Australia’s Best Swimming Beaches

Fringed by pine and pandanus trees, and laden with soft white sand and sparkling blue-green water, Rainbow Bay is a picture-perfect Gold Coast setting.

We’ve partnered with Surf Life Saving Australia to highlight the importance of surf safety. Stay safe this summer, listen to surf lifesavers and always swim between the red and yellow flags.

To help inspire a safe and enjoyable sun-kissed summer at the beach, we’ve put together a state rundown of some our favourite patrolled beaches.

Queensland | Rainbow Bay

Fringed by pine and pandanus trees, and laden with soft white sand and sparkling blue-green water, Rainbow Bay is a picture-perfect Gold Coast setting. Just south of Coolangatta, straddling the New South Wales boarder, the north-facing beach is protected by the historic Point Danger and is home to sheltered conditions, ideal for swimming. Surf lifesavers patrol the beach year-round from the iconic Rainbow Bay Surf Club.

Rainbow Bay is located just 4km south of Gold Coast Airport.

  • Flights to Gold Coast: Virgin Australia operates flights to the Gold Coast daily from Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, Auckland and Christchurch.
  • Gold Coast South Holiday Packages: Our partner Virgin Australia Holidays offers a fantastic array of southern Gold Coast holiday packages.

New South Wales | Scotts Head

At the southern end of Nambucca Shire, enhanced by peaceful surrounds, an abundance of flora and fauna, and a close-knit local community, Scotts Head beach is a popular Mid-north Coast summer holiday destination. Favoured by families, Scotts hosts calm protected waters, gentle waves, and an array of marine life  specifically dolphins and migratory whales. The beach is patrolled daily during the summer holidays and on weekends and public holidays from October to Easter.

Scotts Head is located an hour south of Coffs Harbour Airport.

Victoria | Bells Beach

Located near Torquay, in the stunning Great Ocean Road region, Bells Beach is Australia’s most celebrated surfing beachhome to large winter and autumn swells that peel into a famous right-hand break. Throughout the summer months Bells also provides a great setting for swimmers; a natural amphitheatre shadowed by towering cliffs and patrolled by surf lifesavers.

Bells Beach is located an hour and a half south of Melbourne Airport.

  • Flights to Melbourne: Virgin Australia operates flights to Melbourne daily from all state capitals and major regional ports like Gold Coast and Newcastle.
  • Great Ocean Road Holiday Packages: Our partner Virgin Australia Holidays offers a fantastic array of Great Ocean Road holiday packages.

Tasmania | Boat Harbour Beach

Located on the north-west coast of Tasmania, nuzzled between a dramatic hinterland and the Bass Strait, Boat Harbour Beach is as picturesque as it is historicalsteeped in Indigenous and European heritage. Home to some of the cleanest air and clearest water on Earth, the semi-circular sandy beach has long been a favourite holiday secret for Tasmanians in the know. The beach is home to the Boat Harbour Surf Life Saving Club, whose lifesaving members patrol throughout the summer months.

Boat Harbour Beach is located just over two hours west-north-west of Launceston Airport.

South Australia | Glenelg

Known locally as The Bay, the Adelaide beachside suburb of Glenelg is celebrated for hosting one of South Australia’s premier swimming beaches. Located on the shore of Holdfast Bay in Gulf St Vincent, Glenelg beach is famous for its long-reaching jetty, cafe littered promenade, sandy costal stretch and clean and safe watersperfect for swimming. Glenelg is patrolled midweek from December to April and on weekends from November through to April.

Glenelg is located just under 9km south-east of Adelaide Airport.

  • Flights to Adelaide: Virgin Australia operates flights to Adelaide from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Perth.
  • Adelaide Holiday Packages: Our partner Virgin Australia Holidays offers a fantastic array of Adelaide holiday packages.

Western Australia | Cable Beach 

Stretching for 22km, with the purest of white sand  washed clean everyday by massive tides that ebb and flow into Broome  Cable Beach is one of the world’s most stunning beach landscapes. The Indian Ocean’s aqua blue waters lap against Broome’s bright red-orange cliffs in a magnificent display of unspoilt natural wonder. Cable Beach fosters ideal conditions for swimming, with Broome Surf Life Saving Club patrolling designated areas marked by red and yellow flags.

Cable Beach is located just under 7km north-west of Broome Airport.

Northern Territory | Nightcliff

Protected by a ‘stinger net' and patrolled by Darwin Surf Life Saving Club, Nightcliff beach is one of the Northern Territory’s safest swimming environments. A 300m sandy stretch, flanked by claystone rock platforms and the Beagle Gulf, Nightcliff Beach is a picturesque holiday destination, most famous for hosting the Nightcliff Markets.

Nightcliff is located just over 5km north-west of Darwin Airport.

  • Flights to Darwin : Virgin Australia operates flights to Darwin from Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
  • Darwin Holiday Packages : Our partner Virgin Australia Holidays offers a fantastic array of Darwin holiday packages.

Make the most of your summer at the beach, remember to:

  • Always swim between the red and yellow flags
  • Read the safety signs
  • Ask a lifeguard for safety advice
  • Swim with a friend
  • Stay calm and attract attention if you need help

For more information about Australia’s patrolled beaches visit Surf Life Saving Australia's website:

For surf safety tips and beach conditions visit:

For surf safety tips and beach conditions visit:  

Word by Alice Nash - Published 11 October 2012
Quick Facts 
Population Approx 15,000
Area 55,795 km2
Time Zone GMT +8
Languages English (official)
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