Home to more than 40 beaches that occupy an 87-kilometre coastline, the Central Coast of New South Wales is the perfect summer holiday destination.
But with so many strips of sand to choose from, where do you start? It was tough, but we’ve rounded up 10 of the best to suit beachgoers of all kinds – from water babies to grommets to sunbathers to surfing pros.
1. Avoca Beach
The hometown of many surfing greats, including Wade Carmichael and Adrian Buchan, it’s no surprise that Avoca Beach is popular with those chasing waves.
But this two-kilometre stretch of golden sand appeals to all beach lovers, with a shallow rock pool and lagoon for kids to play about in, a rocky platform for fishermen, and some great beachside dining including chic bar and restaurant Avoca Surfhouse, and Point Cafe located under the surf club. You could easily spend an entire day here.
2. Toowoon Bay
A favourite with families, this 700-metre-long curved beach boasts calm turquoise water and white sands, perfect for little ones to splash about in the pristine shallows. The bay is sheltered by reefs, which means it’s also a great spot for snorkelling, as well as stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking, while novice surfers enjoy the soft rolling waves.
The surf club patrols the beach, and also has a café serving breaky and lunch, and there’s shower and toilet facilities.
3. Soldiers Beach
Just south of the historic Norah Head Lighthouse, Soldiers Beach is increasingly popular for its pristine white sand, clear water and reliable waves, which draw in the board riders year round. The surf club is home to Dunes a restaurant with a tapas-style menu and incredible views, and there’s a kiosk at the top car park which offers burgers, milkshakes and the like.
4. Wamberal Beach and Spoon Bay
Wamberal Beach is often overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, Terrigal, but take the short walk past Terrigal Lagoon and you’ll find a wide expanse of golden-sand beach that’s much less crowded, has an off-leash area for dogs and great surfing.
At its north, tucked under Wamberal Point, Spoon Bay has a calm bay for swimming and is a bit of a local’s secret. It can be accessed by a set of stairs at the end of Spoon Bay Road in Forresters Beach.
5. Pelican Beach
Surrounded by Wyrrabalong National Park, Pelican Beach – or ‘Pelos’ as the locals call it – is accessed via the rather unassuming Pelican Beach Road off Wilfred Barrett Drive. This is true surfing nirvana for experienced board riders and, due to its relative isolation, is usually uncrowded and feels a million miles away. It’s a beauty, with an untouched white-sand coastline and crystal-clear water.
6. Umina Beach
A popular holiday destination, Umina is home to two patrolled beaches, Umina Beach and Ocean Beach, which occupy a 2.8-kilometre stretch of golden sand in Broken Bay. Both beaches are relatively calm for swimming and usually offer small waves, perfect for kids and novices learning to surf.
7. Frazer Beach
Located in Munmorah State Conservation Area, secluded Frazer Beach is fairly unknown so you may have this patch of paradise to yourself. At 400 metres, it may be small but it packs a punch with striking turquoise water and white sand, reliable surf, a calm lagoon and nearby bushwalking tracks. There are also picnic tables that overlook the beach, a campground and toilets, but no other facilities.
8. Shelly Beach
Stretching an impressive 1.5 kilometres, Shelly Beach is a great all-rounder beach. It attracts surfers for its consistent beach break (it’s particularly good for beginners with gentle swells), there’s a patrolled swimming area, a dog exercise section, small sand dunes for tumbling down and a great grass area up the top for picnics.
The surf club also has a restaurant upstairs and a café downstairs, which is a popular spot for coffee or a sun-drenched breaky post-swim. Shelly Beach Golf Club is also just a short distance from the beach and is one of the most spectacular golf courses on the coast for its ocean views.
9. Putty Beach and Killcare Beach
These two golden-sand beaches are bordered by spectacular Bouddi National Park and between Box Head and Gerrin Point headland. Killcare Beach has a surf club that sits in its western corner, moderate waves for surfing and a pretty rockpool for little ones to paddle about in, which is a good idea due to the occasional rough surf on this side. While Putty Beach is usually calmer and has an off-leash dog section, camping ground and is the entry point for the spectacular Bouddi Coastal Walk.
10. MacMasters Beach
Immediately south of Copacabana Beach, which is popular with surfers, MacMasters Beach is more of an all-rounder for families. It has calmer conditions for young swimmers and those learning to surf, an ocean pool, a great picnic spot with barbecues, an off-leash dog section, Barefoot Café which overlooks the beach, and a fabulous kids’ playground nearby.