Ten Incredibly Epic Australian Beaches You Need to Swim in at Least Once in Your Life
We've got some of the most idyllic white-sanded and blue-hued beaches in the world — and these are the ones you should add to your bucket list.
January 23, 2024
There are 11,761 beaches in Australia. So it goes without saying that choosing the nation's most epic stretches of sand is no easy feat. Still, we've taken on the challenge. And, having considered the entire coastline, we've come up with ten of the best beaches in Australia — from South Australia's sweeping Coorong Beach, which is one of the longest beaches in the world, to Queensland's Whitehaven Beach, which is famous for its incredible beauty, rather than its length.
Remote and not close to major cities, these are not your local favourites — these are the top beaches in Australia. Add to your bucket list and start planning your next waterside getaway to at least one of them.
NINETY MILE BEACH, VICTORIA
Sometimes, size does matter. That's true in the case of Ninety Mile Beach, which is actually 94 miles — or 151 kilometres — long, making it one of the longest beaches in the world. It runs along the state's northeastern coastline, parallel to the (also epic) Gippsland Lakes. And there are all kinds of adventures on offer. Spend days (and days) wandering along the sand, uninterrupted by rocks or headlands while soaking up the surf and looking out for whales. Visit Ninety Mile's cute seaside towns, like Woodside, Seaspray and Golden Beach. And, if you're a camper who's happy to swap creature comforts for serenity, pitch your tent at Emu Bight, on the shores of Lake Victoria within The Lakes National Park, and use this guide to explore the water.
Editors note: Emu Bight is currently closed due to bushfires in the nearby area. Check the government's Emu Bight site for more updated info.
RED ROCK BEACH, NEW SOUTH WALES
Some beaches are epic, not only for themselves, but for what surrounds them. Take Red Rock, 30 minutes' drive north of Coffs Harbour. The Australian beach takes its name from its stunning headland, a 20-metre-high formation of 300-million-year-old jasper, also known as red quartz. Much of the sand is backdropped by national park and keen hikers should conquer the 65-kilometre multi-day Yuraygir Coastal Walk — or at least a section of it. If you find yourself needing human civilisation, visit the tiny coastal community of Corindi, where you can camp or stay in a cabin at Reflections Holiday Park. Take your time exploring the area and Red Rock Beach, one of the best beaches in Australia.
WHITEHAVEN BEACH, QUEENSLAND
Whitehaven Beach was famous for its looks even before Instagram existed. Located on Whitsunday Island, this seven-kilometre-long wonder is known for its sand, which, made of silica, is among the whitest, brightest and purest on the planet. To visit, you'll need to climb aboard a tour from Airlie Beach — be it by yacht, powerboat, ferry or seaplane. You'll be sorely tempted to take a dip in the crystal clear waters when visiting Whitehaven Beach, easily one of the best beaches in Australia. And, for extraordinary views of the beach, island and surrounds, get yourself to Tongue Point Lookout. If you'd like to stay overnight, there are several campsites nearby.
CAPE TRIBULATION BEACH, QUEENSLAND
Cape Tribulation in Queensland's Far North is where two Heritage-listed wildernesses — the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest — come together. Cape Tribulation Beach is the first one north of the cape, around two hours' drive north of Port Douglas. Begin your adventures at Kulki with a ten-minute stroll to Cape Tribulation Lookout, which looks north over Cape Tribulation Beach, backdropped by mountains. And to add a second sandy spot to your itinerary, take the one-hour Cape Tribulation to Mason's Store walk, for views of Myall Beach.
COORONG BEACH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
This breathtaking stretch of sand forms the southwestern border of Coorong National Park, on South Australia's southeast coast. It runs for around 220 kilometres, between Port Elliot in the north and Cape Jaffa in the south — and it's considered the longest beach in Australia. It's also where the Murray River meets the sea, after a 2500-kilometre journey from the Australian Alps. Just behind Coorong Beach are the Coorong Wetlands, where the original Storm Boy (1977) film was shot. Consider a paddling tour along one of the best beaches in Australia, be it a three-hour sunset fling or a multi-day expedition. Keep your eyes peeled for threatened species, including the orange-bellied parrot, freckled duck and southern bell frog.
75 MILE BEACH, QUEENSLAND
Another beach that's legendary for its awesome size is 75 Mile Beach on K'gari. This sandy behemoth forms most of the east coast of the island — which is the world's biggest sand island — and lies just off the coast, around six hours' drive north of Brisbane. The attractions here aren't just endless sea and sky, but also multicoloured and adventurous. Yes, there are sharks in the water and dingos on land, but the main attraction here is the length of the beach. Consequently, one of the most popular ways to travel 75 Mile Beach is by 4WD tour. That said, you can also go exploring on foot and camp or glamp at the dedicated Beach Camp Fraser Island. And be sure to stop off at Nudey Beach, which was named the best beach in Australia for 2018.
WINEGLASS BAY, TASMANIA
Like Queensland's Whitehaven Beach, Tasmania's Wineglass Bay is known all over the world for its good looks. As you've no doubt guessed, the bay gets its name from its smooth curves, which resemble a wine glass. You'll find one of the beast beaches in Australia on on Tassie's east coast, within Freycinet National Park. To get some perspective, follow the three-kilometre walk to Wineglass Bay Lookout from Wineglass Bay car park. An even more epic adventure is the full-day Hazards Beach to Wineglass Bay Circuit, an 11-kilometre hike that takes in two beaches, wilderness and pretty views.
CABLE BEACH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Cable Beach, on the edge of Broome, is best known for its camel rides. Every evening, the humped beasts traipse along the shoreline, delivering tourists to some of the most beautiful sunsets in Australia, if not the world. It's hard to think of a better way to experience Cable Beach. But, if that's not your thing, you can hire a bike and cycle along the sand. Alternatively, settle for relaxing on the sand, swimming or sipping cocktails when visiting one of the best beaches in Australia. As well as its white sand, Cable Beach is famous for its rich red ochre cliffs, which create a striking contrast with the blue, blue sky.
COSSIES BEACH, COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS
Add a bit of island hopping to your beachy bucket list chasing with a quick getaway to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. These magical wonderlands of coral are in the middle of the Indian Ocean, a 4.5-hour flight west of Perth — which is pretty far-flung, but they're still considered an Australian territory. There's no shortage of gorgeous beaches, but one of the most magnificent is Cossies, on Direction Island, which beach expert Brad Farmer named Australia's best beach in his book 101 Best Beaches 2017. Keen snorkellers should definitely spend some time at the Rip, a haven of colourful corals, parrotfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, reef sharks and other intriguing underwater creatures. And if you're looking for a place to stay when visiting one of the best beaches in Australia, try nabbing a room at Cocos Seaview.
EIGHTY MILE BEACH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
One of the best things about Western Australia's many beaches is that they come with sunsets. And, on Eighty Mile Beach — which sprawls between Port Hedland and Broome — you get 220 kilometres of them. It's also a marine park, so you can count on plenty of sea life, including dugongs, dolphins, sawfish and flatback turtles, that come here to nest. Spend your time looking out for these and other wondrous creatures, or get into some strolling, swimming or fishing. There are spots to camp, too, including Cape Keraudren Coastal Reserve.
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Top images: Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays, courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.
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