Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay
If you can’t afford a traipse up to the Great Barrier Reef to nip over to Whitehaven Beach, never fear – according to The Guinness Book of World Records, Hyams Beach has the whitest sand in the world. And the moment you step out of your shoes and step onto the fine white grains, you’ll be able tell your friends back home it’s true. Hyams beach possesses all the best qualities of a tropical paradise – the white sand, clear water and mild temperatures – without the hustle and bustle of resorts and restaurants spoiling the ambience.
Jervis Bay sits placidly on the south coast of NSW, and Hyams Beach is tucked away at the back of town. It’s unspoiled, with next to no development in the area, and just one road leading in and out of town. The only establishment is the Hyams Beach Café, which has great food and coffee perfect after a long drive or a salty swim.
Main Beach, Byron Bay
Byron Bay is legendary among backpackers for its excellent surf and alternative, laid-back lifestyle. Situated on the NSW north coast, Byron Bay is technically home to five great beaches, but Main Beach is the true melting pot of cultures as travellers come from all over to watch the sun go down with a couple of drinks and a good conversation. It’s become a Bohemian escape for those chasing the sun – even the winters are warm and have long, sunny days.
While you’re there, make sure you save time to make the trek up to the lighthouse – the lookout there is Australia’s most eastern point (and has spectacular views, of course).
Seven Mile Beach, Gerroa
Nestled on the south coast of NSW in between Nowra and Kiama, Seven Mile Beach is another old-school, non-developed beach getaway. With miles of untouched sand and natural vegetation, the beach is protected from the northern winds and any threatening swells, making it a gentle beach for all ages. It’s also one of the best beaches to learn to surf on NSW’s south coast, with plenty of whitewater waves or longer swells that roll until they reach the shore. There’s plenty of room along Seven Mile Beach (as the name suggests), so find an empty spot and enjoy your seclusion. There’s plenty of wildlife in the surrounding vegetation though, so you’re never really alone – keep an eye out for friendly ghost crabs and the occasional kookaburra.
Fun Fact: Seven Mile Beach was actually used by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith as the runway for the first commercial flight between Australia and New Zealand in 1933.
North and South Cronulla Beaches, Cronulla
The whole suburb deserves a shoutout, because it has not one, not two, but seven great beaches all within a 5km vicinity. The main ones to note are North and South Cronulla, the cosmopolitan hubs of the town surrounded by cafes, restaurants and bars nearby to satiate your thirst after a day in the sun.
There is a direct train line from Sydney to Cronulla and plenty of free parking along the foreshore, making it one of Sydney’s most accessible beaches. Cronulla beach is divided into North and South Cronulla, separated by a headland and connected through a scenic waterfront walk. North Cronulla is fringed with a park perfect for reading a book and drinking a cup of coffee, and the beach is constantly patrolled by the North Cronulla Surf Lifesaving Club. The beaches brim with local flavour, with visitors coming from the inner west to spread out large family picnics, and kids bringing soccer balls to kick around the parks. There beaches themselves have good waves and are popular with surfers, but if you aren’t the most confident of swimmers, there are a few ocean pools perfect for a dip.
Pebbly Beach, Murramarang National Park
Pebbly Beach has an allure that doesn’t lie within the beach itself – it’s probably one of the most famous places to spot Eastern Grey kangaroos in New South Wales. The ‘roos are used to humans traipsing around them, and there’s the opportunity to get up close and have a pat, or even a selfie (although please don’t feed them as it’s not good for them) – it doesn’t get more Aussie than that.
There are bush walks surrounding the beach for those who need to work up a sweat before taking a swim, as well as several great spots to drop a fishing line.
There’s a campground with decent facilities at the beach, and it’s a great area to bring a tent and some beers for a sneaky getaway, especially if you like waking up to the gentle crashing of waves or rainbow lorikeets calling to one another.