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12 beachside breaks in NSW

Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West RocksCREDIT: Destination NSW

Scenic coastal views from Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West Rocks.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

12 beachside
breaks in NSW

Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West Rocks CREDIT: Destination NSW

Scenic coastal views from Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West Rocks.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #feelnsw #newsouthwales

With 892 beaches in NSW including more than 100 beaches in Sydney alone, 2,137 kilometres of sparkling coastline, and the most National Surfing Reserves in the country, New South Wales is the top spot in Australia for a beachside break.  

Feel the salt on your skin and the sand between your toes and discover why NSW is Australia’s best beach destination. Veteran Coastal Advocate and Tourism Australia appointed Friend of Australia Beach Expert, Brad Farmer AM, named six NSW beaches in his annual ‘Top 20 Best Australian Beaches list for 2022’, the most of any Australian state.  

Horseshoe Bay at South West Rocks, Depot Beach in the heart of Murramarang National Park, Murrays Beach at Jervis Bay, Dudley Beach at Lake Macquarie, Sydney’s Congwong Beach and the Blue Mountains’ Jelly Bean Pool were all named in Farmer’s ‘Best Beaches’ list this year, but there are plenty of NSW hot spots to book the ultimate beach break in 2022. 

Plan a road-trip and go-beach hopping along the coast from north to south, seeking out these 12 spots to swim, snorkel, surf, dive, eat, drink, stay and play in, on and near the water in NSW. 

Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West Rocks CREDIT: Destination NSW

Scenic aerial views overlooking Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West Rocks.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West Rocks CREDIT: Destination NSW

Scenic aerial views overlooking Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West Rocks.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Murrays Beach Sea Cave, Jervis Bay CREDIT: Jordan Robins

Man enjoying the sun from a sea cave near Murrays Beach, Jervis Bay in Booderee National Park.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Murrays Beach Sea Cave, Jervis Bay CREDIT: Jordan Robins

Man enjoying the sun from a sea cave near Murrays Beach, Jervis Bay in Booderee National Park.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

1. In the north, the laidback town of Yamba has been tipped as the ‘next Byron Bay,’ but is deserving of its own street cred as an emergence of locally run cafes, restaurants and hotels make this a must-visit holiday destination. Just 90 minutes south of its more famous beachside neighbour, Yamba has long drawn surfers from far and wide to ride Angourie Point, a National Surfing Reserve ranked among the top right-hand point breaks in Australia. New additions have made quiet nights a little more lively: The Wobbly Chook brewery pours craft micro beers, live music venue Last Rites has just opened to showcase local talent, while new boutique hotel The Surf draws design-lovers for its relaxed coastal aesthetic and rooftop pool overlooking Main Beach. 

2. Blink and you’d miss this tiny jewel of a beach, Horseshoe Bay, tucked between two creeks on the mid-north coast at South West Rocks. Shaped like its charmed name, the aquamarine cove is a favourite with families for its calm waters, rugged natural surroundings and colonial heritage. Out of the water, go for brunch at Malt & Honey and spend the night in the colourful bowling alley and bar at Social Alley. There’s plenty of cool places to lay your head, too: relax in luxury at the town’s modern beach cabins at Salt or spend the night up high in the Smoky Cape Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage

3. Renowned for its world-class surf and largest ocean pool in the Southern Hemisphere, Newcastle has no shortage of oceanic drawcards. But for a day on the beach away from the crowds, Dudley Beach, is a serene patch of coast just a quick side-step away in Glenrock State Conservation Area neighbouring Lake Macquarie. Dudley Beach offers a long swathe of golden shore to swim in as well as rockpools for crab-watching, bubbling blowholes and even a clothes-optional section in the northern end. Newcastle’s perfect combo of beachy vibes, cultural cool and creative buzz means this seaside destination makes the perfect weekender, with a freshly renovated airport, glitzy new accommodation like Crystalbrook Kingsley and soon-to-be-open QT Newcastle, and hyped new eateries Cake Boi, Flotilla and Light Years

Yamba Ocean Pool, Yamba CREDIT: Destination NSW

Scenic aerial overlooking Yamba Main Beach and Yamba Ocean Pool.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Yamba Ocean Pool, Yamba CREDIT: Destination NSW

Scenic aerial overlooking Yamba Main Beach and Yamba Ocean Pool.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

The Surf, Yamba CREDIT: Elise Hassey

The Surf is Yamba’s first boutique hotel. 

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

The Surf, Yamba CREDIT: Elise Hassey

The Surf is Yamba’s first boutique hotel. 

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

4. The Tweed is well-endowed with its fair share of glittering coastal gems lapping the shore. The gorgeous Cabarita, or “Caba” as it’s known on the street, has heavenly scented day spas and beach-view bars, famous surf breaks and stunning viewpoints, such as Norries Headland. Revived surf motel Halcyon House has become a beacon of style since opening in 2015, the home of breezy diner Paper Daisy, where the menu is local, focused and finely executed. Just 20 minutes from the coast, visit Husk Farm Distillery to taste their refreshing rum made from local cane sugar and spread out under an umbrella on the lawn. 

5. A visit to the exotic paradise of Lord Howe Island, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed paradise only a two-hour flight from Sydney, is an absolute must. As one of only 400 visitors allowed on the island at any one time, enjoy days on the beach with no one else around but fish swimming at your feet, snorkelling the pristine waters, full day hikes to the park of Mount Gower and peachy sunsets with a cocktail in hand. This crescent-shaped isle is home to the world’s most southerly coral reef, with 450 fish species and 90 species of coral, many of which only live here. Hand-feed the friendly fish at Ned’s Beach, or cruise further out on a swimming, snorkelling or diving tour. Hike the island’s twin peaks for panoramic views of the lagoon, reefs, mountains and plunging cliffs. Designer chic meets laidback beach-house style at recently renovated Capella Lodge, or stay the night at one of Australia’s oldest family-run businesses, Pinetrees Lodge, whose owners have lived on Lord Howe since 1848. 

6. In Jervis Bay, discover Murrays Beach where you’ll have to share the crystalline waters and reefs with turtles, families of squid and bright blue gropers, who often come to say hello to the snorkellers and swimmers. It looks out to Bowen Island, home to a family of little penguins, and is surrounded by the Booderee National Park. Walk the Munyunga Waraga Dhugan loop and learn about the local plants, animals, culture and history on the way. For a bite to eat, The Quarters offer a tasting menu featuring local produce; and the beer garden at the Flamin Galah Brewing Co is an ideal spot to get a taste of the brewing scene.  

Surfing, Cabarita Beach CREDIT: Destination NSW

Surfers catching a morning wave at Cabarita Beach.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Surfing, Cabarita Beach CREDIT: Destination NSW

Surfers catching a morning wave at Cabarita Beach.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Lagoon Beach, Lord Howe Island CREDIT: Zach sanders

The scenic Lagoon Beach at Lord Howe Island.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Lagoon Beach, Lord Howe Island CREDIT: Zach sanders

The scenic Lagoon Beach at Lord Howe Island.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

7. Depot Beach is a magical spot that is surrounded by the lush ancient rainforest of Murramarang National Park on the South Coast. It is one of the Shoalhaven region’s 100 beaches (many of which are known for having the whitest sand in the world), this natural playground is beloved by families, with crystal-clear water, native wildlife in the surrounding national park and rockpools to play in along the shore. There is a superbly placed campsite located just across from the beach. Or, a hop, skip and a drive away at Bawley Point is the lush new private lakeside cabins at The Jackson Ranch, while on the other side at Batemans Bay, Mogo Wildlife Park has recently has opened up their zoo grounds overnight to guests with an all-inclusive camping experience

8. NSW’s seal population has long favoured Narooma as the place to swim; a snorkel with fur seals off Montague Island is a bucket-list stop on any South Coast road trip. They are often spotted from the beaches too – Bar Beach South is a placid spot good for families. The Narooma to Dalmeny cycle route is a great way to explore the coast, wind rushing through your hair as the water twinkles alongside you. Sydney hospitality group Merivale has recently dipped its toes in the region’s turquoise waters, purchasing three iconic ocean-view properties. As well as top fish and chip shop the Inlet, next door the iconic Quarterdeck restaurant has turned tiki-style, with fruity daiquiris and fresh oysters served by the water. Just across the headland, boutique hotel and restaurant The Whale Inn was also snapped up by the company and is set for a new look and relaunch soon. 

9. Just out of Merimbula, discover remote Severs Beach in the Ben Boyd National Park. You’ll drive 5km through vibrant greenery and then walk 300m to the beach: the journey building anticipation for your arrival. Situated alongside Pambula River, you’ll be transported back in time – with a view of the lush forests surrounding the river and 3500-year-old middens that reflect the culture of local Aboriginal communities. Try your hand at fishing, which is best between December and May, or look out for a sea eagle diving for its catch. Stay at the recently opened Hillcrest Merimbula, a refurbished 1970s motel with a pool and ocean views, and eat at the uber cool Dulcie’s Cottage, serving burgers and oysters in a 1920s cottage with an eclectic fit-out. For a delicious day out, get a lesson Broadwater Oysters' Oyster Shuck School or go on a farm tour for a more immersive experience. 

Murramarang National Park, South Durras CREDIT: Destination NSW

Scenic views from Wasps Head, Murramarang National Park overlooking Wobbegong Bay.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Murramarang National Park, South Durras CREDIT: Destination NSW

Scenic views from Wasps Head, Murramarang National Park overlooking Wobbegong Bay.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Montague Island, Narooma CREDIT: Destination NSW

Woman scuba diving with a seal at Montague Island, Narooma.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Montague Island, Narooma CREDIT: Destination NSW

Woman scuba diving with a seal at Montague Island, Narooma.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

10. Stretch out on a wide, red rock at Sydney’s Congwong Beach and feel the seawater dry on your skin in the sun. You'll feel far away from the city at this beautiful beach at La Perouse in Kamay Botany Bay National Park. A favourite of families and snorkellers alike, the calm waters and array of marine life (including seahorse, anglerfish and Pygmy pipefish) provide magical moments where you’ll lose all sense of time. The Boatshed La Perouse is a short walk away, and a perfect spot to grab fish and chips or an impressive seafood platter on the deck. If you’re feeling energetic, head on the 10km coastal track that takes you all the way to Little Bay where the Kameygal people have maintained a connection to the land unbroken for thousands of years. To stretch the experience out, Novotel Sydney Brighton Beach is centrally located, as a good base for further local exploration. 

11. Don’t miss the stunning Sydney Harbour beaches. Lady Martins Beach is a secret strip in Point Piper with excellent views across the harbour to Shark Island; if you visit during the week you might have it all to yourselves. Nearby, coastal lunches don’t get much more laidback than at the new The Boathouse Rose Bay  Or, why not stay a little longer and book a Sydney staycation; the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel doesn’t disappoint with its fresh renovations, decorated by Sydney style maven, Sibella Court. It’s also a glittering waterside spot where lazy lunches flow into afternoon cocktails at the Beach Club.  

12. Chowder Bay is another sublime spot, located in the Sydney Harbour National Park, near Mosman. It’s a popular spot for scuba diving and snorkeling, or a picnic at the seaside tables; or head to the lovely netted beach at nearby Clifton Gardens Reserve for a leisurely swim. Ripples at Chowder Bay is a spectacular waterfront restaurant, laidback in style, dishing up a Modern Australian menu from its former 19th-century submarine miners’ depot venue. Make a weekend of it, and rest the head at the nearby Middle Head Officers Quarters cottages, part of Sydney Harbour National Park, and located along the Harbour Bridge to the Spit walking track that hugs the coastline.   

To discover more of New South Wales’ beautiful beaches and coastline, head to sydney.com and visitnsw.com. Share your Feel New moments with #FeelNSW and #FeelNewSydney. 

Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Kurnell CREDIT: Destination NSW

Aerial overlooking Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Kurnell in Sydney's south.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Kurnell CREDIT: Destination NSW

Aerial overlooking Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Kurnell in Sydney's south.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, Watsons Bay CREDIT: Destination NSW

Scenic views across Sydney Harbour to the Sydney CBD from Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, Watsons Bay.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, Watsons Bay CREDIT: Destination NSW

Scenic views across Sydney Harbour to the Sydney CBD from Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, Watsons Bay.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

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