The best coastal walks & 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 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 lush forest, this list has a little bit of everything for your on-foot expeditions.

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

  • In a nutshell: An iconic route that belongs on any Sydney bucket list.
  • 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: Grade 2

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, the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk is an institution in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. 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 during the amazing annual Sculpture by the Sea event, which sees artwork deployed around the section of the walk between Bondi and Tamarama.

> Get directions

Coastal walk from Coogee to Bondi, Bondi in distance

Coastal walk, Bondi

Spit Bridge to Manly Walk

  • In a nutshell: The pride of the Northern Beaches, this walk will have you dipping in and out of bushland on the way to one of the most happening spots in Sydney.
  • Parking? 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: Grade 3

Another coastal walk in the Big Smoke, the Spit Bridge to Manly Walk provides excellent views of the Northern Beaches. But instead of the consistent boardwalk-clad coastline of the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, this walk puts your feet on largely unfinished (but very well-maintained) trails. You'll still get gorgeous coastal views, this time of Middle Harbour coupled with a nice mix of bush and brushland, and even some Aboriginal rock engravings. The route is a little light on cafes and rest stops, so it’s a good idea to bring some water and snacks. But save room for lunch in Manly, a just reward for your work. Head to 4 Pines for refined pub grub and local craft beer, or sit on the deck at Wharf Bar and look out over the sea, watching the ferries come in.

> Get directions

Friends enjoying a walk along Forty Baskets Beach, Balgowlah, Sydney East

Spit to Manly Walk, Sydney 

Bouddi Coastal Walk

  • In a nutshell: This stellar stroll connects several of the Central Coast's most beloved beaches.
  • Parking? 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: Grade 3

For those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, 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 threee to four 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.

> Get directions

Murramarang South Coast Walk

  • In a nutshell: A spectacular multi-day walk taking in the dramatic South Coast of NSW.
  • Parking? Parking is available at Pretty Beach, Pebbly Beach, Depot Beach, South Durras and Maloneys Beach.
  • Distance: 34km one-way
  • Difficulty: Grade 4

This exciting new three-day walk through the beautiful Murramarang National Park passes through coastal villages secluded beaches and gum forests, starting at Pretty Beach south of Ulladulla and ending at Maloneys Beach just north of Batemans Bay. You can choose to stay overnight in campsites or in cabins along the way, with several multi-day experience packages available through the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, including options for transfers and tours.

Keep an eye out for wildlife along the way, with more than 90 bird species – including sea eagles, shearwaters, petrels, peregrine falcons and a penguin colony – in the park, as well as eastern grey kangaroos. From May to October you may also spot whales as they migrate up and down the coast. Murramarang National Park is also an area of rich Aboriginal cultural heritage. Just north of the start of the walk is Murramarang Aboriginal Area, which is one of the largest and most important Aboriginal sites on the NSW coast.

> Get directions

A vista of North Head in Murramarang National Park, Murramarang South Coast Walk

Murramarang South Coast Walk, Pretty Beach - Credit: Remy Brand/DPE

Hare Point Walking Track

  • In a nutshell: Feel the sand between your toes as you explore the beautiful NSW South Coast.
  • Parking? At the Red Point picnic area where the walk starts.
  • Distance: 6km one-way
  • Difficulty: Grade 5

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 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.

> Get directions

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

Hare Point Track, Jervis Bay - Photo Credit: Michael Van Ewijk/DPIE

The Coast Track

  • In a nutshell: A phenomenal trip that combines the vast Royal National Park with the glittering NSW coast.
  • Parking? You can enter the park for $12 per vehicle per day, though public transport is probably a better option.
  • Distance: 26km
  • Difficulty: Grade 5

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 (including the popular Wattamolla and Garie beaches), 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 the 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 to 30-minute walk from the trailhead. Otford train station will provide your trip home once you're finished.

> Get directions

Wattamolla, Royal National Park

Wattamolla Beach, Royal National Park

Yuraygir Coastal Walk

  • In a nutshell: Serious trekkers only need apply for this mammoth tour of NSW's North Coast.
  • Parking? At Angourie Surf Reserve.
  • Distance: 65km
  • Difficulty: Grade 4

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 four to five 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.

> Get directions

Tomaree Head Summit Walk

  • In a nutshell: A Port Stephens classic with a pristine payoff for your hard work.
  • Parking? At Lower Zenith Beach and Upper Zenith Beach car parks.
  • Distance: 2.2km return
  • Difficulty: Grade 5

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.

Make a trip of it by tackling the new 27km Tomaree Coastal Walk, which begins at Tomaree Head and weaves through pretty angophora forestsmall coastal communities and past secluded beaches to the culturally significant Worimi Conservation Lands. The full journey is best experienced as an overnight walk staying at nearby off-park accommodation, however, it can also completed in three days for a more leisurely pace. 

> Get directions

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

Tomaree Head Summit Walk, Port Stephens

Kiama Coast Walk

  • In a nutshell: Ocean views, spectacular rock formations and unspoilt beaches, broken up by the charming seaside villages of the Kiama region.
  • Parking? The walk starts at the riverside park at Minnamurra, parking is available onsite in the car park off Charles Avenue.
  • Distance: 20km one-way
  • Difficulty: Grade 3

Coastal drama awaits on the wild and wonderful Kiama Coast Walk, stretching from the Minnamurra River in the north to Werri Beach, in the town of Gerringong, in the south. Along the way lie ancient rock formations, record-breaking blowholes, windswept headlands and postcard-perfect beaches, not to mention plenty of places to refuel. If you’re visiting between May and November, keep watch for humpback whales, especially from the designated platforms: Minnamurra Whale Watching Platform or Gerringong Whale Watching Platform. Highlights include Cathedral RocksBombo HeadlandBoneyardKiama BlowholeLittle Blowhole and Werri Lagoon, just to name a few.

Rise early if you want to tackle the entire trail in a day – it’s possible, but many choose to break it up and complete just one of its three sections at a time: North, Mid and South, each section is 5-8 km.

> Get directions

Minnamurra Headland overlooking Rangoon Island on the Kiama Coast Walk, Kiama

Kiama Coast Walk, Kiama

Light to Light Walk

  • In a nutshell: Take a trip down to the Sapphire Coast and enjoy empty beaches and wide open spaces.
  • Parking? Parking is available at a number of points along the track, including Saltwater Creek and Bittangabee campgrounds and at Boyds Tower.
  • Distance: 30km one-way
  • Difficulty: Grade 4

Want to truly get away from the crowds? Head for the highly underrated Sapphire Coast and set your sights on the Light to Light Walk. Located in Beowa National Park, formerly Ben Boyd National Park, this route is a bit of a hidden gem. But it certainly holds plenty of treasures for those willing to make the trip – and you won’t have to share them with many others on the trail. That means fewer interruptions get in the way of the sights and sounds that come with this phenomenal coastline. From open-air cliff tops to brushy heath and woody forest, this path has a lot of the good stuff.

You'll kick things off at Boyds Tower, around 35km south of Eden, with the hike wrapping up at Green Cape Lighthouse. There are plenty of established campgrounds along the way, but do a bit of research and have a general idea of how far you want to get each day. Consider booking sites when the weather is nicer. You can park at either end of the walk and you can pay for professional transfers from one end to the other as required.

> Get directions

Please note: Upgrades to the Light to Light Walk are underway and should be completed by mid-2024. Check for current and upcoming closures here

Couple enjoying a day section of the multi-day Light to Light Walk, South Coast

Light to Light Walk, Ben Boyd National Park

Cape Byron Walking Track

  • In a nutshell: An amazing way to explore the natural beauty and signature landmarks of one of the most beloved spots in NSW.
  • Parking? There is paid parking on the streets near the start of the walk, and there are car parks at The Pass, Captain Cook lookout, Wategos Beach and the lighthouse. You can also walk from Byron Bay to the start of the trail – it’s less than 30 minutes from the centre of town.
  • Distance: 3.7km loop
  • Difficulty: Grade 3

Popular with surfers, wellness enthusiasts and the bohemian crowd alike, thousands flock to Byron Bay to get away from it all. The Cape Byron Walking Track represents much of what is great about the area. It's a beautiful way to get some exercise and comes with plenty of gorgeous scenery, winding its way through the Cape Byron State Conservation Area.

You'll be treated to majestic coastal views (and potential whale, dolphin and stingray sightings) while dipping in and out of luscious rainforest over this 3.7km loop. The path takes you right up to the Cape Byron Lighthouse, which has stood tall on watch at the most easterly point of Australia since 1901. The trail isn't too difficult or long, but does feature some moderately steep sections.

> Get directions

Cape Byron Walking Track, Byron Bay

Cape Byron Walking Track, Byron Bay - Credit: John Spencer, OEH

The Bathers Way Walk

  • In a nutshell: Hop from beautiful beach to beautiful beach on the sunny shores of Newcastle.
  • Parking? At Merewether Ocean Baths, King Edward Park, Bar Beach, Dixon Park Beach and Nobbys Lighthouse.
  • Distance: About 6km
  • Difficulty: Grade 2

While there's plenty of great hikes and walks in Newcastle, this one probably takes the cake. Newcastle beaches are some of the most glorious coastal spots in the country and, luckily for you and other willing walkers, many of them are connected on this flat, paved pathway. In addition to sensational swimming, you'll also be treated to wonderful views of the city and its most famous landmarks. In the winter, when it might be a bit too chilly to take a dip, keep your eyes peeled for whales playing out in the sea.

There are plenty of easy spots to hop on The Bathers Way Walk. It begins at Merewether Ocean Baths, where you can start your day with a little picnic or a coffee and use the facilities before you set off. You'll pass by Dixon Park, Bar Beach, the moving ANZAC Memorial Walk and Newcastle Beach before ending at the famous Nobbys Lighthouse. If you've still got some juice in your legs, continue on out to the end of Nobbys Breakwall for a truly uninterrupted view of the expansive sea.

> Get directions

Discover more hikes & walks in NSW