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A panoramic view of Camp Cove beach in Watson's Bay
Photograph: David Iliff

The best harbour beaches in Sydney

Sure, the ocean is pretty. But the sands of the harbourfront have an appeal all their own

Written by
Time Out editors

It's sunny outside. You want to go to the beach. But the drive to Bondi is looking like absolute hell. And besides, you haven't shown one of our (many) harbour beaches much appreciation lately. Which means you're missing a trick. When you want to beat the crowds or get some beach time in quick-snap after work, these secluded sands found up and down the harbour shores should be your go-tos. 

But which ones are worth the trip? We asked an expert – Caroline Ford, author of the new book Sydney Beaches: A History – for her top tips.

Camp Cove
  • Things to do
  • Watsons Bay

“My absolute favourite harbour beach. With its sloping shore and turquoise waters, it looks straight out of a tourist brochure. I love to enjoy a summer day by taking a ferry to Watsons Bay and enjoy an hour or two here before heading back to the pub for a drink and meal with views of the city.”

Chinamans Beach
  • Things to do
  • Mosman

“A small, sheltered beach that looks across Middle Harbour. The huge Rosherville Reserve there is perfect for picnics, and dogs are allowed off­leash on weekdays. There’s even ample parking.”

Parsley Bay Reserve
  • Things to do
  • Vaucluse

“I remember being mesmerised by this little bay as a child. The waters are almost always calm, [and] crossing the footbridge that runs high across the bay gives a sense of adventure.”

Seven Shillings Beach
  • Things to do
  • Rose Bay

“Lying here, you have spectacular views towards the bridge, and protected swimming is available on the other side of the fence at the Murray Rose Pool, which has that distinctive elevated walkway around the perimeter. Great beach for swimming, and perfect if you have young children.”

Store Beach
  • Things to do
  • Manly

“A hidden gem at North Head. I still can’t believe I could be so close to a city the size of Sydney and feel like I’m on a remote island in Far North Queensland – aside from the water temperature, of course.”

Find more places to park your towel

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