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A ‘Best Of’ for Beach Bums! Your Family Friendly Beach Guide – Illawarra & South Coast

One particularly humid morning during the recent start to the school holidays, my permanently early riser of a son (almost 6 years of age), begged me at 7am in the morning to take him to the beach.

With the arrival of daylight savings, cicadas, beautiful sunsets and humid evenings, my son and I are most excited about the arrival of another summer stalwart – BEACH WEATHER.

We are so very blessed to be spoilt in the Illawarra and South Coast with a smorgasboard of beautiful coastline and stunning beaches. Seriously, where else can you say you live amongst 17 and counting (yes, 17) beaches ranging from Stanwell Park in the north to Windang in the south alone?

So at Parents Guide, we’ve been hard at work researching (!) and have done our darnedest to come up with our very own list of child-friendly beaches this summer. Because nothing quite spoils a trip with kids to the beach when there is not a loo in sight. And a beach with rock pools, loads of exploring and adventuring to be had, is a parenting win…..

Coalcliff Beach:

Such a great little spot. Never disappoints. And that view! That rugged and beautiful coastline. Despite its popularity in summer, it always has that secluded feel to it. There is a salt water rock pool at the southern end of the beach. And lots of rock pools awaiting little explorers. Amenities and a small playpark (Leeder Park) sits at the top of the stairs down to the beach. Parking can be a bit of a pain. But worth it. And you get to drive over the beautiful Seacliff Bridge. Sublime.

Port Kembla Beach:

A long-standing favourite, and over time, has earned itself about 100 child-friendly points. It also boasts being “regarded as one of Wollongong’s most prestigious beaches” (rumour has it that sand from this beach was shipped over to Waikiki – yes, Hawaii!).Loads of parking, there is also a large Olympic pool on the northern rocks which also hosts a toddler/baby pool area. This Illawarra gem has one of the largest foreshores in the region (running along along the sand anyone?). Amenities galore, change rooms and showers. Need we say more? Oh and it serves coffee AND ice cream.

Windang Beach:

Windang Beach
Windang Beach

This jewel is located at the entrance to Lake Illawarra and it offers spectacular views of the famous Five Islands off the Wollongong coastline. It’s where lake and ocean meet. Super popular with families because it hosts picnic and bbq areas, a cycle path, sheltered areas, amenities and the best part – is the colour of the water. Crystal clear. Never falters. The beach is great for little legs not quite ready for big waves – lots of wading and safe splashing about to be had. It’s also where my son learnt to fish – so if you have a novice fisher on your hands, grab the rods and head out to watch the beautiful sunset.

Hyams Beach:

I can still feel the white, soft, fine sand between my toes. Sand for daaaaaays. If you have yet to visit Hyams Beach, put it on your bucket list. Boasts some of the whitest sand in the world apparently. Nestled on the southern shores of the splendid Jervis Bay Marine Park, the marine park is a haven for dolphins, seals, penguins and even whales. I remember the water being so clear as I walked along the shore, that I could see an entire school of baby whiting along the tiny waves lapping up at the sand. Take some shelter or a sun shade with you, pack a picnic. Dive straight into that crystal clear water. Unspoilt. Stunning. This beach remains one of my happy places and it’s only a 1.5 hour drive south of the ‘Gong. Bliss, who need a long haul flight to find paradise? However just a warning – feedback from parents is that it is best to avoid during peak holiday times as parking can be a challenge.

North Wollongong Beach:

North Wollongong Beach-1

Our list would not be complete without the inclusion of this iconic favourite. Not to mention the little inlets and more ‘lagoon-style’ areas (Belmore Basin) that sit to the left and right of the main part of the beach which are prefect for little waders, families and rock pool explorers. Eateries, amenities, parks, walking and cycling tracks await. Take a sun shelter and make a day of it. There is even the Ocean Rock Pool (accessible via Cliff Road), which I have taken my son to if the beach gets too busy and we are in a no-sand-in-our-pants kind of mood. No matter the weather (or your child’s mood), a trip to North Wollongong Beach will appease even the fussiest family member.

Seven Mile Beach National Park:

Seven Mile Beach National Park

If you want to mix up your beach day with some scenic wildlife, bird spotting or nature trails, then Gerroa has it in spades. Not content with just offering one of the most golden beaches on the South Coast that stretches for miles (popular for beach cricket we hear), Gerroa had to go one better and package this natural beauty with a stunning local wildlife park! Picnic and bbq areas, a more tranquil creek and lagoon for the little ones, fishing, walking tracks – this coastal reserve ticks all the boxes for an adventurous family-day out. It is also one of the best learn to surf spots on Australia’s south eastern coastline as it is protected from north winds and swell. And the best part – if you can keep your little ones awake long enough after their big day exploring to take in the beautiful sunset over Seven Mile Beach, it is well worth it.

Thirroul Beach:


So where did I take my son to when he burst open my door at 7am that morning begging me to take him to the beach? Why – I just asked him of course. He has sussed out that Thirroul Beach is where we go to eat fish and chips on the beach and eat strawberry gelato. It is also home to his favourite playpark and toddler pool. And we both love how the beach is home to a perfect little inlet of water on the sandy foreshore that is perfect for his construction diggers and for me pulling him along as he zooms on his boogie board. The day that we went we took our Sun Shade and parked on the sand with all the other families. The great family-friendly beach never disappoints and with the new kiosk, hungry bellies are always happy ones.

Moona Moona Creek (Vincentia)

Moona Moona Creek (Vincentia)

Stunning location and boasting a beautiful kid-friendly lagoon (just check out the pic below!), Moona Moona Creek is also great for tidal paddling with sand bars and Collingwood Beach is adjacent to it. Perfect place for a family trip to the beach with safe water play for the kids,  Moona Moona Creek offers good BBQ facilities along with plenty of shade and grassed areas. 

Please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list, and we welcome all your comments, suggestions and feedback on this topic! We are especially keen to hear from those of you who have discovered your very own beach and inlet spots and want to share (or perhaps not, lol!).

Honourable mentions:

  • Anywhere off Reddall Parade, Lake Illawarra (according to local mums!)
  • Culburra Surf Beach
  • Coledale Beach
  • Shellharbour North Beach 
  • Minnamurra Beach 
  • The inlet in between East Corrimal and Towradgi beaches….great for fishing too we hear…  

Further afield….  

  • Batemans Bay Snorkelling Trail
  • Tathra Beach 
  • Mollymook Beach 
  • Werri Beach and Point 
  • Anywhere in Jervis Bay (known for being safe from ‘rips’) 
  • Booderee (part of Booderee National Park) 

For more Parents Guide ‘Fun Places to go with the kids‘ inspiration – click here!Some images and quotes have been sourced (with thanks) from Visit NSW…

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