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Wattamolla Beach from above
Photograph: National Parks NSW

The best secret beaches in Sydney

Shhh... let's just keep these lesser-known shores between us

Maxim Boon
Written by
Maxim Boon
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Update, October 1: If you live within 5km of a beach, you are currently allowed to go there for outdoor exercise or recreation. However please abide by the following:

  • Unvaccinated adults who are not in the same household can only gather in groups of no more than two people for exercise, including swimming and surfing, and outdoor recreation, like reading or having a picnic.
  • Up to five vaccinated adults from different households can meet for outdoor exercise and recreation.
  • Carpooling is not permitted for any reason outside of households, so if you are meeting a friend, you'll need to get there independently or via public transport.
  • Households can go as a group but must not mingle with other households.
  • You must wear a mask whenever it is practical to do so, including while sunbathing. Masks may be removed while engaging in strenuous exercise or while eating and drinking.
  • Group sport is not permitted, including beach volleyball or beach cricket.
  • If there are no beaches in your home LGA, you may not travel further than 5km from your home to go to a beach, and you may be asked to produce evidence of your home address to prove this. Here's a handy interactive map so you can check where your nearest beach is.

Slip, slap, slop and stay safe Sydney.

When the sunny season kicks in, crowds flock to Sydney's most famous sandy stretches, but with well over 100 beaches to be found in and around the city, there are plenty of secluded shores to choose from if you'd prefer to sunbake with minimal human contact.

Some are surprisingly close to the CBD with stunning harbour views, while others require a little more planning to reach. But trust us, once you find yourself stretched out on the sand with barely another soul in sight, you'll be glad you made the effort to reach these lesser-known gems.

If you're feeling a little more like releasing your inner-exhibitionist, why not head to these nudist beaches in Sydney, followed by a few drinks at one of the city's best rooftop bars (once you've put your clothes back on, of course).

Secret Sydney beaches to seek out

  • Attractions
  • Sydney

A trip to Resolute Beach should be a compulsory part of any visit to the stunning Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. Looking out over Pittwater, with Barrenjoey Head and its picture-perfect lighthouse in the distance, it takes a little effort to get to Resolute, but boy, does the time invested pay dividends. You can reach these sands either by taking the Mackeral Trail from Mackeral Beach after catching a boat across from Pittwater Park Wharf or by heading south on the Resolute Track from the West Head Lookout. Whichever you choose, your day at the beach will come bookended by a blissful bushwalk through some of the most beautifully unspoiled parklands near the city.

  • Attractions
  • Wollongong

Deep within the Royal National Park is a sandy oasis that has to be seen to be believed. You can take a swim in the emerald waters of the creek-fed lagoon, which is also a great spot for snorkelling, or simply lay back against one of the cabbage tree palms with a good book. If you’re a budding shutterbug, the Wattamolla Waterfall may well rank as one of the most photogenic natural wonders anywhere in the park, and be sure to take the short bushwalk to Providential Lookout to snap some dramatic shots of the rugged sea cliffs. What makes this little slice of paradise extra impressive is that you’ll also find great facilities here, thanks to the well-equipped picnic area, so bring along some snags and grill up lunch on one of the public barbecues. Park entry costs apply.

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  • Things to do
  • Vaucluse

Tucked away in Vaucluse along the gorgeous Hermitage Foreshore Walk, this hidden gem is just 50-metres long but boasts some epic views of the city, including the Harbour Bridge, Rose and Hermit Bays, and the historic Strickland House overlooking the beach. If you're lucky, you can also catch the odd seaplane or two taking off from the gentle shallows nearby.

  • Museums
  • Watsons Bay

Nestled in the heart of the millionaires' playground near Camp Cove (the overlooking residences are some of the priciest pads in the city), this secluded crescent of shore is just a hop skip and jump from the South Head, where you can visit Hornby Lighthouse and can take in epic views of the Tasman Sea. Round out your day with a sundowner at the Watsons Bay Hotel, as dusk descends on the city to the west.

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  • Attractions
  • Balgowlah Heights

The Manly to Spit Coastal Trail may be one of Sydney's most popular inner-city hikes, but this charming beach on the Dobroyd Head leg of the track is often overlooked by passersby. This pretty spot has great views across the harbour waters towards Manly, and because of its sheltered position within the North Harbour, the swimming conditions here are excellent. The sandstone outcrops at the beach’s tips are well worth exploring, both for the marine life hiding in the many rock pools and for the ancient Aboriginal carvings, depicting fish and shields. These are extremely weathered and not always possible to spot, but they're easiest to find when the tide is at its lowest.

  • Things to do
  • Mosman

On the south side of Middle Head, Obelisk Beach is another hidden pocket renowned for its peace, quiet and views of the South Head. It's a decent hike down from the nearest parking to this salty haven, but it's worth it for the gorgeous views of Camp Cove, Parsley Bay, Watsons Bay and Vaucluse in the distance. But be aware, Obelisk is a nude-friendly beach, so if you shock easily, this may not be the shore for you.

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  • Things to do
  • Point Piper

A long, narrow stretch of sand tucked in Felix Bay, Lady Martins Beach is the perfect place for an exclusive dip in the harbour waters. It's hiding down a little lane next to the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club, and yes, that does mean the area has some seriously minted locals. Don't worry, you can pretend you're one of them, while you secretly stickybeak on the multi-million dollar properties that overlook these sands. 

  • Things to do
  • Little Bay

You'll find this beach – split in two by a protrusion of rock – right at the end of the Prince Henry development in Little Bay. It has great facilities and still, calm waters. Grab a slushie from the supermarket on your way out of Prince Henry. We almost feel guilty spilling the beans on this little secret. Almost.

Looking for more fun in the sun?

  • Attractions
  • Beaches

Sydney doesn’t just boast some of the best beaches in Australia, many of this city’s shores are considered the finest on the globe. But with more than 100 beaches dotted throughout the harbour and along Sydney’s coastline to choose from, it can be a daunting task deciding just where to sample the surf. So, here it is: our ultimate pick of Sydney's best beaches.

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