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12 Beaches to Day-trip to From Sydney

Home > Sydney > Beaches | Day Trips | Escape the City | Lists | Outdoor
by Telani Kumar (subscribe)
A free-spirit studying psychology at the University of Sydney.
Published September 23rd 2015
Coastal locations in about a 4-hour radius
Sydneysiders are spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches close to the city - Manly, Bondi, Cronulla, just to name a few. Now, why not take your leisure time a step further and day-trip to one of many beautiful beaches even further from the big smoke? Here is a list of twelve coastal spots that are within about a four hours' drive from the city.

1. Corrimal

Corrimal Beach is a leisurely one and a half hours' drive from Sydney (77km). The wide stretch of sand paralleled by grassland is a nice place to soak up some sun and hit the water. It has Bellambi Lagoon as a neighbour and Wollongong city as a backdrop.

Corrimal, bellambi, =
Corrimal Beach.

The Princes Motorway (M1) will get you there easily. If you aren't in a rush, take Sir Bertram Stevens Drive through The Royal National Park. The greenery and coastal views make this road very scenic.

2. Wattamolla

Speaking of The Royal National Park, a little closer to home sits the beautiful Wattamolla beach. Nestled in the parkland, this is a popular weekend spot. Picture white-sand beach with turquoise waters. Unique to here are the waterfalls over the lagoon that's behind the beach. So much fun to swim beneath.

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This is just over an hour from Sydney (49.6km) and also takes you along Sir Bertram Stevens Drive. Why not explore some of the nature trails while you are here?

3. Austinmer

Close to Corrimal, and a stone's throw away from Wollongong, is Austinmer Beach. The one and a half hours' coastal drive (74km) via the M1 and Grand Pacific Drive will take you across the panormaic Seacliff Bridge.

Austinmer, south coast, margin=
Austinmer Beach

This South Coast beach is located between tall headlands covered in greenery. It's nice to walk along the foot of these - tide-permitting of course. There is a park, full of towering Norfolk pines, that borders the beach and is ideal to picnic in while remaining cool and sheltered.

4. Tuncurry

All beaches listed so far are South of the metropolitan. One of many that are good for a day-trip if you're looking to head north is Tuncurry. Just next door to Forster sits this beach that's a leisurely three and a half hours' drive (301km) away.

tuncurry, forster,
Tuncurry Beach

Stroll the long stretch of golden sand. The water is ideal for swimming, surfing, paddle-boarding and sailing - and if you're lucky, dolphin spotting. Catch a stunning sunset over the shimmering sea from the break-wall here before calling it a day.

5. Pearl Beach

Tucked away in the Brisbane Waters National Park is the pristine Pearl Beach. It's super easy to reach from Sydney - only one and a half hours' drive (89.7km) via the Pacific Motorway. Come picnic-ready or enjoy the cheap and tasty takeaway seafood next to the beach.

pearl beach, beach, nsw, beaches near sydney, coast, sea, escape sydney, central coast
Pearl Beach.

Immerse yourself before the sparkling bay, and take in views of the lush green forest that surrounds it. Stroll the streets of the pleasant neighbourhood while keeping an eye out for the street names. You'll see they're all named after gemstones.

6. Patonga

A few minutes from Pearl Beach is Patonga Beach - also about one and a half hours' away (93km). If you don't feel like driving however you can catch a ferry from Palm Beach - Palm Beach Hawkesbury River Cruises. Unwind on the water before even reaching this beach.

patonga, beach, nsw, beaches near sydney, coast, sea, escape sydney, central coast
Patonga Beach. Photo by Freia Kirkaldy.

As it's at the foot of a hill and nestled in with bushland, Patonga makes you feel rather hidden from the world. The small historic town, nature trails, camp-ground, and neighbouring river-mouth give you a variety of things to see in between splashes and sun-baking.

7. The Entrance

This coastal hub with a carnival atmosphere offers plenty for water-babies to play with. Choose from secluded swimming spots, a busier touristy stretch of sand, and the lake, all an arm's reach from each other.

The entrance, beach, nsw, beaches near sydney, coast, sea, escape sydney, central coast
The Entrance. Photo by Freia Kirkaldy.

It only takes one and a half hours' (100km) on the Pacific Motorway to reach this popular holiday destination. A string of restaurants, shops, retro amusement rides and markets on weekends cater to its visitors.

8. Umina Beach

As you can see, the Central Coast is full of nice beaches. It's perfect to visit if you fancy a day of beach-hopping. One more from the area that I'll mention is Umina Beach - one hour and fifteen minutes (85km) from the big smoke.

Umina, beach, nsw, beaches near sydney, coast, sea, escape sydney, central coast
Umina coastline. Photo by Freia Kirkaldy. - from a lookout near the beach.

This beach is popular for family holidays. In addition to lots of sand and sea to play with, there are Aboriginal engravings, bushwalking tracks, wildflowers and wildlife to seek out in the area.

9. Seal Rocks

Roughly three hours from Sydney via the Pacific Motorway and Pacific Highway (277km) is the sparkling Seal Rocks. I felt like I'd stepped into a postcard-perfect paradise upon arrival at this North Coast destination, complete with unique rock formations that look like, well, seals.

seal rocks, beach, nsw, beaches near sydney, coast, sea, escape sydney, central coast
Seal Rocks

The relaxing seaside village will have you unwinding in no time. The warm atmosphere doesn't go astray either. One could easily lose track of time strolling or sunbathing upon the smooth shores. The same goes for swimming, surfing, and snorkeling in the turquoise waters.

10. Myall Lakes Lighthouse Beach

Three hours and fifteen minutes via the Pacific Motorway and Pacific Highway (276km) is Lighthouse Beach in the Myall Lakes National Park (which Seal Rocks is also a part of). No need to rush through here - take in scenery of the sprawling lakes as you cruise through the parkland.

lighthouse, beach, nsw, beaches near sydney, coast, sea, escape sydney, north coast, myall lakes national park, sugarloaf point
Lighthouse Beach in the Myall Lakes National Park - not near Port Macquarie (there are probably several others too).

Enjoy this surfing beach towered over by the dramatic headland of Sugarloaf Point. While here hike up this headland and check out the historic lighthouse which, for the record, partly serves as sweet ocean-view accommodation.

11. Palm Beach

Yes, 'Summer Bay', the setting of the beloved Australian drama 'Home and Away' is a stone's throw away from Sydney. In fact it is only a one hour drive along Barrenjoey Road (44km) to get you to Palm Beach, as it's otherwise known.

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Palm Beach - or as some know it, Summer Bay.

Take your board out on the now world-famous surfing beach, challenge yourself with the trek up to Barrenjoey lighthouse, or enjoy a leisurely lunch by the water on the other side of the peninsular. It was a lot of fun exploring the location I'd seen many a time on the ongoing t.v. series.

12. Diamond Head

Diamond Head is a quiet, clean beach just under four and a half hours' (369km) north of Sydney. Perhaps it pushes the whole 'day-trip' thing a tad, but an early morning departure will still allow you to enjoy a decent number of hours here. Alternatively, a budget-friendly campsite sits behind the beach (from $20/night 2-person inclusive).

Diamond Head,
Diamond Head

Apart from the sandy beach and rocky outcrop, there is the 4.8km Diamond Head loop track. Take this for views of Crowdy Bay and to witness the abundant wildlife (such as kangaroos, wombats and birds), picturesque grasslands, and vibrant wildflowers.

There are plenty of beaches around Sydney to add to your bucket-list and keep you busy - busy in a good way that is! Escaping the hustle and bustle of the city and it's growing residential areas may be the breath of fresh air you really need. Stay posted as I'll look to compile another list of little seaside escapes as we draw nearer to summer.
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Why? Escape the city
When: Your day off
Where: 4-hours (approx.) or less from Sydney.
Cost: Consider petrol, national park entry fees, and food/supply costs.
Your Comment
Loved this article Telani! Wattamolla is a favourite beach along with Seal Rocks...great scuba diving there:)
by Maria M (score: 2|661) 2689 days ago
Such a fantastic artical! Thank u soo much!
by hmorr (score: 0|6) 2687 days ago
Telani you are clearly not in the real world when it comes to the majority of your supposed day trips. If you could reliably drive to most of your destinations in your alleged timeframes you would come home exhausted and thereby ruin the benefits of the trip
by Sydney Surfer (score: 0|4) 2684 days ago
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