There are some days in summer where the thought of being sandwiched between a family of whinging kids on one side and teenage girls gossiping loudly about last night's gathering on the other is enough to put you off going to the beach all together. Or maybe you're feeling a little seedy after yet another Christmas party and feel like floating as the waves lift you ever so gently up and down, rather than struggling to leave the ocean with out getting dumped by the annoying shore breakers.
An excellent option in these situations is to visit one of Sydney's incredible harbour beaches. Usually far more serene and less populated, with excellent views and (sometimes) more parking, these coves are Sydney's hidden havens in summer. Perfect for a date, a picnic or even some topless baking, here are Concrete Playground's tips to get you away from everything loud and crowded in summer.
The parking at the easternmost edge of the Eastern Suburbs can be a bit of a drag in Summer, but if you pray to your parking angel you'll find somewhere eventually. It's worth the frustration, as this laid-back beach is big enough to have a social vibe (there always seems to be a lot of good looking people here) and the lack of waves means you can bob in the water and still chat to a friend. There's a little kiosk selling snacks and sorbet in coconut shells too. If you're brave (and skilled) you can do the big jump off the rock on the right.
If nothing annoys you more than getting a bikini-strap tan line, then head to this pretty beach in Botany Bay for a spot of 'clothing-optional' sunbaking. It's usually pretty quiet so you can avoid seeing people you know, especially your awkward co-worker that will forever avoid you at the water cooler. If the thought of getting your togs off makes you blanch, just next door is Congwong Beach, where you won't be the odd one out if you're a strictly clothes-on type of person.
Balmoral is Manly's little sister; smaller and more romantic. It has a lovely sleepy vibe despite it's popularity. Have a long lunch at the Public Dining Room and float it off in the cooler hours of the afternoon.
The Esplanade, Mosman
This sandy cove is hidden behind Strickland House at Vaucluse. It's a short, steep walk down the driveway and across the lawn, but the views of Opera House and Harbour Bridge are well worth it. If you've got kids in tow, it's a good choice as it's usually populated by families.
If the summer traffic is ruining your ability to relax at the beach this summer, escape for the weekend to Currawong beach. It can only be accessed by boat, so jump on the ferry at Palm Beach and prepare for a phone and internet-free 48 hours. There are no shops so bring food and water with you and stay at one of the cottages. You'll be able to deal with the worst Bondi Road traffic jam with a blissful smile on your return.
Great Mackerel Beach Reserve
LADY MARTIN'S BEACH
Lady Martin's is the beachside backyard of Sydney's very, very rich - the surrounding suburb, Point Piper, is one of the most expensive places in the world to live. If you want to pretend you're a millionaire for the day and rub shoulders with Malcolm Turnball and Frank Lowy, then wear your darkest sunglasses and say "dahhling" at the end of every sentence and you'll fit right in on this quiet strip. Entry is via a narrow lane off Wolseley Road that passes by the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club.
If you wake up one sunny day with the desire to go kayaking, hire one from Manly Kayaks and paddle around to this little beach (it can only be reached by water) for a picnic. If you're lucky, you'll see some fairy penguins.
Sydney beaches need not be compared with their foreign counterparts because it's only a slight exaggeration to say we have the best in the world. However, I can't help thinking that Nielsen Park reminds me of the Mediterranean coast. Maybe it's the amazing aqua colour of the water or the stained glass windows of the restaurant. It can get a little noisy with all the kids that are usually there but there is a large, leafy park surrounding the beach which you can escape into to eat your ice cream in peace.
Greycliffe Avenue, Vaucluse
DAROOK PARK BEACH
If you feel like a spot of solo fishing, try Darook Park Beach in the Shire — you might just catch yourself a flathead. There are onsite toilets and picnic shelters, making it perfect for a birthday lunch with friends.
Stacey Street, Cronulla
LITTLE SIRIUS COVE
A small stretch of sand surrounded by bushland, this beach has a unique feature - dogs are allowed. Take Rover down (after grabbing a coffee at Bacino Bar) and enjoy a snag or two on the BBQs provided.