Porcelain white sand, crystal-clear water and a dress code of swimmers and sunscreen – add in a bed and you have the makings of a perfect Aussie beach holiday. So there’s plenty of beach, but where’s the best spot to stay? We’ve made the choice easy, with our list of five brilliant beaches and the best spots to stay at each one.
Laid-back surf suburb Manly is a good fit for those who like their salt air without pretence. The iconic beach is best accessed from Sydney’s CBD by the Manly Ferry. Disembark into one of the friendly wharf bars to soak up the vibe or peruse the shops along the Corso, a pedestrianised mall which leads to the beach itself. If the weather works in your favour, swim between the flags, enjoy a surf lesson or go snorkelling at nearby Shelly Beach, accessed via a scenic seaside walkway.
Without a passport, it’s harder to get more remote than Lord Howe Island. A two-hour flight from Sydney, this little piece of paradise is located in the middle of the Tasman Sea – its crystal clear waters and dramatic scenery are what dreams are made of. At Ned’s Beach you only have to wade in knee-deep to see an amazing diversity of coral, fish and marine life on the fringes of the reef, making it perfect for all ages. Visitor numbers are limited to 400 people at a time meaning your dip into the world’s most southerly coral reef will always be an exclusive one.
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Arajilla Retreat: More than just a hotel, this tranquil haven encapsulates the very essence of Lord Howe Island. Nestled in a forest of Banyan Trees and Kentia Palms, the 12 light and airy suites have luxurious living areas opening out onto large, private timber decks. For even more privacy, opt for the Blue Peter Beach House. Complete with a large contemporary kitchen stocked with high quality breakfast provisions, Lagoon Beach is a short stroll away. Pamper yourself at the day spa or explore the island by bike, on foot or with a snorkel. Meals by award-winning chefs are included in the all-inclusive stay.
Located in the heart of the glittering Gold Coast, Kirra Beach is the real surfer’s paradise. While other tourists are pondering why the Main Beach has so few waves, you’ll be carving it up on one of the longest rides in the country on the famous sandbar surf break between Snapper Rocks to Kirra Beach, known as the Superbank. Even if the surf’s not up, you’ll be compensated with a plethora of dining spots, nightlife and accommodation at buzzing Surfers Paradise proper.
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Hilton Surfers Paradise: The Hilton is an institution in itself. The hotel’s stylish guest rooms and suites have floor-to-ceiling windows with staggering views of the beach, city skyline and luscious green Hinterland. Take things to the next level by upgrading your room to include access to the Executive Lounge, where you can enjoy a continental breakfast and sunset tapas with complimentary drinks while you take in the incredible view. There’s not one, but four heated swimming pools, as well as a pool bar, indoor hot tub and sauna.
Q1 Resort & Spa: Take your holiday to new heights at Australia’s tallest residential tower. At 322 metres high, this skyscraper offers executive apartments with up to four bedrooms. During the colder months, you can still splash around in the lap pool and lagoon-style pools, as well as in your private spa bath. A buffet breakfast is served each morning on the observation deck with 360° views of the Gold Coast; at night hang 10 at the hotel’s Longboards Cafe & Bar.
You can’t talk about Aussie beaches without mentioning Bondi. Beside the glorious blue swell and golden arch of sand, the real pulling power is in the suburb itself. It’ll show you a good time in its pumping beachside bars, chic restaurant scene, green juice cafes and seaside stays. The people watching is great too; a mesmerising mélange of bronzed fitness fanatics, salty haired surfers, bewildered tourists and even the odd celebrity sighting awaits.
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QT Bondi: You’ll feel immediately at home in these designer apartments, practically on the shores of Bondi Beach itself. As cool as the sandy suburb and its glamourous residents, choose the style that suits you best from sleek spaces featuring daring pops of colours. Leverage the 24-hour concierge service to get bookings in some of the most exclusive restaurants in Sydney. After a day of sun and surf, stay in for the night with a complimentary movie service.
The Hughenden Hotel: Not your usual beachside shack, this stately 1870s building offers a good dose of nostalgia along with its marble fireplaces, original grand staircase and Victorian dining rooms. Each of the luxurious rooms is uniquely decorated with antiques and art. The pet-friendly hotel faces Centennial Park, which is a great spot for a run in the morning with your dog, before you head to the beach – just a 10-minute drive away.
Often ranking among the best beaches in Australia, the calm waters of Cable Beach have found fame for iconic sunset photos and the obligatory camel safari. The 22 kilometre stretch of beach near Broome combines three natural elements in a dazzling display: white sugar sand, turquoise water and rich red soil. Visit as a full moon rises to witness the romantic optical illusion known as the ‘Staircase to the Moon’.
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Cable Beach Club: Everything is taken care of at this lush beachfront retreat, including a spectacular view of the sunset over Cable Beach. Couples can take advantage of the adult’s only swimming pool while families have their own separate pool for the kids to run wild. Rooms are contemporary with timber floors and French doors that open out onto breezy verandas. Families can opt for the privacy of bungalows, with open-plan living and separate bedrooms.
Beaches of Broome: There’s something for everyone at this resort, just a short stroll from Cable Beach. Whether you choose a shared dorm or private room, everyone has access to a self-catering kitchen, outdoor bar, pool and sundeck. If you’re feeling active, Beaches offers scooter and bike hire, as well as hosting regular activities like barbecue nights and pool competitions.