10 Stunning Sydney Beaches Every Local Should Know About

Balmoral Beach

Along with Sydney’s world-famous Bondi and Manly beaches, you can also find ocean beaches like Newport Beach, where some of the world’s best surfers grew up riding the waves, sheltered ocean beaches like Little Bay Beach, where families can swim with small children, and hidden harbour beaches including Store Beach that are only accessible by water and are home to little penguins.

As a photographer and videographer, I’ve worked with clients including Tourism Australia, Qantas and Australian Geographic. One of my favourite things since moving to Australia 18 years ago is to take photos of Sydney’s beaches and rock pools.

My latest book, One Hundred Beaches Sydney, is a visual tribute to these shores, guiding you to the most picturesque spots that I’ve found. For me, the perfect beach offers more than sand and sunshine; it needs to have activities, adventure, great food and surprises.

From the perfect dawn light breaking over the horizon to the candid charm of wildlife encounters, Sydney’s beaches await to fill your feed with stories. Here are the top 10 that are guaranteed to make your followers double-tap.

Balmoral Beach

Balmoral Beach offers more than just a dip in the sea — take a wander along the scenic boardwalk, cross the picturesque bridge to the cute island, and don’t miss the heritage-listed Bathers’ Pavilion. This 1920s gem adds a vintage touch to your visit. It’s a perfect blend of natural beauty and historic charm.

Milk Beach

Milk Beach is your go-to for an Insta-perfect day out, with its stunning views of the Sydney skyline. It’s a hotspot for the cool crowd and has a youthful vibe, especially on weekends when the expat community comes to play. For an extra touch of fun, keep an eye out for the occasional ice cream boat swinging by the sand — it’s as sweet and Instagrammable as it sounds.

Milk Beach Sydney beaches
Image: Vincent Rommalaere

Watsons Bay

Catch a ferry to Watsons Bay for a laid-back beach day with a view. It’s a favourite for locals and visitors alike, and for good reason. At the Watson’s Bay Hotel, sip on a spritz and watch the sun sink behind the city skyline. Don’t forget to check out the new swing — it’s the latest Insta craze. Snap a sunset picture there, and you’ve captured the essence of Sydney’s harbourside charm.

Watsons Bay Sydney beaches
Image: Vincent Rommalaere

Bronte Beach

Bronte Beach is all about that perfect shot with its famous rock pool. Head up the stairs for a killer beach backdrop, especially at sunrise. After nabbing your photo, swing by The Coop for a great coffee or a relaxed breakfast with the locals. It’s your classic Sydney start to the day.

Bronte Beach Sydney beaches
Image: Vincent Rommalaere

Bondi Beach

Bondi’s not just waves but a canvas of street art — the graffiti wall is a must-capture. Then there’s the Icebergs pool, the rock pool that’s been the star of countless ‘tell me you’re in Sydney without telling me you’re in Sydney’ Instagrams. Wrap up your visit at Salty’s, the Californian-themed surf bar, for a laid-back evening that carries the day’s beachy feel into the night.

Bondi Beach Sydney beaches
Image: Vincent Rommalaere

Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach is the NSW coast’s unique west-facing wonder, giving you those sunset-over-the-water snaps from an ocean beach. Part of the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve, it’s a snorkeler’s paradise. Dive in and mingle with the local celebs — giant cuttlefish showing off their colour-changing skills, chill rays, laid-back wobbegongs, and the cool Port Jackson sharks. It’s an underwater meet-and-greet like no other.

Shelly Beach Sydney beaches
Image: Vincent Rommalaere

Manly Beach

Manly Beach is a slice of Sydney’s laid-back lifestyle, with its lively promenade and cool, clear waves. Start your day catching the surf, then take a leisurely stroll past Queenscliff pool, all the way to the hidden ‘wormhole’ tunnel between Manly and Freshwater Beach. The tunnel is a hit on Instagram, but you’ve got to time your visit for low tide to explore it.

Manly Beach Sydney beaches
Image: Vincent Rommalaere


Brighton-Le-Sands offers a stretch of some of the whitest sands you’ll find close to Sydney’s heart, perfect for a beach day with a difference. Plane spotters can watch international jets taking off and landing as they float in the water, while families can enjoy the gentle wave-free waters and large netted enclosure with the kids.

Brighton le Sands Sydney beaches
Image: Vincent Rommalaere

Boat Harbour

Boat Harbour stands out with a unique claim to fame — it’s the only Sydney beach where you can drive your car right onto the sand. Perfect for those who want to pack a picnic and park by the waves. Just imagine the shots you can get with your car, the surf, and the sun all in one frame. It’s a beach-goer’s dream drive.

Boat Harbour Sydney beaches
Image: Vincent Rommalaere

Store Beach

Store Beach is your secret Sydney escape and is accessible only by water, so you’ll need a boat or a kayak to get to this one. Once a busy spot for ships dropping supplies to the old Quarantine Station, now it’s a tranquil part of Sydney Harbour National Park. Keep your eyes peeled for the adorable fairy penguins bobbing in the waves, and enjoy feeling like you’ve left the city behind.

Store Beach Sydney beaches
Image: Vincent Rommalaere

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