The eastern suburbs… its a part of Sydney that’s completely chock-a-blocked during summer, but what if I were to to tell you, there’s some great swimming spots to be explored without the crowds in the area? During a very hot heat wave in Sydney last year, (remember when it was 40C+ one weekend?) I went and checked out as many beaches as I could in the area and I was astonished at the differences between each swimming spot and how busy they actually were.
One thing you probably won’t know about me is since I moved to Sydney in 2011, I’ve only swam in the water at Bondi beach once. I honestly don’t know what the fuss is all about when it comes to Bondi other than it’s a nice beach to photograph. There are so many better beaches and swimming spots nearby that you won’t be fighting for a bit of sand to sit on.
So here’s my 10 best swimming spots in the Eastern Suburbs and Bondi isn’t even listed!
1.Ivor Rowe Rockpool
My go to spot in the Eastern Suburbs is the Ivor Rowe Rockpool located in South Coogee. Parking is easy to find and FREE all day as this gem of a find sits at the end of a residential street. It’s a small rock pool, big enough to do a bit of light swimming as it’s deeper than you think, but don’t expect the world from it (The Aussie calls it a puddle!). But to me, this is the most magical spot in the Eastern Suburbs. Why? I’ve been there a fair few times and on that morning when I went to visit loads of beaches in the area, this was the only spot that wasn’t rammed full of people. Heck, there wasn’t anyone there but me. I couldn’t believe it!Was there something wrong with this spot? I could see Coogee beach in the distance completely packed, but no one was here? I love the fact you can just sunbath on the rocks with your legs in the pool. Note there’s no toilet facilities or cafes near by so it’s probably not somewhere you’ll want park up for the entire day, but if you want to sunbath with most of your body in the water and have some peace and quiet without a group next to you banging out their music, thinking that that’s OK and everyone else wants to hear it too, then this is the spot for you!
Directions: If you’re driving, you can park up on Palmer Street or Bunya Parade. If you’re walking, get the 373 bus to Coogee Beach, then when facing the beach, walk along the coastal path on the right (not towards Bondi) for 20 minutes and you’ll come to Ivor Rowe Rockpool!
A new spot I spent a lot of time in last summer was Parsley Bay in Vaucluse. Again, this is a beach you can find parking easily, and it’s FREE and a relatively quiet beach. The sand itself isn’t anything to write home about but what I really love is the setting of this beach. There’s a gorgeous bridge that runs over the top which is beautiful, and a great spot for families as the water is flat and shallow. A lot of people sit at the end of the dock sunbathing and it’s a great spot for swimming. The best bit is, it’s a floatie heaven, we took our big inflatable and just loved floating around in it. Definitely bring one with you, we had others green with envy when they saw us floating around!
Directions: If you’re coming on public transport, you’ll need to get the 325 bus which is direct and takes 44 minutes. Otherwise you can park up on The Crescent road where you’ll see the path going down to the beach.
3. Kutti Beach
Just around the corner from Parsley Bay lies Kutti Beach, a small secret beach that sort of looks like it’s just for the locals with their huge houses, but it’s actually a public beach. There’s a small entrance to find but when you find this beach, you’ll feel like you’ve really found a secret gem.
Directions: Park on The Crescent or Wharf Road, then walk right to the end of Wharf Road and at the very end you’ll see a white gate on the left. This is the entrance to the beach. If you’re taking public transport, you can catch the direct 324 bus from Town Hall which will take 40 minutes.
4. Wylie’s Baths
Another great swimming spot is Wylie’s Baths located in Coogee. Whilst I love Coogee beach, it can get really busy there so to me, there’s nothing better than following the coastal path along to Wylie’s Baths, a huge ocean pool, that’s a bit more organised and chilled out than going to the beach. You’ll need to pay $5 to get in but it’s completely worth it. There’s toilets, and a cafe there so this spot is perfect for all. My friend had a massage there as well and said it was the best massage she had ever had!
Directions: Take the M50 bus to Coogee Beach, then when facing the beach, walk to the far right of the beach and keep walking up the hill right along the beach until you see the sign for Wylie’s Baths. If you’re driving, park up on Neptune Street or one of the side streets a bit further back for free parking.
5. Shark Beach at Nielsen Park
I’ve tried to go to this beach a few times before but could never find parking. This is far from a secluded beach but I’m adding this one onto the list because it’s a really good family beach to take your kids to. It’s located in Nielsen Park, a beautiful park with lots of space for the kids to run around in and there looks to be a gorgeous restaurant there as well. When we went there on that hot day at around 10am, we actually had to illegally park as we couldn’t find parking. The beach was completely packed that morning (see photo I took at 10am above)`.
Directions: Take the 324 bus from Town Hall which takes about 40 minutes otherwise Greycliff Avenue is the closest spot to park, but whether you find a park that close might be another story!
6. Camp Cove
There’s something really nice about the area around Watson’s Bay. I’m not sure if the ferry ride over from Circular Quay makes you feel like you’re on holiday but it’s a lovely area. My favourite beach nearby is Camp Cove, a beautiful beach that makes you wonder how this beach is on the harbour. It’s not the quietest beach but it’s a lovely spot for a day out.
And if you like a nudist beach, then Lady Bay Beach is just around the corner. I have seen this beach and it’s absolutely stunning. But yes, there are nudists there so I didn’t actually sit on this beach. You’ll also have Watsons Bay Hotel and Doyles to pick from for food.
Directions: You can take the ferry from Circular Quay or the 324 bus which both take 50 minutes in total to get there. Or you can park up at around Victoria Street.
7. Gordons Bay
Gordan’s Bay is hardly a well kept secret but it has this kind of castaway island feel to it. Located on the Bondi to Coogee coastal path, it’s well known for being an amazing snorkelling beach. I say beach, but there’s actually not much of it so you’ll have to park yourself up on the rocks.
Directions: There’s no access to cars or transport other than by foot to get here on the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. The quickest way is to get the 339 bus from Town Hall to Clovelly, then it’s a 10 minute walk along the coastal walk. If you’re driving then Battery Street, Melrose Parade or Beach Street might be ideal spots to park in.
8. Mahon Pool
Although I’ve only ever stepped onto Maroubra Beach once whilst a backpacker 10 years ago (I’m not sure why I just haven’t been back), I’m always drawn to Mahon Pool, an awesome hidden ocean pool that’s absolutely gorgeous. You’ll feel like you’ve hit the jackpot with this one! Be warned though, this is more of a busier ocean pool but totally worth it. There’s the Pool Cafe at the top of the street as well as public toilets.
Directions: If you’re driving, park up on The Corso, then when you see the Pool Cafe at the bottom of the hill, the entrance is directly over the road by the public toilets. Otherwise, you can get the 377 bus from Town Hall which takes 35 minutes to Marine Parade, then it’s just 2 minute walk down to the pool.
9. Bronte Beach
And if I had to choose one busy beach in the Eastern Suburbs it would be Bronte, hands down. There’s something really beautiful about Bronte that I absolutely love. The fact that there’s not a busy road next to it, it has a way more relaxed vibe, this is my go to busy beach. The rock pool there must be the most beautiful rock pool in the whole of Sydney. We often go to The Bronte Cafe to have an acai bowl and just sit there watching the beautiful beach. I get the sense there’s a more of a local vibe to Bronte unlike than Bondi and Coogee, and if I could live anywhere in Sydney, it would be in Bronte for sure.
Directions: The 440 bus will get you to Bronte Beach in 35 minutes. Otherwise you can park on one of the back streets like Evans Street which I think offers 2 hour parking so you’ll need to keep moving your car. But it’s worth it.
10. Milk Beach
This nearly made it into my I didn’t get this beach at all list purely because I had heard so much hype about how this was THE best secret beach in Sydney but when I got there, all I could think of was is this it? You see, Milk Beach has a certain secret beach feel to it, you have to walk through Strickland House gardens which are gorgeous by the way, and you then see a tiny patch of sand which is known as Milk Beach. The reason it didn’t make it into the I didn’t get this beach all list is because it did have a bit of a secret vibe to it, but mainly because the view out to Harbour was pretty impressive and I’d recommend visiting just for that alone.
Directions: Take the 324 bus to New South Road, then it’s a 13 minute walk to Strickland House. Otherwise you can park on Carrara Road.
Secret beaches I just didn’t get at all
And so that leads me into the beaches I just didn’t get at all list. I’m putting the next three beaches in because this is just my opinion and maybe if I went back to them again, I might think different about them and these could easily be good beaches to consider.
This is meant to be known as one of THE best secret beaches in Sydney, and yes, it’s pretty beautiful there but, the vibe in that area is just plain off. There’s an old hospital complex located at the top of the beach that has since been turned into apartments but for some reason, we just felt really uncomfortable and it just wasn’t an area we wanted to stay for long in.
We did a bit of a hike around this part of the eastern suburbs and made it to Little Congwong beach first, a nudist beach. You see, that’s me again thinking I bet there’s won’t actually be any nudists there, but how wrong I was. The weird thing about this nudist beach is there was a mixture of people in the nude and people in their swimmers. For me, the typical British person who finds it all a bit much, just had my head down and carried on walking along. For a nudist beach, this beach wasn’t anything special and I’ve seen way more beautiful nudist beaches in Sydney.
Just around the corner from Little Congwong lies Congwong beach. I’ve read in many posts that this is THE best secret beach in Sydney but to be honest, I really didn’t get it at all. The beach was packed, full of litter and must have been the dirtiest beach I’ve seen in Sydney. Maybe I just went there on a bad day, but to me, I was gutted that we had wasted our Sunday going to this beach. It was however nice to see the famous wharf that was used in the Mission Impossible 3 movie (although I’ve never seen the actual movie!).
So there we have it, that’s my top 10 secret beaches in the Eastern Suburbs not in Bondi!
What’s your favourite beach? Let me know in the comments below.
If you’re looking to find some more secret beaches check out this post below: