Hot summer afternoons, the tang of sea salt and an ice cold beer go hand in hand. Sitting in the sun with a few mates and knocking back a few brews looking out over the ocean is surely one of summer’s great pleasures.

While Australia is certainly not the only sun blessed country on Earth that has made a fine art out of the beach bar – think America’s West Coast, Phuket or Bali – few places can match Australia when it comes to beach culture. Whole suburbs and towns draw a big part of their identity from their beachside bars, which often act as the social heart of their communities.

It’s often a symbiotic relationship between bar and beach; people come for the bar and stay because of the beach, or vice-versa. From the length and breadth of the country, the relationship between the sea and the bar is an important one.

Never adverse to a few beers at any time of the year; rain, hail or shine, the prospect of a coast to coast tour of sun, surf and cold beers was too much to pass up. So we felt we had to share a few of our favourite beachside bars with you. After all, it’s the silly season.

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Cottesloe Beach Hotel, Western Australia

A favourite for people visiting this beautiful part of Western Australian coastline for over 100 years, the Cottesloe Beach Hotel is one example of a beach bar being central to its community. The beautiful old federation building with its lovely art deco interior has a huge amount going for it, located just 15 minutes from Perth and 10 minutes from Fremantle, the main bar and balcony look out over some of the prettiest views of any watering hole anywhere. On perfect days you can actually watch the sun set behind Rottnest Island while enjoying an ice cold beer, some delicious nibbles and a little live music.

The huge amount of art and photography that have been made of Cottesloe Beach and the surrounding countryside (some of which can be found adorning the walls of the hotel itself) highlight the importance of the area to the community. The natural beauty of the beach is truly something to behold. The locals are all fiercely proud of this little slice of paradise and are only too kind to help you out with directions or fill in any historical gaps you might have over a few of Fremantle’s finest Little Creatures’ beers.

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Indiana – right on the beach, the world class views from this suave beach bar is the perfect accompaniment to a chilled wine and seafood plate.

North Bondi Italian, New South Wales

Don’t let the fact that this is part of an RSL Club fool you; North Bondi Italian is as hip a spot as any in the burgeoning neo-hipster surf scene that’s springing up around Ben Buckler. Plus it has one of the best views of the sand and surf anywhere along thebeach (except for maybe Icebergs) and also gets the last of the sun on those hot summer afternoons.

The interior of the pub itself has just about everything one could need for the perfect beach bar experience. The beer menu is fairly long and inexpensive while the selection of wines will keep the missus vaguely happy, so long as she’s not overly discerning about the levels of oak in her Chardonnay. There’s also a really nice little bistro that serves, as you’d perhaps imagine from the name, really good Italian food. Think pizza, pasta and other carb-heavy delights.

The most important thing about North Bondi Italian, though, is the North Bondi bit. People travel thousands of miles everyday just to catch a glimpse of this iconic, world famous beach spot and this is simply one of the best places to grab your own piece of the Australian dream.

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The Bucket List – it’s the only bar right on Bondi Beach promenade, therefore this seaside bar is ideal for wandering off the beach and straight into a Mojito.

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Beach Hotel Byron Bay, New South Wales

If you found yourself with only half an hour to experience Byron Bay life – one drink at the Beach Hotel would give you a taste of everything the seaside town has to offer.

The huge beer garden and open-air bistro sits at the top of the town’s main street overlooking Main Beach with panoramic views of Australia’s favourite hipster retreat. Naturally attracting a strong tourist crowd, the easy access to Byron Bay’s infamous breaks mean there is a constant stream of local surfers kicking back with a beer and rehashing the days waves.

No frills casual pub fare keeps revellers well fed with the bistro filling up early evening.  Live music takes the hotel from day time garden party to a bustling drinking pen, with the dinning families gradually replaced by an eclectic mix of backpackers, surfers and hip locals.

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Fishheads Byron Bay – right on the beach, this restaurant and bar is perfect for an indulgent sunset seafood feast.

Base Island Bar Magnetic Island, Queensland

This is quite literally a beach bar in every sense of the word. Feel the sand between your toes and the tropical summer sun on your face… while lining up shots of Jäger bombs of course.

On the ferry across from the mainland, you can see the Island Bar as you come in, nestled amongst the beautiful trees of Magnetic Island’s lush coastline.

A place to stay if you’ve had a few too many certainly isn’t a problem either as the Island Bar is connected to Base Hostel on the island. This hostel prides itself on being one of the only hostels in Australia that is right on the beach and is full of like-minded travellers looking for a good time.

Summer’s the time to be in Magnetic Island and if you’re there at the right time on the lunar calendar, you can check out Base’s legendary Full Moon party. It’s just like the wild ones in Thailand, only with much better music.

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No tables? Pull up a patch of sun-blessed sand, or relax out by the pool. It’s better anyway.

Magnums Airlie Beach, Queensland

The gateway to the Whitsundays, Airlie Beach is a throbbing hub of backpackers, seasoned travellers and Aussies in transit as they jump on yachts for a diving trip or make their way to the slightly more civilised islands off the coast.

Airlie Beach is Australia’s answer to Ibiza – all snorkelling, sunbaking and subdued by day and gyrating, drinking and somewhat mental by night. If there was a life source of all the debauchery, it would without a doubt be Magnums Hotel.

Sitting central on the bay’s foreshore, the spectacular outlook is only half of Magnums appeal. Home to six bars, the huge establishment is the ideal place for sun-stroked snorkellers to re-hydrate and refuel.

With a backpackers attached to it, Magnums plays host to both the party and the hangover, with the beer garden filling up early as tanned young things file in for that much needed burger and hair of the dog.

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Fish D’Vine: Fish Café and Rum Bar – try this modern fish shop-cum-cocktail bar simply for the unique flavour circus that is the rum and seafood combo.

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Republica St Kilda, Victoria

Republica’s hanging seats have an utterly uninterrupted view of the curve of St Kilda’s beautiful bay, as well as the thin strip of bleached white sand, the hand imported palms and old, wooden piers that make up Melbourne’s most iconic beach. If a few big boats come into Port Phillip you might also be able to catch a wave or two.

Territorial loyalties aside, this is a very pleasant place to sip a tall glass of something refreshing and watch the sun sink low beyond the horizon. And, unlike so many other beach bars which have a distinctly surfer vibe to them, the ridiculously cool people wandering the promenade give this bar an edgy feel that is entirely unique to Melbourne

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The Esplanade Hotel – dubbed ‘The Espy,’ this quirky pub is home to live music, pumping bars, a thriving beer garden and a dress code so loose clothing is practically optional…

Bacchus Bar Adelaide, South Australia

Named for the ancient Greek God of wine, food and general debauchery, you could be mistaken for thinking that this little wine bar on beautiful Henley Beach could be a bit of a handful, if not the place itself, then certainly its patrons. Maybe some place you should avoid on really hot days, or when the moon is full. But, in truth this is just about the most relaxed place in the whole world, and it serves some of the best Coffin Bay oysters you’ll ever have the good fortune to try.

Being that you’re in Adelaide, the fine wine capital of Australia, you don’t have to look far down Bacchus’ wine list to find a top drop and South Australia’s big beer export Coopers also have their entire range on tap. A delicious menu offsets the aforementioned oysters, with share plates and mains all reasonably priced and delicious!

The views of the St. Vincent Gulf add a simply jaw dropping background to this bounty of all things good and on boiling summer days in Adelaide the sea breeze is more than a welcome accompaniment.

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Marina Sunset Bar – up the road in Glenelg, it’s the perfect place for a dreamy sunset tipple.

Manly Wharf Hotel, New South Wales

While not strictly on Manly Beach, the Wharf is less than five minutes away from the Northern Beaches’ most iconic strip of sand. Both locals and people ferrying back into the city will pop into the Manly Wharf Hotel for a few cleansing ales before going home. It is one of the social hubs of Manly, a great place to meet new people and old friends alike.

This is also a beautiful spot right on the harbour, a great place to sit and nurse a beer and watch the boats going to and fro and the ferries coming into dock. Despite seeming like a bustling hub of humanity, you will still be more than able to put your feet up and relax here. 

Manly is also the gateway to the rest of the Northern Beaches, one of the more insular parts of Sydney and yet amongst some of the most rewarding to explore.

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Manly Wine – this oh so chic wine bar has become a favourite haunt for those chasing the perfect vino and view combo.

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Turtles Bar (Beachfront Hotel) Darwin, Northern Territory

Heading up Darwin’s pub scene, Turtles Bar is renown as having the best ocean views in the area. Part of the Beachfront Hotel precinct, Turtles Bar’s cool interior and covered terrace provide the ideal hideaway for Darwin’s predictably hot and wet weather. 

It doesn’t take long drinking at this Top End bar to realise the Rapid Creek haunt has more to it than meets the eye. On the outside Turtles Bar is a slow paced, sun soaked beer garden where locals come to slow down over ice cold beer and hearty Aussie meals. But don’t let the bar’s amphibious namesake fool you, retreat inside the turtle’s shell on a Friday or Saturday night and a turtle-paced nightcap is far from what you’ll get. Rather, expect to find yourself in the middle of a heaving nightclub full of the town’s party people out for a good night.

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If you’re here during the dry season, make sure you take a seat at the Deckchair Cinema and enjoy your BYO drinks and picnic while catching a flick under the stars.

Apollo Bay Hotel, Victoria

There is a reason the Great Ocean Road has such a grandiose title, and with little gems spotted along the iconic bitumen, the stunning drive easily turns into the Great Ocean Pub Crawl.

Based at the foot of the Otways, Apollo Bay acts as a popular base camp for Great Ocean Road explorers with the Apollo Bay Hotel naturally taking on the role of head quarters. Right in the heart of town, the hotel holds prime position overlooking the bay and is the epitome of an Aussie beachside pub.

The al fresco dining area and relaxed indoor bistro serve up authentic pub grub with some Asian alternatives mingling in with the Parmigiana and fishermen’s baskets. With classically simple beer garden decor, the foreshore watering hole needs nothing more than some sunshine and a salty sea breeze to transport you to never-never land.

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Chill @ the Bay – this small wine and tapas hideout gives a much needed break from pub meals.