Home to scenic ocean pools, top surf breaks, foreshore picnic spots and dog-friendly stretches of sand, the beautiful Wollongong and Illawarra region is blessed with some of NSW’s best-kept beach secrets, with an option to suit everyone. From Stanwell Park Beach in the north to Windang Beach in the south, enjoy a perfect seaside escape against the striking backdrop of the rainforested Illawarra Escarpment.
Stretches of sand in Wollongong
The heart of Wollongong itself is framed by beautiful beaches. North Wollongong Beach and Wollongong City Beach are the most popular beaches. Both are next to reserves with picnic areas. Another lovely spot ideal for young kids is Belmore Basin. Farther south is Windang Beach, near Shellharbour, and Lake Illawarra, a large saltwater lake popular for sailing, waterskiing, kayaking and other water sports.
Thirroul, Austinmer and Bulli
Just north of Wollongong is Bulli, where you’ll find Bulli Beach and Sandon Point Beach. Take on the surf at Thirroul Beach, where there’s a park with a children’s play area, or swim in two large rock pools at Austinmer Beach. Pitch a tent beachside at Coledale Beach and wake to the sound of breaking waves.
In Stanwell Park, spend some quality time on the fine golden sands of Stanwell Park Beach, as hanggliders and paragliders soar through the sky above you. The large, grassed reserve on the edge of the beach is ideal for family picnics with barbecue facilities, a kiosk and children’s playground.
You can also bring your dog to many of the beaches in the area. Little Austinmer, McCauley’s and Sharkies beaches are dog-friendly 24 hours a day. Others, like Stanwell Park, Scarborough, Thirroul, Bulli and Woonoona operate on a time-share basis. Make sure to check the signs first.
The Illawarra region is famous for its spectacular ocean pools and there are more than a dozen dotted along the coastline. You’ll find them in Bulli, Towradgi, Woonoona, Bellambi and Coledale. One of the prettiest is at Coalcliff – legend has it that miners blasted it from the rock in the 1920s with dynamite they snuck out of the mines in their pockets.
Surfing and whale watching
Along the coast, you’ll find iconic surf breaks for experienced surfers, as well as beginners. Learn to surf with Pines Surfing Academy, Illawarra Surf Academy and Australian Surf Tours. The headlands by the beaches are great vantage points for whale watching. Spot humpback whales on their annual migration along the NSW South Coast, between May and November.