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The Best Beach Holidays in NSW that aren't Bondi

25 Nov 2021

Although Queensland might steal some of the limelight from its southern neighbours, you won’t get an argument from us when it comes to the number of world-class beaches in New South Wales.

Bondi is without doubt the most famous, followed by the likes of Manly and nearby Bronte, but when your coastline stretches over 2,000 kilometers, there’s no shortage of other contenders. Check out this list of amazing NSW beaches perfect for your next road trip or beach staycation!

Byron Bay

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Image Credit: John Montesi

Legendary amongst backpackers and Hollywood A-listers, Byron Bay is home to a number of great beaches. Divided to the right and left by the headland on which the famous Byron Bay Lighthouse sits, both sides offer the opportunity to immerse yourself in Byron Bay's relaxed surf culture, get amongst its eclectic crowd or simply do nothing but soak up the sun between cooling dips - you’re at the beach after all!

On the southern side, Tallow Beach is perhaps the most wide open and expansive of Byron’s beaches, popular with sand joggers, swimmers and bird-watchers from the Arakwal National Park.

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Image Credit: John Montesi 

On the northern side of the headland, The Pass is known to be less crowded and if you’re there from June through November, there’s a good chance you’ll spot a migrating Southern Right Whale. Around the corner, Main Beach is where most of the bohemian action happens, alongside Byron’s bustling bar, cafe and shopping scene. You can expect to come upon a true melting pot of cultures here.

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Ballina

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Just 20 minutes south of Byron on New South Wales popular north coast, Ballina is another oasis of ocean and sand that doesn’t get the headlines it deserves. Offering 32 kilometres of golden coastline, the Ballina region features sheltered coves, spectacular surf breaks and expansive open beaches popular with families, travellers and anyone escaping the more crowded alternatives further north.

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Ballina Head Lookout points north to Shelly Beach and south to Lighthouse Beach, both of which offer spectacular vistas and the ultimate in relaxation. At low tide, the rock pools at Shelly Beach are a great spot to explore and while there are rips here, the beach is safe to swim when patrolled by local surf lifesavers.

Often brimming with people of all ages, its turquoise blue waters have long been a drawcard. Further north, Lennox Head beach is highly rated by local surfers.

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Coffs Harbour

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Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast has long been a popular destination for families and travellers of all kinds. Very much a must-see stop on the backpacker pilgrimage made by thousands of international guests for decades, it’s a location full of family-friendly adventure and home to the iconic Big Banana!

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Stretches of uninterrupted sand like those north at Emerald and further south at Jetty Beach make it all the more irresistible, and a place where locals mingle with tourists amongst the surf without drama. Diggers Beach is the prime surfing spot along the Coffs Coast and although tempting, you should consider whether you know what you’re doing before you paddle out here. The sunset walk from here to Charlesworth Bay is definitely not to be missed!

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Harrington Beach

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This quiet beach location between two villages and at the edge of the Crowdy Bay National Park is perfect for long walks and throwing out a line. The break wall is very popular with anglers and views of the ocean here are breathtaking.The Harrington lagoon is just off the beach area and offers a swimming spot that is ideal for families, especially in the warmer weather.

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Around the corner from Crowdy Head, Crowdy and Kylie beaches offer wide open expanses of blue water and white sand. Popular with surfers owing to their relatively exposed location and the potential for strong southerly conditions, Crowdy Head also has a large boat ramp, making it a well-used fishing spot.

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Forster

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This Barrington Coast location is home to some of the most underrated beaches in Australia. Whether it’s family-friendly shallow lagoons or challenging ocean breaks sought after by the world’s best surfers, there’s around 40km of golden coastline to choose from here.

Main Beach is the place to lay down your towel and stretches from the Forster breakwall to the Forster Ocean Baths, which are worth a visit on any given day. One Mile Beach is not far away and just a short walk from there is the aptly named Pebbly Beach, which is a popular spot for snorkelers.

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Gerroa

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At the mouth of the Crooked River and at the end of the popular Seven Mile Beach, Gerroa is a laid-back village in the Kiama area of the NSW South Coast. WIth sparkling blue ocean and waterside living at its finest, the lifestyle on offer here has long been considered enviable by all those who visit.

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Seven Mile Beach has miles of untouched sand and vegetation to immerse in and the protected nature of the bay makes it a family-friendly favourite loved by all ages. Gently rolling waves make it one of the best spots to learn how to surf on the NSW South Coast and there’s always plenty of room to stretch out and stay a while. That doesn’t mean it isn’t somewhere you can’t get wild though, and kitesurfing is popular whenever the wind is right!

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Pambula

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An historic village between Merimbula and Eden on the southern Sapphire Coast of NSW, Pambula is popular with surfers, families and beach walkers. Set against the backdrop of the visually stunning Ben Boyd National Park, in many ways Pambula has become known as a glorious natural sanctuary brimming with life and a great place to enjoy the beach, immerse in nature and explore wetlands.

New South Wales Best Beach Holiday Destinations

Image Credit: Destination NSW

Merimbula Beach is perhaps the most pristine of all the beaches near Pambula, offering five kilometres of stunning aqua blue water where you can surf, swim, fish or relax! Also backing onto beautiful bushland, this seemingly endless stretch of sand is the ideal way to start your getaway.

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Eden

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A nature-lovers paradise awaits in Eden on NSW’s stunning Sapphire Coast. Known as one of the best whale-watching spots in Australia, there’s plenty of great vantage points around Twofold Bay and along the coast in Ben Boyd National Park during the season which runs from July through October.

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Beach-wise, you’re also spoiled for choice, with locations like Aslings and Cocora Beach knocking it out of the park when it comes to untouched pieces of paradise you won’t want to leave. In the heart of Eden, Aslings offers both surf and safe swimming conditions, and is an off-leash beach for your pet. The nearby 6km Lake Curalo Boardwalk is a must do for magnificent coastal views and is also wheelchair accessible.

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