The first stop for any tourist in Sydney has to be the beach. From Coogee to Palm Beach and everything in between, the beautiful beaches of Sydney represent all we love about summer in Australia. But how do you know which ones are family beaches?

Family beaches have more than just sun, sand and surf. They need good, manageable waves, great ice-cream and a good dose of fish and chips for the perfect family outing. Here’s out list of the best family beaches in Sydney.

Manly Beach and Shelly Beach

Part of the charm of Manly Beach is that you can get there by ferry. Even in the summer holidays, Manly retains its laid-back charm. Expect plenty of beach volleyballers, beach toys and umbrellas up and down the sand. Despite it’s popularity, Manly never never feels as jam-packed as some other city beaches. The swell is just right for littlies to enjoy a splash in the shallows and for older kids to get a decent swim in. Take the short stroll to Shelly Beach (be sure to watch out for little animal statues along the path) for some great sandcastle building and gentle waves.

Manly to Shelley Beach walk. Credit: Janeece Keller

Bondi, Tamarama and Bronte Beaches

Ask any first-time visitor to Australia and Bondi will be the beach they’ve heard of. You can expect crowds, but you can also expect great ice-cream and, if you time it right, the annual Sculptures by the Sea exhibition which transforms Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama into a quirky maze of colourful and thought-provoking art. If the surf looks too big at this family beache, you can always stay on dry land. Trek the coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee, try a deep-fried Mars Bar or watch the action at the skate park.

Tamarama⁩. Credit: Janeece Keller

Northern Beaches, Pittwater

The Northern Beaches – Warriewood, Mona Vale, Newport, Palm – are my go-to in summer. Although public transport is tough that also means there are less crowds. Freshwater is one of the best family beaches in Sydney, with gentle waves close to shore and great surf out the back. Mona Vale is my favourite. Although the surf can get a little rough, it is patrolled and there is a free-entry ocean pool to splash in. At low tide, walk south to Warriewood, or if you’re after more of a sweat, drive further north to Palm Beach and climb up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse for spectacular views.

Freshwater Beach. Credit: Janeece Keller

Shark Beach and Milk Beach, Vaucluse

This dynamic duo comes as a picture-perfect package deal. Shark Beach, with its deep waters, wide open vista and cute café is a magnet for families looking for a cool dip in its crystal clear waters protected by a shark net. A hop, skip, jump and boardwalk away lies Milk Beach. Small, secretive and with unparalleled views of the spectacular Sydney skyline and the Harbour Bridge, the shallow water is ideal for tiny tots wanting a splash.

Milk Beach at sunset. Credit: Shutterstock

Central Coast

It might be an extra drive, but a day trip to the beaches and sleepy towns of the Central Coast is well worth it. Take a tent to local caravan or rent an apartment and you could make it a holiday. Shelley Beach, Toowoon Bay and Blue Bay have rock-pools to explore and sometimes sandbars for great boogie-boarding waves, and you can try prawning or pelican-feeding at The Entrance. The Entrance also hosts a New Year’s firework show to rival that of Sydney Harbour – take a picnic rug, find a spot on the beach and welcome in the New Year as a family.

 

Pelican feeding at The Entrance Credit: Ideal Stock PhotographyA / Shutterstock

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