January 19th, 2024
10 minute read
Australia is known for many things, including the wildlife, slang, laid-back culture, and iconic locations like the Sydney Opera House and the Great Barrier Reef. But what else comes to mind when you think of Australia? Most people would probably say beaches!
The massive continent of Australia is absolutely packed with pristine beaches. Even just the East Coast alone has so many gorgeous places to surf, swim, sunbathe, and sightsee. To make your trip planning a bit easier, we've narrowed down all of East Coast Australia's best beaches into a list of just 20 amazing locations. So charge your cameras, wax your surfboards, and lather on some sunscreen so you can explore these 20 amazing beaches along the East Coast of Australia!
Here is our list of the 20 best beaches on Australia's East Coast. Keep in mind, there are over 10,000 beaches in Australia, and the East Coast in particular is packed with so many gorgeous strips of sand and sea. So our list of the best beaches may differ from someone else's, and there are tons of impressive locations that aren't on the list.
But thanks to our diverse team of East Coast travel experts that combines both Aussie locals and international travellers, we've compiled this list based on our own experiences. We've also organised the list in order from North to South, so you can visualize these spots as you journey along the coast. Get ready to explore East Coast Australia's most beautiful beaches!
Cape Tribulation Beach is a wild, remote, uncrowded, and breathtaking place in the Daintree Rainforest. This majestic sandy beach is extra special because it's where two World Heritage Sites meet! Just inland from the golden sand, you have the world's oldest tropical rainforest, the Daintree. And just offshore you have the world's largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef. It doesn't get much more fascinating than that!
The adorable resort town of Palm Cove is nestled right in between Port Douglas and Cairns, so it's a popular stop as you road trip along the scenic Captain Cook Highway. Palm Cove Beach is the main attraction, with its lengths of soft sand, photogenic rows of palm trees, and warm waters complete with a protective stinger net for swimming during stinger season. Stroll through the trendy shops and grab a bite at one of the cute cafes in Palm Cove after enjoying the beach!
Nudey Beach on Fitzroy Island consistently ranks as one of Australia's best beaches. Fitzroy Island is a gorgeous oasis of tropical beauty located about 29km off the coast of Cairns. Surrounded by the diverse marine life and colourful coral gardens of the Great Barrier Reef, Fitzroy Island truly feels like paradise. Nudey Beach is arguably the most beautiful spot on the island, with soft sand, swaying palm trees, and numerous opportunities for snorkelling and bushwalking.
Complete with rich greenery, warm weather, and a bustling town center, Mission Beach is a lovely town to visit in Queensland. Mission Beach is not only the name of the town, it's also the name of the local beach which is one of the most popular and stunning beaches on the East Coast of Australia. Not only is this beach visually beautiful, it's one of the closest locations on the mainland to the Great Barrier Reef! It's also an epic place for skydiving, so prepare for an action-packed visit to Mission Beach!
Just 8km off the coast of Townsville lies Magnetic Island, a gorgeous hub of wildlife, nature, culture, and aquatic activity. Alma Bay is a picturesque beach surrounded by lush vegetation and tranquility, making it the perfect setting for beach lovers to unwind, sunbathe, relax, snorkel, and swim. Alma Bay is a must-visit destination for those looking to experience the natural wonders of Magnetic Island!
No list of Australia's best beaches would be complete without Whitehaven Beach! As you explore the dazzling chain of Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Airlie Beach, you'll find countless postcard-worthy locations. But the shimmering white silica sand and vibrant turquoise water make Whitehaven Beach a strong contender for the most famous sight in the Whitsundays. Be sure to hike up to Hill Inlet Lookout so you can see the incredible swirling effect of the shifting sands and shallow waters!
Another iconic location on the Whitsundays is Hamilton Island. Full of world-class resorts, scenic lookouts, and magical forests, Hamilton Island is the perfect place for a tropical getaway. Make sure you visit Catseye Beach, a picturesque cove surrounded by forested hills. While you're here you can rent paddleboards or kayaks, go snorkelling, or grab a cocktail at the swim-up bar right next to the beach.
K'gari (Fraser Island) is the largest sand island in the world and can only be accessed by ferry and with a 4WD. But a trip to this rugged island may be one of the best things you experience in Australia! 75 Mile Beach, also called the Sand Highway, is an iconic beach that covers the majority of the island's east coast. Here you can enjoy a remote camping adventure and drive your 4WD up and down the vast 75 Mile Beach before heading inland to explore the majestic lakes and forests.
Noosa is an enticing coastal city packed with amazing beaches. Among the best is Tea Tree Bay, which is hidden from the crowds in the midst of Noosa National Park. This secluded bay has perfectly shaped surfing waves and compact sand that is great for sunbathing, jogging, and strolling. Not only is Tea Tree Bay an excellent place to swim and surf, but it's also surrounded by the dense, unspoiled greenery of Noosa's forests.
As you continue into Southern Queensland, you'll leave the tropics behind and enter the cosmopolitan, energetic vibes of the Gold Coast. Surfers Paradise is one of the most famous beaches on the East Coast of Australia, and it's a highlight of visiting the Gold Coast. As the name suggests, the beach attracts surfers of all levels, and the impressive skyline and entertainment options nearby attract travellers looking for nightlife, shopping, dining, and excitement.
Burleigh Heads is one of the best beaches on the Gold Coast for those who are looking to escape the hustle and bustle. Located past all the skyscrapers near the southern end of the Gold Coast, Burleigh Heads offers plenty of opportunities for swimming, surfing, hiking, exploring, and relaxing. Just south of the stunning Burleigh Heads beach lies Burleigh Heads National Park, a small headland where you can immerse yourself in nature despite being so close to the big city.
Continuing south into New South Wales, most travellers in Australia love to spend some time in Byron Bay! This laid-back coastal town is known for its gorgeous beaches and vibrant surf culture. The Pass is arguably the best beach in Byron Bay, mainly because it has something for everyone. Surfers can ride the waves, relaxed travellers can stroll, swim, or sunbathe, and active travellers can hop on the coastal trail that snakes along the epic Byron Bay coastline. The Pass also has a small cliff with stairs so you can overlook the incredible beach and look for whales and dolphins in the surrounding ocean!
New South Wales is home to many of the best beaches on the East Coast of Australia. A hidden gem is Crescent Head, a National Surfing Reserve and a popular holiday spot for locals. Crescent Head is a picturesque headland flanked by beaches and grassy hills, with Pebbly Beach being an idyllic little cove tucked into the southern part of the headland. This is a great place to surf, camp, and experience a real authentic Australian holiday.
Port Stephens is a charming coastal town near Newcastle that is known for its pristine beaches, golden sand dunes, abundant wildlife, and overall serenity. There are countless amazing beaches here, but Zenith Beach may be the most scenic. Framed by the mountains, forests, and islands of Tomaree National Park, Zenith Beach is a haven for surfers, beach lovers, and photographers. Capture the best view of the beach and the surrounding area by hiking up to the summit of Tomaree Mountain!
Of course, we have to include the famous Bondi Beach on our list of the best beaches on the East Coast of Australia! Located in the vibrant city of Sydney, Bondi Beach is an iconic strip of golden sand that attracts travellers from all over the world. Complete with colourful street art, a skate park, a grassy hill perfect for picnics, the epic Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, the Bondi Icebergs rock pools, and a bustling town center packed with entertainment, Bondi Beach is definitely worth the hype.
Just south of Sydney in the breathtaking Royal National Park you'll find Garie Beach, the perfect place for beach lovers to escape the crowds of Sydney tourists. With two scenic headlands on either side of the beach, you can have a blast hiking, camping, and exploring the wilderness here. Garie Beach is also popular for surfing and fishing, and the sunrises here are unreal.
Similar to Whitehaven Beach, Hyams Beach is known for its shockingly white sand. This magical beach nestled in the tranquil Jervis Bay is just one of many white sand beaches located on the "White Sands Walk". Though most Jervis Bay beaches have silky white sand and calm, sapphire water, Hyams Beach is undoubtedly the most famous beach here!
As you approach the South Coast of New South Wales, you'll find an abundance of stunning beaches and basically no tourists! Mollymook Beach is a local favorite that has waves for surfers of all levels as well as heaps of space to lounge on the sand. Make the most of your time in Mollymook by exploring the nearby historic town of Milton and checking out a local cafe, shop, hiking trail, camping spot, or winery.
Located in the quaint coastal town of Bermagui, Horseshoe Bay Beach is another one of Australia's best beaches. Bermagui is the heart of the New South Wales Sapphire Coast, which is accurately named due to the incredible blue hue of the water. Horseshoe Bay Beach has calm waters that are great for people of all ages. Explore the surrounding lagoons by paddleboard or kayak, have a picnic in the grassy parks, or go for a dip in the iconic nearby rock pool known as the Blue Pool.
Last but not least on our list of East Coast Australia's best beaches is Squeaky Beach. Located in Victoria in the majestic Wilsons Promontory National Park, Squeaky Beach is named because of the way the soft, white sand squeaks under your feet when you walk! Not only is this beach perfect for a beach day full of snorkelling and sunbathing, it's located right on some of the national park's best bushwalks. So immerse yourself in the idyllic coastal charm of Victoria and embark on a hike to Squeaky Beach!