Summer’s well and truly upon us, so now's the perfect time for a romantic beach escape. Slip into those togs and slick on some sunscreen (or fluoro zinc if you want to go all-out) – we’ve found ten beach getaways right on your doorstep that you can easily get to. Cue endless-summer vibes!
Related article: 48 hours in beachy Coolangatta
A beach getaway calls for a cool spot and this locale fits the brief in every sense of the word. Just over half an hour's drive from tourist-favourite Surfers Paradise, Coolangatta (or Cooly as it's referred to by the locals) is one of those places that keeps visitors returning year after year. With (really) vast stretches of sand, its beaches promise a gorgeous spot for your towel and beach umbrella – be sure to claim your stake at the Pat Fagan Park boarder for crystal-clear waters and boulders shaded by lush palms and frangipani trees.
Welcoming a slew of new trendy cafés and restaurants, Coolangatta still feels blissfully laid-back and down-to-earth. Gym-junkies will love hiking up to the interstate border at Point Danger (be sure to grab a coffee from Cafe D'Bar), while surfers will love Snapper Rocks, Duranbah and Kirra Beach. Just seeking a lovely weekend away? There are plenty of wonderful foodie spots and boutiques to discover, plus a spectacular hinterland nearby.
A favourite holiday spot for generations, Noosa (90 minutes north of Brisbane) has seen waves of visitors over the years thanks to its music festivals and amazing beaches. But just 15 minutes away from here, you'll come across Noosa's quieter yet truly beautiful neighbour, Noosaville. Expect a hip dining scene, chilled rowing and surf live saving clubs (definitely pull up a chair at one of these for super-fresh seafood and an ice-cold beer), great fishing and dreamy pockets of sand.
The beauty of Noosaville is that you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Hop on the Noosa ferry, take in the picturesque views and in minutes you'll be pulling into chic Hastings Street, with its boutiques and world-class dining. When you've had your fill of designer brands and gourmet treats, catch the ferry back – we recommend during sunset – and return to a (slightly) more relaxed setting.
Ask a Sydney local where to go for a terrific day out and they'll probably point you towards Manly. Only a scenic 30-minute ferry trip from Circular Quay, this Northern Sydney locale is a true Australian gem. After hopping off the ferry, you can quite literally walk from one fantastic beach to another, passing stylish dining spots, boutiques and a brewery along the way.
If you're all about getting amongst nature, hit the surf, go snorkelling at Cabbage Tree Bay or explore the Spit Bridge to Manly Walk. If you ask us, though, some of the simplest pleasures are the best – order some classic fish and chips and find a secluded spot amongst the pines with a view of the water.
Balmoral Beach, NSW
Swap the tour group for a visit to picturesque Balmoral Beach in the high-end suburb of Mosman to mix a fantastic beach escape with a little sightseeing. With views over the Sydney Harbour National Park and the gateway to Sydney Harbour, the beach offers plenty of opportunity for spotting the city's icons and soaking up the sunshine.
Fringed by lush parklands, Balmoral Beach is also home to historical swimming baths and an enclosed dog beach. Do as the locals do and take a moment to watch the many glamorous sailboats from the sandy shore or a cosy park bench – simple but perfect.
Kangaroo Island, SA
In case you weren’t aware, Kangaroo Island is pretty stunning. Like, sell-all-your-worldly-goods-and-move-there stunning. But if the real world calls and you can’t really up and leave, a romantic weekend trip will certainly suffice (for now). Thirty-five minutes away by plane, the island boasts an array of incredible coastal spots – think secluded rocky inlets, serene coves, craggy cliffs and golden-sand beaches. Not enough to entice you to book a short break? There's also fantastic wildlife to discover – look out for kangaroos (hence the name), Australian sea lions and New Zealand fur seals.
Thanks to its fertile lands and rich waters, the island is also where you'll find excellent wineries, restaurants and breweries. Picture-perfect beaches, sweet-faced creatures, a brilliant dining scene – it's enough to make us dream of a Kangaroo Island escape!
Port Noarlunga, SA
Bright blue waters aren't exclusive to tropical islands – they're also there for you to discover at Port Noarlunga. About half an hour's drive south of Adelaide, this heavenly spot is great for snorkelling, diving and fishing, but those just seeking a scenic outlook will be equally happy.
What makes this beach so impressive is what lies 400 metres offshore – 1.6 kilometres of reef. Filled with more than 200 marine plant species and over 60 fish species, the reef is a must-see while in Port Noarlunga. The sprawling jetty is also ideal for nailing that perfect sunset shot – #NoFilterNeeded.
Cottesloe Beach, WA
Only an almost-too-easy 20-minute drive south of Perth is one of the city's top beach escapes, Cottesloe Beach. Considered a favourite of many Perth locals, this summery spot is blessed with enviable surfing spots, white sands, terraced lawns, buzzing bars, romantic restaurants and chic cafés. In other words, it's beach heaven.
Other than the enchanting old-world tea house, the main attraction here is Cottesloe's sunsets. One of the few places in Australia where you can watch the sun set over the ocean, the beach provides an otherworldly setting for twilight drinks.
Rottnest Island, WA
Yes, there’s a ferry that travels between Perth and Rottnest Island, but for a very affordable price you and your loved one can fly to this charming island in under 15 minutes. And you'll want to, because one of the best ways to see Rottnest is from the sky. Aim for a window seat to spot shockingly turquoise waters (not unlike the colour of a highlighter), sugar-white sands and sensational reef.
The beaches on Rottnest are considered some of the best in Australia, with 63 scenic spots to chose from. Underwater is just as stunning, though, with colourful fish, shipwrecks and coral all creating a marvellous scene. Adding to the list of reasons to book a stay, sumptuous accommodation, thrilling adventure experiences and exquisite dining are all on offer in Rottnest Island.
Loch Ard Gorge, VIC
Two hours south of Melbourne and well worth the drive is Loch Ard Gorge. Moments away from the Twelve Apostles and a must-see sight along the Great Ocean Road, this unique spot is also part of Port Campbell National Park. Stop-you-in-your-tracks scenery? They've got it covered here.
For an unforgettable escape, wander the trails along the coast, check out the fascinating blowholes, take a refreshing dip in the pristine waters and watch the sun set with your partner.
Google ‘Melbourne beach’ and the first images that pop up on your screen are likely to be the brightly coloured bathing boxes at Dendy Street Beach. Dendy – along with the Upper Brighton and Middle Brighton beaches – make up the pretty-as-a-picture Brighton, a summertime favourite of Melbournians. And for good reason. Home to historic piers, sea baths and, of course, a colourful row of 82 bathing boxes, Brighton is also a winner for watersports like windsurfing and waterskiing.
If you'd prefer to sit back and watch the world go by, there's plenty of opportunity for that too. Take in delightful water views from one of the beachfront cafes or walk along the aptly named Bay Trail that hugs the coastline.
Dreaming of a romantic short break or weekend getaway? Find beautiful accommodation across Australia here...
Image credits: Tourism and Events Queensland/Ming Nomchong, Tourism Queensland, Destination NSW, www.sydney.com/ and www.westernaustralia.com/