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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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).
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.
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