At 16,006 miles (25,760 kilometers), Australia has one of the longest coastlines in the world, one marked by sun-bronzed shores, powder-soft sands, and awesome surf breaks. Choosing among the thousands of beaches is no easy task, but here are 10 that you won’t want to miss.
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Queensland
With crystalline water and sand so white it could be mistaken for baby powder, Whitehaven Beach is the largest, and arguably the most beautiful beach, of the Whitsundays Islands. Set sail from Airlie Beach by luxury yacht or catamaran, admire views of the swirling sands from Hill Inlet, then swim in the warm waters of the Coral Sea. Don’t forget your camera—there’s a reason why Whitehaven is one of the most photographed Australian beaches.
Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia
Stretching 14 miles (22 kilometers) along Australia’s northwest coast, Broome’s Cable Beach is famous for its golden sunsets, camel rides, fossilized dinosaur footprints in red rock, and rich pearling history. Be sure to visit in the dry season (May to October) before the blistering heat, tropical storms, and marine stingers ruin all the fun.
Surfer’s Paradise, Gold Coast, Queensland
Sun-seekers heading to the Gold Coast will be spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches, but Surfer’s Paradise is among the most famous of the lot. Named for its great surfing and known for its water sports, beach parties, and theme parks, the beach is situated near some of Australia’s other big-name beaches, like the popular resorts of Burleigh Heads and Byron Bay, which sit just to the south.
Bells Beach, Torquay, Victoria
Positioned along the southern edge of Victoria on the legendary Great Ocean Road, Bells Beach is an easy drive from Melbourne. Known for its dramatic coastal cliffs and gigantic waves, this beach hosts the internationally recognized Rip Curl Pro surfing competition around Easter each year. Water temperatures can drop down to 54°F (12°C) in winter, so be sure to bring appropriate gear if you’re planning to surf.
Turquoise Bay, Exmouth, Western Australia
Bordering the Cape Range National Park, Turquoise Bay is an idyllic getaway with miles of pristine sands fringed by wild bushlands. With easy access to the Ningaloo Reef, it’s also one of the best places for snorkeling in Western Australia, with the chance to spot sea turtles, squid, and more than 500 different fish species. Strong currents make it best suited for experienced swimmers.
Mindil Beach, Darwin, Northern Territory
The Northern Territory is not renowned for its beaches as other states may be, but Darwin’s principal city beach is one of the best around. Head there in summer, when huge crowds gather to watch the dreamy sunset, then spend the evening shopping and sampling street food at the Mindil Beach Night Markets.
Lucky Bay, Esperance, Western Australia
Perched on the south coast of Western Australia, the remote town of Esperance serves up an impressive slideshow of natural wonders. After marveling at the pink-hued Lake Hillier, hiking through wildflower-filled fields in the Cape Le Grand National Park, and spotting sea lions on the Recherche Archipelago islands, head to Lucky Bay to revel in the beauty of Australia’s so-called “Golden Outback.”
Bondi Beach, Sydney, New South Wales
Perhaps the most iconic Aussie beach in the world, Bondi Beach in Sydney is as legendary for its big waves and bronzed surfers as it is for its long-running reality TV series Bondi Rescue. Beach lovers in Sydney might prefer to head to the less-touristy Manly Beach, but you can’t miss a stop at Bondi, even if it’s just to stroll along the promenade and watch the lifeguards or grab an ice cream from one of the beachfront cafes.
Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay, New South Wales
Another East Coast highlight a few hours south of Sydney in the Illawarra region, Hyams Beach has made an appearance in The Guinness Book of Records for its sand, which is the whitest in the world. Sheltered in Jervis Bay, Hyams has much calmer waters than other beaches along the Pacific, making it a great choice for swimming, snorkeling, and family fun.
Noosa Beach, Queensland
Queensland is nicknamed Australia’s “Sunshine State,” and the sun shines year round on the aptly named Sunshine Coast. Noosa Heads is one of the main beach resorts here; you’ll find sandy beaches and rugged coastal walks. Just to the north, Rainbow Beach is the starting point for cruises to Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island.