Almost any of the Newcastle beaches on our list would fit nicely on a list of the best beaches in NSW. In fact, a couple of them are. The city also boasts a fantastic walk along the coastline that allows you to visit several of them over a couple of hours.
The beaches in Newcastle NSW, just two hours north of Sydney, offer some of the most beautiful beaches north of Sydney and also some of the most photographic ocean pools we have seen.
Best Beaches in Newcastle
Nobbys Beach sits next to the famous Newcastle breakwater. If you are looking for a quiet spot to relax in the sun reading, this is a good choice. Head to the northern end of the beach for more solitude. If you want to swim stick to the southern end where you will usually find the flags.
This beach is considered one of the safest in the area and a fabulous choice for families or less confident swimmers. It’s backed by a lovely old pavilion building 1923. At the southern end, you will find a number of rock pools.
Newcastle is the traditional country of the Awabakal and Worimi peoples.
Newcastle Ocean Baths
Newcastle Ocean Baths, with its historic art deco facade, is a feature of the city. Often used in promotional shots of the city, the baths opened to the public before the end of WWI but did not officially open until 1922.
The extremely popular complex has two pools, a 50m lap pool for those on a mission and one for people wanting to splash about. Down the centre is a concrete divider that makes the perfect spot to sit and rest. The pool is open year-round but closed for cleaning once a week. The change rooms are open until 7pm each day.
Right next door to the ocean baths is a great choice for those with young kids, the Canoe Pool. Located at the northern end of the beach, the pool has a long and interesting history.
Bogey Hole, Newcastle NSW
Located in the cliff face just below King Edward Park, the Bogey Hole was constructed by convicts Lieutenant-Colonel James Thomas Morisset, between 1819-1820, who ordered it to be built for his personal use.
Access is via a staircase off Shortland Esplanade and it can get really pretty hairy here when the tide is high and seas are rough. The pool is about 1.5m deep and best visited in the early morning or late afternoon if you want some room to yourself.
Susan Gilmore Beach
Susan Gilmore Beach is named after a ship that was wrecked on this headland in 1884. While it is only 100m long, and not great for swimming, it offers a quiet patch of sand away from the masses.
The reason it remains fairly quiet is that swimming here can be risky, indeed you should really only swim at low tide and when the swell is low. However. if you want to paddle your feet and enjoy the sunshine, it’s a nice choice.
There are no patrols or flags on this beach and access is not easy, it is best for the adventurers perhaps. It’s also popular for fishing.
The next stretch of sand is home to three beaches, beginning with Bar Beach, followed by Dixon Park and at the southern end Merewether, one of the most popular beaches in Newcastle.
The stretch from Dixon Park to Burwood Beach is known as the Merewether Beach National surfing reserve. This is where 4 times World Surfing Champ Mark Richards developed his skill.
Last stop on the Bather’s Way Walk, it is hard to know where Bar Beach and Dixon Park Beaches end and Merewether begins. It’s basically one long stretch. Merewether is in the far distance in this photo.
Blue Door Kiosk does a fantastic takeaway with healthy and more decadent options on offer, but if you fancy a sit-down brunch by the water it’s hard to go past Merewether Surf House. With dishes like Apple crumble porridge and Banoffee french toast a sweet tooth will be in heaven here. We opted for the classic avo on toast on our last visit.
The Surfhouse also has a restaurant with a modern Italian menu and a terrace bar that does pizzas.
Continue a little further along the beach to the Merewether Baths Ocean Pool. The largest of their kind in the southern hemisphere.
Burwood Beach / Glenrock Lagoon Beach
This unpatrolled beach in the Glenrock State Conservation Area offers little in the way of amenities but it does offer a lovely walk and some secluded paddling.
You can reach the beach in about 20-30 minutes along the waterfront from Merewether Beach. You can also drive to the Yuelarbah picnic area and take the 6.8km Yuelarbah walking track from there to the beach.
When we come across beaches like Dudley Beach we really start to wonder why we ever take beach holidays anywhere else. The Newcastle beaches along this stretch are pristine and never crowded.
This 1.3km long beach, 10 minutes south of Newcastle is managed by National Parks and Wildlife. It’s not patrolled and has some pretty hairy rips at times so it’s best suited to paddles in the shallows, beach picnics, surfing and fishing. The beach sometimes attracts nude bathing although it is not officially a nude beach.
They are currently building picnic shelters and a viewing platform near the car park and these are due for completion shortly. On our last visit, there were no change facilities or other amenities so not sure if this will be included in the upgrade.
Nine Mile Beach
Nine Mile Beach runs for 7 miles from Redhead Beach to Blacksmiths Beach at Swansea, much of the beach is backed by parkland making it feel miles from anywhere. Sections of the beach are popular with 4WD owners and you can also camp along much of the beach.
The northern and southern ends are Redhead and Blacksmiths respectively while the middle is known as Nine Mile.
Perhaps best known for its iconic shark tower this beach is patrolled in season and has facilities and a cafe at the northern end. It’s a hotspot for photographers and a great place to capture shots of the sunrise.
Dogs and horses are allowed on Redhead Beach at the southern end. Nearby George Stanton Lookout is a great place to capture a photo of the beach. There is a car park by the surf club at the very northern end of the beach. Alternatively, park at the Webb Street Playground and follow Owens walk past the lagoon and mangroves for a lovely wildlife experience.
The last beach before Lakes Entrance at Swansea and while technically considered Lake Macquarie we have kept it on our list of Newcastle Beaches cause it’s only 30 minutes south of the city centre and very special.
This pet-friendly beach is also 4WD friendly and allows camping. Pretty much an oddity along the NSW coast. On Blacksmiths beach, you can camp on the beach next to your vehicle but you will need to purchase a permit before you do.
Located at the far end of Nine Mile Beach there are some facilities, including a Surf Lifesaving Club at the very south end of Blacksmiths Beach, but the rest of the stretch is pretty much free of amenities.
Fishing off the Blacksmith breakwall can be rewarding and families will enjoy a splash at Grannys Pool just south of the breakwall and facing into the channel and down to Lake Macquarie. There is wheelchair access and recently they added showers!
Beaches on the north side of Newcastle Harbour
Stockton Beach stretches 32km from Newcastle Harbour to Anna Bay in Port Stephens. Home of the largest sand dune in the southern hemisphere this area is also a dream spot for 4WD and all sorts of beach adventures.
Shipwreck Walk – An easy 2km walk along the Stockton Breakwall that acts as a memorial for the boats that sunk here in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Markers along the path commemorate the stretch of wrecks. The main feature is the wreckage of the French barque, Adolphe, which became stranded here when it was swept by high seas to land on top of other wrecks in 1904.
Tin City – One of the highlights of the beach is Tin City – originating from two tin shacks build to house shipwreck survivors the community grew to over 30 tin structures on Stockton Beach. Our friend Helen over at Differentville has shared her experience of visiting on a guided tour.
Best for dog walking and fishing off the nearby rocks Little Beach is backed by an Olympic swimming pool and skate park.
List of Dog Beaches in Newcastle
Newcastle has three dog-friendly beaches. Horseshoe Beach is right by the entrance to the harbour and is the most popular spot for an early morning dog walk.
This 24-hour off-leash beach is a great place to watch the sunrise and the tanker traffic heading into and out of the harbour.
The second, Redhead Beach is south of the city and you can also ride horses on the beach here!
Lastly, if you are on the north side Little Beach near the Breakwall is a good choice.
Where to stay for your Newcastle Beach holiday
Budget – Newcastle YHA – I’ve spent many weekends at the historic Newcastle YHA just a short stroll from Newcastle beachfront. The property is perfectly located for exploring and close to transport and cafes.
Mid-range – Novotel Newcastle is across the road from the hostel and The family rooms sleep four, and if you are after an ocean view, there are harbour view rooms available.
Splurge – Crystalbook opened the stunning Kingsley Hotel earlier this year. It’s the city’s first 5-star property and with its location right in the middle of town, it’s perfect for a short getaway.
Check out our Sydney to Newcastle Getaway and see what we got up to on our recent visit.