Surf and Beaches
The beaches of Sydney and NSW are world-renowned. And with good reason. Hundreds of pristine beaches adorn the 2,000km of coastline that winds along NSW’s eastern shores, where the vast majority of the state's population resides, rests and plays. It’s no surprise then that beach culture and NSW are intertwined. There’s nothing more Aussie than a day at the beach.
Learning to surf is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable activities you can have in the waves, and Sydney, with more than 30 beaches, is the ideal place to give it a try. Learn to surf at iconic Bondi beach with Let's Go Surfing, or sign up for a surf camp and venture farther afield. Surf Camp Australia can teach you to surf at the gorgeous Seven Mile Beach on the NSW South Coast, or take you as far north as the stunning Byron Bay.
Many of Australia’s beaches are patrolled by Surf Life Saving Australia, who mark the safest and patrolled part of the beach with red and yellow flags. If you find yourself needing help in the water, remember to stay calm and try to attract attention. You can check surf conditions and find out more at www.beachsafe.org.au.
There are plenty of surf beaches and surf schools all over New South Wales (NSW). Four Sydney beaches feature on the National Surfing Reserve Register, a list of iconic surfing spots in Australia: Manly, North Narrabeen, Cronulla and Maroubra. In wider NSW, Angourie Beach, Crescent Head, Lennox Head, Newcastle’s Merewether Beach and the South Coast beach of Killalea are also listed.
Sydney’s most iconic beach, Bondi Beach, is a great spot for people watching and lazing in the sun. To the south you’ll find Cronulla, the only Sydney beach directly accessible by train, and one of Sydney’s largest beaches. Catch the ferry to Manly for a day out and be sure to check out nearby Freshwater, one of Australia’s first ever surf beaches.
If secluded beaches are more your style, head to one of Sydney’s hidden beaches. Clustered around Sydney Harbour, most are just a stone’s throw from the city. Double Bay’s Redleaf Beach and Vaucluse’s Nielsen Park and Milk Beach are great spots for a paddle. And just a short walk from Manly is Shelly Beach, its clear waters popular with snorkellers.
Follow the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk and discover secluded bays, rockpools, peaceful parks and spectacular coastal views. The Hermitage Foreshore Track is a fantastic harbourside walk running from Rose Bay to Nielsen Park. Or check out The Coast Track in the Royal National Park as you make your way from Bundeena to Otford over the course of two days.
Explore Sydney Harbour and NSW’s coastal waters and inland rivers by boat. Take a sunset cruise on the harbour with Captain Cook Cruises. Learn to sail with Sailing Sydney, or take lessons or a tour with EastSail or Sydney by Sail. Head to Byron Bay and go kayaking with Cape Byron Kayaks. You can also go whale watching and even snorkel with seals on the NSW South Coast!
Lazing by the beach can be lovely, but it’s also fun to try some waterside activities. Grab your mates and go for a game of beach cricket or beach volleyball on Coogee Beach, or grab a pint and a pizza at the Coogee Pavilion. Learn to snorkel or stand up paddle board with EcoTreasures on Sydney’s Northern Beaches or go kayaking in Manly.
Enjoy Sydneys beaches like a local by following these simple beach safety tips
Always swim between the red and yellow flags surf lifesavers have identified this area as the safest spot to swim in the water. It's also a good idea to always swim with a friend.
Make sure you read any safety signs at the beach and you are always welcome to ask lifeguards for more safety advice. If you find yourself needing help in the water, stay calm and attract attention.
Check conditions before you go and find a patrolled beach by visiting beachsafe.org.au.