When summer arrives, Sydneysiders flock to their beaches to escape the city heat and enjoy the warm waters. If the crowds on Bondi are a bit daunting then try one of the secluded, lesser- known beaches to be found along the coastline.
At the bottom of a steep, grassy hill in the South Head suburb of Vaucluse is tiny Milk Beach.
A rocky outcrop protects the beach from most currents and provides great snorkeling. Its spectacular and uninterrupted views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge make it ideal for New Year’s Eve fireworks views. If the lack of shark netting is a concern, take the short Heritage Foreshore Walk to nearby Nielson Park Beach.
To the north, the surf beaches still have Bondi- style golden-white sands and rugged headlands, but without the crowds. A short way past charming Manly is the wide sweep of Dee Why Beach.
Patrolled by lifeguards during summer, it is quite protected, has a tidal pool for the kids and a great selection of cafés nearby. From here, enjoy a leisurely stroll north along the deserted sands to Long Reef Beach and then out to the tip of the peninsula, from where there are gorgeous views.
A fair way farther north (about 45 mins by car from Sydney), but well worth the trip, is Bungan Beach. Accessible only down a 1,300-ft (400-m) steep series of paths and steps, this wild and unspoiled beach is backed by a natural bushland reserve where bandicoots and owls may be seen.
Bungan Beach Mona Vale; numerous buses from Wynyard Station
Dee Why Beach Warringah; ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, then bus 136 from Manly Wharf
Long Reef Beach Warringah; ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, then bus 136 from Manly Wharf
Milk Beach and Nielson Park Vaucluse; bus 325 from Circular Quay