The Best Coastal Walks and Hikes in NSW

It’s hard to find something that captivates locals and visitors like the jaw dropping beauty of the NSW coast. You've got the endless blue horizon stretching out as far as the eye can see, holding whales, dolphins, stingrays and other wildlife within. Closer to shore, you've got a rainbow of blues ranging from the deep to the crystal clear. And speaking of shore, you've of course got the sandy beaches that draw millions of visitors each year. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

From short, easy strolls near city centres to longer stretches that take you into dense forest and away from the hustle and bustle, this list has a little bit of everything for your on-foot expeditions.

 

Eastern Beaches Coastal Walk (Bondi to Coogee Walk) & The Spit to Manly Walk

Couple enjoying the scenic Bondi to Bronte coastal walk in Bondi , Sydney East

Two iconic routes that belong near the top of any list

Drawing thousands of walkers a year, from local fitness junkies logging their daily steps and getting their heart rate going to out-of-towners eager to see what all the fuss is about, these two beauties are hard to beat if you're looking for quality coastal walking in Sydney. Just don't start an argument with natives of the Eastern Suburbs or Northern Beaches about which is best, OK?

The Eastern Beaches Coastal Walk, or the Bondi to Coogee Walk as it's known to Sydneysiders, is an institution in Sydney's East. Hugging the coast, you'll pass some of the city's most storied sandy spots. But part of the beauty of this walk is where else it can take you. Play a game of bowls with an amazing background at Clovelly Bowls Club. (Respectfully) walk through Waverley Cemetery, one of the most scenic resting places in the world. Finish up at Coogee with a well-earned drink or bite to eat at the Coogee Pavilion or Coogee Bay Hotel. Extra points if you can plan your visit to the Bondi to Coogee walk during the amazing annual Sculpture by the Sea event, which sees artwork deployed around the section of the walk between Bondi and Tamarama.

Meanwhile, on the Northern Beaches sits the Spit to Manly Walk, which brings a different flavour than its eastern counterpart but one that is rewarding in its own excellent ways. You'll still get an amazing bird's eye view of the water, but you'll also get well-maintained tracks taking you through bush and brush. If you end your walk in Manly, finish up with a dip at the famous Manly Beach or pop into one of the many fantastic cafes, restaurants and bars near the Promenade. Wrap it all up with a ferry trip back to the city, or a bus back to the Spit Bridge if you parked there.

Both of these walks can be busy when the weather's nice, so be prepared for crowds and to take things slowly.

 

Bondi to Coogee

Coastal walk from Coogee to Bondi, Bondi in distance
  • Parking? Yes, though most car parks and street parking near beaches in the Eastern Suburbs are timed and paid, so consider taking a bus to your chosen starting point.
  • Distance: 6km one way
  • Difficulty: Easy

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Spit to Manly Walk

Friends enjoying a walk along Forty Baskets Beach, Balgowlah, Sydney East
  • Parking? Yes. There are free, untimed spots on the streets around the northern end of the Spit Bridge, near where the walk starts. Parking in Manly can be difficult and almost surely comes with fees and a time limit. If starting in Manly, consider taking a ferry or bus.
  • Distance: 10km one way
  • Difficulty: Moderate

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Bouddi Coastal Walk

Scenic coastal views from Bouddi National Park in Bouddi, Central Coast

This stellar stroll connects several of the Central Coast's most beloved beaches

For those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the Big Smoke, the Central Coast of NSW provides a great opportunity to exhale. Whether you live in this lovely part of the state or are simply taking a day or weekend trip to unwind, you can cross another one of the NSW's best coastal walks and hikes off your list.

The Bouddi Coastal Walk hits that strolling sweet spot, clocking in at 8.5km one way and taking 3-4 hours depending on your speed. It's long enough for you to get a quality taste of the Central Coast's natural beauty and work up a bit of a sweat without taxing you too much.

The southern end of this walk begins at Putty Beach, wrapping up Macmasters Beach to the north. There's nothing too nasty to worry about in terms of difficulty, as the trail is well maintained, with some sections of smooth and easy boardwalk. The toughest parts require moderate climbs up to cliff tops and descend down to beaches. Trust us, there's just rewards for it all.

If you only have time for one pit stop, make sure it's Maitland Bay and its crystal clear water. Leave time to take a dip before you carry on with your walk.

  • Parking? Yes, there's parking at or near each beach, including Putty Beach and Macmasters Beach at either end of the track.
  • Distance: 8.5km one way
  • Difficulty: Moderate

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Hare Point Walking Track

Hare Point Track estuarine wetlands including saltmarsh and mangroves Carama Inlet northern shores of Jervis Bay

Feel the sand between your toes as you explore the beautiful NSW South Coast

Long known for housing the whitest grains in the world, Jervis Bay is a must-visit for those who love to spend time in the sand and has drawn thousands of visitors to the NSW South Coast. But, if you go, make sure you tear yourself away from the mesmerising beachland, because Jervis Bay National Park has plenty going for it, too.

The Hare Point Walking Track gives you a chance to experience this underrated part of the region while never straying too far from its sensational beach life. Sitting on the northern side of the bay, you'll be treated to native Aussie plantlife in the form of banksia, tea trees and eucalyptus as you meander through sandy forests, dunes and beaches. Despite the name, the 6km Hare Point Walking Track doesn't require you to be speedy to finish in a reasonable time. However, the sandy ground means this isn't a walk on which to take the little ones or those who have lower fitness levels.

The start is simple enough, located at Red Point picnic area. You'll be able to park there, returning to your vehicle upon completion of the route. If you're looking for a great spot to hang or grab a bite to eat when you're finished, you'll be right by Callala Bay, one of the most popular spots to visit in the area.

  • Parking? Yes, at the Red Point picnic area where the walk starts
  • Distance: 6km one way
  • Difficulty: Difficult

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The Coast Track

Coast walk signage, Palm Jungle Loop track, Royal National Park

A phenomenal trip that combines the vast Royal National Park with the glittering NSW coast

Leaving a walk called the Coast Track off a list of NSW's best coastal walks and hikes just isn't an option. Nor should it be! The Royal National Park, the second oldest national park in the world, plays host to this hike, which stretches from Bundeena south to Otford. By the time you're finished, you'll have knocked over 26km of park land. Besides the enchanting sandy beaches that populate this part of the world, you'll get to marvel at the stony borders created by grand escarpments. Of course there's plenty of chances to take a dip along the way, as well as a big dose of the lush forest Royal National Park is so well known for.

Your best bet is to take your time and really let it all soak in, so consider splitting this adventure across two days. The popular North Era campground will be your home for the night, with its views over North Era Beach. Just make sure you make a reservation before setting out. Another thing to consider is this is rated a Grade 5 track, so it's not for the faint of heart.

If you can, skip the driving and take the ferry to Bundeena Wharf, which is a 20-30 minute walk from the trailhead. Otford train station will provide your trip home once you're finished.

  • Parking? Yes, you can enter the park for $12 per vehicle per day, though public transport is probably a better option
  • Distance: 26km
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Before you go: Safety tips

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Yuraygir Coastal Walk

Freshwater Beach Walking Track Yuraygir National Park

Serious trekkers only need apply for this mammoth tour of NSW's North Coast

If you like your NSW multi-day hikes with a side of coastal bliss, make sure to make the Yuraygir Coastal Walk the next one on your to-do list. Spanning a monstrous 65km and requiring 4-5 days to complete, this Grade 4 track brings you to the Clarence Valley in northern NSW. Situated between Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay, you'll be walking the eastern edge of Yuraygir National Park along NSW's longest portion of undeveloped coastline.

The walk can be done both ways, but it’s best to go from north to south with the sun at your back. Starting from Angourie, just south of Yamba, you’ll encounter a mix of landscapes from grassy heaths and sandy beaches to rocky cliff tops and babbling creeks, before taking the trip's final steps in Red Rock a few days later.

The walk is well signed throughout, so you don't have to worry about finding yourself too far astray. You can pitch a tent or sleep under the stars if that's your thing. Otherwise you'll be within range of accommodation at towns like Brooms Head, Minnie Water and Wooli. If you've got enough room in your pack, make sure you bring the snorkel and have a peek under the water's surface for some extra fun.

  • Parking? Yes, at Angourie Surf Reserve
  • Distance: 65km
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Before you go: Safety tips

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Tomaree Head Summit Walk

Couple enjoying the coastal views along Tomaree Head Summit Walk, Port Stephens

A Port Stephens classic with a pristine pay off for your hard work

What's the point of the Tomaree Head Summit Walk? Why, the summit, naturally. This undertaking will see you lacing up your shoes and heading to Tomaree National Park in Shoal Bay. While this presents a bit of a different experience than some of the other coastal hikes and walks around NSW, it delivers in its own wonderful way.

This walk in the park isn't necessarily a walk in the park. Just over 1km each way, it might seem like a fairly elementary hike. But that couldn't be further from the truth. This little package features some big challenges, mainly in steep grade, rating out as a Grade 5 track. But, as with many things in life, the hard yards pay off, with an incredible view once you reach the summit. From there you'll look out over Port Stephens and other pieces of the enchanting North Coast. It makes for a prime picnic spot, that's for sure. If you can take your eyes away from the breathtaking horizon, see if you can spot any dolphins playing before the water's surface.

The walk begins where Shoal Bay Road ends (right around where the sand runs out). It's well signposted, so you won't miss it.

  • Parking? Yes, at Lower Zenith Beach and Upper Zenith Beach car parks.
  • Distance: 2.2km return
  • Difficulty: Difficult

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Discover Great Hikes and Walks in NSW

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