1/10 Balmoral Beach, Mosman
Why go? Balmoral beach with its shallow coves and giant rock pools is one of Sydney’s most stylish and family-friendly beach scenes.
Activities: Home to a host of great restaurants, check out the Bathers’ Pavilion (4 The Esplanade, +61 2 9969 5050) on the waterfront or grab a takeaway from Bottom of the Harbour (21 The Esplanade, +61 2 9969 7911), which locals say serves the best fish and chips in Sydney.
2/10 Camp Cove, Watsons Bay
Why go? Tucked away between South Head and Green Point, Camp Cove is a beautiful residential beach away from Sydney’s tourist trail. It’s quieter than most, ideal for younger families and renowned for its breathtaking views across the harbour.
How to get there: Catch the ferry from Circular Quay to Watson’s Bay where you’ll pass the views of Garden Island, Darling Point, Double Bay and Rose Bay. Once at Watson’s Bay, it’s a leisurely 10 minute walk to the beach. Ferries to Watsons Bay depart Circular Quay Monday–Friday 7am–3.50pm: Saturday and Sunday 9.20am–7.10pm.
3/10 Shelly Beach, Manly
Why go? While tourists flock to Manly, its quieter neighbour, Shelly Beach is where hip local families hang out.
Activities: The only inland-facing beach along Australia’s East Coast, it’s a great spot for child-friendly swimming and snorkelling. Check out the legendary Le Kiosk (1 Marine Parade), a waterside restaurant with views across Cabbage Tree Bay.
4/10 Bronte beach
Why go? Sandwiched between Bondi and Coogee, Bronte beach in the eastern suburbs is becoming more and more popular with younger families thanks to its green and shady park area.
Activities: While there’s still a small riptide (which is great for younger surfers) the 30-metre ocean pool is better for proper swimming.
5/10 Freshwater Beach
Why go? Freshwater Beach in the northern suburbs is where the Aussie surf scene officially began almost a century ago.
Activities: At just 350m long, it’s one of the safest surf beaches in Sydney and the place for wannabe surfers, so take your teenagers here if they love to surf. Check out the Freshwater Surf Skool for private or group lessons.
6/10 Jibbon Beach, Bundeena
Why go? If you’re looking for a blend of bush and beach head to Bundeena, Sydney’s most southerly beach town. Jibbon beach is a great custard-coloured swathe of sand surrounded by the lush green of the Royal National Park.
Activities: Popular with active families, it’s great for kayaking, swimming and hiking along its rocky coastline.
7/10 Coogee Beach
Why go? Coogee is renowned as one of the most family-friendly beaches in Sydney.
Activities: Its sheltered location in the Eastern suburbs may be bad news for surfers, but its safe, shallow waters are great for paddling tiny toes, so take your toddlers to this beach.
There’s plenty of decent restaurants, beach bars and kid-friendly cafés. Check out the awesome Gelatissimo (258 Coogee Bay Road, +61 2 9664 1511) for homemade Italian gelato.
8/10 Milk beach, Vaucluse
Why go? The small but perfectly formed Milk Beach is another great Sydneysider secret where you’ll find a quieter beach to settle for the day.
Activities: If you’re here for the New Year’s Eve celebrations it has an unblemished (and rare free) view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge firework display. What it lacks in facilities (there’s no café) it makes up for in charm and glorious bay views.
9/10 Palm beach
Why go? An hour north of the city is the illustrious resort of Palm beach. Famous as the location of Aussie soap, Home & Away, its 3km stretch of golden sand is one of the longest in Sydney and perfect for lazy days in the sun.
Activities: When surfs up on the ocean side, the calmer waters of neighbouring Pittswater is ideal for families of mixed ages.
10/10 Bondi beach
Why go? You can’t have a top ten list of Sydney beaches and not include Australia’s most iconic one.
Activities: Its wide swathe of blonde sand is perfect for building sandcastles, however Bondi is first and foremost a surf beach and is not the safest place for little ones to paddle. But make sure you take the teenagers so they can rave about it to their friends when they get home.