So, you’re looking for the best beaches in Australia to visit on a gap year? It’s a tough question. If you haven’t heard – though we presume that having already booked a gap year in Australia, you probably have – there are more than a few rather attractive locations to choose from.
You need worry no longer though, because you’ve come to exactly the right place to narrow down the list. We’ve done a sweep of the coastlines down under and come up with a list of – in no particular order – what we think are the 10 best beaches in Australia to visit on a gap year.
If you’ve got your student travel planned, a working holiday, are heading out to volunteer abroad or anything else of the sort, here is your must not miss guide to the golden coasts of Oz.
1) Bondi Beach, Sydney
Any worthwhile search for what to do in Australia will quickly lead you to Bondi Beach. It may be crowded, it may be packed with tourists and you may get more than a few posers surfing in the water there, but it’s earned its stellar reputation.
The beach is known for its sparkling ocean and welcoming beach breaks which surfers can always rely on, but it’s really made its name for the atmosphere rather than the quality of the beach. Bondi is the embodiment and hub of the laid back lifestyle world renowned on the Australian coast.
There are various youth hostels in the area, and the beach is the closest ocean beach to the city centre of Sydney, at only 7km away.
You’ll see people from every walk of life congregating on Bondi beach, so when you’re noting down a list of the best beaches to visit in Australia, even if you’re really looking for somewhere off the beaten track, we strongly advise that this one is near the top.
2) The Beaches of Bruny Island, Tasmania
So you’ve come onto our list of the beach beaches in Australia to visit on a gap year, and you’ve found Bondi beach first. Yes, we know, it’s a bit obvious, but it had to be there, didn’t it? It’s an essential for any student travel or working holiday.
The whole list isn’t going to be so mainstream though, don’t worry, so let’s dive in to some water less splashed for our second suggestion – the beaches of Bruny Island in Tasmania.
We’re kind of cheating here in putting down the entire island as one pointer, but there are so many options on Bruny that you’d be silly not to explore. The coastal scenery is like nothing you’ll have ever seen before, outside of a cinema at least, and you can even see wildlife ranging from white wallabies to little penguins while you’re on your gap year adventure!
There are plenty of opportunities for swimming and surfing, but with no resorts currently in place, there’s unlikely to be an abundance of tourists. Access is through a ferry from nearby Hobart. Stay a few days and you won’t regret it!
3) Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island
Even looking at pictures of Whitehaven Beach is enough to make you subconsciously reach for your wallet and click open a new tab to book flights to Australia. The place regularly finds itself topping polls of the best beaches in Australia, including that of Trip Advisor, and for very good reason too.
The sand doesn’t get more glorious than at Whitehaven. It’s known as ‘silica sand’, which basically means it’s one of the purist forms of sand on the planet, making it white, soft to touch and meaning it doesn’t get too hot. We still can’t guarantee it won’t end up on and inside of everything you’ve ever owned of course.
The views on offer are sure to impress anyone who hasn’t died and gone to heaven already. There are beautiful reefs, stunning lagoons and endless blues and greens make up the horizon.
The perfect coastline stretches on for a stunning 7km, so even if a whole herd of tourists turn up, you’ll always be able to find a secluded spot in the sand. This is one gap year experience that you need to make sure you don’t miss out on.
4) Little Beach, Two Peoples Nature Reserve, Albany
Remember that fairytale or film you watched that time where the main character washed up on a ridiculously beautiful island in the middle of nowhere? Take your pick. There’s plenty of them. Well, that’s the kind of scenic feel you’ll be in for if you manage to make your way to Little Beach.
Surrounded on all sides by forest and mountains, this secluded beach is exactly what you’d probably imagine if you thought of the words ‘private island paradise’ – or to put it another way, it’s probably what you imagined when you thought of taking a gap year in Australia to start with.
In the perfect blue waters here you’ll find a peaceful sun haven, very few other tourists and one of the most perfect stretches of sand in the country, split up only by the gargantuan stone standing alone in the middle.
5) Cable Beach, Broome
If you’re a romantic, a photographer, a traveller set on scenic beauty or even just a regular human who isn’t out of their mind – you’re bound to fall in love with the sunset at Cable Beach.
What makes Cable Beach particularly different to most others on this list is that it’s actually not on the Pacific Ocean; it’s on the Indian.
The stunning result is that when it’s time for sunset, the sun appears as a giant red ball of flaming beauty at the other end of the ocean.
You can watch the view from the beach or with a drink in your hand, but we’d recommend an ever-popular sunset camel ride through Cable Beach as the ultimate gap year experience. It’s one you won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
6) Noosa Beach, Sunshine Coast
A surfer’s paradise, The Point break at Noosa – though don’t expect to see Keanu Reeves there – is said to be one of the best in the world, particularly for long-boarders, providing monumental rides of up to 200 metres on occasion.
This is a great surf break for beginners in Australia, and along with the regulars like suntan lotion and condoms, surfing is of course one of the essential things for a gap year to Australia.
While the waves can also be enjoyed by surfers of higher level due to the length of the cruise, you’ll have to go elsewhere for bigger waves. It’s worth pointing out that if you are around the area in March, the Noosa Festival of Surfing will be taking off and is worth getting along for.
Expect to see a lot of local surfers on the golden beaches and in the perfect water. This isn’t a beach that’s going to be empty very often, but it one that’s well worth a visit.
7) Rockingham Beach, Western Australia
Looking to see some wildlife when you’re out on you student travels or while volunteering abroad? Then Rockingham beach is one of the best beaches in Australia for you. There are over 150 bottlenose dolphins that call its crystal clear waters home.
The beach is about an hour from Perth and there are some great swimming and diving trails in the area. It’s a wonderfully calm place with beautiful nearby parks and cafes on hand as well. If you’re a fan of relaxation, tranquility and wildlife, this is a must.
8) Bells Beach, Victoria
So, you've looked around online for the best deals on gap year insurance, you've learnt how to surf and you're now on the hunt for the best beaches in Australia for surfing on a gap year. Well Bells Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world when it comes to surfing, playing host to the Rip Curl Pro comp every year over the Easter weekend.
Huge waves break in from the Southern Ocean, and even if you’re not quite up to taking on the waves yourself, there are amazing lookout points along the cliffs surrounding the area, which also make for a surreal backdrop you’d be mad to miss out on.
9) 75 Mile Beach, Fraser Island
The 75 Mile Beach is pretty damn long. In fact, believe it or not, it actually stretches out over a full 75 miles!
This means that no matter how busy the beach is, you’ll always be able to find a spot that suits you – whether that be one with that extra bit of atmosphere or one where you’re left entirely alone. Hence why it often pops up when people start talking about the best beaches in Australia to visit on a gap year.
There are a lot of sharks in the waters though, so best not to swim in the area, but it’s only a short journey from here to the famous Champagne Pools swimming spot if you’re really keen to get wet.
10) Cape Tribulation, Queensland
This is one for the off-the-beaten track adventures looking to take in the best beaches in Australia on their gap year or travels without lazing around on them for too long.
Cape Tribulation beach is surrounded by tropical rainforest, so the wildlife options you could come across are near enough limitless, though this can prove dangerous at times if you don’t keep your eyes open. Sea salt crocodiles have been known to occupy the area!
There is no public transport to the beach nor any shuttles, so you’ll need to make your own way here or join a day tour, but what that does mean is that it’ll be significantly less crowded than many other beaches on this list.
It’s also worth noting that the Great Barrier Reef is just 12 miles east of here though, so you’re very near one of the biggest attractions in Australia. Definitely worth the extra travel effort!