Sydney's beaches & water activities

People swimming at Bondi Icebergs harbour pool in Sydney
Make sure you take a dip at Bondi Icebergs ocean pool.  Photo: Marley Clovelly, Pexels.

You're in for a real treat with Sydney's many surfing beaches, sheltered harbour beaches, ocean baths and rock pools. You'll have quite the conundrum working out how many beaches you can squeeze into your itinerary.

The best-known surfing beaches are Bondi beach and Manly beach. Surfers from all over the world flock to these iconic waves. But there's plenty of other surf beaches to visit including the stunning Bronte, Coogee, Clovelly and Maroubra beaches (which are not far from Bondi). Head to the Northern beaches where you can catch some waves at North Curl Curl, Dee Why, Freshwater and Collaroy beaches. (which are not far from Manly beach.)


Things to do in Sydney's ocean beaches 

kids learning to surf and catching waves on Bronte beach in Sydney
Learn to surf. Book a lesson with one of the surf schools. Photo: Tourism Australia


  • Jump in the water and splash around in the waves.
  • Enjoy some body surfing, boogie boarding, grab some goggles and go snorkelling or even diving.
  • Sydney beaches are a great place to learn to surf! There are plenty of surf schools to choose from and you’ll be standing up in no time! 
  • For something different, head to Clovelly Beach for an underwater scooter tour. You'll see the local marine life at Gordon's Bay as you're pulled along through the water.
  • When you're not in the water, the sand is a great place to sit and relax and do a little people watching.
  • Need to stretch your legs? Take a walk along the beach. If you happen to be at Bondi, Bronte or Manly beaches, you'll be able to combine some celebrity spotting, people watching and walking all at once.


Enjoy Sydney's harbour beaches 

family relaxing on Balmoral beach in Sydney
Enjoy some quality time on the beautiful Balmoral beach. Photo: Tourism Australia


If it's calm waters you're after, head to the many Sydney harbour beaches. These tucked-away sandy beaches have grassy parks attached, making them perfect for a swim, walk or picnic. Close to the city you'll find:

  • Nielson Park at Vaucluse. This is a very beautiful spot for exercising, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, picnics and just hanging out with family and friends. Grab a coffee at the Nielsen Park Cafe and watch the kids build sandcastles. Take the easy Hermitage foreshore walk - allow around 30 minutes to complete the walk.

  • Milk Beach is a small strip of sand, also in Vaucluse. Get to this secluded beach by taking the Hermitage Foreshore walk. You'll be rewarded with stunning views of Sydney harbour and a great spot to swim, fish, snorkel and more.

  • Watsons Bay is a small, sandy beach with millionaire views. Swim, snorkel or go stand up paddleboarding. When you’re hungry, why not grab some takeaway fish and chips from the Doyles (which is a Watson’s Bay institution). Walk the stunning South Head Heritage trail which is a 1 kilometre loop. Along the way, you may see some nude bathers are Lady Bay beach or the red and white striped Hornby Lighthouse.

Head North across the bridge and you'll find many secluded harbour beaches including:

  • Balmoral beach is one of Sydney’s most spectacular harbour beaches and is my favourite. It has everything – sheltered, great restaurants and cafes, parks and playgrounds and views. There’s a heap of things to do from snorkelling, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, scuba diving and sailing. Visit the Balmoral Sailing School and hire equipment.

  • Next door to Balmoral beach is Chinamans Beach. This lovely stretch of sand is in Middle Harbour, which is just one kilometre walk. Like any great harbour beach, this is the perfect spot for a picnic, swim, and more. Look across the harbour from here and you’ll see another great harbour beach – Clontarf Reserve.

  • There's plenty of other harbour beaches to try out, and if you're on a boat, why not drop anchor and take a dip along the way.


Sydney's ocean baths & rock pools

friends sitting at Manly's Fairy Bower Pool.
Be sure to visit Manly's Fairy Bower Pool. Photo: Destination NSW

Sydney is blessed with many ocean baths and rock pools. Just a few for you to explore are:

  • Bondi Icebergs at Bondi beach which is undoubtedly the world’s most famous ocean pool and appears regularly on Instagram feeds. Bondi Icebergs is renowned for having die-hard swimmers taking to the water all year round. In warmer months, they throw large ice blocks in the water so the swimmers don’t get too used to warm water.

  • Bronte beach is blessed with both an ocean bath and rock pool. The rock pool is protected from ocean waves and currents and the water is fresh and clean thanks to Bronte beach waves.

  • Over the Harbour Bridge you’ll find Maccallum rock pool at Cremorne Point that has incredible city and harbour views.

  • Fairlight beach ocean baths are the ideal spot to have a quick dip if you’re doing the Manly to Spit Bridge walk.

  • Check out Fairy Bower Pool near Manly which is a small triangular ocean pool with a Sea Nymphs sculpture on the pool’s edge. Not far away, you’ll find the Freshwater rock pool. Further north you’ll find ocean and rock pools at Curl Curl, North Narrabeen and Dee Why, and Palm Beach.

Aerial photo of many people swimming and playing on Bondi beach

Join the fun on any of Sydney's beaches. This is a typical summer day on the famous Bondi beach. Photo: Tourism Australia


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