From sexy seaside escapes to intimate coves and coastlines of sunshine and gold, Craig Tansley has found a showy stretch of sand to make every heart race. Check out the full list here:
1. Gold Coast, Queensland
Best Beaches: Broadbeach, Burleigh Heads, Currumbin, Snapper Rocks, Nobby Beach.
It’s often forgotten when discussing the merits of the Gold Coast just how good the beaches are. Many travellers think instead of theme parks, high end boutique stores and glitzy Surfers Paradise. But remember: it was the quality of the coastline here that created this tourist icon in the fi rst place. It’s the 70 kilometres of unique and diverse coastline that make the Gold Coast one of the world’s most famous seaside addresses.
There’s a beach here for every couple: from the glitz and glamour of Main Beach or Broadbeach – think beachside cafes, boutique stores, luxury brands and sexy bars – to the private escape offered at beaches such as Burleigh Heads, where you can picnic overlooking one of the world’s best surf breaks, get lost amongst the koala habitat of its headland, or find peace at a sheltered cove just around the corner on Tallebudgera Creek.
The Gold Coast can be whatever you want it to be – there’s the endless, wide, open sandy beaches framed by palm trees where you won’t see another beach-goer all day, or sheltered rocky coves that are as private as something you might find on a far-flung exotic island. Or, you can discover elements of Rio's Copacabana Beach here: sexy, oiled bodies playing frenetic games of volleyball, or riding the legendary waves, or just parading on the sand, sipping cocktails and looking gorgeous under that relentless Queensland sun. If you’re looking for fun, it's here on the Gold Coast with beach-side music and surf festivals, sophisticated bars that boast Australia’s most gorgeous as regular clientele and endless dining options. But if you're the laid-back type, the Gold Coast offers you more quiet beaches and lazy days than you thought possible (just hit Burleigh Heads and if this isn't quiet enough, keep travelling south – the beaches generally get quieter the further south you go!).
The Gold Coast leaves it to you to define what sexy is – but few would dispute the absolute beauty of the Gold Coast coastline and its more than 20 patrolled beaches.
2. The Whitsundays, Queensland
Best Beaches: Whitehaven, Hayman Island, Sawmill Bay, Luncheon Bay, Butterfly Bay.
Made up of 74 tropical islands – of which 67 are completely undeveloped – there’s more empty beaches here than in any other coastal region in Australia. From the buzzing beaches of Hamilton Island where cocktails are delivered to your deck chairs, to the complete isolation of beaches like Sawmill Bay in Cid Harbour – which require a boat to access, the Whitsundays offer a beach for every single couple. The star performer of the Whitsundays will always be Whitehaven Beach (pictured opposite), regularly voted one of the world’s top five beaches.
With six kilometres of pure white silica sands and warm clear waters, couples may choose to spend time amongst the winsome young people sunning themselves on the beach’s southern end at Hill Inlet. Or take a walk – or better yet, a helicopter – to your own private piece of silica, kilometres from the nearest intruder. If you’d prefer something easier to access, sunbathe amongst the beautiful people on one of Australia’s best resort beaches at Hayman Island, or fi nd an empty cove to watch the sun set over Australia at Daydream Island. But it’s the Whitsunday’s hidden gems that provide the ultimate sex appeal. Take a yacht charter – or hire your own vessel – and access the world’s best private beaches in places like Luncheon Bay (on the top of Hook Island) where tiny sandy coves appear with the low tide, under rugged rocky escarpments and untethered Aussie bush and beside a clear sea brimming with colourful coral.
3. Sunshine Coast & Fraser Island, Queensland
Best Beaches: Main Beach Noosa, Alexandra Headland, Sunshine Beach.
With the exception of world–famous chic beach town, Noosa, the Sunshine Coast manages to fly under the radar of many holiday– makers – which leaves much of it empty for those who do go. There are over 100 kilometres of beaches on this strip of Queensland coastline – when you add Fraser Island’s sandy coast you get 224 kilometres of beaches from which to choose. Beaches range from wild, open strips of sand that continue on for more than 20 kilometres with no break; to sheltered tiny bays inside national parks and World Heritage–listed zones.
Noosa is the area’s main drawcard and it’s a subtly sexy beast boasting the perfect geographical setting – it sits below a mountainous, green hinterland and is fringed by national park and a stunning coastline. Noosa combines nature’s best attributes with a street scene that radiates restrained sex appeal. Alongside tranquil Main Beach, Hastings Street is perhaps Australia’s hippest seaside address with its atmospheric cafes, restaurants and bars and boutique shopping opportunities. But there’s so much more for couples; Mooloolaba’s Esplanade precinct is stylish and romantic, while beaches like Alexandra Headland offer quiet lazy days of sunbathing. Or if you’d prefer total isolation, take a boat ride to the world’s largest sand island – Fraser Island – where over 200 kilometres of waterways stretch out in sweeping bays to the north and along wide, open beaches that stretch on beyond 50 kilometres to the south (and double as a highway).
4. Far North Queensland(Palm Cove and Port Douglas)
Best Beaches: Palm Cove, Four Mile Beach.
Though technically it’s one of Cairns’ northern beaches, therefore making it a suburb of Cairns, there’s not a thing 'suburban' about Palm Cove! It was only a few decades ago that there was nothing more here than grazing land. Yet, today, it’s one of the hippest, sexiest beach destinations in the southern hemisphere. Home to some of the country’s best resorts and spas, Palm Cove is about enjoying a combined his-and-hers body treatment before heading across the road to wander along a paperbark and coconut tree-lined beach. And with world-class resorts and spas comes gourmet dining – here in Palm Cove you could spend at least a week sampling the cuisine at some of Australia’s best regional restaurants.
Three of Australia’s top 200 restaurants are found in Palm Cove and for the ultimate romantic experience, you can even choose to dine on the sand. Less than an hour north of Palm Cove is Port Douglas - indisputably one of the world’s sexiest seaside villages. Super-celebs – the likes of Tiger Woods and Bill Clinton – have chosen to holiday here, while Natalie Imbruglia was married on the beach at Port Douglas. With a backdrop of green forested mountains and a main street of cafes, restaurants, boutique stores and bars that rivals Noosa’s for beachside pizzaz, Port Douglas is one of the hottest beach towns in the world. From the gorgeous young things on Four Mile Beach – the town’s sandy hot-spot – to the honeymooners lingering over romantic dinners, Port Douglas buzzes with a provocative energy you hardly expect from a former fishermen’s retreat.
5. Byron Bay, New South Wales
Best Beaches: Main Beach, Belongil, Wategos, Cosy Corner, Broken Head, Whites Beach, Seven Mile Beach.
From secret beaches at the end of winding dirt tracks where a ten-minute walk through coastal scrub brings you to horseshoe bays of squeaky, white sand with not a soul on them; to the hedonistic playground of Main Beach – where $500 designer bikinis and Europe’s most taut and terrifi c bodies compete for attention - Byron Bay is one of the world’s sexiest beach towns – full stop (few would dare to dispute this, surely).
There’s over 15 incredible beaches to choose from, and that’s just the ones on the map; if you take the time to look around, you’ll find empty beaches even locals haven’t heard of, where total privacy means clothes are optional (there’s also one of Australia’s most famous nude beaches – the Belongil). These days Byron Bay is one of the world’s coolest surf towns, Elle Macpherson learnt to surf at Wategos Beach while Coldplay’s Chris Martin prefers The Pass. There’s a rustic cafe on every popular beach, each ideal for romantic meals and sunset drinks. Then, of course, there's Australia’s most iconic surf bar, The Beach Hotel, just above Main Beach which buzzes with fashionable types day and night. Or try Ben Harper’s favourite, Broken Head, or Cosy Corner, whose name says it all really.
6. Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Best Beaches: Vivonne Bay, Red Banks, Emu Bay.
Whoever coined the expression ‘romantic isolation’ surely visited Kangaroo Island, Australia’s third largest island. There’s so much isolation on Kangaroo Island it’s unsettling to the average city-slicker. Just think: the outback positioned on some of the world’s most striking coastline, and you start to get a visual picture. But once you get used to all that space you’ll fi nd visiting every other beach in Australia will seem hectic by comparison.
You’ll need to log some serious kilometres to access this empty coastline – but it's worth the effort because there’s a whopping 541 kilometres of it! From the stunning white sands of Australia’s most pristine beach – Vivonne Bay – where the only company you’ll have amongst an ocean of turquoise are the crayfish boats that lie in wait for their next big haul, to the wild waves that hammer Cape Du Couedic giving visitors a sense of the raw power that the ocean possesses, to the dolphins that offer you the ultimate thrill and swim with you at Emu Bay, and the seals that sunbathe on the beach beside you as you kayak past hundreds of tiny private coves at a beach the locals call Red Banks ... literally any beach on Kangaroo Island could be the prototype for the ultimate couples’ hot-spot.
7. Bay of Fires, Tasmania
There’s got to be something exciting about a beach squeezed between a national park and an often angry white-capped Southern Ocean. You can walk for kilometres at Bay of Fires on Tasmania’s remote northeastern corner and not see another soul. These granite white beaches are fringed by dunes where Aboriginal middens (discarded shells) can still be found, giving an insight into Australian history.
Dolphins and whales can be seen from the beach and in summer the clear waters are warm and inviting for swimming. Fringed by national park, you can wander through peppermint forests home to echidnas, wombats, kangaroos and Tasmanian devils. Or kayak down the lonely Ansons River as eagles circle above. There’s a sense of isolation here that’s hard to match anywhere in Australia; it might be unsettling on your own, but together there’s comfort to be sought in this temporary escape from the real world. In 2009 Lonely Planet actually rated the Bay of Fires as the best destination on Earth to visit – we agree, but say you've got to visit this pristine paradise with the one you love and create the ultimate romantic memories.
8. Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria
Best beaches: Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads, Queenscliff, Point Lonsdale.
While the Great Ocean Road earns the most accolades as Victoria’s gift to the world, it’s actually the peninsula that begins just before that very famous road that offers the most sizzle for couples. The Bellarine flies under most couple’s radar, but it’s one of the dreamiest beach destinations in Australia. What makes it so? Well, for starters it has some of the state’s most charming beaches – places like Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove located on the Great Southern Ocean. But then there’s protected, private beaches inside Port Phillip Bay and beside the historic and romantic villages of Portarlington and Queenscliff.
The Bellarine Peninsula also has some of the country’s most underrated wineries and restaurants, giving couples far more options than swimming and sunbathing. Then throw in a whole peninsula of picturesque villages never further than ten kilometres apart offering romantic accommodation and dining options. We say its the stuff of holiday dreams.
9. Coffs Coast, New South Wales
Best Beaches: Sapphire Beach, Emerald Beach, Corindi, Arrawarra, Sawtell Beach.
Too often overshadowed by its trendy cousin to the north – Byron Bay – the Coffs Coast offers many couples the beach paradise they desire most of all: an empty one. There’s over 90 kilometres of wide, golden beaches separated by rugged, rocky headlands to lose the crowds amongst. You can choose between wild, empty stretches that back onto rugged national park, or find protected, pristine coves where prevailing winds are blocked by headlands, and clothing can be optional.
The beaches with the prettiest names are some of the most beautiful – Sapphire and Emerald beaches just north of Coffs Harbour are gems indeed: uncrowded, huge expanses of hot white sand where whales migrate past and dolphins congregate. For those couples who want to make sure they’ll have no company, the northern-most beaches of Arrawarra and Corindi are some of the state’s most pristine – complete with coastal rainforest walks.
10. Broome, Western Australia
Best Beaches: Cable Beach, Town Beach, Willie Creek, Quandong.
There’s always been something seductive about the west. Perhaps it’s watching a red sun slip into an ocean that doesn’t stop till it hits Africa, 8000 kilometres away. Or is it the tropical storms that can hit without warning, but which pass just as swiftly, leaving an umistakably sultry tropical perfume? Broome is one of Australia’s most interesting communities; a place founded on enterprise (the pearling trade attracted people from all over Asia lured by high wages for almost suicidal risk) and fringed by sacred Aboriginal homeland (the Kimberley). Broome’s beaches refl ect its outback character; ringed by rugged scrub and a flat, clear ocean that changes shade from opaque blue to emerald green and then to ochre when the sun sinks into it.
Being here alone makes you feel like you might be balanced right on the edge of the world and there’s a sexy solitude about that. But, come late afternoon at Cable Beach and each day a crowd gathers for the best sunset show in the country, where you can drink cocktails in stylish bars and restaurants positioned to enjoy one of nature's best shows in style. However, Cable Beach isn’t Broome’s only fabulous beach option, the town’s actually full of great beaches. For extra sexy solitude why not take a 4WD north to Cape Leveque for your own private piece of paradise?
11. Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs Beaches, New South Wales
Best Beaches: Bondi, Clovelly, Bronte, Coogee, Tamarama.
On hot summer days the beaches of Sydney’s trendy eastern suburbs more closely resemble the hippest night-club – couples on dates and visiting big name celebs mix in with beaches full of beautiful, bronzed backpackers and lifeguards who star on our TV screens – but get here before the crowds (it’s easy – avoid the rush of personal training classes before 7.30am and then before the backpackers arrive after boozy nights at 11am) and look out to sea and you could quite easily be in the Whitsundays. Whales swim past between July and November and the craggy headlands that feature all the way from Bondi to Coogee offer cliff-top walks and countless private coves.
These must be the world’s sexiest beaches – glamorous singles parade the sands in skimpy swimming suits while couples have endless romantic beach-side options at some of the world’s coolest bars and restaurants.
12. Sydney’s Northern Beaches, New South Wales
Best Beaches: Whale Beach, Palm Beach, Bungan Beach, North Curl Curl.
Mick Jagger leased a holiday home here, Bono booked a long-term stay and Elle Macpherson prefers to stay here over summer. There’s a reason why celebrities – who can clearly afford to stay anywhere in the world – choose to stay here: Sydney’s northern beaches make you feel like you’re 500 kilometres from the nearest town, not an hour’s drive from Australia’s biggest city. Sure, they can get crowded at holiday time, especially on the southern perimeter of these beaches at Manly, but complete privacy is often just a quick stroll away.
Take Whale Beach, for instance, leave the beach behind and walk past the rock pools of the beach’s rugged headland, out beyond fishermen casting from the rocks and you’ll enjoy complete privacy in your own tiny cove. Even on Palm Beach – immortalised as Summer Bay in Home & Away – it takes just a five-minute walk away from the patrolled swimming area and you’ll have the orange-tinged sands to yourselves. For more action, the beaches around Manly radiate with summer fun.
13. Geographe Bay, Western Australia
Best Beaches: Busselton Beach, Yallingup, Bunker Bay.
Geographe Bay is one hell of a place to lose yourself in – amongst 30 kilometres of perfect white sand bordering the Indian Ocean and some of the world’s rarest forests – and fi nd yourself again at buzzing seaside towns like Busselton and Yallingup, or within the rustic wineries of the world-famous Margaret River region. Beginning two hours south of Perth, Lonely Planet rated Geographe Bay one of the world’s top 10 places to visit.
There are private beaches made for romantic liaisons, like Meelup near the town of Dunsborough where coastal tracks take you high above the bay for views of Southern right, humpback or even endangered blue whales and their calves – the bay here is a nursery for whales and is one of the best places in the southern hemisphere to see them. Or try the empty beach at Yallingup, it means ‘place of love’ in the Aboriginal language.
14. Victor Harbour, South Australia
You wouldn’t think a beach destination known as a hot-spot for retirees could be considered dreamy; but then that’s to ignore Victor Harbour’s other side. In summer this is the beach town that rocks, located just 83 kilometres from Adelaide, thousands of city slickers hit this historic seaside town and turn it into the state’s hippest abode. Bars buzz serving alfresco meals and drinks overlooking beautiful Encounter Bay – where in the winter and spring Southern right whales come with their calves.
Above the town the rolling green hills of the Mt Lofty ranges practically drop right into the Southern Ocean, and granite headlands break up a sweeping coastline of white beaches and off-shore islands. You can also visit one of the country’s best wine regions just a few minutes drive away at McLaren Vale.
15. St Kilda, Victoria
Ignore the passing container ships chugging their way across Port Phillip Bay and consider your surroundings: when it’s hot nowhere gets quite as sexy as St Kilda. Looking far more like the Med than anything remotely Australian, St Kilda beach sizzles with by boulevards of gigantic palms fringed by chic restaurants and bars at regular intervals all offering perfect views over the busy beach scene. In the evenings, the sun sets into the water, a rarity for anywhere outside of Western Australia.
It’s in the evenings when St Kilda really hits its stride, as couples lounge in leafy bayside parks, or at restaurant and bar institutions like the Stokehouse or Donovans with their chic clientele, or outside the irrepressible Espy Hotel, sipping wine while the sun sets. As night falls, the options truly begin: dance till dawn, or slow down the pace over dinner for two.