1/9 The Basin, Western Australia
Rottnest Island is where the people of Perth go to relax. Apart from car-free roads, wildlife and tranquillity, the island has 63 beaches and bays. One of the most popular is The Basin, a sheltered lagoon that is perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
The island has plenty of accommodation (from camping to luxury resorts), shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs. Other activities include sailing, cycling, hiking and wildlife watching.
Find out more: rottnestisland.com
2/9 Richardsons Beach, Tasmania
This beautiful long beach is located at Coles Bay on the east coast of Tasmania and offers safe swimming. It is also popular with sailors and kayakers who are keen to explore Great Oyster Bay and beyond.
There is good camping in the dunes and more comfortable accommodation at the nearby Freycinet Lodge. Day-trippers will find barbecues and picnic tables. Campsites can be booked at the Freycinet Visitor Centre.
Find out more: wineglassbay.com
3/9 Wave Lagoon, Northern Territory
With the threat of saltwater crocodiles in the Top End, it’s not surprising that locals usually opt for the swimming lagoon. This modern aquatic facility combines the safety of a pool with the thrills and spills of the ocean.
Located on the Darwin waterfront, the Wave Lagoon produces waves up to 7m tall. The park contains a small kiosk and picnic areas. Family entry costs £9.
Find out more: waterfront.nt.gov.au
4/9 Glenelg, South Australia
If you are looking for an old-fashioned, bucket-and-spade type of beach, then you’ve just found it. With its fun fair, b&bs, souvenir shops and fish and chips, Glenelg has echoes of the British seaside but is still defiantly Aussie.
The beach itself is clean and safe – and just a two-minute walk from the tram stop; the trip from Adelaide takes about 25 minutes. There’s also a grassy area for picnics and games.
Find out more: glenelgsa.com.au
5/9 Surfers Paradise, Queensland
Surfers Paradise is the most famous beach on the Gold Coast and has a good choice of accommodation and a cosmopolitan dining scene.
The country’s major theme parks (Warner Bros Movie World, Sea World and Wet’n’Wild) are nearby, with tickets starting at £42.
Find out more: surfersparadise.com
6/9 Ocean Grove, Victoria
Located on the Bellarine Peninsula, to the south of Melbourne, this sheltered cove is a great place for youngsters to take their first surfing lesson.
Ocean Grove is an ideal base from which to explore the region’s wineries, beaches and golf courses. Further along the Great Ocean Road you’ll find internationally famous Bells Beach, but this is strictly for experienced surfers. Nearby Wallington has a waterpark, giant maze and mini golf.
Find out more: visitgeelongbellarine.com.au
7/9 Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia
Cottesloe is the most famous of Perth’s city beaches, appealing to swimmers, surfers and body boarders alike. With its iconic pavilion and bustling village atmosphere, Cottesloe is a firm favourite for families and very easy to reach; there are both train and bus connections.
The beach is patrolled by lifeguards and is generally safe for swimmers of all abilities. There are plenty of eating options nearby, including an upmarket restaurant in the pavilion.
Find out more: cottesloe.wa.gov.au
8/9 Shelly Beach, New South Wales
The ferry ride from Circular Quay to Manly is one of Sydney’s signature travel experiences. The back beach at Manly is great for teenagers who want to surf or body board, but nearby Shelly Beach is a great option for younger children – just follow the coastal path.
It has safe, shallow waters while the nearby park is ideal for a picnic. You’ll find a kiosk, plenty of shade, changing rooms, showers and lovely bush walks across the headland.
Find out more: manlyaustralia.com au
9/9 Bronte Beach, New South Wales
While most people gravitate to Bondi Beach, its big swell and crowded sands can be intimidating for small children. Bronte, a mile and a half to the south, is a popular haunt for local families.
This beach has a protected rock pool called the bogey hole, which is great for little ones. Older kids can use the cute rock pool. Entry is free.
The nearby park has public barbecues, a kiosk, changing room and a miniature railway. You can buy fish and chips and a decent coffee at the nearby shopping strip.