In a nutshell: Golden sands seperate rainforest from reef
Tell me more: This wonderful, much under-rated spot a few hours south of Cairns boasts kilometres of spectacular beaches happily clashing with World Heritage-listed rainforest. After a swim and a sunbathe, wander through the lush green wonderland looking for endangered cassowaries. Other options include thrillingwhitewater rafting and skydiving, plus from here you can go visit the Great Barrier Reef – and take a boat to beautiful Dunk Island. We promise you’ll stay longer than you meant to.
Where? North Queensland
In a nutshell: Like wine, it makes you feel relaxed, a little dozy and wanting more
Tell me more: You do need to walk uphill for an hour to get there, but we wouldn’t recommend such torture unless it was worth it. This means there’s little chance of being hit by a frisbee or disturbed by the squeals of teenage girls. Bask on the vacant glistening sand juxtaposing green hills and bush land (there’s a great little campsite too) and watch dolphins frolic in the bay. The most beautiful spot on a beautiful island.
Where? Tasmania’s east coast
In a nutshell: Where the reef starts at the water’s edge
Tell me more: It may not seem very glamorous to slap on a pair of flippers and splash around in the water spluttering after sucking water through your snorkel, but it’s worth it! You’ll be amazed at the array of bizarre creatures lurking amongst the coral. The bay is frequented by whale sharks, humpback whales, manta rays, turtles and reef sharks. It’s effing pretty, too, with no bugger about.
Where? Near Exmouth, Western Australia
In a nutshell: Claims to have “the whitest sand inthe world”
Tell me more: It may not officially hold a world record, but the sand sure is white. The beach is calm and relaxing and the water moves like an old lady, very slowly and laboriously as if it’sgot all the time in the world. This gentle spot is perfect for a romantic stroll, dolphin spotting, and swimming in secluded coves.
Where? Jervis Bay, south coast of New South Wales
In a nutshell: A chilled and unconventional escape.
Tell me more: If you walk down the main street, thriving with hippies, cafes, and alternative retail shops, you’ll reach the main beach overlooked by the popular Beach Hotel. In summer the refreshing turquoise water is teeming with swimmers and surfers and there’s fantastic nightlife. Byron made the Forbes Traveller Top 25 Sexiest Beaches in the world survey. Zing!
Where? Northern New South Wales
In a nutshell: From the bar to the beach
Tell me more: Surfers won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but people who like it, tend to love it. The fusion of beach culture with city/nightlife culture – thongs meets songs if you will – make it the perfect place to party, making it one of if not the most popular spots in Oz for holidaying Aussies. After lying on the beach all day, or learning to surf, you can hop, skip and jump straight into a bar or nightclub once the sun sets.
Where? Gold Coast, Queensland
In a nutshell: “The Best Beach in Australia” according to a University of Sydney study
Tell me more: This beach fits all the criteria; uncrowned, great surf, and surrounding bushland that’s almost as beautiful as the beach itself, all on an island chokka with curious wildlife. You can fish from a jetty, the beach or go snorkelling in the clear blue water. If it came out on top of the Australia’s 10,000-plus beaches reviewed, it must be worth visiting.
Where? Kangaroo Island, South Australia
CABLE BEACH (pictured)
In a nutshell: Anyone up for a sunset camel ride?
Tell me more: It’s great for swimming, relaxing and poking things in rock pools. Cable Beach is most famous for its glowing orange sunsets, often fore-grounded by the silhouettes of people riding camels across the shimmering sands. The monthly phenomenon of the Staircase to the Moon is worth the journey alone. There’s a bar overlooking the beach too.
Where? Broome, Western Australia
In a nutshell: Surely Australia’s most photographed beach
Tell me more: This seven-kilometre slice of heaven is almost too good to be true. It feels like you’ve stepped into a postcard. Vibrant aqua water licks squeaky platinum sands and palm trees sway dreamily on the fringes, Whitehaven is oft used in tourism adverts. Heaven, if indeed it exists, doesn’t look any better than this.
Where? Whitsunday Island, Queensland
In a nutshell: The world’s largest perched lake
Tell me more: The only lake beach to feature on our list, perhaps only Whitehaven can challenge Macca for the title of appearing on the most travel brochures. And for good reason. Situated at the end of a jangling 4WD track, and surrounded by rainforest sprouting from the world’s biggest sand island, Lake McKenzie is an awe-inspiring spectacle. The cobalt blue waters and dazzling white, jewellery-cleaning sand are near perfection, especially if you manage to avoid the tours and get it to yourself.
Where? Fraser Island, Queensland
BIG UPS TO…
Cutting the list of Australia’s best beaches from over 10,000 to just 10 was a tough ask, so here are a few more aces who almost made the final cut: Bay of Fires in Tasmania has tranquil beaches and turquoise waters; Cottesloe is the most popular beach in Perth for good reason; Palm Beach in Sydney is the home of Home and Away, and many of Australia’s rich and famous; if the Bondi and Coogee crowds are doing your head in, cruise along to celeb-dotted Tamarama, classy Bronte or surftastic Maroubra; Esperance and Albany in WA host astonishing crystal clear waters and icing sugar sands, and Glenelg, Adelaide, is another sandy star; and Port Douglas’s Four Mile Beach is another palm tree-lined beauty.