Australia's Best Beaches, Part 2: The South

Travel Lists Australia
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We head south to continue the list of amazing Australian beaches. Like the rest of Australia, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia are packed shore-to-shore with postcard-ready beaches, making it difficult to name only the most spectacular. Since the winds are stronger in the south, many of these locales are geared towards surfing, kite boarding, wind surfing and sailing. But, during certain parts of the year the water calms down for tranquil swimming as well. No matter your preference, these beaches hold something for every beach-loving traveller.

1. Coolangatta

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Photo: Flickr/Aristocrats-hat

Starting just south of where our northern beaches left off, Coolangatta’s north-facing stretches provide a chilled-out vibe to balance out its party-centric Surfers Paradise sister. Just minutes from the Gold Coast airport, Coolangatta has everything from hostels starting at $28/night to boutique beach front apartments starting at $190/night.

2. Bondi Beach

Moving down the coast, just outside of Sydney and accessible by train and bus, Bondi Beach offers a relaxing reprieve from the bustle of the city. To capitalize on the famous beaches experience, try the Bondi to Bronte walk along the Pacific Ocean. Finish the walk with lunch at Bondi Icebergs and watch waves wash into the swimming pool or enjoy one of the many restaurants on Macpherson Street. Every type of accommodation is available a train-ride away in Sydney, but for a true Bondi experience, check out some seaside apartments on Air BNB.

3. Manly Beach

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Photo: Flickr/Sacha Fernandez

Competing with Sydney’s other famous beach, Bondi, lively Manly Beach—lined with cafés and impromptu volleyball tournaments—is reached via ferry. While the water isn’t as nice as Bondi (there’s no contest there), the surfing is still excellent, even if you’re just learning. Being close to Sydney, there are plenty of accommodations and all within walking distance of the beach.

4.Shelly Beach

Rated Sydney’s best beach, Shelley Beach occupies a tiny bay south of the iconic Manly Beach. The bay’s shallow water has made it a popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving—and its north-facing shores mean swimmers don’t have to battle the waves. Accessible via a 30-minute ferry from Sydney, Shelly Beach has the similar accommodation to Manly Beach.

5. Wineglass Bay

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Photo: Flickr/Victor Ho

The name alone is almost reason enough to visit this beach. Located in Tasmania, the delicately curved Wineglass Bay features white sand and blue water usually reserved for beaches in warmer climates. Known for its dramatic landscape, kayaking and walking trails, the beach is accessible from Coles Bay, a 2.5-hour drive from Hobart. Located in a nation park, there are plenty of camping sites, caravan parks, B&Bs and even an immodest selection of high-end spa retreats for accommodation.

6. Hyams Beach

Situated on the shores of Jervis Bay in New South Wales, Hyams Beach is known for its pure white-silica sand, kangaroos and dolphins. White sand begets clear blue water and between the two there is a lot of glare under the harsh Aussie sun, so remember to bring some sunglasses or ‘sunnies’ and strong lotion. The accommodation around the beach is mostly beach houses like Hyams Beachside Cottages ($195/night). Jervis Bay and Hyams Beach can be reached via car, a two and a half hour drive from Sydney.

7. Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo Island

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Photo: SATC

No stranger to Best Beach charts, Vivonne Bay on Kangaroo Island’s south coast is known for surfing, sunbathing and crayfishing. Next to Vionne Bay is Little Sahara, the only sand dunes on the island. Beach goers can try hiking, sand boarding or sledding down the dunes, before heading back to the beach to cool off in the cerulean surf. There is plenty of accommodation on Kangaroo Island, but if you want to stay on the bay itself there are several beach houses and the Vivonne Bay Lodge (all starting around $120/night) to choose from.

8. Little Beach

Just far enough off the beaten track, Little Beach near Albany, Western Australia, is perfect for those looking for an untouched wilderness, white sand, turquoise water and an escape from the crowds. The secluded spot doesn’t have many modern luxuries, so beach enthusiasts will need to bring their own water and shade. Little Beach can be reached by driving to Two People’s Bay Nature Reserve, 20 minutes from Albany.

9. Byron Beach

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Photo: Flickr/Australia/New Zealand Travel

Byron is home to over 18 miles of beaches including sheltered bays for swimming, surf breaks for the aquatic athletes, dog-friendly stretches and even a few clothing-optional spots. From June to August, beach goers can see whales from the shore as they migrate south (sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins and stingrays are also known to make cameos). Byron has the usual suspects when it comes to accommodation—beaches houses, hotels, hostels—but they tend to get booked during the Splendour in the Grass music festival weekend in July and Easter weekend, so plan ahead.

10. Scarborough Beach

Scarborough Beach in Perth, Western Australia, has all the things a beach connoisseur looks for: white sand, surf, trendy cafés, ample sun and clear blue water. Scarborough hosts several beach concerts and music festivals, and there is still plenty of kite surfing, wind surfing, sailing, swimming, fishing and tanning to pass the day. Accessible via car or bus from Perth and has a fair selection of hostels, hotel-apartments and resorts available.

Lori-Lee Emshey is a freelance writer and editor traveling the world one worn-down pair of ballet flats at a time. In between travels, she works with start-up companies to develop sustainable technologies.