On the shores of Botany Bay, Brighton le Sands in Sydney’s south has a lot to offer. Its long sandy shoreline and calm bay are reminiscent of the beaches of Greece. Today we are sharing our love for Sydney’s southern beaches because we think it is a great place to explore on a sunny day!
Botany Bay is Sydney’s little Greece. The area has drawn many locals who have Greek Heritage, and Brighton Le Sands is the epicentre of the community.
Why you should visit Brighton and the Bayside Beaches
Its calm waters and tree-lined beach make Brighton a peaceful place to spend a day relaxing with friends or knocking out your 10,000 steps.
Taking pride of place on the beachfront at Brighton le Sands is a sculpture of Spyros Louis, winner of the first Olympic marathon in 1896.
Glyfada in southern Athens is a sister city of Bayside, home of Brighton le Sands.
Just a few hundred metres away, you will find the First Fleet Bicentennial Monument commemorating the arrival of the First Fleet in Botany Bay in 1788.
It would be lovely to see a monument dedicated to the area’s original inhabitants take up position near these two one day.
Where is Brighton le Sands and the Bayside beaches?
Brighton le Sands and other beach suburbs that we will cover today look out over this long stretch of sand on Botany Bay, known as Lady Robinson Beach.
Did you know: Lady Robinson Beach is the longest in Sydney
Lady Robinson Beach begins at Kyeemagh just south of Sydney Airport and continues to Sans Souci, 7km south.
From north to south, the beaches are individually known as Kyeemagh, Brighton, Monterey, Ramsgate, Sandringham, Dolls Point and San Souci. There is no defining line between them, so many people don’t know exactly which beach they are on.
To make things a little easier when meeting friends, providing directions for your Uber eats delivery, or if you need the help of emergency services, they have come up with a numbering system.
Looking out to sea from the beach, you will see the headlands of Kurnell and La Perouse. The southern head is Kurnell, where Captain Cook landed in 1770. On the north is La Perouse, where Phillip landed with the first fleet, and the French took shelter just a few days later.
The Aboriginal name for Botany Bay is Kamay. This is the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation.
Read more about the first encounters between the traditional owners and the new arrivals here.
Interesting facts about Brighton
Brighton has been attracting visitors since the late 1800s. Here are a few facts we have discovered about the area over the years we have lived here.
- The current Novotel Sydney Brighton site was home to a racecourse between 1897 to 1911.
- Between 1885 to 1949 a tram operated between Rockdale and Brighton. Thomas Saywell, the entrepreneur that was developing the area, established the service and named the area Brighton after the British seaside resort. The le Sands part was added much later to help with confusion between the two.
- Bellevue Hill’s famous private school, Scots College was located here in the early 1890s until it moved to its current location in 1895. Apparently things were too rowdy down south.
- Lady Robinson Beach was originally referred to as Seven Mile Beach before being renamed in 1874 for the wife of Governor Sir Hercules Robinson.
- A ferry service once travelled between Brighton Le Sands, Sans Souci, Kurnell and La Perouse. There is currently a call by local politicians to reinstate the service to improve access and increase tourism to the area. Something we would love to see!
- The 2016 census recorded that 4.8% of the residents of Brighton were born in Greece and 13.8% speak Greek at home. In neighbouring Kyeemagh 21.4%. speak Greek at home. There are similar numbers in all the suburbs surrounding the beach.
- Variou sources list Lady Robinson Beach as being 6, 7 and 8km long depending on which one you check. The last time we walked the whole thing on the paths we got 8km but perhaps along the sand, it is only 7km long.
- They named Brighton’s southern neighbour Monterey, inspired by the Californian counterpart and many of the streets in the suburb have a Californian influence (Pasadena, Hollywood and Culver Streets for example).
- There are no pubs at any of the beaches, there are a few clubs and bars where you can get a drink but the areas two pubs much loved pubs, Mick Moylan’s at Sans Souci and Miller’s Brighton Hotel both disappeared in the late 1980s.
Lady Robinson Beach Brighton le Sands
This family-friendly beach stretches from the Cooks River mouth in the north to the mouth of the Georges River in the south.
The bay is usually as flat as a pancake, and you are pretty safe to play in the shallows anywhere along its stretch. The sand is some of the whitest in Sydney, and the beach itself is usually spotless.
Netted swimming pool areas known as baths are found at the following spots:
The most southern of the beaches on Lady Robinson Beach, Kyeemagh Baths, is next to the mouth of the Cooks River. The beach has a 50m-70m netted swimming area. This section of the beach has some dunes remaining that provide a bit of shelter on windy days.
To the north of the beach is an off-leash dog area that operates from 4pm to 10am each day. Other facilities include a fenced playground, a cafe in the park behind the beach, and parking areas.
I like that this part of the beach is well back from the road and can be very quiet on weekdays. However, on weekends the jet-skis arrive, and it can get a little chaotic.
Brighton le Sands Baths
Brighton is usually the busiest beach along the strip. There are volleyball courts at the northern end which can be booked.
The swimming baths are about 130m past the Bay Street intersection. On offer here is a 60m x 50m netted area. Toilets, showers and change rooms are adjacent.
Behind the beach is a wooden boardwalk where you will find some of Brighton’s best-known restaurants, including Le Sands, Hurricanes and Republiq. There is also a kiosk for budget dining.
Brighton is a good option if you visit using public transport or want to be close to cafes, restaurants and shops.
The netted pool at Monterey is relatively deep, and there are new toilet facilities just above the beach. There is no shade on the sand until the late afternoon, but a couple of covered picnic shelters nearby provide respite in the middle of the day.
For anyone who hates sand, you can choose the grassy embankment above the beach as your base.
We arrived at Ramsgate Baths just after the council tractor had done its sweep of the beach. I am not sure how often they do this, but it was immaculate this winter’s morning.
The netted area is 50m-square, and you can enter via stairs directly opposite Ramsgate Road or the ramp just past the cafe. At high tide, the water comes right up to the ramp.
There are change rooms with hot showers right by the pool and plenty of cafes across the road. Three different bus routes stop nearby.
Sandringham Baths are one of my favourites because they are away from the Grand Parade traffic and are generally not as busy. There is a 30m by 40m netted area that is mainly used by residents.
The baths are in Vanston Parade. A small parking area and toilets are adjacent. It’s a short walk along the path to Kiss the Barista and the Georges River Sailing Club for refreshments.
Dolls Point Baths
The swimming area at Dolls Point has gone through a lot of challenges over the last decade because of moving sands. Most days, the water in the netted area is too shallow for a proper swim; however, there is a lovely sandy beach, and if your day at the beach involves more sandcastle building than laps, it’s a brilliant choice.
Are there sharks at Brighton Beach?
You will be pleased to hear that shark sightings in Botany Bay are rare. The last shark sighted here was in January 2019 when swimmers spotted a shark inside the nets of Brighton Baths at dusk. The next day the council repaired a hole in the shark net, and three days later, a 3m bull shark was caught in Dolls Point. Stick to the netted swimming enclosures above to avoid any chance encounters.
How clean is the water at Brighton?
The water of the bay is pretty good these days. In the past, there were issues with stormwater runoff, particularly at the northern end; however, there has been a lot of work done on water quality, and we are continually impressed at how clean the water looks when we take a dip.
We would probably wait a few days to swim here after heavy rain when there can be some contamination. You can check the water quality anytime on this website.
The last patch of sand is the area just before Captain Cook Beach; this is officially Sans Souci, a French term meaning “without care”; in other terms, “no worries.” This is an excellent spot to paddle or Kayak.
Ten things to do at Brighton Le Sands
Wondering if there is enough to do here to warrant a visit? In a word, yes, plenty.
1. Plan a beachside picnic
Cook Park, the strip of green land that lines the beach, has attracted picnickers since the 1880s. Sunny weekends see many families arrive from across Sydney for beach picnics. We tend to head down after work on warm nights for a quiet alfresco dinner by the water.
Picnic shelters are dotted around the parkland lining the beach, but most people throw a picnic blanket down under one of the many Norfolk Island Pines. If you have a large group, there are some larger shelters at Dolls Point end of the beach.
The new and old picnic shelters at Peter Depena Reserve Dolls Point
If your picnic is an impromptu idea, there are Coles supermarkets at Brighton and Ramsgate shopping strips where you can grab some picnic food.
There are free gas BBQs at Peter Depena Reserve in Dolls Point, but you will need to bring a cooked picnic or grab something nearby along the rest of the park.
2. Find a quiet spot on the beach to meditate
Unlike the eastern suburb beaches, the sand lining Botany Bay is usually pretty empty outside summer weekends. This is the perfect place to sit and listen to the ocean and spend some time with your thoughts.
3. Visit the areas playgrounds
There are four playgrounds along Cook Park and a large one in Peter Depena Reserve at Dolls Point.
Click on the name for the Google map link.
- Kyeemagh – A fenced playground with a good sunshade
- Monterey – a small fenced playground features ship theme, best suited for younger kids.
- Ramsgate (Pine Park Playground) – one of the newest playgrounds along the beach.
- Peter Depena Reserve – The biggest and best of the area’s offerings and our favourite
- Riverside Drive Playground – a large fenced park, not a lot of equipment but plenty of space.
Check out Hello Sydney Kids to search for detailed reviews of the best children’s playgrounds in Sydney.
4. Take a nice long walk or join a park run
The paths along Lady Robinson Beach are well set up for cycling or walking. They can get pretty busy on weekends, but it’s much more enjoyable if you arrive early morning for some exercise.
There is an official 5km Park Run that meets in Dolls Point every Saturday morning. It’s free to join, but you need to register.
Arrive at dawn for sunrise, and you will see how popular this path is for exercise and dog walkers. You might even meet @wolf_the_rescue_dog wandering the path or waiting for his weekly bacon @kissthebarista
5. Go plane spotting
Plane spotters will love the view of aircraft taking off from nearby Sydney airport right along the beachfront. However, for the best action, head to the northern end of Kyeemagh, where you are up close to the runway and get fabulous views.
6. Go Kite Surfing at Monterey
Monterey is the kite surfing capital of Sydney’s southeast. Watching these athletes in action as you take an afternoon walk is great fun.
There are several operators offering lessons to the public. KBL School is one of the best known. Even if you don’t want to try it yourself, it’s fun watching those braver souls than I gliding above the water.
7. Sign the kids up for Nippers
Children aged 3-16 are welcome at both Ramsgate and Brighton le Sands nippers. The season runs from October to March. It’s a fantastic way to make sure your kids learn ocean safety and can enjoy days at the beach. It’s also really affordable with an annual fee.
8. Throw in a line and see what you can catch
Brighton le Sands is popular for beach fishing. Late in the afternoon, and you will find locals who have been coming here for years settling in for the evening’s catch.
Flathead, trevally, blackfish and snapper are on offer, they tell me; I have to be honest, I have not held a fishing rod since I was a teen; however, those fishing are always up for a chat and happy to share their tips.
The best spots are near the Cooks River in the northern end and then towards Dolls Point at the beach’s southern end.
The ten rock groynes that line the bay are also good places to set up if you don’t mind giving up the comfort of your chair on the beach. You can also book a fishing charter to fish outside the heads.
9. Take your dog to the off-leash dog beach
There is a great off-leash area for dogs at the northern tip of Kyeemagh Beach.
10 Check out the Brighton Night Market
This monthly night market is held on the first Sunday of every month in the Kyeemagh Beach car park off General Holmes Drive. Get there well before the 4pm start time to have any chance of finding parking. With plenty of food trucks and other stalls to keep you occupied, this is a fun way to end the weekend. The market finishes at 8pm.
Where to eat in Brighton
Brighton has been a popular spot for dining for many years. Cafes and restaurants line Bay Street and the Grand Parade. There is so much choice that even the fussiest eaters will find something here.
Many restaurants have ocean views, and one of the most popular for many years has been the Bay garden Restaurant on the first floor of the Novotel. With its fantastic views overlooking Brighton Beach, it’s been a celebration spot for locals for over two decades.
Located right on the waterfront Le Sands Restaurant has beautiful views and a popular wedding and event venue. The Mediterranean menu is perfect for seaside dining.
How to get to Brighton
Most people drive to Brighton, and there is plenty of parking in the many car parks on Grand Parade and in the streets opposite. Warm summer days can be impossible, but finding parking here is not a big problem most of the time.
You can also arrive by bus – there are several options – buses run from Rockdale Station or even the city.
- Routes 303 and X03 run from Sans Souci to the Sydney CBD via Brighton Le Sands and Mascot.
- Route 478 runs from Miranda to Rockdale railway station via Ramsgate and Brighton Le Sands.
- Route 479 runs from Rockdale Plaza via Rockdale railway station to Kyeemagh and Brighton Le Sands.
- Route 947 runs from Hurstville Station to Ramsgate and Dolls Point.
As you have probably gathered, we are pretty big fans of this underrated part of the city and think it’s the perfect spot for a day trip on a sunny day. We hope you get a chance to visit and enjoy your time here as much as we do!