If there’s one thing Australia is known for, it’s miles and miles of pristine beaches. But instead of grabbing your towel and heading for Bondi like everybody else, make like a local at one of these sandy spots (and try not to look too smug about it).

1. Castle Rock Beach

A 10-minute hike along the cliffs of Sydney harbour from Clontarf Reserve will see you arrive at this little-known beach. Named for the giant rock perched on the sand, its flat, clear waters and trickling waterfall, it’s surprising that this one has stayed a secret.

2. Store Beach

Only accessible by boat, or a lengthy swim from Castle Rock Beach, Store Beach’s stretch of sand could rival that of any Mediterranean island. Keep an eye out for the ice cream boat that roams the harbour – flag it down for an after-lunch pick-me-up

3. Bungan Beach

If you’re after surf rather snorkelling, you’ll find it at Bungan Beach, backed by scrub and known only to the residents atop the surrounding cliffs. Just be sure to swim between the flags as rips are not uncommon.

4. Kutti Beach

Extremely difficult to find, the secluded Kutti Beach is almost like having your own private beach, backed by a harbourside mansion. The mansion may belong to someone else but that golden sand is all yours.

5. Resolute Beach

Emerald-green waters, sun-scorched sand and virtually no one in sight – the catch? It’s a 45-minute hike through Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park to get there – but we promise, it’s more than worth it.

6. Gordon’s Bay

A remote enclave created by tumbling boulders on either side, Gordon’s Bay is a great spot for snorkelling as well as sunbathing – follow the underwater nature trail for a series of steel plaques with information about the sealife.

7. Chinaman’s Beach

Ignore the name (the Australians can be an irreverent lot) because Chinaman’s Beach is everything you want in a swimming spot: blindingly white sand, aqua water and rock pools for nostalgic crab hunting.

8. Colin’s Flat Beach

If it weren’t for the occasional passing ferry, swimmers at Collins Beach could easily be fooled into thinking they were in the middle of nowhere. A waterfall and the occasional fairy penguin complete the experience, though you’ll only see them at certain times of year.

9. Milk Beach

This hidden beach will have you lying on the sand while enjoying uninterrupted views of the city, Harbour Bridge and all. Befriend locals and they might even let you in on the next summer beach party – designer bikinis only.

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City Guide: Sydney

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