With thanks to guest blogger Jennifer Adams of Places We Go.
Beach holidays are ingrained in the Aussie culture. With a never-ending coastline to pick from, we love flocking to the sand.
To me, this brings to mind the sight of thongs, beach umbrellas, Eskies, body boards, and beach cricket and the smells of sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and fish and chips.
Having travelled around the country for the last seven years, beaches have always been hot on our itineraries. We look for chilled-out beach destinations that have a certain vibe – the kind of place where anyone is welcome.
And we have found plenty of places that fit the bill. Let’s check out the best of them…
On the mid-north NSW coast there is a little treasure waiting to be discovered. With no less than six different beaches, including a rare west-facing beach to watch the sunset, South West Rocks is a little-known town with big beach appeal.
Due to the east coast current feeding down from the tropical regions in the north, the beaches are blessed with warm waters that are perfect for swimming year round. Everyone from surfers to families can find a beach to suit in these parts, and because of this, South West Rocks has been attracting holidaymakers for years.
South West Rocks is nestled next to Arakoon National Park and Hat Head National Park, which contain several enticing beaches as well as fantastic attractions like Trial Bay Gaol and Smoky Cape Lighthouse to visit in between beach time.
One standout beach in Arakoon National Park is Little Bay Beach where, in true Aussie spirit, we were welcomed by two kangaroos having a boxing match. Does it get more Australian than that?!
Tidal Bay Beach is the town’s front and main beach and runs along Trial Bay from Laggers Point in Arakoon National Park in the east, past the main township, and to Grassy Head in the west. It is perfect for swimming, paddleboarding, and, due to its location, watching the sunset. We set ourselves up with a fresh seafood feast and were joined by many locals – something I am sure is a regular event around here.
Of course, a town that is pretty much surrounded by water is understandably pretty big on fishing. Whether off the rocks, from a boat, or on the beach, fishing is a huge past-time in South West Rocks, and you will see both locals and visitors throwing a line into both the ocean and the creek. The best bit about this? Catching something tasty for dinner.
We based ourselves at NRMA South West Rocks Holiday Resort, which is surrounded by Hat Head National Park – you can even canoe on the lagoon behind it.
BIG4 Sunshine South West Rocks also takes the cake for being one of the most family-friendly holiday parks in Australia. Thanks to its inventive owners, it has its very own Shipwreck Island Water Park – a pirate ship, water slides, and pools that will occupy hours of your kids’ time. In school holidays, the owner and crew even put on a live pirate show for the whole family’s entertainment.
There is also a mini-golf course, roving characters such as Minnie Mouse and Disney Princesses, tennis, go-karts, a movie theatre, jumping pillow, games room, trampoline, bike hire, playgrounds, a fairy garden, an on-site restaurant, and more!
I can’t think of Exmouth on the West Australian coast without thinking about possibly the best travel experience I have ever had…
Exmouth is situated in the WA Coral Coast region, and literally metres off the shore is the incredible Ningaloo Reef. One of the world’s largest fringing reefs, and a World-Heritage listed marine park, it is brimming with manta rays, turtles, more than 500 species of fish, and hundreds of colourful corals.
You can wade several metres out from the sand and start snorkelling – nowhere else in the world is a coral reef so effortless to reach.
A beach holiday here takes advantage of this proximity, and a day spent on the sand is also a day of incredible underwater exploration. The climate is dry and warm all year long – there is no wet season – and the beach is expansive and inviting.
Holidaymakers spend their time enjoying the sea and sand and also the plethora of underwater visitors to these waters: humpback whales between June and November, rare turtle species that hatch on the beach in January and February, and dugongs from May to November.
But the main attraction here from April to July each year are the magnificent whale sharks. The world’s largest fish, they grace the waters in these parts as they migrate south. And visitors to these parts have the very special opportunity of being able to swim with them.
That’s exactly what we did when we were in town, and it made for one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had.
On board with a registered operator, we made our way to the outer reef, with a spotter plane circling above us ready to alert us to the location of the whale sharks. As soon as we got the word, there was a flurry of excitement as we launched ourselves and our snorkels into the water.
Before I knew it, I had my head under the sea and a giant was right before my eyes. It felt like I was face to face with a high-rise building. My initial nerves were replaced by a sense of calm as the gentle giant made its way through the water, unfazed by the bobbing humans all overwhelmed by the sight. And as quickly as it appeared, it disappeared leaving us all breathless but with a treasured memory.
We dissected the experience back at RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park that evening. Around the state-of-the-art camp kitchen, we regaled our fellow guests with our story and relived it over and over again.
The park, with its outdoor cinema, pool, playground, and bike hire, plus a reception where you could book the whale shark tours, was the perfect place to base ourselves and recover from our amazing experience. We will certainly be returning to Exmouth.
One of the best beach holidays you can have is one where your accommodation is literally on the beachfront, maximising your time spent on sand and in surf.
BIG4 Easts Beach Holiday Park on the NSW South Coast, just one-hour south of Sydney, is one of the best located holiday parks we have experienced. This is a place you will want to return to again and again, just like we have.
BIG4 at Easts Beach also has an incredible history – it has been owned and operated by the same family (the Easts) for more than 80 years. With a prime beachfront location, you can literally mix your time between the park and the beach simply by stepping foot out onto the sand.
The park itself also boasts a massage studio (big points!), resort pools, jumping pillow, and playgrounds, meaning your time at Easts Beach will be full of entertainment. We simply loved picking up some of the fresh, locally caught seafood and enjoying it on our cabin verandah directly facing the beach.
Nearby, the 22km Kiama Coast Walk is also worth your time. Tracking the coastline between headlands, it will take you around the spectacular shore and provides sensational views of the magnificent beaches and landscape surrounding it.
Speaking of the surrounding landscape, Kiama is one of those places that is blessed with beautiful beaches and lush, rolling farmland. It also has a population of passionate locals who create incredible gourmet goodies and wines.
Don’t forget to visit the Kiama Blowhole if you’re here – it’s a dramatic and thrilling part of the Kiama coastline, throwing water up to 25m in the air!
Just 45 minutes southeast of Adelaide, you will find yourself mixing some of Australia’s best beaches with some of its top wineries!
When on the Fleurieu Peninsula, you’ll be hard pressed to decide where to spend your time each day. Choose from magnificent coastline with turquoise waters and sparkling sand, or McLaren Vale’s top-class food and wine producers. We managed to combine a great amount of both, which for me amounts to one of the best beach holidays available.
This is true beach holiday paradise – with great swimming beaches, surf breaks for all levels, diving and snorkelling sites thanks to ancient shipwrecks and stunning marine life, and top fishing spots.
When you are not enjoying the beaches, or the gourmet goodies, BIG4 Port Willunga Tourist Park is the perfect base. You can walk to some of the region’s best beaches, enjoy the pool, jumping pillow, games room, and go-karts, and even have your very own ‘glamping’ experience in their modern, wooden OzShacks.
At the end of a busy day spent at the beach and exploring McLaren Vale, one of the best things to do is simply relax at your accommodation with fresh seafood and local wine and enjoy the serenity.
For more holiday inspiration, go to www.placeswego.com
Isn’t it time you planned a beach break? Book your next BIG4 stay now.