbathers, swimmers and walkers alike, as its clean shores and close vicinity to the centre of Sydney making it an accessible and popular destination.
We can see you rolling your eyes through the screen right now – however, bear with us. Bondi makes the list simply because no Australian beaches countdown is complete without having it on board. Less about the actual quality of the beach itself and more about the surroundings, atmosphere, history and people watching, like it or not Sydney‘s famous stretch of sand at Bondi is a long-time fixture and also something of an icon of Aussie beach culture.
These days, Bondi is almost universally crowded except in the coldest months of the year, with its relatively clean shores coupling with extremely easy access from the centre of Australia’s largest city making it a popular destination to relax and eat. The beach’s popularity has lead to a huge number of dining options such as cafes and restaurants springing up nearby as a result, meaning it’s quite possible to spend a full day lazing away in the sunshine while having a decent place to eat – although you should expect to pay “tourist prices” for any and all purchases, with parking fees in particular bordering on the ridiculous.
Nonetheless, if you’re visiting Australia from overseas or simply an Aussie travelling to Sydney for the first time, Bondi’s cultural relevance and status make it a “must-visit” – if only once.
11. Hyams Beach, New South Wales
Jervis Bay’s Hyams Beach is nestled amongst the Jervis Bay Marine Park and Booderee National Park, with plenty of native forests and clifftop walking trails. It’s well known for its incredibly white sand and is a playground of rich and famous Sydneysiders, but anyone can enjoy diving and snorkelling at this location. Other activities popular in the area include sailing, windsurfing and sea kayaking, with whale and dolphin-watching cruises on offer. Booderee National Park can provide idyllic bushwalks.
10. Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas
Port Douglas’ Four Mile Beach is a popular spot that was once a sleepy coastal town. The four-kilometre stretch of sand starts at the base of Island Point and ends amongst Mowbray River’s reefs and rocks. The beach is wide and flat with a huge low tide, with the thriving Port Douglas Life Saving Club patrolling the northern end. Swimming is best at high tide, as at low tide you may have to walk up to 200m to even reach the water.
During stinger season a net is put in place, and swimming is generally safe here.
9. Lizard Island, Queensland
Location: Lizard Island, Whitsundays, QLD
The entire Great Barrier Reef in general offers a cavalcade of amazing spectacles, not the least of which are beaches, however two destinations in particular stand out among the many choices as far as we are concerned (another of which you’ll come across later on this list). In terms of islands, you’d be hard pressed to find a higher concentration of great-beaches-per-square-metre than on the stunning Lizard Island, which boasts 23 separate stunning white beaches over the relatively small area of just over 1000 hectares.
Lizard island sits on the eastern side of the Great Barrier Reef, and is a picture-perfect example of an amazing island getaway. There’s only one thing standing in the way, however – as one of the most exclusive beach destinations in the country, you’ll have to have deep wallets if you want to spend time here.
With only one accommodation facility on the island – the aptly-named Lizard Island Resort – you can expect to pay a starting price of around $1,400 per night (minimum 2 nights stay) for the “entry level” Anchor Bay Room.
So what do you get for your money? Your own private villa, for starters, as well as access to one of the most secluded and relatively undisturbed sections of beaches in the country with multiple amazing diving and snorkelling spots right at your doorstep that are brimming with brightly coloured reefs teeming with various fish. If you’re amongst the lucky few who are looking to travel to Lizard Island, your best bet is to fly to Cairns and then take a 1-hour hinterland flight transfer, which are held twice daily – and once you arrive, feel free to revel in the jealousy of the rest of us.
8. Byron Bay Beach, New South Wales
Location: Byron Bay, Northern NSW
“Byron” has come a long way in terms of development from its early days as merely a quaint “hippy town”, with modern cafes and bars popping up over the years along with increasing interest from property developers, however one thing that has remained unchanged is the quality of its beaches.
Sporting a long, typically uncrowded stretch of coast line that is easily reachable in a short trip from the nearby Gold Coast as well as other destinations on the Northern New South Wales coast has been a large contributing factor in the continued growth of Byron Bay‘s popularity.
As you’ve probably heard by now, Byron’s main selling point for tourists is that it’s “the easternmost point of mainland Australia”, and its location makes the majority of its beaches conducive to some great surf breaks that draw surfers from all over the globe to take advantage of the generally sheltered conditions. Recent development has also seen the construction of additional beachfront esplanades and walking tracks that can take you along the beach on some pleasant walks around Byron Bay’s famous headland, the highlight of which continues to be its historic lighthouse that characteristically overlooks the town’s various goings-on.
As an added bonus, those looking to bring their pets for some exercise can visit both Belongil and Tallow Beach which are dog-friendly locations which, alongside their lovely powder-like sand make for a great day out for those visiting interstate or simply hopping across the border for a less-crowded alternative those beaches of South-East Queensland.
7. Mandalay Beach, Western Australia
Location: Walpole-Nornalup National Park, WA
When compared to the East Coast, Oz’s Western Australia is relatively under-visited, and that’s sometimes a shame as in many places it’s no less beautiful or enjoyable as its eastern brother. A prime example of this is WA’s Mandalay Beach, which lies several hundred kilometres to the south of capital city Perth amongst the greenery of the Walpole-Nornalup National Park.
The isolated location of the beach only helps contribute to its beauty, as the rugged, untouched nature of the so-called Rainbow Coast with its rocky headlands and untamed wilderness make for a wholly different – yet still wildly impressive – beach location that largely differs from many of the other entries on this list.
The beach itself inherits its name from the wreck of the Mandalay – a Norwegian shipwreck that was beached back in the year 1911 and the skeleton of which is sometimes still visible when tides are at their lowest.
One of the highlights of Mandalay Beach that adds to the spectacle is nearby Chatham Island that lies just a few miles off the coast and sports a class 1A nature reserve, with the juxtaposition of the island’s greenery with the crashing white crests of the waves at high tide forming quite the picturesque scene. If you’re looking to make the hike to Mandalay Beach, you’re going to have to work for it; the closest major settlement is Walpole which is isolated in itself, and around 17 kilometres to the west of the beach.
Mandalay Beach has only two entry points that are suitable for regular “2WD” vehicles as well, but if you’re looking for one of the most unique beach experiences in Australia (as well as bragging rights), it’s well worth it.
6. Wineglass Bay, Tasmania
Location: Freycinet, Tasmania
Talk about photogenic. While Tasmania probably isn’t the first state that springs to mind when you’re trying to conjure up images of beautiful Aussie beaches (as it’s definitely more widely known for its greenery reminiscent of England and Wales), there are definitely exceptions – one of the most impressive of which is the spectacular Wineglass Bay, part of Tassie’s wonderful Freycinet National Park. Reachable via a roughly 2 hour drive from Launceston and 3 hour trip from capital city Hobart, the beach is a fair hike but, oh boy, is it worth the effort.
Wineglass Bay serves as one of Tasmaina’s favourite poster-boys; if you’ve seen any kind of promotional material showcasing the state, you’ve no doubt come across a pic of this picturesque stretch of sand and water along the way. The fact that the beach’s sand contrasts so strongly with the surrounding pink-granite peaks and lapping turquoise water in a location that is wonderfully sheltered goes a long way to making the beach unique. The clam-shaped shoreline on Tasmania’s east coast is relatively isolated and thus remains fairly untouched despite its growing popularity.
Combine the spectacle of the beach itself with an abundance of both activities to take part in such as snorkelling, kayaking, exploring rock pools and more as well as wildlife of the greater national park and to view just a short hike away or find in the water, and you’ve got one of the most well-rounded escapist beach spots in the country.
Wineglass Bay itself can best be viewed from its dedicated lookout – roughly a 1 hour return hike up a well constructed and maintained (yet steep and rather challenging) path that offers one of the most rewarding-for-your-effort views you’re likely to come across. The beach itself can also be accessed by a downhill portion of track (takes about 20 minutes at a steady pace), and taking a walk along its shores is one of the true must-do nature based experiences in Australia’s southernmost state.
5. 75 Mile Beach, Fraser Island, Queensland
Location: Fraser Island, Fraser Coast, Queensland
It’s only fitting that the World’s Largest Sand Island should also play host to one of Australia’s best beaches, and 75 Mile Beach does a great job of carrying the card while serving as the unofficial face of Queensland’s Fraser Island. As you might expect, the beach gets its name from its approximate length, and the number ’75’ should tell you all you need to know about just how expansive this huge stretch of coastline truly is.
75 Mile has much more going for it than simply its size however, as its various stretches of multi-coloured sands form a vivid mosaic of hues that range from the standard white to bright oranges to darker, ochre tones. The waters of the beach themselves are less of an attraction than one might think, with the relatively large number of Tiger Sharks that inhabit the shallows leading many to instead look inland from the beach for their cooling off and swimming experiences.
It’s on this front that 75 Mile Beach truly shines, with a myriad of crystal-clear freshwater lakes that lie within walking distance of the shoreline. One section in particular – dubbed the “Champagne Pools” due to the effect of the foam of the ocean crashing into the rocks bordering the pools – is exceptionally popular with visitors, and adds a truly unique atmosphere to the swimming experience.
Perhaps the easiest way to get to 75 Mile Beach and Fraser Island in general is to depart from nearby Hervey Bay and – depending on if you’re planning to bring your vehicle or not – either take one of the barges that make the trip from the ‘Bay (takes around half an hour) or hop aboard a light plane and fly in – for a direct landing on 75 Mile Beach itself (ideal for those who like to make impressive entrances).
4. Noosa Main Beach, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Location: Noosa, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Noosa’s main beach is one of the few along the coastline to face north, and as such has very gentle waves ideal for families and those not confident in larger surf. The beach is patrolled by surf lifesavers every single day of the year, and is conveniently located next to the popular Hastings Street shopping and restaurant precinct. Dolphins are frequent visitors to the waters here, with whales visiting during their annual migration season.
Noosa Main Beach – the main standout of the many quality beaches located on the greater Sunshine Coast – is pretty much the perfect showcase of what the “Sunny Coast” has to offer: it’s got picture-perfect sand, pristine water, waves that are ideal for swimming, is well-patrolled, easily accessible and rich in both marine and shore-dwelling wildlife. Pods of dolphins frequent the waters just off the beach’s main strip, and whales can even be spotted during their annual migration season. The beach also boasts outstanding surfing conditions around the Noosa Park headland, serving as the home of the yearly Noosa Festival of Surfing each March.
Noosa Main Beach’s north-facing direction means that conditions are far more sheltered than many other beaches in similar circumstances, helping take the sting out of the breeze in the colder months and making it basically a viable year-round option for those looking for some beach going fun.
Fisherman and fishing enthusiasts also love this place, as it’s not necessary to venture offshore to come away with a decent haul here; flathead, bream, dart, whiting and many other popular species are just a dangling of the bait away.
An added bonus that Noosa Main Beach has over other popular Aussie beach destinations like Bondi or Surfers Paradise is its large, FREE all-day carpark that makes getting a decent spot without having to pay through the nose a viable option – assuming you arrive early enough. Once you’ve successfully parked, it’s a very feasible proposition to spend an entire day in the area as there are plenty of cafes, stores and restaurants just a stones’ throw away.
Likewise, the Surf Life Saving Club that serves as home to the many dedicated lifeguards on the beach also offers reasonably-priced lunches for those looking for a decent value meal. About the only negative is for those looking for big waves will want to look for other options, as Noosa Main Beach is by far more of a “swimming” beach than a “surfing” beach.
3. Burleigh Heads Beach, QLD
Location: Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, QLD
Given its nature as a beach destination, it’s only reasonable to expect the Gold Coast to have a fairly big range of contenders in the “best beach” category; however increasing crowds and the gaudily “touristy” atmosphere of some of its stretches of coastline takes some of the charm away from what are otherwise beautiful beach areas. One – quite amazing – exception to this, however, is Burleigh Heads beach, which combines a stunning outlook, outstanding surf conditions and numerous winding walking tracks along great stretches of headland into a single wonderful beach package.
It’s fairly incredible that such a beautiful area sits basically alongside a major highway yet still remain relatively clean and unpolluted, but Burleigh Beach’s tropical sands look just as untouched as you might expect from an island resort – a reflection on the respect that locals have always had for the area.
Multiple heavily patrolled swimming sections by vigilant lifeguards make taking a dip a pleasant option on most days, while surfers will be in their element as it’s the site for numerous annual surfing competitions featuring some of the biggest names in the world, in large part due to the quality breaks that can often be found at Burleigh.
A large, family-friendly and facility-rich parkland area rounds out the location making for a great day out either alone or with the kids (with plenty of dining and takeaway options nearby too), and those wanting to take a stroll along the 4km stretch of footpath will also get the chance to catch a glimpse of the many types of wildlife that inhabit both the land and sea, including the likes of brush turkeys, sea eagles, pods of dolphins and even passing whales during their migratory season.
2. Cable Beach, WA
Location: Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia
Now we get to the high stakes end of the proceedings, with the “Top Two” having little separating them other than which “style” of beach you’d prefer. We gave #1 on this list its ranking just because the stunning nature of its sand most likely fits the majority of people’s image of “the perfect beach”, yet Broome‘s Cable Beach coming in at #2 is by no means any kind of dishonour. “Postcard perfect”, “unforgettable”, “no words to describe its beauty” are just some of the terms used to describe Cable Beach by first-time visitors, and upon stepping upon its shores, it’s not hard to see why.
Although slowly gaining in commercialism due to the rave reviews it is starting to receive due to exposure on the Internet (sorry, guys), Cable Beach is still basically an untouched stretch of shoreline that is especially famous for one particular reason – its sunsets. Being that, unlike many of the other beaches on this list, it sits on the Indian Ocean rather than the Pacific, the sunsets often appear as a bright red-orange ball in the sky that has been the subject of numerous skilled photographers’ works.
The locals obviously are aware of its beauty as well, as two of the most popular ways to take advantage of the sunsets are provided by the both the “Sunset Bar” that allows visitors to kick back and enjoy a drink as they admire the view as the glowing orb descends over the water, and the so-popular-they-are-almost-cliche (yet still must-do) sunset camel rides. It’s a common sight to see a long line of camels carrying their skittish tourists along the beach trying to grab the best possible photo of this amazing natural phenomenon. It’s hard to blame them, however, as it’s truly a wonderful spectacle – especially if you happen to be there between the months of March to October where the spectacular “Staircase to the Moon” effect when the moon is at its fullest creates its amazing optical illusion.
Lastly, it’s within walking distance from the town of Broome itself, so if you’re wanting to visit you’ll have accommodation options at a location that were it not for the beach’s popularity would otherwise be quite isolated. All in all, Cable Beach is truly a “bucket list” item for Aussies despite its distance from most of the cities on the East Coast.
1. Whitehaven Beach, QLD
Location: Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Queensland
If you’ve got a reasonable knowledge of Australian beaches, and noticed you hadn’t seen Whitehaven yet on this list, then you probably knew it was coming. While by now it’s probably bordering on the predictable, if you’ve ever actually seen Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays then you’d be hard pressed to come up with a reason why anyone should argue against it being the Most Beautiful Beach in Australia – the sand is without a doubt the highlight here, although the stunning water and reef surroundings are certainly no slouch, either.
You’ll often see in brochures for Whitehaven Beach that marketers go out of their way to mention its “silica sand”, which is all well and good, but to someone who’s never visited, what does it actually mean? Silica is a substance that is contained in an extremely high-purity form of sand, with extremely fine grains that make it very soft to the touch and also prevent it from getting too hot underfoot. Coupled with the endless sunshine, the colour of the sand is an almost pure-white colour that forms an amazing contrast to the vivid blue of the waters that lap at the beach and contributes to sheer magic of Whitehaven.
At first glance upon stepping into view of Whitehaven Beach, you’d think it was something put together in a studio for a magazine shoot – it’s simply that “perfect” that it looks almost unnatural. This is not just some tiny little cove that happens to be ideal either; Whitehaven Beach stretches over 7km along the coast of its host, Whitsunday Island, meaning that even in peak seasons it will rarely be crowded enough to ruin the atmosphere. The myriad of coves, lagoons, and inlets that dot its surrounds only serve to add to the mystique and exploration options, with low tide being the best time for overall viewing experiences.
As the country’s most photographed beach, it’s also no surprise that Whitehaven is the target destination of numerous tour and cruise operators who aim to bring eager guests to catch a glimpse of its offerings – the majority of which depart from the relatively close by Airlie Beach. With issues such as climate change and overuse possible factors in the deterioration of its perfection in the future, it’s highly recommended to visit Whitehaven as soon in the near future as you possibly can – Australia’s most beautiful beach has certainly earned its ranking, but exactly how long it will last for is unknown.