The 5 Best Beaches in Australia's Northern Territory

Galaru sunsets
Galaru sunsets | © Winston Storer / Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Hayley Simpson
Writer4 June 2018

The Northern Territory is not widely known as a beach destination in Australia. This is because of two deadly creatures who call the state’s ocean home: saltwater crocodiles and jellyfish (in the summer months only). Nonetheless, there are exceptions to every rule, so check out some of these amazing beaches in the Northern Territory.

Cossies Beach

Located on the isolated Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Cossies Beach was named the best beach in Australia in 2017 (and claimed the number four spot in 2018). Although the islands are closer to Indonesia than the Northern Territory, they are a part of the Lingiari electorate. Cossies Beach was recently named in honour of Australia’s Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove. Located on Direction Island, Cossies Beach is perfect in every way: azure and crystal clear waters, swaying palm trees, superb snorkelling just off its shore, and white sandy shores.

Crystal clear on Cocos (Keeling) Island | © Paullymac / Flickr

Mindil Beach

Although swimming at Mindil Beach is not recommended, it makes the list of best beaches because of what happens on its shores during the dry season. The Mindil Beach Sunset Markets has live entertainment and stalls selling authentic Aboriginal artwork, handmade jewellery, and unique Northern Territory souvenirs. There are also over 60 food stalls specialising in international cuisine from places such as Turkey, South America, North Africa, Greece, and Asia. But perhaps the best part about Mindil Beach is its stunning tropical sunsets. Don’t miss seeing the sky painted in golden hues here when visiting Darwin.

Mindil Beach's stunning sunsets | © Andrea Schaffer / Flickr

Wagait Beach

Wagait Beach is located a quick ferry ride from Darwin, and is a favourite weekend getaway for Northern Territory locals. This area is known as being home to some of Darwin’s finest tropical beaches. The dog-friendly and unspoiled Wagait Beach stretches for two kilometres (1.2 miles). Here you’ll find WWII gun emplacements, and spot dolphins, turtles, and manta rays from the shoreline. Other beaches near Wagait Beach include Inmaluk and Harney’s beaches; home to red volcanic cliffs and freshwater creeks. Some parts of the coastline are inaccessible Sacred Sites too, so ensure you obey all signage in the area.

Darwin Waterfront Precinct

One of the best and safest beaches in the Northern Territory is located at the Darwin Waterfront Precinct. The saltwater recreational lagoon is protected from jellyfish by stinger nets and regular monitoring by local lifeguards (although complete eradication cannot be guaranteed). The lagoon also has a sandy shore, so you wouldn’t be remiss to think you’re swimming in a calm tropical beach. The Waterfront Precinct is also home to a Wave Lagoon, which has an entrance fee but is a great family-friendly attraction in Darwin.

Recreation lagoon at the Darwin Waterfront | © Michael Coghlan / Flickr

Galaru (East Woody Beach)

Another isolated addition, Galaru (also known as East Woody Beach) is found in northeast Arnhem Land. It’s located three kilometres (1.9 miles) from Nhulunbuy. It has a large stretch of white sandy beach, azure waters, open forest, inland waterways, and spectacular sunsets. Swimming is also not recommended at Galaru, due to saltwater crocodiles and box jellyfish. To the west, Galaru is connected to Dhamitjinya (East Woody Island) via sandbanks. This granite peak is known for its bird watching opportunities. To visit Galaru, people must first obtain a recreation permit from the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation.

Galaru sunsets | © Winston Storer / Wikimedia Commons

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