With its glittering waters, splendid architecture, and National Parks and tree-covered suburbs aplenty, Sydney maintains the honour of being one of the most beautiful harbour cities in the world. The real treasures of Sydney Harbour, though, are the hidden gems nestled in around the water’s many edges—some of the prettiest and most secluded harbour beaches in Australia.
Forget the hustle and bustle of Tamarama, the infamous hordes of Bondi—these 8 secluded harbour beaches will allow you to beat the crowds and keep you cool:
A bit of a twofer, Neilsen Park is a terrific option for those in need of a quiet beach sojourn away from the bustle of Sydney’s more well-known harbour beaches. Whilst it is home to Shark Beach, a well-known patch of sand along the Hermitage Foreshore walk great for family picnics and a swim (shark net provided), it’s the more secluded Milk Beach—less than two kilometres away—that is the real draw. Sitting at the base of the historic Strickland House, 50-metre-long Milk Beach is a slice of pristine sand, perfect as a place to sit and watch the sun set over the city’s skyline.
Down a little lane next to the prestigious Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club is a long, narrow stretch of sand called Lady Martins Beach. Whilst some might stick their noses up at the area—Point Piper is known for its palatial opulence and built-up surrounds—the upmarket area it hides in is a large part of this beach’s appeal. With cafes and restaurants in abundance nearby, Lady Martin is a cute little refuge well-suited for a private and low-key lounge in the sun.
- Store Beach, Manly (water access only)
If you’re up for an adventure, rent out a kayak or paddleboard and head across—20 minutes’—to Store Beach. Only accessible by water as it is, you can guarantee you’ll be one of the few people adventurous enough to show up to this secluded harbour beach. Nearby Little Manly Beach offers a kiosk to stock up on food and drink on the way, and the keen-eyed might even be able to spot the beach’s resident, Little Penguins. A good spot for romantic couples or adventurous families, make sure to come at low-tide for the most comfortable slice-of-paradise experience possible.
With verdant National Park rainforest on either side, this is one of the most naturally stunning hidden harbour beaches in Sydney. One of the beaches along the 10km Spit Bridge to Manly Walk, Castle Rock beach is perfect for lovers of history and nature. It boasts the nearby Grotto Lighthouse, Arabanoo Lookout, and, elsewhere, 1,000-year-old Aboriginal rock engravings. Accessible via Oglivy Road, Castle Rock is recommended for those looking for a serene natural getaway.
Only 1km away from the better-known Balmoral Beach and down a winding road off Military Road is the flat, peaceful, and most importantly, secluded Chinamans Beach. With a largely flat shore, a large patch of grass, and a playground close by, this beach is great for families and those after magnificent Middle Harbour views without the noisy crowds attached. So, while Chinamans Beach is often disregarded for its more famous neighbour, this is exactly why one should go.
Peel away from the throngs of tourists flocking to the beachfront at the end of the Corso, take a right when you get off the ferry, and head to Little Manly Beach instead. This south-facing inlet isn’t a secret to locals, but is nevertheless good for those looking for a less busy place to swim or chill out on the sand. An easily overlooked kiosk at the water’s edge provides all a beach day-tripper needs, so your only concern need be coming down early during high tide to ensure you can swim in its waters for as long as you can.
Like so many of the best Sydney Harbour beaches, Forty Baskets is located on the Spit to Manly Walk, facing northeast towards Manly beach. Named after an 1885 afternoon when local fishermen caught—you guessed it—a record forty baskets of fish, Forty Baskets beach has a tidal pool, ample grass room for sports and picnics, and a barbecue that makes it a winner with kids and parents alike. Though one of the area’s lesser-known spots, plentiful parking nearby makes it an easy-to-get-to destination.
This is really what it says on the tin—during high tide, this gorgeous yet elusive beach disappears entirely! Accessible via the Spit Bridge to Manly Walk, the timing of your trip here is important—you want to make sure there’s something to visit!
For advice on all on the best-kept secrets (or harbour beaches) that the area you’re looking to buy in has to offer,