When I first came to live in Sydney five years ago, my standard weekend was spent at Sydney’s famous city beaches of Bondi and its surrounding areas in the Eastern Suburbs. But, after time, I came to realise that I needed space from the millions of people filling up every spare bit of sand possible to find some of the best 10 secret beaches in Sydney!
Last year, I spent a lot of time researching and exploring the secret wild swimming spots in the famous NSW bush, which was absolutely incredible.
This year, I’m all about finding the best secluded beaches in or around the Sydney area. I have discovered amazing gems, and also, got myself in very sticky situations of getting a bit carried away with exploring unknown beaches (more on that later), and also nudist beaches that were more than what I had actually ever imagined (more on that later too!).
So, here’s my top 10 secret beaches in Sydney that’s not in the eastern suburbs or anywhere near Bondi! My key to finding these hidden gems, is pretty simple – I just go to Google maps satellite view, and find a beach near to where I am which I hadn’t heard of or been to before.
1.Washaway beach, near the Spit to Manly track
I found Washaway Beach simply by going onto the satellite view of Google maps. I’d recently moved to a new area and wanted to find a beach that was almost hidden and out came Washaway beach. It was actually easy to find despite the fact that I knew people who lived right near to it, yet had no idea it existed. We just parked up at middle head and headed down the walking path and detoured off the path down a more unused track to find Washaway. You can see Balmoral and the boats heading to and from Manly from this beach but it’s far enough away to have the privacy one would crave.
A Tip – be warned, it’s best to visit in the morning as the tide comes in and you’ll have to resort to sitting on the rocks. We did see a few people in the nude (which is fine as you’ll have plenty of room not to be too exposed to it out on the rocks). I also wouldn’t recommend families there as getting down to the beach requires a bit of rock climbing.
2. Ghosties Beach, near Moonee, Central Coast
We were on our way back to Sydney from visiting my partner’s family in Newcastle when we came across this beach. We actually went a long way round to get there (crawling through animal trails and definitely not recommended!!), but there’s a camping spot and car park you can park right next to the beach, which is much, much easier to go to. You’ll just need to head right on the beach at Flat Rock Point and then over the rocks and you’ll land yourself at Ghosties.
The incredible Ghosties Beach was pretty much deserted. There are also some really cool caves which are some of the best walk through caves in Australia. It has to be up there as one of my favourite beaches near Sydney.
Exploring the caves at Ghosties Beach
3. Maitland Bay, Bouddi National Park
(Location: 1h 30min north of Sydney)
I found Maitland Bay just recently. Situated in Bouddi National Park, this is without a doubt the best beach I have seen in NSW. Once parked up in the car park on The Scenic Road next to the Bouddi National Park Information Centre, it’s a 15 minute walk through an awesome track in the bush down to the near to secluded beach. With flat, crystal clear waters, you’ll wonder if you’re in another country.
There are some awesome little shaded spots to sit near and this has to be the best gem I have come across to date! It’s also good for families too as the track wasn’t difficult and we saw a couple of kids down there (although it’s up hill on the way back).
Tip: There’s an awesome pub to stop off at on the way home in Patonga beach. It won the best country pub recently as well and reminds me of a typical British pub but with gorgeous sea views. It’s a proper gem!
4. Little Marley and Big Marley Beaches
Little Marley Beach
These two beaches are located on a well trodden on track from Wottamolla Beach in the Royal National Park. Wottamolla beach has become an incredibly popular beach now (unfortunately!) as it’s got so much there – a bridge you can drop off into the water, a lagoon which is perfect for small children and the beach.
But if you’re like me, and you want to explore a way more stunning and secluded beach, you’ll need to set off on the track from the beach to embark on an hour’s hike to Little Marley. The hike is stunning as it takes you right on the cliff tops of the national park. Walk on a little further and you’ll find Big Marley, complete with sand dunes. Both beaches are absolutely gorgeous!
Big Marley beach (little marley beach is on the far left in the background)
5. Chinaman’s Beach, Mosman
This is actually busy for the beach – I took this on a very hot day just before Christmas
If you’ve lived in Sydney for at least a year, you probably would have been to Balmoral beach by now. It’s a local’s beach on the north side of the bridge but it gets really busy full of families and parking can be a complete nightmare. So if crowds aren’t your thing neither, then why not head just round the corner to Chinaman’s beach. This is a little gem with flat water (my kinda thing!) and it’s quiet. Result!!
A view of the beach
6. Resolute Beach, Ku-ring-gai National Park (opp Palm Beach)
(Location: 1 hour drive, then 20-30 minute hike)
Paradise at Resolute Beach
This is another one of my favourites!! To get here, you can drive to West Head Look Out (which has awesome views looking over to Palm Beach) in Ku-ring-gai National Park, then it’s a 20 minute hike. I got here by parking up at Palm Beach and then took the ferry over to Great Mackerel Beach which is just stunning! It was then a 30 minute hike on the Mackerel Track but it’s beautiful and right next to the water. The reason I love this beach is because it makes you feel like you’re on a deserted island with flat, turquoise waters. It’s baffling to know that the busy Palm Beach is just over the water from this beach. It really is spectacular!! I have seen families here as well FYI.
7. Great Mackerel Beach, Kur-ring-gai National Park
(Location: 1hr drive to Palm Beach, then 10 minute ferry ride)
As mentioned above, you’ll get off the boat at Great Mackerel Beach to head to Resolute beach but there’s absolutely no reason why you wouldn’t stay at Great Mackerel. It’s a beautiful beach with a great peaceful energy to it. We always divide our time between this beach and Resolute when we catch the ferry over.
8. Frazer and Bongon Beach, Munmorah National Park, Central Coast
I knew the city beaches were going to be absolutely packed on a really hot weekend, so after having a good look on Google maps, I found Frazer and Bongon beaches. I actually wanted to camp at Frazer Beach but with only 6 camping spots available, I can only imagine it’s one of those spots you have to probably book way in advance. We couldn’t get a place but decided to go and explore the beaches anyway. Knowing they are only around the corner from No 2 Ghostie’s beach, which is one of my favourites I’ve found so far, I was hoping they would have a similar wow factor.
We parked up at Frazer beach, which is a definite easy one for families as there’s just a few steps down to it. It is a bit of a surfer’s beach though. Walk around to the left of the rocks and you’ll come to Bongon beach. For me, this beach is absolutely magical. The water is pristine clear, flat and stunning! We walked around the rocks a bit further and came to loads of awesome rock pools!
If you walk around Frazer beach to the right, you’ll also find loads of other rock pools just like this beautiful one I went to below.
These two beaches are absolutely incredible and definitely worth a visit.
9. Gunnamatta Bay, Cronulla
(Location: 37 minutes from Sydney)
When I first moved to Sydney, I was staying in the southern part so Cronulla was my local beach. I found Gunamatta By as a far less used beach with flat water, perfect for chilling in when it’s hot. If you’re ever down South of Sydney, this is my go to beach unless of course, I’m heading to The Royal National Park to Marley Beach (as mentioned above in No.4!)
10. The Garie Beach, The Royal National Park
(Location: 1 hour south of Sydney)
This list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include the Garie. It was always my partner’s favourite beach and the first one I went to in Australia that made me feel like I was really in Australia. Surrounded by bushland, you really feel like you’re away from everything. It’s big enough to have privacy and it’s a proper beach with surf. You’l notice throughout this post the common theme of flat water beaches because like most Brits, I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to big waves! You can drive straight to this beach and it’s family friendly.
Some things I’ve learnt along the way…
A bit of an eye opener… the best beaches are always the nudist beaches
Cobblers Beach, Obelix Bay and Lady Bay Beach
All 3 beaches are beautiful but to my amazement, none were ‘oh if there’s one or two nudists, then I can handle it’ especially Cobblers Beach. This one is set literally around the corner from the popular family beach of Balmoral and I was gobsmacked at how many nudists were there. I didn’t have the balls to sit on this beach.
Obelix and Lady Bay looked absolutely stunning but again, at the sight of everyone on the beach in nude, I didn’t think they’d appreciate me in my swimmers and vice versa. A shame, but it’s a given that nudist beaches are the most secluded and beautiful right in the middle of Sydney. If you’re happy to get it all out, then definitely check one of these, gorgeous, city beaches out.
A big mistake… Flint and Steel Bay
Don’t get me confused with Flint and Steel “beach” now. The beach is actually known as one of the best secret beaches in Sydney, but why isn’t it on this list? I basically went to this beach which was OK (the sand wasn’t the best) so we decided to walk around the rocks. We then could see a beautiful beach in the distance (Flint and Steel Bay) so we kept on walking around on the rocks as it was low tide.
Once we got to the Flint and Steel Bay, which was gorgeous by the way, time had passed so quickly that we started to make our way back to the beach. Apple maps showed us a walking track which we quickly learnt didn’t exist so we ended up swimming all the way back (that’s all the way along the coast on this picture and then the same length over). It took us over 2 hours, and even though I thought I was being adventurous at the time, it was in fact traumatic and dangerous. But, if you have a boat, then you must go here!
Lesson learnt – do not put yourself in any danger whilst trying to access a hidden beach!!
And lastly… Beaches I need to check out
Even though I’ve been here in Sydney for five years now, there’s still loads of beaches on my list to see yet!
Store Beach and Collins Flat Beach- Manly
Flat Rock Beach – Killarny Heights
Is there anywhere else you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!
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