Sydney itself is home to 37 different beaches but it is the cluster of beaches in Sydney's North that sometimes get missed in favour of the more famous Bondi Beach and Coogee beaches. By crossing the water at Circular Quay you arrive at Manly Beach, the first point of a 30km stretch of beaches, extending up the Barranjoey Peninsula, all of which should not be missed.
Each beach offers something different so visitors can match their personality to the beach. Here is a sample of some of Sydney's Northern beaches so have a read and decide which beach might be for you.
Freshwater Beach is the Australian home of surfing and therefore a great beach for surf. In 1914 Duke Kahanamoku surfed the first ever wave in Australia at Freshwater Beach and he can be found in statue form on the headland of Freshwater, whilst his original surfboard lives in the local surf club.
You can walk to Freshwater Beach from the north end of Manly Beach over the Queenscliffe headland for sensational views. It only takes about ten minutes so you can take in both Manly beach and Freshwater beach in one day. For those after a bit more of a hike you can keep walking through to Curl Curl beach.
Curl Curl Beach
Curl Curl Beach, also known as 'Curly' is divided in to North Curl Curl Beach and South Curl Curl Beach. The north beach offers good swimming conditions whilst the south is good for board and body surfing. However, currents on this beach can get very strong so beware of rips. For a more tranquil experience of Curl Curl beach try taking the nature walk at the North end of the beach.
Palm Beach / Summer Bay
Palm Beach, known by everyone as Summer Bay, the outdoor set for Home and Away, is a scenic beach located at the north tip of the Sydney Northern Beaches Peninsula.
From here you can visit the historic Barranjoey Lighthouse, a 20-30 minute walk away, offering grand views of the Hawkesbury River outlet to the ocean, Broken Bay, the Pittwater, an aquatic reserve and Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park.
Palm beach is an iconic beach so why not make the most of your visit and take a sea plane from the beach.
Bilgola Beach On the Pacific Ocean side of the Barranjoey Peninsula this beach can also be known as 'swirling waters'. The beach is only 500m long but is lined with palm trees and resembles a certain form of paradise. Bilgola Beach is not one of the most famous northern beaches and so you can sometimes find yourself isolated on this beach, perfect for those wanting to escape from the city.
Bungan Beach, Newport
Bungan Beach can be found between Bungan Head and Mona Vale head and is best seen from Bungan Head as the view is incredible. For those who like a bit of culture too you can mix the Bungan Castle with an afternoon of BBQ and chilling on the beach. One of the great things about this beach is that it can only be reached by foot so you get that sense of adventure walking towards the water. It is possible to surf and swim at Bungan Beach as long as you stay between the flags. Bungan itself and its beach make for a great day out.
Dee Why Beach
Founded in 1814 by James Meehan Dee Why is a surfers favourite but also popular with local families. This beach has a real buzz to it. Dee Why beach stretches for almost 2km up to Long Reef beach and its golf course. The beach is also home to a rock pool and park whilst plenty of beach shops, eateries and restaurants overlook the beach
If you head over the sand dunes you can lookout over Dee Why lagoon, a wildlife refuge since 1973 significant for local and migratory birds.
Collaroy Beach is the longest beach of all the northern beaches because it adjoins Narrabeen Beach. This beach is popular with the locals and has a reputation as a good old fashioned family beach. For surfing beginners this is a good place to start. The beach got its name after the S.S.Colleroy ran aground on the beach. Someone did manage to afloat the ship again and sent it on its way and it actually managed to make it to America, which sadly became its final destination. Collaroy beach offers an ocean pool as well as good conditions for windsurfing.
Collaroy town offers some great little cafes and a cinema in case it rains. For real surf fans you can stay at the surf hotel. For Wildlife buffs Collaroy Beach is a great place to look out for pelicans, sea eagles and yellow-crested cockatoos. If you're lucky you may even spot whales and dolphins during migration season.
Legend tells us that Avalon was the final resting place for King Arthur but it is also home to some of Australia's surfing world champions. Avalon could have been the most famous beach in Australia after Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff arrived in the 1990's to shoot an episode of Baywatch. The producers liked the area so much, and were also undergoing some cost calculations in California, that they wanted to relocate the entire Baywatch family to Avalon. The local residents however, were not so keen and their complaints sent the cheesy lines and breast implants away to a new home in Hawaii.
Avalon Beach is popular for its surf and body bashing as well as some good fishing. For those who just fancy a swim and a relax there is a swimming pool on the south end of the beach as well as BBQ and picnic facilities. The local village is roughly ten minutes walking with a few cafes, some boutique shops, restaurants and a cinema. There is also a really good backpackers hostel in Avalon.
If you manage to head over to Manly Beach take the time to see some of the other beaches Sydney has to offer, especially if you are looking for good surf, beautiful sandy beaches, friendly locals, that awesome Aussie beach vibe and Alf Stewart. There really is a beach for everyone at Sydney's Northern beaches. However for a typical European in Australia at Christmas you can't miss Christmas day on Bondi Beach, it's become a backpacker institution!