The 10 best Australian beaches … you’ve probably never heard of

Craig Tansley, one of Australia’s top travel writers, reveals the best beaches in Australia you’ve got to see, because none of your friends ever have …

Enjoy the serenity of Tasmania's Ocean Beach © Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Enjoy the serenity of Tasmania's Ocean Beach © Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Category Beach & nature Tips & tricks

Date 16th November 2015

We’ve got a secret – well, 10, in fact – that we just have to share. Grab a car and take a drive across the fringes of the country to find the very best, and crucially under-visited beaches of Australia!

Vivonne Beach – Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Pristine blue water and white sand - Vivonne bay soothes the soul
Pristine blue water and white sand – Vivonne bay soothes the soul

Bet you’ve never heard of it (even though it’s located on the north coast of tourist icon, Kangaroo Island), but Vivonne Beach is considered Australia’s most pristine beach. University researcher Andrew Short spent 11 years exploring every part of the Australian coastline to compile the world’s first beach database.

Vivonne Beach got Short’s number one vote … by a country mile: but then it is over two kilometres long and has pristine clear, blue water where fishing boats sit at anchor. And the soft white silica sand you’d only expect on Whitehaven Beach. Its relative isolation keeps it quiet, every day of the year.

Suffolk Park Beach – Byron Bay, NSW

Suffolk Park Beach © Destination NSW
Suffolk Park Beach © Destination NSW.

While thousands congregate on the world-famous sands of Byron’s Main Beach and across Byron’s iconic bay, most don’t even know there’s a strip of sand 6.5 kilometres long on the other side of the lighthouse. Sure, the corner can get busy (Tallows Beach) but keep walking 200 metres and you’ll soon be alone.

Suffolk Park Beach is located at the other end of the beach, and it’s along here you’ll find Byron’s famously eccentric inhabitants – look out for nude bathers (don’t look too closely), jugglers, crazy dancers, yogis and artists sketching the scene. You’re also likely to see dolphins every day of the week – and whales from June to October.

Five Beach Bay – Magnetic Island, Qld

Five Beach Bay - Magnetic Island © Tourism & Events Qld
Five Beach Bay – Magnetic Island © Tourism & Events Qld.

This could be the world’s most perfect beach, and yet, aside from the occasional fisherman, very few frequent this beach. But it requires a little bit of effort to get there. Magnetic Island on Queensland’s far north coast is one of Australia’s most under-rated tourist attractions. Five Beach Bay is even more of a secret.

Hire a runabout from the island’s best family beach location, Horseshoe Bay, and motor a kilometre or so west to Five Beach Bay. It’s a marine park so the water teems with fish, and turtles … even the odd dugong if you’re lucky.

Wye River, Victoria

Wye River
Wye River, where the river meets the ocean.

You’ve all heard of Bells Beach, Lorne and Apollo Bay. But it’s the in-between places along the Great Ocean Road that make it what it is. And the best ‘in-between place’ is Wye River. Located in a pristine bay where surfers take to consistent waves breaking off the point, Wye River is surrounded by towering national park.

There’s a café serving honest, country-sized meals and great coffee just across the road (though order a take-away coffee and drink it on the picnic table overlooking the surf) and a no-frills pub serving hearty meals and icy-cold beer with a clear view over the beach. There’s even koalas in the trees.

Garie Beach – Sydney

Garie Beach © Andrew Beeston
Garie Beach © Andrew Beeston.

Located just an hour’s drive south of Sydney’s CBD, Garie Beach is one of 11 beaches you’ll find in the Royal National Park. Despite the fact it’s patrolled on weekends, it remains a relative mystery to most visitors to the region. And yet this is one of the best beaches in NSW.

Get here early on the weekend – or any time during the week – and you’ll have the entire beach to yourself. There’s quality surf, while the fishing off the beach is world-class and it’s a great spot to see whales during migration season. Fringed by national park, there’s hikes and plenty of shade for picnics.

Cow Bay, Far North Queensland

Cow Bay in Far North Queensland © Tourism & Events Qld
Cow Bay in Far North Queensland © Tourism & Events Qld.

Always overlooked in visitors’ pilgrimage further north to Cape Tribulation, Cow Bay is the beach you all came looking for in Far North Queensland. It’s not a town, but a tiny, eclectic community in the middle of the Daintree rainforest. You’ll have to take a car ferry across the croc-infested Daintree River, then turn right when others go straight for the better-known Cape Tribulation.

Drive through rainforest where endangered cassowaries reside, till you hit one of the world’s most pristine beaches. You can bet on it being deserted: you’ll have three secluded bays here to swim at. Snorkel on the inshore reefs, drop a line or look for turtles and dugongs.

Point Ann, Western Australia

Point Ann is yours to share with kangaroos, whales and other wildlife in Fitzgerald River National Park
Point Ann is yours to share with kangaroos, whales and other wildlife in Fitzgerald River National Park

Imagine a place fringed by huge coastal mountains where whales calve right beside a long, sandy beach. Point Ann – 180 kilometres north-east of the town of Albany – is one of only two places in Australia where you’ll see southern right whales calve.

Get here between June and October and you’re guaranteed to see it happening right in front of you. But there’s far more to Point Ann; located within Fitzgerald River National Park, it’ll be yours alone to enjoy, though access is simple for any type of vehicle.

Store Beach – Sydney, NSW

Store Beach, Sydney Harbour
Store Beach, Sydney Harbour © Destination NSW.

Even on a sunny day in the middle of the Christmas holidays, you can find a secret beach all to yourself just 20 minutes from Manly. There’s a little catch, to get this kind of privacy nothing could be too accessible. Store Beach is only reachable via water: hire a kayak from Manly Wharf and paddle towards North Head, near the old Quarantine Station.

There you’ll find Sydney’s best secret beach. Fringed by bushland, you’ll have the tiny sandy bay entirely to yourself, swimming inside the harbour. Pack a picnic and watch the boats at play on the harbour, knowing you have a strip of Sydney entirely to yourselves.

Ocean Beach – Tasmania

Tasmania’s Ocean Beach at sunrise
Tasmania’s Ocean Beach at sunrise © Christopher Neugebauer

So Tasmania’s not the place you think of when it comes to tropical perfection, right? You got us there, but not many beaches on Earth feel this wild and secluded. Located five kilometres west of Strahan on Tasmania’s wild and remote west coast, this is where you’ll find Australia’s largest waves – sometimes as big as 20 metres high.

There’s 40 kilometres of deserted beach to roam – hire a bike to ride the hard sand, or take a horse ride down it. Be sure to watch the sun set here, considering there’s nothing between you and the South American continent 14,000 kilometres west.

Cape Conran, Victoria

Cape Conran - Visions of Victoria
Cape Conran © Visions of Victoria.

Located 90 kilometres from the popular beach town of Lakes Entrance in Victoria’s East Gippsland, Cape Conron is part of an 11,000 hectare national park where beaches don’t come more deserted.

The best two hidden beaches in the area are East Cape and Salmon Rocks. Places don’t get wilder on big surf days anywhere in Australia, and yet, on calm days, there’s nowhere more serene for swimming, camping or picnics (there’s public barbeques). On still days you can fossick in rock pools and swim beside huge, granite boulders in the clear waters of the national park.

Want to find out about the best beaches around the world? Check out the momondo blog Life’s a beach: Europe’s best city beaches, and don’t miss out on reading all about The best beaches in Costa Rica. We have also written a special blog for those who aren’t a fan of sand – The best beaches for people who don’t like sand.

Originally published

16th November 2015