6 Sydney beaches off the beaten track
Bondi, Manly, Bronte… The gorgeous beaches that made Sydney famous the world over share the same characteristics: long strips of golden sand, voluptuous waves, turquoise to indigo shades of water… and also, sadly, a tendency to get atrociously crowded on beautiful summer days.
And yet, with over 100 beaches sprinkled around the city, Sydney is definitely full of other options for the Travelette on the hunt for secluded coves, quiet swimming spots, or simply a different perspective. Here is a selection of 6 of Sydney’s lesser-known beaches that will take you off-the-swum-track.
1. Milk Beach, Vaucluse
Pure, smooth and spotless Milk Beach well deserves its name. Just a few minutes walk down from the 1850s house where Baz Luhrmann shot ‘Australia’(feel free to bring corsets and lacy umbrellas for a Victorian-era-themed photo shoot), this beautiful sandy cove guarantees absolute serenity.
For an even more secluded feeling, keep walking to the north end of the beach until you reach the pocketsize strip of sand hidden behind the rocks.
If you don’t own a mansion in the hyper-exclusive suburb of Vaucluse yet, Milk Beach’s breathtaking harbour views are your chance to witness a million-dollar sunset over the city.
Access: Through Strickland House (open to the public), 52 Vaucluse Rd, after a 5 min steep walk down the leafy path.
2. Mackenzies Bay, Tamarama
Tucked between superstar Bondi and glamorous Tamarama, Mackenzies is the most exclusive of all beaches: it is said to only appear once every seven years!
In reality, this curious phenomenon is not as regular as the local myth makes it out to be. However, rocky Mackenzies Bay does sometimes unpredictably turn almost overnight into a deep sandy beach; and then disappears again, just as suddenly.
The rest of the time, Mackenzies Bay remains a great spot to swim off the rocks and dive for some puppy love – as it is not officially a beach, it is not patrolled and thus popular with dog-owners! Don’t forget to look up and admire the beautiful naturally carved cliffs.
Access: Through the Tamarama to Bondi coastal walk.
3. Redleaf Pool, Double Bay
Tame your shark phobia at Redleaf Pool, a great-white-proof enclosure at Seven Shillings Beach, where you’ll be able to do laps non-stop without worrying about giant sharp-teethed creatures.
The boardwalk running over the net and the two wooden pontoons offer great sunbathing (or parading in your new bikini) opportunities.
Around the beach, you’ll find large grass areas where you can spread a blanket to quietly read your book or improvise a picnic with a nice North Bondi-ish vibe – without the crowds.
Access: Stair access from 536 New South Head Rd. Redleaf Pool has officially been renamed ‘Murray Rose’ in honour of an Australian Olympic swimming legend.
4. Store Beach, Manly
Store Beach will fill the adventurous types with joy – and also becharm those who love baby animals. This beach is about as secluded as it gets: it can only be reached by water!
So make friends with a rich yacht-owner… or hire a kayak from Manly Kayaks (at Manly Sea life Sanctuary) and paddle across the bay to reach the sand, showing-off your mad rowing skills to the said (and weak-armed) yacht-owners.
Could this gorgeous Robinson Crusoe-like hideaway get any more adorable? Well, YES: it is also home to a colony of tiny endangered fairy penguins. Pray to your baby-animal angel and you might spot one of these black and white cuties!
Access: Only via water, south of Little Manly Cove.
5. Gordon’s Bay, Coogee
Gordon’s Bay is easy to access, situated just a few minutes walk south of Clovelly and north of Coogee Beach, but always less crowded than its neighbours. Expect beautiful emerald-coloured waters and the atmosphere of a Mediterranean-coast fishing village: the beach is lined with cute racks of boats.
Protected by an offshore reef, Gordon’s Bay is a popular diving and snorkelling spot. The sandy part of the beach is quite minuscule and often covered in seaweed, but it’s a spot on the rocks that you’re after: spread your towel and indulge in sunbaking bliss.
It’s also a favourite Australia Day spot, home to a veritable inflatables-fest on the 26th of January: take out your best blow-up boat, crocodile or doughnut and join the party.
Access: Through the Clovelly to Coogee coastal walk.
6. Taylors Bay, Mosman
Taylors Bay is very remote and hard to find on a map, but worth the effort! From the end of Iluka Rd, take the little path down the stairs and you’ll catch beautiful views of the (most likely) deserted beach. If the tide is high, you’ll have to walk through the water to actually reach the sand; hold your valuables above your head and go!
This little haven is rimmed with luscious jungle-like vegetation and beautiful ocean-carved rocks displaying various shades of orange and yellow. It is also a shell-lovers paradise: you’ll find real beauties lying on the sand! Be careful before you put your foot down on the rocks though, oysters are plenty… and really sharp.
Don’t forget to pack drinking water and a few snacks! Sadly, as Taylors Bay does not benefit from the same servicing as a main beach, it generally holds quite a bit of rubbish.
Access: Head down the stairs at the end of Iluka Rd, Mosman.
A pleasant particularity of the New South Wales east coast is its natural ocean pools. My favourite is the minuscule Ivo Rowe rock pool, embedded into the rock itself: filled with fresh water every time the surf breaks into it, at low tide it very much looks like a little saltwater spa!
Access: Through Bunya Parade, off the Coogee to Maroubra coastal walk.
Note: Be aware that lifeguards do not patrol secluded beaches, unlike what you may be used to on main beaches. Be careful when swimming, especially off the rocks.
*Guest post written by Marie Colinet
All photos by Marie Colinet except the pictures of Store Beach: Image 1 via dfinnecy, Image 2 via Penguin Protectors.