There is a whole lot of fun to be had at the beach with little ones….well once they stop shovelling handfuls of sand in their mouth! But some beaches are more fun for under 5s and us parents than others. When taking my two preschoolers to the beach, I prefer ones with shallow calm water, shade and toilets nearby. And BIG bonus points if there is a shaded playground and cafe close by, plus the beach is only a short walk from parking. After a few years of looking, I now have a great list of 10 top beaches for little ones that I am excited to share with you.
The beaches on the list are a mixture of river, harbour and ocean beaches. They are all within an hour of Parramatta on a good day. Keep in mind that most are very popular on the weekends and are best visited on a weekday with little ones to avoid the crowds. The kilometres in brackets () is the distance of the shortest route from Parramatta CBD. Have we missed your favourite one to take kids under 5 to? Let us know.
1Yarramundi Reserve, Richmond Area (44kms)
A gorgeous calm ‘beach’ on Grose River, shallow water, river rocks to play with, onsite parking about 100m away, some shade along riverbank, toilets at the car park, picnic facilities, fishing, bushwalking. It is faster to get to Yarramundi Reserve then a lot of Sydney Harbour or ocean beaches, taking about 40mins from Parramatta CBD. And so much more tranquil and relaxing. Keep in mind that the Grose River is affected by tides at Yarramundi Reserve and the water is crystal clear when flowing down river.
2Greenwich Baths (27kms) | Greenwich
On Sydney Harbour, overlooking the city skyline is this netted small unpatrolled swimming beach. There is an entry fee, free street parking, free beach toys available for use, beach lounges, toilets, swimming lanes and kiosk. We recommend visiting at low to medium tide, as at high tide there can be very little beach left. Keep in mind that it is steep to get down to Greenwich Baths and it is not wheel chair accessible.
3Northbridge Baths (29kms) | Northbridge
Set amongst the bush on Sydney Harbour, Northbridge Baths is a great free netted tidal bath. There is free parking, bbq, grassed area, shade on the grass, shallow water, swimming lanes, toilets, no waves, pontoon to jump from and sand at low tide. Keep in mind that there is no kiosk, it is unpatrolled and the walk from the car park is steep (but short).
4Parsley Bay (33.6kms) | Vaucluse
On the other side of Sydney Harbour, this netted shallow bay is a wonderful spot to visit with little ones. There is parking at the reserve or street parking nearby, playground, shade on the beach, large grassed area, bushwalks, waterfall, picnic tables, kiosk, toilets and bridge. Keep in mind it is not patrolled and the toilets are at the back of the reserve next to the car park.
5Clontarf Beach (33.6kms) | Clontarf
Near the Spit Bridge, this is a lovely calm swimming spot with shaded playground, toilets, yummy kiosk, shade in the reserve behind the beach and (expensive) metered parking or free street parking a little walk away. Keep in mind it is not patrolled.
6Manly Dam, Manly Vale (35kms)
This is a hidden gem with swimming in the lake, shade on the beach, shaded and fenced playground, water sports, on-site (expensive) paid parking, picnic tables, bbqs, toilets and bushwalks.
7Balmoral Beach (31kms) | Mosman
A lovely spot to visit on a weekday when parking is so much easier! There are lots of different sections to Balmoral Beach. We prefer the southern end under the large tree, right near the fenced playground, with cafes nearby, shark net and toilets. Keep in mind that the beach is not patrolled.
8Clifton Gardens Beach (32kms) | Mosman
Another gorgeous Sydney Harbour beach with a netted area, shallow water, fenced and shaded playground, grassed area, bbqs, picnic tables, kiosk, toilets, jetty, shade on beach and metered parking at beach or unrestricted/ free parking up the hill. Keep in mind that the beach is not patrolled and better visited at low tide.
9Narrabeen Lagoon (39kms) | North Narrabeen
Just behind the popular North Narrabeen surf beach is the tranquil waters of the lagoon. There is a Council carpark and street parking, cafes, playground, toilets, grassed areas, trail around the entire lagoon for walking or riding on, bbqs and picnic tables. Keep in mind that the lagoon is not patrolled.
10Dee Why Beach (35.7kms) | Dee Why
This is the only ocean beach on our list. The main attraction for families with little ones is the kids ocean pool (southern end). Plus there is a fenced playground near the pools, shade in the reserve, toilets, cafes, small promenade to ride on, bbqs and picnic tables. Keep in mind that the beach is patrolled but there are no life guards at the pools.