Everyone raves about Sydney beaches, but Newcastle locals know better. Not only are their beaches on par with some of Australia’s most beautiful sandy strips, the crowds are significantly smaller, so it’s much easier to stretch out… and to find parking!

Newcastle’s beaches have something for everyone, whether you’re after a leisurely swim or looking for something a bit more adventurous. But with so many options, how do you pick which beach is right for you?

Here’s our pick of the best beaches in Newcastle, for any style of beach goer.

Newcastle’s best beach: Merewether Beach

best beaches in newcastleTime and again, there’s one beach that tops any list of Newcastle’s best – Merewether Beach. It’s been named the best in Australia, beating out Bondi and Whitehaven, and consistently ranks as not only the best beach in Newcastle, but the best outdoor activity in Newcastle.

So what makes it that good? It’s a little bit of everything really. The sand, the surf, and the view! Merewether Ocean Baths are some of the largest in the southern hemisphere, and they provide a sheltered area at the southern end of the beach, which is great for families with kids.

Merewether beach actually joins onto two other beach areas, making it a great place to go for a stroll. Merewether, with the surf club and the baths, joins on to Dixon Park Beach, which has a dog-friendly area, and then to Bar Beach, which has a large car park, swimming enclosure, skate park and playground.

Newcastle’s best surf beach: Newcastle Beachbest beaches in newcastle

There’s great surfing to be found at most of Newcastle’s beaches, including Nobby’s Stockton, and Merewether – the home of Surfest. But Newcastle Beach, just south of Newcastle Point, is world renowned for its waves. It’s fully patrolled in Summer, and it’s easy to access from the Newcastle CBD. 

For newbies, you’re better off heading to Nobby’s Beach, which is fully patrolled and has much gentler breaks, which makes learning the basics easier. Though Nobby’s can get crowded, there’s no better place in Newcastle to learn to surf.

If you’re a more experienced surfer, Stockton Beach is more exposed than other Newcastle beaches, which makes for some great swells and beach breaks. Be warned though, there are some strong rips, which can be very dangerous to beginners.

Newcastle’s Best Family Beach – Nobby’s Beachbest beaches in newcastle

Nobby’s Beach has something to offer everyone, especially in the way of family fun times! One of the safest beaches in Newcastle for swimming, Nobby’s gentle waves are patrolled year-round, and is a great place to learn to bodyboard or surf. 

One of the best things about Nobby’s Beach is the sheer amount of other beach activities available. Don’t like the surf? Low tide reveals rock pools and snorkeling spots, a great way to while away an afternoon. Prefer not to swim? The walk to the lighthouse is great at any time of day. The sunrise and sunset views of the waves and the city make it one of Newcastle’s most picturesque locations.

There’s also an excellent walk around Newcastle Point, from Nobby’s beach to Newcastle Beach, that takes around 15 minutes, one way. Free parking and picnic areas round out the perfect spot for a great family beach day.

Newcastle’s Best Dog Beach – Horseshoe Beachbest beaches in newcastle

Just across the dunes from Nobby’s beach sits Horseshoe beach, a nice stretch of calmer water where humans and their puppies can enjoy some salt and sand together. One of the few off-leash beach spots in Newcastle, at Horseshoe Beach your doggos can run around and chase seagulls to their heart’s content.

As with all off-leash areas, make sure your dogs are well trained and friendly. Horseshoe beach is not dog exclusive, and people often bring their families over to enjoy the gentler water and great fishing offered from this side of the breakwall.

Newcastle’s Best Explorer Beach – Caves Beachbest beaches in newcastle

Looking for something a bit more exciting than your usual beach adventures? Caves Beach is slightly out of Newcastle, but well worth the drive. While the main beach is a lovely stretch of patrolled sand and sea, the main attraction lies in the network of sea caves accessible at low tide. Make sure you check beforehand when low and high tide are, or you might get stuck which can be quite dangerous.

Caves beach also features some amazing rock pools, with plant and animal life to observe and swim with. There are a few bush walks around too, if you’re in the mood for more exploring!  The beach has a surf life saving club with toilets, showers, a picnic area, and a kiosk, so you don’t need to forgo those creature comforts on your adventure.

Newcastle’s best 4WD beach: Stockton Beachbest beaches in newcastle

One of NSW’s longest beaches, Stockton is home to some amazing sand dunes, with good 4WD access. It’s home to one of the best 4WD tracks in Australia, the 53km Stockton Beach 4WD Track, running from Williamstown to Anna Bay. It’s a challenging but exhilarating drive, with excellent view, some of which featured in the Aussie classic Mad Max.

It goes without saying that you need a fully featured 4WD to access most of Stockton Beach – we really do mean that in this case. It’s legally considered road space, so you still need to obey the rules of the road. You’ll also need a permit to access most of the beach – Port Stephens Council has more information on this.

About Tim Beau Bennett

Tim is an ex-journalist and radio presenter, and has been a professional writer for over a decade. He regularly writes about technology, lifestyle, and smart cities, and has written for news site including the ABC, SBS, and Australian Financial Review.