Quest for Paradise: Australia’s Best Beaches

December 8, 2016
Katie Uniacke

With an amazing coastline, Australia has no shortage of beautiful beaches. So which ones feature on our best and must see list? Read on to find out!

Australia is blessed with the 7th longest coastline in the world, measuring in at roughly 25,000 km, and a lot of this coastline is made up of to-die-for beaches. When people imagine Australia the first thing they picture is usually a barbeque on a white, sandy beach, and any trip to the biggest island in the world usually includes plenty of beach time.

With 10,685 beaches in Australia, according to Sydney University, it can be hard to know where to start, so we’ve put together a list of our personal favourites to whet your appetite. Some of these beaches are already well-known and attract hordes of sun-seekers, although that doesn’t manage to spoil their charms, and some are hidden gems that we’ve come across on our travels and that, if you’re lucky, you may well have some of the best beaches in Australia all to yourself.


Western Australia



The 3 Mile Beach Campsite is a very long way from anywhere, the nearest town being Carnarvon, but it boasts miles of unspoilt, empty beaches, crystal clear water and killer sunsets over the Indian Ocean. There’s a famous surf break here known as ‘Tombstones’, but there’s also a protected lagoon for snorkelling, and as this station is right at the southern tip of the Ningaloo Reef, the marine life will knock your socks off.

Shell Beach

A view of the Shell Beach in WA

Shell Beach, Source: Tracey Croke, CC by 2.0

Shell beach can be found in Shark Bay, a World Heritage Site, and is one of only two beaches in the world entirely made up of shells. These perfect, tiny white cockle shells are up to 10m deep in places, and the shallow, turquoise water in the bay is a magical place for a dip.




Ventnor Beach, Phillip Island

Phillip Island is best known for its penguin colony, but it is ringed with a selection of draw-dropping beaches, each with their own distinguishing features. Ventnor Beach is great for swimming and has views of Phillip Island’s coastline and Mornington Peninsula.

Gibson Steps, Great Ocean Road

An aerial view of the twelve apostles and gibsons steps beach

Gibsons Steps/ Twelve Apostles, Source: Wikimedia Commons

This isn’t generally a spot where people go to lie on the beach, but more to marvel at the incredible 70-foot-high cliffs and sheer limestone stacks jutting out of the water, two of the famous 12 apostles on the Great Ocean Road.


New South Wales


Yuraygir National Park

All of northern New South Wale’s beaches are beautiful, but most of them are jam-packed with people. This national park, which stretches between Coffs Harbour and Grafton, is much quieter, especially off-season. If you take a walk along one of the many trails along the many beaches, you’ll soon find a spot all to yourself.

Coogee Beach, Sydney

A view of the Coogee beach on a busy summers day.

Coogee Beach, Sydney NSW, Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bondi may be Sydney’s most famous beach, but Coogee is our favourite. With calm surf, golden sand and a huge green space for enjoying some cool drinks, picnics and barbeques, Coogee has a great vibe to it. The women-only McIvers Baths are a popular spot for a swim. From Coogee, it’s a two-hour walk along the coastal path to Bondi, with incredible panoramic views along the way.

Palm Beach, Sydney

A view of the palm beach that is situated 2 hours north of sydney

Palm Beach, Source: Marc Dalmulder, CC by 2.0

This beach is only an hour or so north of Sydney and it’s well worth making the trip out of the city. It boasts great surf, a more sheltered area that’s great for swimming and a large ocean pool. Take a stroll up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse for beautiful views out to sea and back down the beach, and then enjoy a bite to eat at one of the many waterside cafes.

Zenith Beach, Port Stephens

An aerial view of Zenith beach and its neighboring beaches in Port Stephens

Zenith Beach, Source: Tim J Keegan, CC by SA 2.0

Port Stephens is famous for its whale watching tours and being home to the longest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere, great for sand boarding or a camel ride, but its beaches are also something special. Zenith Beach, nestled between two hills out on a peninsula, is beautifully isolated and hopelessly picturesque.




Cape Tribulation Beach

An image of a beach in Cape Tribulation. A place where the rain forest meets the ocean next to the barrier reef

Source: descon7, CC by SA 2.0

Up in the tropics, the beaches are bordered by thick rainforest and there are a few crock-infested creeks you’d be wise to steer clear of, but the coconut palms and white sand beaches are idyllic and totally unspoilt. A stroll or even a horse-ride along Cape Tribulation beach, or any of the stunning beaches around the Cape, whilst you listen to the sounds of the jungle, is an unforgettable experience.

Brunswick Heads

Just north of the world-famous Byron Bay, the beaches in the small town of Brunswick Heads are just as picturesque but far less crowded. To get to the beach you have to cross a bridge over an inlet, where you can often spot rays and other fish-life darting around in the clear water.

Mission Beach

A shot of the peaceful and relaxing mission beach in Australia. One of the best beaches in Australia

Mission Beach, Source: Pixabay


This 14km stretch of golden sand in Queensland is a slice of palm-tree lined paradise. Hours can be spent lying on the beach, or you can head out to the Great Barrier Reef from here. If you’re feeling particularly daring, you can tandem skydive here and appreciate the length of the beach and the scale of the Great Barrier Reef from 14,000 feet up.


An aerial view of the Whitehaven Beach in Queensland. Widely regarded on most people's best beaches in Australia list.

Whitehaven, Source: Wicker Paradise, CC by 2.0

This incomparable stretch of pristine white sand has won all kinds of ‘best beach’ awards and is in the heart of the Whitsunday Islands National Park, meaning it’s totally untouched. It’s 7km long and the sand is 98% pure white silica, giving it an other-worldly glow.

The beauty of Australia’s coastline is that wherever you go you’re bound to come across a jaw-dropping beach, with clear waters, whether rough or still, and white or golden sand. Every single one has its own distinctive charm and character. These are some of our favourites, but don’t take our word for it. Go and experience them for yourself, and you’re sure to discover a few other hidden gems along the way.



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