[Australia] has so many postcard-perfect beaches it’s difficult to know where to lay your towel. So we crammed into our best cossie, slapped on the sunscreen and set off to find Australia’s best beaches.

Best Splash About Beach: Coral Bay, WA

Whisper it, but the[Ningaloo Reef], off the WA coast, is at least as good as the[Great Barrier Reef]. Okay, so the water’s cooler, but it’s 10 minutes from the shore, rather than two hours. And there’ll probably be two boats out there instead of 20. And the spectacular marine life mightn’t be equalled.

It’s possibly the best place on the planet for mingling with whale sharks (April-June) and humpback whales (June-Oct), as well as manta rays, turtles, reef sharks and heaps of other improbably shaped and impossibly coloured fishy things. It’s true folly not to don a snorkel mask and jump in.

In fairness, such an underwater wonderland shouldn’t have its beauty reflected on the surface. Yet it does. Coral Bay, where the reef is most accessible, is a gorgeous cove. Guarded by a tiny township, the water is a clear, bright turquoise, the sands are golden and backed by dunes. And there’s hardly anyone around…

Honourable mentions: Snorkel among shipwrecks and feed
wild dolphins at[Tangalooma Beach on Moreton Island], near[Brisbane]. Various sandy spots around the[Whitsundays] offer memorable snorkelling and Lady Musgrave Island, on the GBR’s southern tip, is famous for it.

Most Glamorous Beach: Bondi Beach, NSW

Believed to be an Aboriginal word meaning “the sound of breaking waves”,[Bondi] is Australia’s most famous beach.

Right by the beach is the Bondi Pavilion, the community centre which holds many food, wine and dance festivals. At the southern end is the Bondi Baths where you’ll find the famous Bondi Icebergs Club, whose crazy members swim in the middle of winter. There’s also the scenic cliff-top walk that leads you to other beaches – Tamarama, Bronte and all the way to Coogee.

Only 7km from the centre of[Sydney], Bondi is so much more than a beach – it’s the place to be seen. Campbell Parade, the main street, is lined with shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants. Ritzy establishment, Ravesi’s, has plenty of celebrity patrons.

Honourable mentions:[Gold Coast], Tamarama (nicknamed Glamarama for all the beautiful people) and Watson’s Bay.

Most Scenic Beach: Wineglass Bay, TAS

The problem with beautiful places is that other people like them too. They come and start throwing frisbees around and shouting stuff like “Oiii, Tracey, see if you can hit that guy on the head. Love it! A-hahhaaaa” (and you want to shoot them). The wonderful thing about[Wineglass Bay] is, not only is it in[Tasmania], criminally overlooked by most, but it’s inaccessible by road – you need to walk for around an hour, over the crest of a steep hill.

But the top submits to stunning views. The bay is a delicious curve of gleaming white sand, backed by Tassie’s green, green bush and lapped by turquoise waters, sometimes home to frolicking dolphins. It’s a slice of heaven that God chap made yet inexplicably forgot to take back up there with him (a fact he’s been very angry about ever since; hence diseases, tsunamis and Jamiroquai).

Honourable mentions: Four Mile Beach,[Port Douglas] (Queensland), for that magical “out of the rainforest onto the beach and into the ocean feeling”. You’ll have seen the iconic camel-riding sunset shots by now and Cable Beach,[Broome] (WA) is king of beach sunsets.

Best Island Beach:[Whitehaven Beach], QLD

Bearing a striking resemblance to the beach Tom Hanks got wrecked on in Cast Away, and probably the most photographed in Australia, Whitehaven is a stunner. Located on the magnificent and uninhabited Whitsunday Island (the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsunday Group), Whitehaven beach is a breathtaking seven-kilometre sweep of shining platinum sands, stroked by clear, azure waters and tickled by lethargic palm trees.

A good few hours’ cruise from the mainland, this little piece of paradise enjoys year-round good weather and has long been recognised as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Not that we like to repeat other people’s sentiments here at TNT but, well, a spade’s a spade after all. Like those paradise postcards only much, much better. But be warned, just like Tom and his mate the volleyball Wilson, you’re going to find it very hard to get away from here.

Honourable mentions: Lake McKenzie,[Fraser Island] (Queensland) really is as seductive a sliver of sand as the ubiquitous photos suggest. To really get away from it all, try The Neck on Bruny Island,[south of Tasmania] – a windswept edge-of-the-world desolate beauty and if it’s remoteness you want, but in tropical Queensland style, check out any beaches on Lizard Island. Holy schmoley.