The Best Spots for Beach Camping in NSW
Pitch your tent, then into the surf with you.
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On a warm night, there's no more consoling sound than crashing waves. And on a blistering morning, there's no more refreshing wake-up than an immediate plunge into the sea. Treat yourself to both with a beachfront camping adventure. We've scoured the New South Wales coast to bring you some of the best pitches next to the sand — from secluded five-tent campgrounds to nearby gems and everything in between. Here are our picks for the best spots for beach camping in NSW.
From pristine beaches and bountiful wine regions to alpine hideaways and bustling country towns, Australia has a wealth of places to explore at any time of year. We've partnered with Tourism Australia to help you plan your road trips, weekend detours and summer getaways so that when you're ready to hit the road you can Holiday Here This Year.
Some of the beaches on this list are not patrolled by lifeguards. To ensure you stay safe, head over to Tourism Australia for its latest tips on water safety.
DIAMOND HEAD, CROWDY BAY NATIONAL PARK
Diamond Head Campground lies in the sheltered southern corner of Dunbogan Beach, on the watery edge of Crowdy Bay National Park. There's plenty to do, from swimming in the calm, aquamarine water to exploring spectacular Split Rock. Walkers will be keen to conquer one of the nearby hiking trails, which take in swamp mahogany and paperbark forests, as well as coastal panoramas aplenty. Just check NSW National Parks website first, as some are still closed because of the bushfires. The campground has 75 pitches for tents, but you're welcome to pull up in your caravan or motor home, too. Among the facilities are showers, toilets, barbecues and picnic tables, so you're fully covered here.
HONEYMOON BAY, JERVIS BAY
This magical beach is tucked inside Jervis Bay's northern head, just a stone's throw from magnificent Point Perpendicular in Currarong. It's made for lazy, sandy days and safe swimming. If you're keen for a bit more of an adventure, bring your snorkel along and follow the rock ledges beyond the bay's entrance to meet garfish, yellowtails and old wives. The campsite is pretty rustic, with facilities limited to portaloos and rubbish bins, plus no fires or pets allowed. And don't forget to BYO drinking water, cooking gear and toilet paper. But the extra effort is so worth it for these pristine surrounds. Outside of the summer months (when you need to book through a ballot system), this campsite is only available on a first in, best dressed basis — so be sure to get in early to nab a spot. For more information, head to the Shoalhaven website.
LITTLE BEACH, BOUDDI NATIONAL PARK
Little Beach is another spot for people who don't like to share. You and five mates can claim the entire campsite for yourselves — there are just six pitches in this tiny campground. It's hidden along a small, secluded cove within the Central Coast's expansive Bouddi National Park. Backed by coastal rainforest and shaped by stunning cliffs, the Little Beach surrounds are hard to beat. It also offers picnic tables, barbecues and toilet facilities for those who need a little extra creature comfort. If you have time to spare, take on the eight-kilometre Bouddi Coastal Walk, which runs between MacMasters Beach and Putty Beach.
THE BASIN, KU-RING-GAI NATIONAL PARK
At The Basin, you can camp on the beach without leaving the city limits. Perched on Pittwater's western shore (with Ku-ring-gai National Park as a backdrop), it's the ideal campsite if you're looking for a quick, nature-drenched getaway. Forget long drives, or driving at all — the easiest way to get there is by boat, in the form of a water taxi or ferry from Palm Beach. Another option is to park at West Head Road and walk, but keep in mind the trail is steep and 2.8 kilometres.
It's a big campground, with space for 400 campers, and boasts well stocked with facilities, including showers, toilets, barbecues, drinking water, picnic tables and — in case you're feeling nostalgic — public phones. Be sure to pack your snorkel because we rate The Basin among Sydney's best snorkelling spots.
MYSTERY BAY, EUROBODALLA
Those really looking to get back to nature should make tracks down the south coast — five hours' down from Sydney, to be exact. Here, the Mystery Bay campground boasts one of the few 'off-the-grid' campsites left in New South Wales. This means cold showers and pit toilets, to be exact. There are fire pits for cooking, and the nearest supermarket is 12 kilometres away in Narooma.
But, for those that don't mind roughing it, the surrounds are truly spectacular. Expect turquoise waters, rocky coves and surf beaches to boot. The campsite is also dotted with native bush, including spotted gums, acacias and banksias, and is a good spot to try your hand at fishing, too. You can also spend your time just hanging out on the beach or exploring the nearby Eurobodalla National Park — here, you'll find lookouts and walks, plus quiet stretches of sand and stacks of picnic spots.
PICNIC POINT, MIMOSA ROCKS NATIONAL PARK
You'd be hard-pressed to find a pitch any closer to the sand than at Picnic Point Campground in Mimosa Rocks National Park — and it's a lovely stretch of sand at that. Commit your visit down the far south coast to beach hangs, fishing and exploring the nearby coastline. Or jump in your car and check out the park's many other beaches filled with active wildlife. Picnic Point has room for 18 tents, plus barbecue and toilet facilities. Pitches are handed out on a first come, first served basis, though, so get in early. Luckily, if you miss out, you can drive 30 minutes further down the coast to the 70-site Gillards Campground.
WOODY HEAD, BUNDJALUNG NATIONAL PARK
As the chilly weather heads our way, set your sights on the Far North Coast, where the perennially warm temperatures make camping in winter a breeze. Pitch your tent at Woody Head Campground, which sits just north of Yamba on the southeastern corner of Bundjalung National Park. There's room for up to 94 tents, so the facilities are pretty schmick — expect toilets, showers, drinking water, barbecues, picnic tables and even a boat ramp. The campsite also gives you direct access to the Iluka Rainforest Walking Track, which travels through ancient, heritage-listed rainforest and offers breathtaking coastal views for 2.6 kilometres.
BROUGHTON ISLAND, MYALL LAKES NATIONAL PARK
Broughton Island — which lies near Hawks Nest off Dark Point — is the only spot in New South Wales where you're allowed to sleep among a sea bird colony. Here, you'll wake up surrounded by wedge-tailed shearwaters. The pint-sized campsite is set at Little Poverty Beach and fits just five tents, so you can enjoy the island's pristine beaches and walks without having to worry about the crowds — even in the height of summer. The limited size also means it's crucial to book in advance, though. And facilities consist of toilets only, so be prepared to boat in with everything you need, including drinking water.
DEPOT BEACH, MURRAMARANG NATIONAL PARK
Depot Beach is another campsite that's just a stone's throw from the beach. And, unlike the beaches in nearby Batemans Bay, it doesn't draw as much of a crowd — leaving a pristine, white sand beach that's ideal for swimming, surfing, snorkelling and canoeing. Local dolphins are often sighted just offshore, too. Apart from all of the beachside activities, the location is also home to plenty of treks, including the Rock Platform walk and the Depot Beach Rainforest walk. Just check NSW National Parks website first, as some are still closed because of the bushfires. Back at the campsite, you'll be sleeping among spotted gums and heaps of wildlife, including kangaroos, possums, goannas and native birds.
COLEDALE BEACH, THIRROUL
A quick 1.5-hour train ride from Sydney, Coledale Beach boasts a vast, rocky landscape that has a real 'edge of the word' vibe. And its small, grassy campsite is so close to the beach that you can almost reach out of your tent and touch the sand. With a glorious backdrop of green hills and all the amenities — including a kitchen with power points, a laundry facility and hot showers — this is an ideal getaway from the city without going too far at all. Or even needing to rent a car. While you're here, check out the beach's deeply carved rock pool, which made our list of the best out-of-town ocean pools near Sydney. Or, if you're keen to traverse by foot, you can also walk along the incredibly idyllic Sea Cliff Bridge.
PEBBLY BEACH, MURRAMARANG NATIONAL PARK
Want to share your brekkie with wild kangaroos? Set up your tent at Pebbly Beach, which you'll find nestled behind the forest of Murramarang National Park, about four hours' drive south of Sydney. The campground is just a stumble from the sand, with room for 23 tents all up. And you can pitch just next to your car, unlike other campsites in the area. Facilities include barbecues, showers, toilets and drinking water. From here, you can take a dip in pristine waters, go fishing or tackle a bushwalk — the campsite is a jump-off point for quite a few treks, including the Durras Mountain and Snake Bay walking tracks. Pebbly Beach is closed until September 1, 2020 due to damage from bushfires. Keep an eye on the National Parks NSW website for updates.
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Top image: Mimosa Rocks National Park by DNSW.
Published on May 14, 2020 by Jasmine Crittenden