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12 Underrated Beach Towns in Australia

SmarterTravel

Most tourists who visit Australia stick to the main cities and tourist areas, but a country almost the size of the continental U.S. has so much more to offer. As a country ringed by ocean, Australia is home to some of the best beaches—and beach towns—in the world, many which go undiscovered by visitors.

The Best Beach Towns in Australia

From an eclectic surfing town to a Sydney suburb, here are 12 underrated beach towns in Australia worth discovering.

Byron Bay, New South Wales

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You’ll find this boho-surf town about 45-minutes from Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, but this beach town is actually in New South Wales. Byron is home to bungalows, beach camping, lighthouse trails, surfing, fresh food, open-air markets, live music, and more. It makes for a great weekend getaway or a fun stop on an East Coast road trip.

Jervis Bay, New South Wales

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This beach community is home to Hyams Beach, famous for having the whitest sand in the world. About three hours south of Sydney, this beach town is worth an overnight trip. Jervis’ Bay resident dolphins, clifftop walking trails, and incredible sand make it one of the best beach towns in Australia, but many U.S. tourists miss it. Its cafes and quaint vacation rental options make Jervis Bay great for both a romantic getaway or family holiday. 

Surfers Paradise, Queensland

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You might feel like you’re in Miami Beach at Surfers Paradise. Located on Queensland’s Gold Coast, the town is known for its beachfront high-rises, nightlife, shopping, and of course, water activities. It’s unlike most other beach towns in Australia, so if you’re looking for a more urban beach trip, head to Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise. 

Palm Beach, New South Wales

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Palm Beach in the northern beaches region is a go-to weekend spot for Sydney residents—but it remains mostly undiscovered by tourists. Accessible by public bus from Circular Quay, Palm Beach is about an hour’s drive from Sydney. Once you’re there, enjoy a meal at the iconic Boathouse Palm Beach, hike to Barrenjoey Lighthouse, enjoy the Beach to Bay walk, or just relax on the beach. 

Noosa Heads, Queensland

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Noosa is another holiday hotspot for Australians that often gets over looked by visitors. The beach community is known for its mild climate, with average temperatures in the 70s year-round. To get to Noosa, you can fly into Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast Airport. Known as the “capital of relaxation,” there’s plenty to do in Noosa Heads, from golfing to going on an eco-tour in the biosphere reserve. There are accommodations for every budget here, ranging from luxury hotels to hostels.

Shoal Bay, New South Wales

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Discover the best of the East Coast in Port Stephens and Shoal Bay. Another popular family holiday destination among Aussies, Port Stephens is known for its sand dunes—Stockton Sand Dunes is the largest system in Australia—calm waters, and the Tomaree Head summit hike. In Shoal Bay, check out the Shoal Bay Country Club, a newly renovated complex offering dining and accommodations. 

Cronulla, New South Wales

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If you’re headed to Sydney, don’t count out its southern beachside suburb, Cronulla. Known for surfing and more low-key beaches, it’s a great place to spend the day … or even a night. Catch some waves, or shop, dine, and swim in the ocean-fed pools if surfing isn’t your thing. This beach town offers similar vibes to the Bondi-area beaches, but without the touristy crowds. It’s about an hour away by train, and once you’re here, everything is walkable.

Apollo Bay, Victoria

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You’ll find this Australian beach town along the Great Ocean Road, the famous drive to the 12 Apostles rock formations outside of Melbourne. Apollo Bay is also located at the foothills of Great Otway National Park, an area known for waterfalls and wild koala spotting. Apollo Bay is the perfect stop if you’re visiting the national park or headed along the famous road-trip route. It’s also a great beach town in Australia in its own right, with shopping, fine dining, and protected bays for swimming. 

Margaret River Region, Western Australia

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Australia’s lesser-known western coast has just as much to offer as the east, yet it’s almost completely untouched by foreign tourists. Located slightly inland, Margaret River, about 2.5 hours from Perth, is known as a world-class wine region. The coast is only a 10-minute drive from the main town. Along the coast you’ll find surfing, migratory whales (from June to November), and the Cape to Cape Track, a long cliff walk between two lighthouses. In town, discover boutiques, microbreweries, and casual dining. 

Kingscote, South Australia

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This beach town in Australia is the largest on Kangaroo Island, the country’s third largest island. Accessible via plane and ferry, the raw and rugged coastline of the island lends itself to water activities, bushwalks, and wildlife encounters—kangaroos are just the beginning. The town of Kingscote has the most to offer on the island in terms of cafes, restaurants, and shopping, and it’s located close to protected bay beaches.  

Coles Bay, Tasmania

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This small town in Tassie is known as the starting point for Freycinet National Park, home to Wineglass Bay (and red-necked wallabies), which is consistently rated one of the best beaches in the world. The town itself overlooks The Hazards, the pink granite mountain tops that jut out from the other side of the bay. In Coles Bay, you’ll also find cafes and restaurants, as well as food and wine tours to help you discover Tasmanian’s culinary offerings. 

Cottesloe, Western Australia

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Popular among locals but lesser known among tourists, Cottesloe is a wealthy suburb about 15-minutes from Perth. With a famous beach and views of the Indian Ocean, this beach town in Australia is an easy addition to your Australia bucket list. Every March, the beach is home to a famous seaside exhibition, Sculpture by the Sea (also in Bondi Beach in Sydney). There are restaurants and boutique shops on the Marine Parade, as well as snorkeling and swimming at Peters Pool.

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