The Ten Best Beaches in Australia

by Nicholas Bowditch

If you asked one hundred different Australians what the ten best beaches in their country was, you could potentially get 1000 different answers.

Australia has a coastline of almost 40,000kms (about 25,000 miles) – that’s a lot of beaches.

Sure there are famous beaches that everyone knows about including Sydney’s Bondi Beach and Bells Beach in Victoria, but frankly most Australians couldn’t tell you why they ARE so famous.

Bondi is ridiculously over-crowded and just a little too close to an ocean sewage outlet, and a warm day at Bells sees the temperature of the water get up to a still pretty chilly 18 or 19 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit).

Neither of them have made my list. I have tried to strike a balance between well known areas of the coastline and more remote beaches – without enraging surfers, fishermen and other beach-goers by revealing to the world their ‘Spot X’.

For the record, my ‘Spot X’ didn’t make the list either. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur about the size of my readership but just the same, I don’t want it over-run with blogging enthusiasts a year from now.

There is one sure fire way to get an Aussie annoyed and that is to either say his or her beach (and we do see it as our property) is rubbish, or even worse, leave it off a list this!

So bravely I declare - here it is, the undisputed, definitive list of the ten best beaches in Australia.

10. Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia

Cottesloe, or ‘Cotts’, is one of Perth’s best kept secrets. Just fifteen minutes drive from the centre of the city, Cottesloe maintains a funky, cruisy vibe while still boasting a regular swell for surfers and even some nice snorkelling at the rocky outcrops. The esplanade is packed with great places to eat and drink, as well as some very good accommodation ranging from backpackers to five star. My pick for accommodation here is the Ocean Beach Backpackers, with beds starting at just $22 (13, $US19) per night.

9. Wooyung Beach, near Brunswick Heads, New South Wales

Despite being only twenty minutes from both the glitzy Gold Coast and iconic Byron Bay, when you are sitting on the beach at Wooyung you could believe you were in the middle of nowhere. Boasting about 10km (6 miles) of usually deserted beach, this place is a fishermen’s and bird watcher’s dream. Home to the Wooyung Beach Motel and Caravan Park and not much else, Wooyung is the first of the ‘off the beaten track’ entries on the list.

8. Cape Leveque, Kimberley Region, Western Australia

Speaking of off the beaten track, Cape Leveque, at the tip of the Dampier Peninsula, is accessed only by a 4WD drive from Broome, or by air. This amazingly beautiful and remote area of the country is one of the final non-touristy frontiers. The Kooljaman at Cape Leveque is an award-winning wilderness camp on Aboriginal-owned land and has safari tents which start at $45 (€26, $US38) per person per night.

7. Jan Juc, Victoria

When people tell you about their trip to the rugged and beautiful coastline of Victoria, they will tell you about the Great Ocean Road, Torquay and probably Bells Beach. What they should have checked out, but probably didn’t, was Jan Juc. The beach is surrounded on all sides by high, inhospitable cliffs and the frigid surf pounds in direct from Tasmania and before that, Antarctica. It all contributes to Jan Juc having an impressive, end-of-the-earth kind of feel to it. At nearby Aireys Overboard Seaside Cottage, set back in the bushland, the sea-breeze and sound of the waves nearby are almost drowned out by the trickling stream that passes by the timber verandahs.

6. Scotts Head, NSW

Scotts might register as a few people’s ‘Spot X’, and my apologies if it does, but this place deserves to get more credit than it’s relatively close neighbours, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie. Part of a stretch of national park beaches that would be envied in any other country, Scotts is understated, peaceful and cheap. The Scotts Head Caravan Park, like a lot of government owned caravan parks in Australia has the best bit of real estate for miles and is nestled right on the sand of this beautiful beach. It has accommodation from just $20 (€11, $US17) per night.

5. Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, Queensland

It took until number 5 for a beach from the ‘Sunshine State’ to make an appearance and this one is one of the most spectacular in the country. Port Douglas started its life as a modest fishing village but its proximity to the World Heritage Daintree Rainforest and just 70km (40 miles) from Cairns saw it become one of the most exclusive, and expensive, parts of the Queensland coastline. Five star accommodation dominates in this part of the world but the Port Douglas Retreat is a value for money oasis among them, with studio apartments starting at $92 (€52, $US78) per night.

4. Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia

Broome used to be one of the busiest and most prolific pearling ports in the world. It hasn’t been until recently that the rest of the country has discovered this gem for more than just its precious bounty. Pushed against the sea by the rugged Kimberley Ranges, Broome and its most famous beach, Cable Beach are now forging a reputation for classy accommodation, great restaurants, and serene sunsets. For a bit of an indulgent splurge, The Cable Beach Club Resort has everything from bungalows up to suites that go for $1388 (€787, $US1180) per night.

3. Green’s Pool, Denmark, Western Australia

The coastline around Denmark, in the state’s south west, consists of seemingly one beautiful beach after another. Just when you think there couldn’t be a prettier spot, you round the headland and there it is – that is, until you reach Green’s Pool. The fifth Western Australian beach (the Queenslanders won’t be happy) is also the state’s best. It is more like the sheltered rock pool like beaches of Krabi and southern Thailand – beautiful emerald water, perfect for snorkelling, diving, or just lazing on the golden sand. Green’s Pool Retreat is a secluded cottage for one person or a couple and is the ideal compliment to the beautiful surroundings and starts at $120 (€68, $US102) per night.

2. The Basin, Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Rottnest Island is 19km (12 miles) off the coast of Western Australia, accessed by a short ferry ride from Fremantle. Rottnest is famous for the unique ‘quokkas’, furry little marsupials which scurry around the place, and for bicycles being the only mode of transport on the white sandy island. The Basin is probably the most popular snorkelling spots on the island and with almost the entire coastline looking like a postcard, that is saying something! Formerly the stately mansion that was the summer home of the Governors of Western Australia, the Quokka Arms Hotel has rooms starting at just $120 (€68, $US102).

1. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Queensland

If you’ve ever seen a QANTAS commercial, or if anyone has ever brought you home a postcard from Australia that featured an expansive white silica sand beach with impossibly blue water, it was probably taken at Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays chain of islands. 7km (4 miles) long and situated on the northern tip of Whitsunday Island, the breathtaking beauty of this place is something most people will never forget. It is accessed by many sailing vessels, ferries and helicopters that set out from Airlie Beach. There is no accommodation on Whitsunday Island and let’s hope it stays that way for a long time to come.

In a country roughly the size of Europe, and considering I have only featured four of the eight states and territories, I am sure that I have missed hundreds of superior beaches. At least I managed to keep my ‘Spot X’ secret…

Nicholas has spent years away from his beloved Australia
in a quest to find the world's most deserted beach, best
dive site and cheapest beer. He is still on the lookout. He
is an Independent Travel Broker and editor of independent
travel news resource, Aussie Escape.

(c) 2007 Aussie Escape. All Rights Reserved