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South Australia's Stokes Bay on Kangaroo Island Has Been Named Australia's Best Beach for 2023

Tourism Australia's best ten beaches for 2023 also includes Queensland's Rainbow Beach, Victoria's Apollo Bay and Sydney's Balmoral Beach.
By Sarah Ward
January 28, 2023
By Sarah Ward
January 28, 2023

First, the bad news: Australia's most-envied job, aka Tourism Australia's Beach Ambassador, is sadly already taken. Now, the excellent news, especially if you're keen on a beach holiday or several (or ten) throughout 2023: that lucky coast lover, beach expert Brad Farmer AM, has just named Australia's best beaches the year.

Australia has 11,761 sandy spots according to Tourism Australia, so narrowing down the most stunning to a mere ten is no small feat — even if you've spent four decades focusing on the absolute best, as Farmer has. The number-one place to hit the shore this year from that hefty list? South Australia's Stokes Bay, which is located on Kangaroo Island.

Being named Australia's best beach is the second huge piece of praise that Kangaroo Island has received already in 2023, after The New York Times included the entire landmass among its 52 places to visit this year. Farmer has gotten more specific, however, singling out Stokes Bay for a number of reasons — its location, safe swimming options, overall atmosphere and clandestine entrance among them.

South Australian Tourism Commission

"Most of the island's 50 or so glorious beaches are all relatively secluded, yet accessible, so visitors are much more likely to encounter paw prints of the many furry lounging locals than footprints of the work weary human," notes Farmer of Kangaroo Island, announcing his picks for Australia's best beaches for the year.

"Stokes Bay Beach on the gentler north coast, with its long 500-metre sandy sweep of low impact waves, features a generous and safe tidal swimming pool for wading or snorkelling with its aquarium like atmosphere. There's a timeless hint of mystique about this hidden treasure with a shimmering reward when the curtains lift. From the western entry carpark and seasonal cafe, this veiled beach is reached through a 'secret tunnel' — a hand-hewn cavernous carved trail finally revealing a stunning scene as if rewarding the adventurer. Stokes Bay is long overdue to be recognised as Australia's Best Beach in 2023," he continues.

East Coast Photography

Stokes Bay claimed top position after Misery Beach in Western Australia scored the honours in 2022, Cabarita Beach in New South Wales did the same in 2020, Nudey Beach on Fitzroy island in Far North Queensland achieved the feat in 2018, and Cossies Beach in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, in the Indian Ocean, earned the title in 2017.

This is the first time that a South Australian beach has earned the honours. Still, among the 2023 list's highest-ranked spots, Stokes Bay is joined by beaches in every Australian state and territory, including Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean Territories.

Tourism and Events Queensland

Coming in second in Australia's best beaches for this year: Boomerang Beach on New South Wales' mid-north coast. NSW is the one of only two states to take two places in the top ten, too, with Balmoral Beach on Sydney Harbour in tenth position.

Elsewhere, Rainbow Beach on Queensland's Cooloola Coast ranked third, Apollo Bay on Great Ocean Road in Victoria slotted in fourth, Adventure Bay on Bruny Island in Tasmania came fifth and Hamelin Bay in Western Australia's southwest notched up sixth position. Then came Little Bondi Beach in East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory at seventh, British Admiralty Beach on King Island in the Bass Strait in Tasmania at eighth and Flying Fish Cove on Christmas Island in ninth spot.

Visit Great Ocean Road

Wondering how Farmer makes his picks? This year, he was particularly interested in beaches with a unique cultural connection to First Nations Country, as well as outstanding locations that don't always come up when folks are searching for Australia's best beaches online.

"Australia really is just one big beach and there are simply so many surprises to be discovered in our own sandy backyard," Farmer says.

So pack your togs, round up some mates and start ticking these off. We see many road trips in your future — not that anyone ever needs a new excuse to head to the beach, whether they're one of Australia's best or not.


1.  Stokes Bay, Kangaroo Island, South Australia
2.  Boomerang Beach, Mid North Coast, New South Wales
3.  Rainbow Beach, Cooloola Coast, Queensland
4.  Apollo Bay, Great Ocean Road, Victoria
5.  Adventure Bay, Bruny Island, Tasmania
6.  Hamelin Bay, South-West, Western Australia
7.  Little Bondi Beach, East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory
8.  British Admiralty Beach, King Island, Bass Strait, Tasmania
9.  Flying Fish Cove, Christmas Island
10. Balmoral Beach, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales

For more of Brad Farmer's beach tips, head to his Best Australian Beaches website.

Top images: Tourism Australia / @ihaig72.


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Published on January 28, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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