From seaside escapes to intimate coves and coastlines of sunshine and gold, these beaches are sure to make your heart race.
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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 travellers – which leaves much of it empty for those who do go. There are more than 100 kilometres of beaches on this strip of Queensland coastline – add Fraser Island’s sandy coast and the total’s 224 kilometres. 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.
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Noosa is the area’s main drawcard and it’s a picture-perfect destination boasting perfect scenery – it sits below a mountainous, green hinterland and is fringed by national park and a stunning coastline. Noosa's natural assets are rivalled though by its street scene. Boarding tranquil Main Beach, Hastings Street is perhaps Australia’s hippest seaside address thanks to its boutique shopping opportunities and atmospheric cafés, restaurants and bars.
Over in Mooloolaba's Esplanade precinct, the scene is stylish and romantic and just minutes away from the sun-drenched beaches of Alexandra Headland. While in this region of Queensland, make sure you visit Fraser Island, with its long stretches of sand and winding waterways.
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Palm Cove and Port Douglas, Queensland
Best Beaches: Palm Cove, Four Mile Beach
Home to some of Australia's best resorts and spas, Palm Cove is all 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 – you could easily spend a week in Palm Cove sampling the cuisine at some of the country's best regional restaurants.
Less than an hour north of Palm Cove is Port Douglas, indisputably one of the world’s sexiest seaside villages. With a backdrop of green forested mountains and a main street of cafés, restaurants, boutique stores and bars, Port Douglas is one of those beach towns you just have to visit. From the gorgeous young things on Four Mile Beach (the town’s sandy hotspot) to the honeymooners lingering over romantic dinners, the region has an energy you'd hardly expect from a former fishermen’s retreat.
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Byron Bay, New South Wales
Best Beaches: Main Beach, Belongil, Wategos, Cosy Corner, Broken Head, Whites Beach, Seven Mile Beach
Byron Bay may be known as the playground of cashed-up hipsters, but it's also a place of secret beaches found at the end of winding dirt tracks and deserted horseshoe bays of squeaky, white sand.
There are more than 15 incredible beaches to choose from here, 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! There are also rustic cafés 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.
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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 almost unsettling to the average city-slicker, but you won't want to share the second-to-none views with crowds anyway. Imagine the outback positioned on some of the world’s most striking coastline and you start to get the picture.
On the stunning white sands of Australia’s most pristine beach, Vivonne Bay, the only company you’ll have among an ocean of turquoise is the crayfish boats that lie in wait for their next big haul. At Emu Bay, dolphins will happily swim with you, while you can kayak past sunbathing seals in the Red Banks.
Related article: 5 Island Escapes Off the Coast of Australia
Bay of Fires, Tasmania
There’s something undeniably 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.
Named in 2009 by Lonely Planet as the best destination on Earth to visit, the Bay of Fires is home to granite-white beaches fringed by dunes, where Aboriginal middens (discarded shells) can still be found. At certain times of the year, dolphins and whales can be seen from the beach, and in summer the clear waters are blissfully warm and inviting. Back on dry land, wander through peppermint forests in search of echidnas, wombats, kangaroos and Tasmanian devils.
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Coffs Coast, New South Wales
Best Beaches: Sapphire Beach, Emerald Beach, Corindi, Arrawarra, Sawtell Beach
Too often overshadowed by its trendy cousin Byron Bay, the Coffs Coast offers many couples the beach paradise they desire most of all: an empty one. There are more than 90 kilometres of wide, golden beaches here, separated by craggy, rocky headlands and rugged national park.
The beaches with the prettiest names are some of the most beautiful – Sapphire and Emerald beaches just north of Coffs Harbour are gems indeed: think uncrowded, huge expanses of hot, white sand from where whales and dolphins can often be spotted. For those couples who want to make sure they’ll have no company, the northernmost beaches of Arrawarra and Corindi are some of the state’s most pristine, complete with coastal rainforest walks.
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, 8,000 kilometres away. Or maybe it's the tropical storms that can hit without warning, but which pass just as swiftly, leaving an umistakably sultry tropical perfume. Whatever it is, Broome has plenty to fall in love with.
Broome’s beaches reflect 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 just the two of you makes you feel like you might be balanced right on the edge of the world. But, come late afternoon each day at Cable Beach, a crowd gathers for the best sunset show in Australia, where you can drink cocktails in sleek 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 solitude, take a 4WD north to Cape Leveque for your own private piece of paradise.
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