With Qantas resuming international flights this Christmas, we’re all dreaming of soaking up the sun on spectacular Sydney beach. Here’s how to avoid the crowds.
Sitting on the north headland of Botany Bay, La Perouse is only a 30-minute drive from Sydney’s CBD. But here, in the Kamay Botany Bay National Park, you’ll find Little Congwong Beach, a pretty stretch of golden sand where the rest of the world feels a million miles away.
The beach is surrounded by lush vegetation and its calm waters are perfect for paddling and snorkelling. There’s easy access from a nearby road, but once you stick up your umbrella and lay out your beach towel, you feel the serenity instantly.
If the crowds get too much at Cronulla’s four famous surf beaches, solitude and an empty stretch of sand is only ten-mute walk away.
Head to the Port Hacking River side of the peninsula and you’ll find two beautiful estuary beaches on Gunnamatta Bay.
At Gunnamatta Park you can swim in the bay or the netted tidal pool, enclosed by a picturesque wooden jetty. Or head a little further south and you'll find an even more secluded beach at Darook Park. Here trees line the narrow strip of sand, casting shade right over the water in the morning, making for a pleasant midsummer swim.
To be honest, all the beaches in the Royal National Park are great. Just an hour south of the city, Garie and Wattamolla are the most accessible and the most popular. But for real solitude, you’ll want to hike a little further to Burning Palms.
From the carpark at Garie Beach walk south along the stunning Coast Track and past North and South Era beaches. You’ll know you’ve reached Burning Palms when you spot the historic beach shacks on the northern end of the beach's headland. They were built by miners in the 1930s. Note that the surf can be strong here and the beach is not always patrolled.
Combine a swim with a bush walk at Oatley Park in the leafy southern suburb of Oatley, near Hurstville. Here the 45-hectare bushland reserve hums with cockatoos and other birds drawn to the native flowers and trees, while the paved and unpaved walks through the bush offer lovely views of the Georges River.
The beach here features a 200m-long netted swimming enclosure with change rooms and picnic tables. Swim a few long laps of the enclosure, or simply laze on the pontoon and watch the cockatoos fly overhead. Don’t forget to check out Oatley Park Castle, a sandstone folly built during the Great Depression.
Store Beach sits on the harbour side of Manly’s protected North Head and is so secluded it's only accessible by water.
The beach was originally the site where ships would unload provisions for Sydney's old Quarantine Station, which was used to isolate arriving passengers suspected of carrying infectious diseases.
Now part of Sydney Harbour National Park, the quarantine buildings have been converted into a swanky boutique hotel. You could attempt to reach Store Beach by scrambling over rocks at low tide but it’s much more fun to kayak.
Turimetta Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches is so secret it disappears at high tide. It’s not until low tide that its small stretch of golden sand is revealed.
The beach is bordered by Turimetta Head to the north and Narrabeen Head to the south, and can be accessed from the Bicentennial Coastal Walk or a rock platform from Narrabeen Beach.
The beach is backed by steep cliffs and the south end's large, flat rocks and rock pools are great for kids to explore.
Deep in the heart of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, the secluded and beautiful Resolute Beach is your reward for a steep walk along the Resolute Track.
Resolute's calm, clear water, densely forested fringes and views out to Pittwater and Barrenjoey Headland make it an idyllic spot to pretend you’re the only person in the world.
On the way back along the Resolute Track, make sure you check out the famous Red Hands Cave with its Aboriginal handprints.
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