These past two years have been tough. I’m currently spending the holidays in isolation with COVID-19. Depending on where you live, there are different restrictions. In Sydney we are limited to our state. Even though it’s tough to not be able to travel as we wanted, Sydney is a beautiful city worth being explored.

My favourite thing about Sydney is the beaches!

For a guide to Sydney ocean pools, click here.

My personal favourites

Disclaimer, I’m not a surfer, so if you’re looking for pure surf spots this list isn’t for you. I do however love bodysurfing, boogie boarding, sunbathing and cooling off in the water. So these beaches are a good mix of everything.

I grew up going to the Eastern Suburb beaches so my list may be more skewed this way. However, currently I live in the North Shore and have been exploring the quiet beaches up this way.

Bronte Beach

My childhood favourite continues to be my number one. Surf, sand, bogey hole and ocean pool. There is something for everyone. If you don’t love getting sandy there are rocks and a grassy area to rest on.

Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach feels like a hidden paradise. Walk past leafy mansions to get to this slice of paradise. Turquoise waters, white sands, perfect for snorkelling and with facilities and a cute cafe nearby.

Gordons Bay

Crystal clear water, great snorkelling, and rocks to rest on. This is the ultimate chill beach.

Bondi Beach

The most famous of the Sydney beaches. It can be crowded at times, really crowded. Especially when busloads of tourists come by to take pictures on the beach. But there is a reason for the fame. Bondi is a beautiful beach, the water is almost always perfect and it’s surrounded by trendy cafes and restaurants.

Tip: get there early or on weekdays to beat the crowds.

North Curl Curl Beach

North Curl Curl feels far away from Sydney but is actually right on our door step. Clear waters, soft sand, and a great rock pool. There’s something for everyone: swimmers, surfers, sun-bakers, hikers and kids.

Clovelly Beach

A mix of sand and industrial concrete. Clovelly isn’t your typical Sydney beach but is always a great choice for the pure ease. There is a car park right next to it, and multiple entry points into the calm waters. A sunbather paradise. Also great if you don’t like getting sandy.

Tamarama Beach

Glamarama is nestled between more well known Bronte and Bondi, but it’s definitely not the lesser of the three. Soft white sand, surf and great for beach barbecues.

Warning: the water can get rough here.

Seven Shillings Beach (Redleaf)

Still waters, sandy, pontoons to swim to. Redleaf feels exclusive and trendy. It’s a perfect hang spot and great for tanning.

Freshwater Beach

Quiet Freshwater is another perfect mix of surf, swimming and white sand.

Mona Vale Beach

Surfers paradise, Mona Vale Beach also has one of the best ocean pools in Sydney.

Maroubra Beach

Great surf, white sands.

Fairlight Beach

Small and tricky to get a park, Fairlight is worth the effort. Beautiful tidal pool, clear still waters perfect for snorkelling and a mix of sand, grass and rocks to lie on. There’s also a great view of North Harbour.

Warning: if you have a fear of seaweed this beach isn’t for you.

Chinamans Beach

Northern Sydney boasts great beaches. Chinamans is super fun, especially when the ice cream boat man pulls up in his tinny (small aluminium boat).

Manly Beach

Backed by great bars and restaurants. Manly Beach is a nice mix of surf, sand and wading.

Camp Cove Beach

Surrounded by multimillion dollar mansions, little Camp Cove has one of the best views in Sydney. No surf here, but fun for taking a dip. It can be really crowded, so try get here early and on a weekday.

Balmoral Beach

Not a surf beach, but perfect for picnics. Again it can get busy and some people set up almost a temporary house on the sand, so getting there early or on a weekday makes for a better experience.

Keeping safe

Always swim between the flags. If the beach is closed don’t swim, the surf lifeguards are the experts. Know your limits and if you aren’t a strong swimmer don’t dive straight into the surf.

Also, getting sunburnt on your first day of the beach sucks, so don’t forget to slip slop slap.

Now that the mum part is over, most importantly, have fun!

Photo from Cancer Council