These 8 Gorgeous Beach Towns in Australia Don’t Get The Attention They Deserve
Australia is the world's smallest continent but the largest island, with 22,826 miles of coastline and some of the globe's most beautiful beaches. While surfers from around the world make the pilgrimage to Bondi, a famous stretch of sand in Sydney's suburbs, these lesser-known spots deserve equal consideration. Consider putting these underrated beach towns on your itinerary.
When it comes to headlining Australia’s most famous beaches, Sydney’s Bondi—with its crescent-shaped sands, surf-ready waves, and iconic Icebergs ocean pool—takes the lion’s share. Head four miles south, however, and you’ll run into Coogee, a beach that’s arguably just as beautiful but where the restaurants are surprisingly cheaper and the crowds far less overwhelming. Don’t want to choose one over the other? It’s possible to have both: the Bondi to Coogee cliffside coastal walk, which links the two towns, is another underrated Sydney attraction that locals rave about.
People say Hyams Beach near Jervis Bay, a small village roughly three hours south of Sydney, has the whitest sand in the world. Whether or not that’s true, this is still one of the prettiest beach towns in Australia, home to clifftop and coastal walking trails, Booderee National Park (where kangaroos and parrots roam and an old lighthouse provides the perfect perch for spotting pods of whales and dolphins offshore), and a clutch of charming cafés and vacation homes you can rent throughout the year.
This Sunshine Coast stunner is a favorite holiday getaway for Australians, but it still hasn’t made it onto foreign travelers’ bucket lists. It’s a wonder why, though: there are endless opportunities to enjoy the best of the continent here, be it reef diving offshore (widely considered more accessible and less crowded than the nearby Great Barrier Reef), kayaking the only other Everglades ecosystem in the world, digging into the excellent restaurant scene and beach-chic boutiques lining Hastings Street, and longboard surfing—the area’s specialty. Noosa's proximity to Brisbane and Fraser Island doesn’t hurt, either.
Yamba has many things going for it—six beautiful beaches, a famous surf school and dedicated reserve—but the area’s two natural pools might top our list. The first, called Blue Pool, was a former quarry that’s now a deep, freshwater dip for swimmers. The second is the picturesque Ocean Pool built into the rocks fronting Main Beach. When the incoming waves crash over its barrier, the photo-op is incredible.
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South West Rocks
Sure, you could get away with booking a room in a guesthouse or hotel in South West Rocks, but then you wouldn’t be getting the full beach town experience—or its best views. For that, it’s best to camp out (or rent a cabin) in the caravan park, where you’ll be treated to unhindered views of Horseshoe Bay. By day, go surfing or stand-up paddle boarding or explore the surrounding headlands including Smoky Cape Lighthouse and the ruins of Trial Bay Gaol, an old jail that’s now a museum. By night, belly up to the bar at one of the town's pubs and toast to your adventures.
It’s a choose-your-own-adventure kind of place in Port Macquarie, along New South Wales’ Mid-North Coast. Nature lover? You’ll find over 165 species of birds, wooded paths, and mangroves in Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park as well as Australia’s only koala hospital, which offers tours. Foodie? Some of the freshest seafood can be had at beachside restaurant The Stunned Mullet—or, if you prefer to catch it yourself, mud-crabs and fish can be caught right off a local boat. Beach bum? There are over 17 regional beaches to choose from, from family-friendly Flynns (lined with lifeguards and picnic areas) to Lighthouse, a surfer hub known for its quality swells.
The largest town on Kangaroo Island is beautiful, to be sure, but it’s the history surrounding this storied settlement that gives it its reputation. Reeves Point, an important heritage site, was where South Australia’s first European settlers migrated, and you can still see remnants of those early days—including the original jetty, post office, and the first well built on the island as well as the Hope Cottage Folk Museum. Built in the mid-19th century, it houses old quilts, books, and blacksmith workstations that offer a glimpse into a former era.
Coles Bay, Tasmania
Freycinet National Park, a gorgeous peninsula in eastern Tasmania defined by a pink granite mountain range dubbed the Hazards, is a worthy bucket-list addition—but Coles Bay, the park’s gateway town, deserves a closer look. Tasmania’s storied food and wine scene is a spotlight at its local restaurants and cafés, especially Freycinet Marine Farm, where you can dig into fresh-caught mussels and scallops while sampling chardonnay with views of the mountains. Wineglass, Honeymoon, and Great Oyster Bay (and their bordering beaches) are also famous for their beauty—and the red-necked wallabies that bound across their sands.
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