Crack out the sunglasses (and the tinnies) when you pay a visit to Australia’s top beachside pubs and bars.
Did you know: more than 85 per cent of Australians live on its coast?
All that salt air is bound to cause us to work up a thirst. And maybe (just maybe) that’s the reason why Australia has such a magnificent array of waterfront bars and pubs for us lucky types to pick from. But if your policy is less picking / more sipping, we’ve laid out our top picks of beachside bars for you to consider.
1. Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, Watsons Bay, NSW
Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel is smack-bang on what has to be one of the world’s prettiest pieces of water real estate: Sydney Harbour. Nestled in the heart of Sydney’s eastern suburbs, it has a maritime-themed beach club with enviable rooftop views, best paired with bottomless rose brunches and favourite summer dresses. When the sun comes out, popularity tends to ramp up at this well-known Sydney bar, so chop-chop with any reservations.
Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel is one of Sydney’s most iconic pubs. (Image: Destination NSW)
2. The Imperial at Clifton, Clifton NSW
Just a few minutes from the Sea Cliff Bridge — a route that is the longer, but more scenically impressive way to start your NSW South Coast trip — you can’t fail to notice The Imperial at Clifton. A clifftop pub on the Grand Pacific Drive with ‘accidentally Wes Anderson’ vibes, The Imperial dates back to the early 1900s when it served the area’s mining community. Today at the revamped historical pub, you can sip on a watermelon cocktail while looking over the Pacific Ocean, or even order a seafood feast picnic hamper to take away for a closer inspection of the beaches nearby.
This historical pub is the perfect spot to quench your thirst. (Image: Destination NSW)
3. Tathra Hotel and Motel, Tathra, NSW
The heritage Tathra Hotel is perched up on the headland over the waters of the Sapphire Coast. It dates all the way back to 1888, and is a veritable must-stop if you’re heading to the far south coast of the state, and looking to cool down. Pull up a chair on the prettily iron-lattice deck for those magnificent views, call for a bowl of fresh prawns and one of their own Humpback Brewery tap brews, and you’ve got all the makings of a perfect sunny Saturday.
Cool down at the Tathra Hotel.
4. Wye Beach Hotel, Wye River, VIC
Break up your annual Great Ocean Road pilgrimage with a bite to eat at the Wye Beach Hotel. Overlooking the surrounding town and Wye Beach itself, the pub is close to both the beach and the nearby campgrounds if you want to make a day and night of visiting the area. Indulge in some classic seaside fare with beer-battered fish and chips and a schooner of tap beer, or maybe get a little bit fancy with their seared tuna salade nicoise and freshly seared crab on sourdough.
Stop by the Wye Beach Hotel on your Great Ocean Road road trip.
5. Hotel Sorrento, Sorrento, VIC
Spending a long weekend escaping the city down on the Mornington Peninsula? Looking down on Port Phillip Bay, Hotel Sorrento has been entertaining weekending Melbournians since 1872, when it was founded. Today, its Dining Room serves up classic pub meals, as well as more diverse fare, like gooey burrata with juicy stone fruit or Cantonese cuisine at the Hong Kong sixties-style Shihuishi in what was once the hotel ballroom. If you’re all about those views, Salt, The Lawn and The Rooftop make up the property’s outdoor bars.
Enjoy some modern dishes at this historic pub.
6. Burleigh Pavilion, Burleigh Heads, QLD
Soak up that iridescent Gold Coast lifestyle at the Burleigh Pavilion. Whether you’re opting for the casual coastal pavilion experience munching on woodfired pizzas with views of the striking Gold Coast skyline and impeccable surf at the Pavilion itself, or doing Grey Goose vodka and caviar bumps at The Tropic restaurant, ‘The Pav’ aims to impress its clientele. Simply settle down into the Burleigh’s pastel-coloured ambience for your beachside lunch, and let the DJ spin the perfect soundtrack to your sunny afternoon.
Burleigh is a Gold Coast institution. (Image: Tourism and Events Queensland)
7. The Moseley Beach Club, Glenelg, SA
Forget what you’ve heard: it’s not all about the vineyards in Adelaide. With crystal-clear waters and empty shores, its beaches are some of the state’s finest drops. Hop on the tram from the Adelaide CBD, and you’ll soon find yourself in Glenelg — one of SA’s most popular beaches — and The Moseley Beach Club. A Greek island-style beach club on the white sands of Glenelg in summer, The Moseley’s deck chairs, beach umbrellas and live music and DJs will soon have you begging to order one of their frozen Santorini Sunset cocktails. Yamas to that!
Nothing better than a summer afternoon at The Moseley. (Image: Nathan Godwin)
8. The Darwin Ski Club, Fannie Bay, NT
No, there’s been no freak snow reported up in tropical Darwin (at least, not that we’ve heard). The Darwin Ski Club is actually named for the water skiing done here, so no peach schnapps just yet. But what you will find at this well-known Darwinian establishment is the Epikur restaurant bistro, serving up local Darwinian flavours, as well as live music at The Bali Bar overlooking the Darwin Harbour. This, plus the views over the Timor Sea, has made The Ski Club one of the most relaxing places in the capital to watch the sunset.
The sunset doesn’t get much better than this. (Image: Tourism Australia/Allan Dixon)
9. Crab Claw Island Resort, Bynoe, NT
If you have always been a fan of a quiet beer, look no further: one popular way to get to this extremely remote bar is actually by helicopter. The Crab Claw Island Resort in the Northern Territory is about 15 minutes by air or about 90 minutes by car from Darwin and makes for a beautiful location to get away from the incessant buzz of modern life for a few days. Try your hand at fishing, mud crabbing, turtle-spotting and other unique activities available at this coastal retreat, then take a breather at The Crab Claw bar and restaurant, down at the beach.
Enjoy your beer in peace at Crab Claw Island Resort. (Image: Tourism NT/Helen Orr)
10. Indigo Oscar at Indiana Cottesloe Beach, Cottesloe Beach, WA
A special pop-up bar, the Indigo Oscar has taken over a space in the Indiana Cottesloe Beach ahead of renovations of the iconic beachside pavilion. Until then, this fresher-than-fresh eatery is giving the Perth beachside suburb a touch of Latin American-inspired vibrance with its stunning seafood dishes and smoky cocktails. Try out the avocado arepas, with zucchini pickles and green chilli, the swordfish ceviche and their classic margaritas, to fully lean into those South and Central American vibes.
This special pop-up bar is bringing the vibes to Cottesloe Beach.
11. The Story Bar at MACq 01 Hotel, Hobart, TAS
Down here for a long winter’s night, or booked in for a long lunch on a sun-drenched day? Either way, the Story Bar at MACq 01 Hotel is serving up those Port of Hobart views and a smokescreen of atmosphere to match. Whether it’s the sun or city lights that are twinkling on the water, the glamorous Hobart bar will pull you in with its display of memorabilia from Tasmania’s heritage, and the curiosity-inducing newspapers that line the walls, telling tales of the island state’s past. Shake it up — or at least ask the bartender to — with a visit to the hotel’s other drinking hole, the ancient artefact-themed Evolve Spirits Bar.
The Story Bar at MACq 01 Hotel is serving up those Port of Hobart views.