East Coast Beaches, Australia

Big, clean, soft sandy Australia Beaches can be found all the way up the east coast so we have limited ourselves to some of the more outstanding or popular locations.
Coastal beaches up as far as Brisbane almost all see considerable surf so gentle floating or paddling is not usually an option, though they usually shelve gently so toddlers can still have fun while serious swimmers often head out beyond the wave line to get in their exercise.
The water of Sydney area beaches is not particularly warm, even in midsummer, but reaches a fine temperature towards the Gold Coast.

Various tour operators offering tours to Australia can be found in our listings here: Australia Tours

This page starts in the south - Sydney area - and heads north to Cairns. On a separate page are Great Barrier Reef islands [Fraser, Whitsundays etc.]

Around Sydney [SE coast], both south and north, are many excellent beaches.
Best Nov - April, but Dec, Jan are busy with school holidays and often visited by bluebottles [Portuguese men-of-war jellyfish], though locals don't pay much attention to the odd sting.

Bondi: a half hour train/bus ride from the city gets you to Sydney's long cherished Bondi, a wide strip of soft sand backed by promenade, food and drink establishments and stroked by moderate surf. It's eternally fashionable and can get crowded, naturally.
On the cliffs at either end are two excellent clubs that accept foreigners, North Bondi RSL and Icebergs.
If you feel like a stroll there is a beautiful, breezy coast path going south to three more beaches - Tamarana, Bronte and Clovelly, but beware the rips.
Coogee: further south of Bondi and not dissimilar, this is another superb strand of sand with surf, crowds, eateries galore and a certain elegance.
Manly: this near-city upstart differs from the previous two. It has the same sand, promenade and lifesavers, but access from Sydney will be via a pleasant ferry ride across the harbour, at which point visitors have to choose between a busy, large, attractive surf beach or a quiet, calm harbour beach, favoured by families.
Diving trips also leave from Manly and there are various pretty coastal walks from here.
No-surf swimming: harbour beaches are the main option, with attractive spots such as Camp Cove, Nielsen Park, Balmoral, Chinaman's Beach.

Durras to Broulee: Three hours drive south of Sydney are a series of fine, picturesque beaches offering good fishing, kayaking, jet skiing [Long beach], diving and bush walks as well as the usual swimming and surfing.

Coffs Harbour: 8 hours north of Sydney and 7 hours south of Brisbane, the hitherto attractive coastline now grows more bungalows and resort hotels than bananas, but still has good beaches. The town's raison d'ĂȘtre however, is action sports, with white-water rafting [Nov-Feb], kayaking, abseiling, mountain biking, horse riding, parasailing, skydiving, jet skiing, fishing, whale watching [June, July, September, November] in addition to all the usual suspects.

Byron Bay: 10 hours north of Sydney or 5 south of Brisbane, Byron Bay is a unique haven of stylish, relaxed, low-key living in a stunningly beautiful area, with superb beaches to match. Locals, though different in many ways are united in their liberal, 'alternative', anti-crass development view of the world and the town is all the better for that attitude.
The Bay beach is scenic and big enough for swimmers, early surfers and pro dudes to each find the kind of water they need to wag their tails, while white-water rafting [Nov-Feb], mountain biking, horse riding, skydiving among other alternatives are also on offer.

Gold Coast: An hour from Brisbane the endless sand, terrific climate and entertainment 24/7 have made the Gold Coast a prime world holiday destination.
Surfer's Paradise is at the core of this area, Australia's answer to Miami - a long, skinny strip of glitz packed with bronzed buildings, theme parks in excess and a wild night life, but still sporting spectacular, soft sand beaches. Arguably the best beach is Main, soft, wide and backed by dunes, with perma-surf a short stagger away.
Surf at Main Beach is usually excellent for beginners and hosts a couple of good schools; surf freaks head south for the relative quiet and superb point breaks at Coolangatta/Tweed Heads. Needless to say rental boards are available all over.

Near Brisbane [central east coast] Best Oct - April, but Dec - Feb is busy:
North Stradbroke Island: Brisbane is an hour's drive from the coast and has no beaches but does offer a fantastic artificial lagoon on the South Bank.
Moreton Bay is Brisbane's coastal area and after a bus or train from the centre a ferry will take you the 20km [12m] to the bay's biggest and best island, North Stradbroke, with its miles of pretty, surf smashed sand. It's quiet in all but school holidays and has lovely swimmable blue inland freshwater lakes and many miles of green wildlife walks.
There's no shortage of accommodation and other facilities, including scuba dive trips and kayaking.
32km Main Beach offers mainline surfers serious action, particularly around November.
Whale watchers will enjoy the Gorge Walk June-September, while Point Lookout has a collection of the island's best beaches with plenty of marine life visible.

Sunshine Coast: The same endless sand and surf as Gold Coast, but with a bit more sunshine [300 days a year] and a lot less glamour, tourists, high rise and action.
Noosa Heads is an especially calm, affluent, low-profile resort, mixing superb strands of sand with lots of tropical greenery, trendy shops, flower entangled houses and slightly high prices. Noosa National Park is the most visited park in the country with well marked tracks and lots of wildlife around, including koalas.
The best beaches are east of the park on bare-ass naked Alexandria Bay, but Noosa's Main Beach, beside their funkiest street, Hastings, is big, soft, pretty and family friendly.
Little Cove is where neo-surfers practise with some of the area's famous surf schools while National Park and Tea Tree have the best waves and the biggest crowds.
Just north of Noosa is huge and pretty Rainbow Beach, where 4WD drives roam free.

North East Australian Coast, best April - November, but OK [hot] all year round. Best scuba diving Sept-Dec:

Airlie Beach: Backpacker central, the town is small, as is the beach, but the adverts are huge, for Airlie is the main route to the Whitsunday Islands.
Airlie is another lucky town with a free, fantastic and beautifully landscaped salt-water lagoon on the shore. All sorts of dive/snorkel/fish/wildlife walk packages are available and nightlife is lively.

Whitsunday Islands: Airlie Beach is take-off point for extremely popular Whitsunday Islands cruises - whether by sailing yacht or motor vessel. The Whitsundays offer reasonably sheltered boating among pine-clad islands with, azure seas, good coral viewing via snorkel or regulator and some magnificent white powder beaches. Whitehaven Beach is the best known and possibly Australia's best beach. We do not recommend day trips out to Whitehaven from Airlie, they involve too much cost and excessive boat-time, but a several-day boat trip or staying out at one of the islands e.g. Hamilton hotels or Whitehaven camping would be excellent.

Mission Beach: Miles of gorgeous sand backed by cassowary [a large, colourful, flightless bird] infested rainforest. This beautiful, little developed area is popular with backpackers and has various islands [including Dunk, see GBR page] and excellent coral reef diving not far off shore. Other activities include riding horses on the beach, hiking the rainforest, white-water rafting and kayaking.

Cairns: This is not a beach resort but a wide-ranging activity centre, like Queenstown in NZ. The town is lively, action packed and very touristy, with loads of watering holes, shops and eateries.
Thanks to expensive and considerate redevelopment, Cairns foreshore now offers an attractive tree-lined esplanade, a terrific kids playground and an exceptional salt-water lagoon [swimming pool] in place of the dangerous and muddy 'beach'.
Trips from Cairns go north to the rainforest, west to cool uplands and east to the Great Barrier Reef. Action could mean skydiving, ballooning, mountain biking, white-water rafting, jet boating or a scuba course - starting in Cairns, finishing on the Barrier Reef.
If you really need proper beaches then a short bus ride will get you to the white sands and coves of Trinity Beach or go to Port Douglas. Beware saltwater crocodiles in mangroves and rivers near the sea.

Port Douglas: An hour or so north of Cairns is this cute little town fronted by lovely Four Mile Beach. Port Douglas has less accommodation and entertainment than Cairns but more or less the same daytime activity offerings, including dive trips, though the town is a lot less frenetic and the beach is a lot more pleasant.

Lagoons: The popular tourist towns of Brisbane, Airlie Beach [Whitsundays jumping-off point] and Cairns all have large, free, attractive and critter-free salt-water lagoons to swim in rather than beaches.

Clubs: Some of the best spots on Australia Beaches are occupied by clubs. These offer great value food and drinks as well as superb views and are usable by foreign visitors, so take proof of foreign residence [more than a passport, papers with your name and address are needed] and you will be hosted by the best place in the area

No comments: