Sydney to Wollongong
Just an hour south of Sydney are gorgeous coastal towns, best beaches and rock pools in the Wollongong region. Over 100 kilometres of stunning coastline can be found along the Grand Pacific Drive touring route. Experience a breathtaking scenic journey over the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge and discover rainforests in the picturesque regions and Sapphire Coast. Between May and November, the headlands at beaches are perfect vantage points for spotting humpback whales on their annual migration along the NSW coast.
You can get to the best beaches in Wollongong from Sydney via public transport. The train from Sydney to Wollongong in just over 1.5 hours.
Wollongong Beach Lookout
The name ‘Wollongong’ comes from the local Aboriginal word for ‘seas of the south’. In other Wollongong articles I mentioned, ‘The Gong’ as it is referred to by the locals, is less known for its pristine and often isolated beaches.
It is a city where the mountains meet the sea and you can certainly get an excellent view from the popular Mount Keira lookout. The South Coast lookout is located high up in the mountains and looks down upon the beautiful NSW coastline.
So, which are the 5 Best Beaches in Wollongong?
Where can I swim in Wollongong, you ask! For a city located primarily on the east coast of Australia, how do you pick the 5 best beaches to spend your time enjoying one of Australia’s gifts?
5 Best Beaches to Visit in Wollongong
Here I have outlined some of the best, safest and most peaceful beaches to be found in the local area. I’ll also share with you where you can swim in Wollongong which beaches are pet friendly and places to stay and dine.
Firstly, I will start with one you may have heard about before.
1. North Wollongong Beach
North Wollongong Beach is located towards Puckeys Estate, the middle of which can be seen from the Novotel and extends from the harbour to the lagoon. This is the only beach in Wollongong that is paroled all year round.
There are not only shops and other facilities accessible from here along the walkway above. Beautiful beachfront restaurants, trendy cafes and hipster bars such as The Lagoon, Diggies and North Beach Pavilion overlook the beach.
So, not only can you spend a wonderful day at the beach, but you can try some of the amazing cuisine, craft beers and locally made wines that Wollongong has to offer.
Continental Baths and Rock Pools
Just five minutes’ walk away, in the direction of the harbour, you will find the 1920s continental pools which you may use free of charge. There is one olympic sized pool, a 45m pool and a kids pool for your children and toddlers too!
Not only are these salt pools obviously patrolled by lifeguards during opening hours but the beach to the left, past the array of rock pools are also patrolled daily from September through to April.
Parking is available directly above the Continental Baths in Cliff Road or there is more parking towards the North Pavilion.
The main beach has a volley ball net and change rooms with hot showers which are there for public use. If you continue down past this stretch you will hit the lagoon, it is on the other side of this that you may even take your dogs with you!
Beach Playgrounds | Play Spaces for Kids
Just up from this location, there is a large, modern playground for the kids, and you can even take a walk through Puckeys Estate to discover some of the vibrant wildlife of the area for yourself.
On the other side of the pools, you can walk all the way up to the Wollongong lighthouse where there are amazing view of the beaches that surround it. If you continue along the walkway, eventually you will hit South Beach which is also a great location to spend the day and is often a little less busy than the North end.
2. South Wollongong Beach
Toward the Wollongong Entertainment Centre, you will find South Beach. It is slightly less well-known with fewer restaurants and less public amenities. The closest public facilities other than the businesses nearby, would probably be at North Beach. Wollongong Public Toilet Map.
South Beach is more regularly utilised by surfers as this side offers the best waves and surfing conditions than the other. To avoid unwanted collisions South Beach is split into two designated areas, one for swimmers and the other for surfers.
It is also patrolled daily (September through to April) by certified Australian Surf Lifesavers who are trained to provide first aid, aquatic rescues, emergency care and surf safety information to the public.
The Wollongong Brewery
You can grab a refreshing cold beer and delicious meal at The Brewery located above the main end of the beach.
Wollongong Golf Course to Beach
Beach access and great views of the natural landscape together with spectacular mountain backdrop can be seen from one of the five holes or hotel on the Wollongong Golf Course.
Wollongong Dog-Friendly Beaches and Parks Map
This is a map of all the known dog friendly beaches and parks in Wollongong and surrounding region. Remember your dog is your responsibility and ever council in Australia has rules in place that pet owners must abided by. For more dog related information, visit the Wollongong City Council website.
Beach Access to Dog Friendly Beach
Once you hit this section of the golf course, it becomes a popular dog friendly beach. It’s here you can take your pampered pooch out for some fun in the sun.
You can reach the dog beach via the entrance midway through the golf course, where a small side street meets the roundabout off Swan Street. You can grab your poop bags here too, which are stored just beyond the gate. But make sure you keep your dog on a leash and take extra care as you cross the golf course green.
At the end of the beach where the entrance is at the golf course, swimming is not recommended 50m from where the rock wall is blocked off from the rest of the coastline. So, keep this in mind if you are looking to take a dip while walking your pup.
Australian Bluebottles | Found in Marine Waters in the Indian and Pacific Oceans
The only threat to your glorious day at the beach is the ominous blue bottles (physalia utriculus). These unwelcome summer visitors to Wollongong beaches will be evident and ease to recognize. They are blue in colour have a pear-shaped sac and long tentacles. Their presence depends on the tides and direction of the winds.
Bluebottles float with the warmer currents and are most often blown into shallow waters and found washed up on the sand. Throughout Australia, they are more common found on exposed ocean beaches after strong onshore north easterly winds and are rarely found in sheltered waters.
Beach Safety Signs | Bluebottle Sting
There should also be signs posted all the way down the beaches to warn potential swimmers and surfers of their presence.
If you do happen to be stung, remove all the tentacles and wash the area with sea water. Immersing the affected area in hot water for 10 minutes will reduce the severity of the bluebottle sting.
As with all Wollongong beaches sharks are rarely seen and sea lice are non-existent, so neither of these threats should be apparent at any of the beaches mentioned.
3. Corrimal Beach
Another popular dog beach even more so than South Beach is Corrimal Beach. Corrimal is about a 10-minute drive from North Beach or 15 minutes from the city centre.
Budget Family Accommodation
You have direct access to the beach from Corrimal Beach Tourist park. The park has powered / unpowered caravan and camping sites plus 1,2- and 3-bedroom self-contained cabins for your stay. If you want cheap accommodation close to a fantastic beach, then this is the perfect accommodation in Wollongong.
The white gold sands here are more pristine, and again it is a popular location to surf. Driving past the tourist park, you will find a large carpark that will take you right to the dog friendly beach. There is a great playground for the kids to your left and to the right is a small bridge that will take you across to the start of the beach.
Grab your poop bags and head out past the lagoon and onto the coast. To the left, you will find rock pools and a stretch of dog friendly sand while on your right you will be headed toward the patrolled end of the beach and the Corrimal Surf Life Saving Club.
At the non-patrolled end of the beach especially, watch out for surfers if you plan on swimming. There is not only more dogs at this beach compared to South Beach, but there are also a lot more surfers.
4. Towradgi Beach
Between North and Corrimal, you will find Towradgi, another mesmerising beach that is quite popular with the locals. It is also patrolled daily and is a great location to swim, as long as you stay between the flags.
This is probably the most likely place that dangerous sharks would occur, but regular air patrols will alert all beach goers if they are spotted in the vicinity.
Again, bluebottles may appear in the summer months, but they are easily avoidable as long as you are not in the sea when the water temperature and winds change to favour them.
Stay SharkSmart with the NSW Government app. Before hitting the water in NSW, you can check the latest shark sightings and tagged shark detections.
Follow These 5 Tips and Be SharkSmart in NSW Waters
1. Don’t swim or surf at dusk or dawn or if you see baitfish or birds diving as sharks maybe present
2. Always swim between the red and yellow flags
3. Assess the risks and check the conditions
4. Never swim or surf alone
5. Don’t swim in murky waters or near river mouths, deep water holes or sandbars
5. Bass Point
Bass Point is a little further away and found closer to Shellharbour in the Shoalhaven. This is about a 30-minute drive from the centre of Wollongong. It is certainly worth the road trip and a very pleasant drive up past Shellharbour Beach and into the nature reserve. Bass Point is a stone beach, so make sure to bring some Aussie thongs or waterproof shoes to protect your feet.
Shark Awareness | Stay Safe in Australian Waters
Bushrangers Bay is probably the best location inside the entire nature reserve and perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving. You can see anything from Greynurse and Port Jackson sharks to manta rays, sea urchins and so much more.
At the right time of year, you may even see a seal or two, but do not go too close, as seals are not always as friendly as they look.
There are toilet facilities within the area but located further down towards another stretch of rocky beach from Bushrangers Bay. Otherwise, you are welcome to bring a picnic and enjoy the day with family and friends, exploring the natural aquatic life that is exhibited in the Shoalhaven.
As the entrance to the beaches are so narrow, bluebottles are not a regular occurrence, and the majority of sharks found in this area are nonthreatening as long as they are not aggravated.
Port Jackson sharks often just swim away and don’t pose any danger to humans. They are much smaller species than the feared Great White and are probably more scared of us than we are of them.
Thirroul Beach | Worth Exploring Near Wollongong?
How Far is Thirroul from Wollongong?
Thirroul Beach is 20 minutes north of Wollongong and known for its beautiful beaches, restaurants, cafes and challenging bushwalk. The town of Thirroul, and its northern neighbours of Austinmer, Coledale, Scarborough and Wombarra offer a glorious coastal escape for Sydneysiders and international travellers.
Visitors can travel by train from Sydney or drive the spectacular touring route through the Illawarra region and Royal National Park. Thirroul accommodation includes luxury holiday homes, budget stays to relaxing campgrounds. The fine white beach at Thirroul backs on to parkland and next to a saltwater pool. A childrens’ playground, shops and cafes are in walking distance.
Wine Dine and Stay in Wollongong
If you would prefer a sandy beach you can always make your way back into Shellharbour, where you can find everything you need. There is a range of shops as well as a great Aussie pub, fish and chip shops and ice cream parlours. Basically, everything that you need for a family day out at the beach.
The fish and chips in this area are fresh as can be, having fishermen deliver them daily to the stores. The pub has also been upgraded and is a great place to have lunch or dinner.
You can look out over the beach as you dine on fresh seafood washed down by a local craft beer or glass of wine made by one of the nearby Wollongong wineries. Here’s a blog I wrote on 5 Top Restaurants in Wollongong. I recommend you try at least one of these during your stay.
Where the City Meets the Sea
So, if you find yourself in Wollongong during the long summer months, then take the time to explore these amazing Australian beaches, where the ‘city meets the sea’.
The Gong has so much to offer in the way of pristine beaches, golden sands, warm waters and a variety of marine life that I’m sure you will be amazed by what you see and can do here.
Looking for the Best Things to Do in Wollongong?
Click on each link below for other great things to do in and around Wollongong NSW.