A guide to Australia's most beautiful beaches

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays Islands
For the vast majority of Australians – even city-dwellers – spending time on the beach isn't a special treat, reserved for holidays. It's part of everyday life.

According to the most recent count, 82 per cent of Australians live within 50km of the ocean. Lucky them. There's sensational coastal scenery to be found in every state.

With over 35,000km of coastline to explore, everyone has their favourite spots. But in truth, it's hard to find a beach that's less than wonderful. Wherever you're heading, be sure to have your swimming togs handy. As long as the elements are on your side, you really can't go wrong.

Discover the best of Australia's stunning beaches in our gallery.

A guide to Australia's most beautiful beaches
See Gallery
A guide to Australia's most beautiful beaches
The World Heritage Listed Ningaloo Coast protects one of the longest near-shore reefs in the world, home to turtles, crustaceans and shimmering fish. For an unforgettable adventure, take a dip with its huge, gentle whale sharks – the largest fish in the world. Each year between April and July, these mysterious beings congregate close to shore in greater numbers than anywhere else on earth.
With fragrant coastal greenery and rust-coloured boulders, Freycinet National Park is rich in natural colour. Its highlight is Wineglass Bay, a heavenly curl of sand wrapped around vivid turquoise waters. Great for hiking, the stunning scenery continues all the way north to the Bay of Fires. In between are the palest of beaches and bluest of seas, so pick a beach, any beach, and step into a postcard.
In lovely, laid-back Byron Bay you can live the dream in your own seaside pad, just footsteps away from a classic Aussie beach. There are dozens of holiday homes to rent, from cute shabby-chic shacks to glossy, multi-million dollar villas. If you manage to tear yourself away from your private pool and barbie, you can mingle with the locals at the enticing wholefood restaurants, yoga studios and gallery shops dotted around this clean-living town.
Every Thursday and Sunday afternoon from May to October, Darwin’s Mindil Beach Sunset Market opens under the coconut palms, filling the salty air with delicious aromas. There’s always an exotic selection of food on offer, from kangaroo sushi and crocodile steaks to Indonesian tasting platters and Indian roti wraps. While alcohol isn’t sold here, you’re welcome to bring your own to sip on the sand. For a taste of the tropics, treat yourself to a Sunset 
Not just Sydney’s most famous city beach but an Australian icon, fair and square, there’s more to Bondi than bronzed biceps and sassy bikinis. The streets behind the beach have a sand-between-the-toes bohemian feel, with inviting coffee shops and vintage boutiques. On Saturdays, the waterfront Farmers Market offers handmade delights such as breakfast burritos, freshly squeezed juice and cashew milk infused with lavender, orange and mint.

Whether you’re driving the entire Great Ocean Road or just exploring its easternmost highlights, a visit to Bells is a must. To hardcore surfers, this is hallowed ground: Rip Curl Pro, the World Surf League’s longest-running international contest, takes place here each Easter. Even if you don’t have the mettle or the skills to tackle the breaks yourself, you’ll be exhilarated by the views from the bluffs.

Far from the city lights of Adelaide lies the Eyre Peninsula, with a night sky that sparkles like diamonds and an ocean that heaves with marine life. Everything about the peninsula is big – sky, land, sea – and so too are the servings of premium tuna, oysters and abalone. No wonder they say this is the best place in the world to eat shellfish. In low-key beach towns like Streaky Bay and Coffin Bay, you can tuck in right on the waterfront.
With its calm bay, chic boutiques, buzzing food scene and cosy, village vibe, Noosa is a thoroughly civilised corner of the Sunshine Coast. The Main Beach boardwalk attracts all types, from runners and beachfront brunchers to youngsters going swimming, surfing or stand-up paddlesurfing. At its east end, you can stroll into Noosa National Park for glimpses of koalas snoozing in the gum trees and pods of dolphins way out in the blue.
If your significant other likes a beach to be any colour so long as it’s white, they’ll adore Whitehaven. Dropping in by helicopter or seaplane feels like landing in paradise. Cool underfoot, it’s a seven-kilometre stretch of silica-white sand lapped by clear, calm water with breathtaking views. Take a short bushwalk to the lookout at Tongue Point to see the magical swirling of aquatic colours in Hill Inlet.
Proudly owned by the Bardi Jawi people of the Ardyaloon and Djarindjin Communities, Cape Leveque – a remote patchwork of pindan bush, burnt-orange cliffs and sandy Indian Ocean beaches – has been a camping ground for indigenous nomads for centuries. Make yourself comfortable in a safari tent or cabin at Kooljaman, an off-grid wilderness lodge, or pitch your own tent under the trees, then get ready to enjoy some bush tucker and campfire tales.

Related articles:

15 Australian hidden gems unearthed by Tripadvisor users

Essential Melbourne sights and tastes for foodies

Australia's best two-week itineraries for beach-lovers

Read Full Story