Best Beaches in Australia: Serene & Secret Shores
Published on: January 16th, 2024
Last modified: January 16th, 2024
Imagine digging your toes into soft white sand, diving under turquoise waves and letting the warm sunlight wash over you. This may sound like a tropical dream, but it’s a common scene at Australia’s best beaches. With more than 60,000 kilometres of coastline and over 10,000 beaches, this immense island is among the best places on earth to enjoy sun, sand and surf.
We’ve asked our travel designers to select their favourite coastal destinations in the land down under. From the untamed wilderness of Kangaroo Island and the snorkel-friendly shipwrecks of Western Australia to the crystalline waters of Tasmania and the world-famous white sand of the Whitsundays, here are their expert picks of the top beaches in Australia.
1. Stokes Bay – Kangaroo Island
Just off the coast of Adelaide in South Australia you’ll find the wonderfully rugged Kangaroo Island, whose wildlife and natural wonders have been left largely untouched. Make your way through a maze of boulders to reach Stokes Bay, which is undoubtedly among the most beautiful beaches in Australia. It boasts a protected rock pool with perfectly calm and clear water, making it an ideal spot for swimming and a fantastic choice for families.
Need to know: We recommend staying at the exquisite Southern Ocean Lodge to enjoy everything the island has to offer.
2. Boomerang Beach – New South Wales
The shape of this stunning beach in New South Wales is reminiscent of the Australian icon it’s named after. It’s known for having some of the best surf breaks in the area, thanks to rock ledges that create delightfully consistent waves. Head to the nearby Booti Booti National Park for rainforest treks and jaw-dropping views from the headlands.
Need to know: Boomerang Beach faces east, making it a favourite spot to watch the sunrise over the ocean; keep an eye out for dolphins as well.
3. Rainbow Beach – Brisbane
Located a few hours up the coast from Brisbane, Rainbow Beach is named for the brilliant colours of its dunes. It’s worth making the journey for the distinctive scenery, golden sand, tranquil town and spectacular views from the clifftop Carlo Sand Blow. It’s also an ideal starting point for a trip to K’gari (Fraser Island), which is the largest sand island in the world.
Need to know: To reach K’gari, take a 10-minute ferry ride from Inskip Point at the northern end of Rainbow Beach.
4. Apollo Bay – Victoria
The southeastern state of Victoria is home to some of the best Australian beaches, many of which are dotted along the Great Ocean Road. Take this scenic drive to reach Apollo Bay, a 3-kilometre stretch of sand that draws families, sunbathers and surfers alike. You can also explore the town of Apollo Bay, which is known for fresh seafood and a thriving art scene.
Need to know: Adventurous beachgoers can take a surf lesson or hop in a sea kayak to explore the nearby Marengo Marine Sanctuary.
5. Adventure Bay – Tasmania
Tasmania is renowned for its wilderness and wildlife (including a certain eponymous marsupial), but it also offers some truly incredible beaches. Off its southeastern coast you’ll find Bruny Island and the peaceful stretch of sand known as Adventure Bay: a terrific destination for family beach days and nature walks.
Need to know: Look out for whales and dolphins in the water. Animal lovers can also find fairy penguins, fur seals, wallabies and many other interesting species across the island.
6. Hamelin Bay – Western Australia
The vast region of Western Australia is a haven of natural beauty and pristine coastlines – not to mention the brilliant biodiversity of Ningaloo Reef. Head to Hamelin Bay for some of the area’s most picturesque vistas and crystal-clear waters. It’s one of Australia’s best spots for snorkelling, and is particularly well known for the friendly stingrays that frequent its shallows.
Need to know: Underwater explorers can snorkel through the Hamelin Bay Wreck Trail to discover no fewer than 11 different shipwreck sites.
7. Balmoral Beach – Sydney
The harbour city of Sydney is both iconic and idyllic – and if you want to relax on the sand without venturing too far afield, Balmoral Beach is your best bet. Its sheltered spot on the harbour means the water is perfectly calm and safe for even the smallest swimmers. Here you can try your hand at sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking or scuba diving, or check out the historic buildings lining the shore.
Need to know: Balmoral Beach is right next to Edwards Beach, with a scenic path leading out to Rocky Point Island between them.
8. Wineglass Bay – Tasmania
Set within Freycinet National Park on the eastern coast of Tasmania, Wineglass Bay is named for the deep crescent shape of its coastline. Its far-flung location and dramatic vistas have made it a legendary destination, and it’s well worth the trek to see it in person. Hike through the lush hills and pink granite cliffs surrounding the bay for astonishing views – especially at sunset.
Need to know: We highly suggest staying at the nearby Saffire Freycinet which offers guided walks, boat trips and even scenic flights over the bay.
9. Whitehaven Beach – Whitsundays
With 74 islands scattered across the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays boast some of the most famous beaches in Australia. The archipelago’s crown jewel is Whitehaven Beach, which is famous for its gorgeous inlet and shockingly white sand. Wander along 7 kilometres of undisturbed coastline, swim in the sparkling water or charter a boat to sail through the islands.
Need to know: Whitehaven’s sand consists of nearly pure silica, which explains its brilliant colour as well as the convenient fact that it doesn’t absorb heat from the sun.
Lizard IslandEscape from it all on the largely uninhabited and breathtakingly pristine Lizard Island on the northernmost tip of Great Barrier Reef. The eco-lodge maintains a responsible, sustainable presence within the national park, working closely with the traditional owners of the land to preserve it and the reef. The island can only be reached by private charter from Cairns Airport – taking you to 1,013 hectares of Australia National Park with 24 white-powder sand beaches, a picturesque lagoon and native bush. Choose from 40 luxurious suites, villas or the pavilion, each offering complete privacy, spectacular views and some with private plunge pools. Guests bask undisturbed in the tropical sun or take to the water to discover colourful coral reefs right on their doorstep in one of the world’s most spectacular protected reefs. A stay on the island also includes gourmet dining, picnic hampers on the beach, watersports equipment, a welcoming pool surrounded by palms and indulgent treatments at the spa. The island attracts ocean enthusiasts who come for some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling opportunities, including the famous Cod Hole. Ribbon Reefs draw keen fishers as one of the best big game fishing spots in the world and its multitude of undisturbed private beaches also makes it a hotspot for a romantic getaway or a secluded hideaway for the rich and famous.
Southern Ocean LodgePerched upon a cliff, Southern Ocean Lodge is a gem on the rugged southwestern coast of Kangaroo Island, overlooking the waves the Great Australian Bight. 21 suites are contemporary havens of luxury, enjoying modern and fresh aesthetics which look out into the wilderness. Floor to ceiling windows allow streams of natural light to touch limestone tiles and walls of recycled spotted gum wood. All boast king size beds while others, such as the Remarkable Suite, enjoy exclusive access to a private outdoor terrace. Embark on a culinary journey through Kangaroo Island when dining at the Southern Ocean Lodge. Guests are treated to fine, organic foods, all locally-sourced from artisanal growers to create a fresh and premium menu. South Australia is known as the gastronomic capital of the country, meaning you will taste flavours of only the highest quality from a selection which changes daily. It also has a relaxed atmosphere which proves an idyllic setting for a taste of the region’s most excellent vintages and beers. Southern Ocean Lodge offers guests a complete and personal Kangaroo Island experience with a range of daily guided island excursions from sea lion spotting, scenic hikes, beach fishing, wildlife walks, kayaking, mountain biking and more. There’s also the spa offering cutting-edge treatments combining perfectly with the amazing views.
Saffire FreycinetDesigned to embrace its stunning surroundings, Saffire is a natural treasure tucked away on Tasmania’s undisturbed shores. Located on what was once a caravan park site, a great deal of time has been spent revegetating the site with 30,000 native plants to encourage a return to its natural form. This boutique lodge has been showered in praise since opening in 2010. Its unique stingray-shaped design was carefully crafted to blend into the surrounding environment while creating a modern and ultra-luxe getaway. Its 20 luxury suites boast unadulterated views across Great Oyster Bay to the Hazards Mountain Range, all from the comfort of absolute luxury. The décor throughout is warm and earthy and the premium suites have spacious living areas, a private kitchen and dining room where the chef can come and cook for you. They also have private courtyard plunge pools. Saffire has an emphasis on supporting the local environment and uses local, seasonal and organic produce in the restaurant that is grown in the chef’s garden. The lodge also works with the Save the Tasmanian Devil program, set up in response to the decline of more than 80 percent of the native marsupials due to an infectious cancer. In a one-hectare, free-range devil enclosure, Saffire provides mature devils with a safe environment and also gives guests the rare opportunity to see the devils in a natural habitat. As well as learning about conservation efforts in the region, Saffire guests can indulge in a multitude of complimentary experiences, from visiting a working oyster farm to sample Pacific oysters and regional wines to guided vineyard tours, canoeing, bird watching or nature walks. If that all sounds a bit much, then you can always just head to the state-of-the-art spa for the ultimate pampering.