Whitehaven, Whitsunday Island, Queensland
Dazzling Whitehaven is one of Australia’s most photographed beaches, famous for its powder-fine pure white sand - wear your sunglasses! The only way to get there is by boat or seaplane- but it’s worth the effort. Day trips leave Airlie Beach regularly. Whitsunday Island is uninhabited but you definitely won’t be alone here (unless you are camping). The beach is 6km long and there are no facilities, so bring everything you need.
Half Moon Bay, Melbourne, Victoria
This is a fantastic metropolitan beach, set snugly in a cove at the bottom of verdant cliffs. Aside from the secluded location, the water gets deep quite quickly here, making it ideal for swimming laps. If you're not a good swimmer, stick to the shallower southern stretch, where you can also buy fantastic fish and chips. Peering above the water is rusty, old HMVS Cerberus, one of the last surviving monitor warships in the world. For a little added romance, stay until dusk to watch the sun as it slowly sinks beyond it.
75 Mile Beach, Fraser Island, Queensland
Fraser Island’s magnificent stretch of wild ocean beach is also a gazetted highway on which jeeps cruise, while fishermen cast their lines and campers huddle in the dunes. This “road” – for 4WD vehicles only – leads to some of the island’s highlights, including the SS Maheno shipwreck, cast onto the beach in 1935, and the coloured sand and rock formations of The Pinnacles and Red Canyon. Stop for a dip in the freshwater Eli Creek or at Champagne Pools at the northern end of the beach. But always be aware of the tide times in order to get safely off the beach in time.
Galaru, Northern Territory
For a true Territory beach adventure, head to Galaru (East Woody Beach), a spectacular and isolated piece of coastline in north-east Arnhem Land. Imagine pristine white sands and azure waters as far as the eye can see – and the sunset is pretty unbeatable too. Beyond the beach are expanses of open forests and shaded inland waterways. Swimming is banned because of crocodiles and box jellyfish, but there are a myriad of opportunities for fishing, boating and walking in the area. Wander down the western end of the beach to East Woody Island (Dhamitjinya), a conical 25-metre high granite peak that is permanently connected to the beach via sand banks. It is a renowned birdwatching area, so don’t forget your binoculars. As access can be affected due to high tides, check with Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation for details. Travellers must also obtain a recreation permit from Dhimurru prior to visiting the area.
Yallingup Beach, Western Australia
At the southern end of this honey-hued beach opposite the peaceful holiday township of Yallingup, is a placid lagoon filled with WA’s trademark transparent waters. Protected by surrounding reef, the ocean is flat, rip-free and refreshing. It’s also eye-poppingly gorgeous. As the water deepens, the sandy bottom is covered by a carpet of sea grass, but calm conditions aside, it’s not particularly great for snorkelling. Yallingup doesn’t offer much in the way of cafés, but Caves House historic pub is a short drive away and good fun on a Sunday, when lots of people gather there.
Bondi Beach, Sydney, New South Wales
Ah Bondi, the queen bee of Sydney beaches. It is as beautiful as the people who flock to it, often wearing little more than their SPF 50+. The north end is popular with young families due to the enclosed children’s pool. At the south end is Bondi Icebergs Club, home to one of the best-known ocean lap pools in the city and frequented by Bondi’s most glamorous. The sea at Bondi is not as rough as at many of the ocean beaches, but you should always remember to swim between the flags.