The 10 Best Harbour Beaches Sydney Yachties Keep Secret

When you think of the best Harbour beaches Sydney has to offer, your mind probably goes straight to icons like Bondi Beach, Manly Beach, or even, if you’re a Home and Away fan, Palm Beach.

What you might not know is that there are more than 40 harbour beaches to explore in Sydney, all accessible by boat or by land.

We love visiting harbour beaches for their calm, shallow waters, perfect for a warm swim, sandy shores, perfect for relaxing and joyful beach play with the kids, and the gorgeous serenity that only being close to nature can afford.

So, in no particular order, here are our top 10 Sydney Harbour beaches to explore in 2024.

Balmoral Beach looking toward Bather's Pavillion

1. Balmoral Beach

Balmoral Beach is one of Sydney’s most remarkable harbour beaches. Nestled in the northern suburb of Mosman, Balmoral is incredibly popular with locals and best known for its calm waters, spectacular swimming and water activities, waterside restaurants and unbeatable views.
Accessible via boat, car or public transport, Balmoral is family friendly with excellent cafes, a well-shaded playground, and a unique shaded beach area. It has a netted swimming area where older kids love to jump from the jetty into the water, SUP hire and learn to sail service. Fancy a picnic or fish and chips on the beach? Easy – there are so many little spots, tables and grassy areas to choose from, followed by an enjoyable walk around the rocky island. Bliss!

If you’re without the kids, book a table at Bathers Pavilion to experience the fine-dining restaurant or take in a more relaxed vibe at the bistro. If neither takes your fancy, there’s always the Champagne rooftop bar!

Camp Cove beach at Watsons Bay, Eastern Suburbs Sydney. Photo Credit - Destination NSW

2. Camp Cove

A short walk from Watsons Bay, this stunning spot is located in the eastern suburbs and has something the whole family will enjoy. Camp Cove is perfect for kids with its shallow, crystal-clear waters and soft white sand, and the kiosk is well-stocked with ice blocks and drinks for cooling down on hot days. 

Looking west over the Mosman peninsula, taking in the spectacular sunset is an absolute must. Let’s just say you can see why property along this stretch of beach is in the tens of millions!

While Camp Cove is accessible via road, we love anchoring here because of its warm, clear waters and 10+ meters of visibility.

Tip: Bring a snorkel!

3. Castle Rock

Castle Rock is one of those tiny little mini beaches barely accessible by land, making it the perfect boating beach. Located in Middle Harbour, it’s shallow, warm, quiet, and incredibly secluded.

We recommend making your visit to Castle Rock unforgettable with one of our luxury charters. Around 45 minutes from the CBD is plenty of time for you and up to 12 guests to enjoy a custom itinerary on Enigma or Felix – enjoy food, drinks, music and take in the iconic sites of the Harbour. Reach out, and we can put together an unforgettable experience for you!

Castle Rock Beach Photo Credit: Kel B

4. Store Beach

Located in the Sydney Harbour National Park between Quarantine Beach and Collins Beach near Manly, this west-facing beach is only accessible via water (boat or kayak). Because of this seclusion, fairy penguins breed here, and beach access is prohibited after dark to keep them safe as they settle for the night. Super cute!

So whether you hire a kayak or one of our charter boats to get there, you’ll thoroughly enjoy the romantic seclusion of Store Beach. 

From the CBD, you’ll need 45 minutes of cruising time for up to 12 guests on Enigma or Felix, so this is another location we highly recommend for making a significant occasion extra special.

Aerial overlooking beachgoers at Clontarf Reserve, Clontarf. Photo Credit - Destination NSW

5. Clontarf Beach

Absolute heaven! With its large sandy foreland, Clontarf Beach is home to a beautiful swimming enclosure, plentiful picnic spots, a kid-friendly playground, lots of beach and green grassy areas and a cafe that will not disappoint. It’s a picnickers delight – and a great place to settle in for the day.

Accessible via road or by boat, Clontarf Beach has plenty of parking and no shortage of places to anchor a boat. 

For the adventurous, Clontarf Beach marks the start (or end) of the Spit to Manly bush walk. It’s 10 km, but give yourself time to stop and enjoy the vistas, beaches, and bays you’ll find along the way.

6. Queens Beach

This secluded Rose Bay beach will knock your socks off. The views of the Harbour here are truly spectacular, which is why this secluded little spot holds a special place in the hearts of locals. Accessible off the beaten track or by boat (or kayak!), this little gem is located near the Hermitage Trail and is a short walk from beautiful dining options and, if required, retail therapy.

7. Athol Bay

You’ll find Athol Bay at the bottom of the Taronga Zoo hill, and unlike many of the beaches on our list, it boasts incredible views of Sydney’s famous cityscape. It’s a gorgeous bay and beach to visit on your boat charter and a favourite spot with family and friends. With no amenities, it really does feel remote while overlooking the most beautiful harbour and city in the world. Listen closely; you may hear the lions roar while you’re there!

If you’re interested in bush walks, there’s a beautiful trail here called the Bradley’s Head Walking Track, which we highly recommend! The trail will take you from the bottom of Athol Bay Road, around Braley’s Head and over to Taylor’s Bay. If you have time, you can continue walking the Taylor’s Bay Track, which will take you right around to Chowder Bay. But why stop here!? You can continue to Obelisk Beach (be warned: it’s a nudest beach), around Middle Head and onto Balmoral. In Balmoral, you may like to refresh with a swim before booking an Uber back to your car or public transport to head home.

View towards the Sydney CBD from Athol Bay beach at Mosman. Photo Credit - Destination NSW

8. Shark Island

Did you know you can visit, picnic and swim at Shark Island? In the middle of Sydney Harbour, about a kilometre from Rose Bay, Shark Island is the ultimate destination on charters. Disembark, take a walk, and even swim, as this little island is more beautiful in person than you think. 

Ask your captain to drop you off at the wharf or during school holidays Captain Cook Cruises offers transfers for $20pp.

Scenic views across Sydney Harbour to Sydney CBD from Shark Island, Sydney Harbour. Photo Credit - Destination NSW

9. Clifton Gardens & Chowder Bay

Chowder Bay and Clifton Gardens are some of our favourite harbour beaches in Sydney. Its flat grassy reserve is perfect for ball games and picnics, and the waters are crystal clear, with a beautiful sandy beach perfect for sunning after a dip. The playground is perfect for kids of all ages, and there is a great kiosk for refreshments.

Accessible by boat or road, this is one of our favourite spots! Don’t forget your snorkel, as there is so much to see underwater.

Aerial view of Sydney Harbour from Clifton Gardens. Photo Credit - Destination NSW

10. Chinamans Beach

Chinamans Beach is a beautiful north-facing harbour beach to the west of Balmoral. It’s quiet and shallow and, quite simply – absolutely stunning. Surrounded by big beautiful houses in Mosman, it is a favourite with local families chasing the all-day north-facing sun. Accessibly via road and boat, Chinamans Beach is deep into Middle Harbour and, as such, is protected from big wash from speedy boats. 

You’ll need 45min to get to Chinamans Beach from the CBD, but it’s well worth the journey.

Chinaman's Beach in Mosman. Photo Credit - Destination NSW

Ready to set sail? We’re here to help!

You can now consider yourself a seasoned Sydney Yachtie! You’ve got all the top tips for our favourite beaches on the Harbour to explore for your next excursion. When you go, we encourage you to take a rubbish bag with you, and where possible, do a quick beach clean, removing any plastics or garbage you find! We do it every time we visit by boat or on foot. Each clean goes a long way to preserving the unique ecology of our beautiful harbour.  

If you’re considering a charter to visit one of these beautiful icons or hidden gems, let us know, and we’ll put together a custom itinerary for one of our luxury vessels that will take your breath away.