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18 best beaches in Newcastle & Lake Macquarie

Only a stone’s throw from Sydney are some of the loveliest stretches of sand in New South Wales. Discover the best beaches in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, and plan your visit.

A glider drifts lazily over the scenic coastline of Newcastle. Discover the best beaches in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.
Blissful.

New South Wales is home to some of the most varied and lovely beaches and ocean pools you can imagine.

Although Sydney’s get a lot of attention, you only have to travel a couple of hours up the coast to find yourself on glorious beaches. As an extra boon, sometimes they’re completely deserted.

As someone who has spent many years living in and around Newcastle, I know these beaches well. Many hours have been wiled away flipping through books on a beach towel, frolicking in the surf or walking along the sand, lost deep in thought.

So, I suppose I’m happy to spill the beans on the best beaches in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.

Some are hidden deep within bush land. Others are ocean pools, guaranteed to make your daily laps next level.

And a small handful, you can even bring your dog to.

View of Nobbys Beach and Lighthouse from Fort Scratchley.
Nobby’s Beach in Newcastle, as seen from Fort Scratchley.

Sun, sand & surf: the best places to swim in Newcastle & Lake Macquarie

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The Best Beaches in Newcastle

A person sits on top of a rock on the breakwall, looking back towards Nobbys Lighthouse.
Looking back on Newcastle from the Nobbys Breakwall.

1. Nobbys Beach

Nobbys Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Newcastle and definitely the one you should visit if you’re short on time.

It’s a decent surf beach, with an historic lighthouse situated on Nobbys Head.

The best place to snap a photo of it is from Fort Scratchley, a relic from World War II turned tourism attraction.

Along with the beach, there’s the Nobbys Breakwall, which you can walk or ride your bike across. If you’re lucky, you might see dolphins, seal or even sea turtles!

Sculpture made out of the Pasha Bulker right near Nobbys Beach in Newcastle.
A piece of the Pasha Bulker, immortalised on the foreshore.

Nobbys is best known for being the beach the Pasha Bulker coal ship ran around on, during record breaking storms in 2007. The bizarre images made headlines around the world.

Occasionally ship happens, I guess.

Part of the ship is immortalised right near the pavilion (which is gorgeous in itself) – in a bright red and cheery sculpture.

Stick to the southern end of the beach for swimming and go a little further south to explore rock pools.

2. Horseshoe Beach

This is one of the best beaches in Newcastle for dogs!

A small beach right next to Nobbys, Horseshoe Beach is completely fido-friendly.

You can bring bring pup here and let them off their lead, to run around to their heart’s content.

Then, extend your visit with a wander down the breakwall (on-lead, of course).

Looking back at Newcastle Ocean Baths.
Looking back to Newcastle’s historic ocean baths.

3. Newcastle Ocean Baths

While Newcastle has an eponymous beach, I don’t rate it. If you’re after the best beaches in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, it’s fine to give this one a miss.

Instead, drop into the Newcastle Ocean Baths.

The Art Deco pavilion is a local landmark and it’s probably one of the most photographed attractions in the city.

They’re open all year round too, with many people braving the ocean waters in the middle of winter. It’s invigorating!

Waves crash over a chain link fence at the Bogey Hole, while a group of teenagers take cover.
Locals braving the Bogey Hole in wild weather.

4. Bogey Hole

The Bogey Hole is not a beach, but rather a very photogenic ocean pool. It was cut into cliffs in 1819 by convicts obviously against their will, for the personal use of Major James Morisset. Lucky him.

Originally known as the ‘Commandments Baths’, it later became the Bogey Hole. Bogey is thought to have come from the Dharawal word (of a local Indigenous language), meaning ‘to bathe’. If so, it’s indeed very fitting.

You can access it via King Edward Park.

It’s lovely to visit when the waters are still. Due to being cut directly into ocean cliffs, gnarly surf will cause waves to cascade over the pool. This can be quite fun in a wild sort of way, but obviously be careful.

A wrecked ship sits next to rocky shore.
The wreck of The Adolphe along Stockton Breakwall.
Looking back towards Stockton from the Breakwall
Looking back towards Stockton from the Breakwall.

5. Stockton Beach

Stockton Beach lies north of Newcastle, stretching 32 kilometres into Port Stephens.

The area is popular for sand boarding and dune bashing. Sadly, it’s also lately become known as a victim of coastal erosion, with a plan put in place to save it.

If you fancy, you can take the ferry across Newcastle Harbour to explore Stockton.

There’s sections of beach to poke around on, as well as the Shipwreck Walk to explore.

This 2 kilometre walk along the Stockton Breakwall is a memorial for boats wrecked in the 18th and 19th centuries. Markers along the path indicate where these wrecks occurred.

Newcastle ferry passing across the harbour.
The ferry which travels between Newcastle and Stockton.

Best know is Adolphe, a ship stranded there in 1904. It’s been slowly eroding away ever since.

Locals have also been memorialised along the breakwall, through plaques and writing on the rocks. It’s sad, but sweet.

It’s not uncommon to see marine life on this walk. Last time I went, I saw a dolphin, seal and randomly, a house cat?

The Newcastle Memorial Walk, looking out over Bar Beach and up the coast.
The Newcastle Memorial Walk, also known as the ANZAC Memorial Walk.

6. Bar Beach

Bar Beach is one of the best beaches in Newcastle. As far as the metro beaches go, it’s the best if you ask me.

North of the beach, heading back towards Nobbys is the Newcastle Memorial Walk and Strezlecki Lookout.

The memorial walk was opened in 2015, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing in Gallipoli and the commencement of steel making in Newcastle.

There’s steel silhouettes of solders, alongside the names of Hunter Valley citizens who enlisted to serve during World War 1.

Viewing platforms allow for plenty of photo opportunities.

From the beach, you can walk through the suburb of Cooks Hill through to Darby Street and drop into any of its cafes and restaurants for a bite.

7. Susan Gilmore Beach

Directly down from Bar Beach is a small, somewhat secret stretch of sand. Susan Gilmour Beach isn’t named after a person – rather an American ship wrecked there in 1884.

Rarely crowded, it’s one of the most secluded beaches in Newcastle.

You can access it at low-tide by picking your way around the cliff face.

It’s only 100 metres long and not the best for swimming. It is however, great for picnics or a laze about in the sun.

And back in the day, it was rumoured to be Newcastle’s only nudie beach. So I suppose there’s that, too.

8. Dixon Park Beach

Dixon Park Beach is another one of my favourite beaches in Newcastle. Bar is beautiful, so people tend to flock there, meaning Dixon is generally a little quieter.

There’s a children’s playground nearby. The stop is a popular rest point for those making the trek along Bather’s Way.

9. Merewether Beach

This beautiful stretch of sand is one of the best beaches in Newcastle, and the most popular too.

The area around Merewether Beach is part of a beach reserve, which stretches from Dixon Park to Burwood Beach. It’s also home to Surfest, Australia’s largest surfing festival.

Merewether marks the beginning or end of the Bather’s Way walk, depending on which way you’re approaching it.

Bash into brekky at Blue Door Kiosk before beginning you trek.

Or relax at Merewether Surfhouse, raising a glass to views of this iconic beach.

The Beach Hotel (or Beaches as it’s known locally) is also a popular venue for pub fare with a coastal twist.

Water crashing over the edge of ocean baths in Merewether.
Merewether Baths.

10. Merewether Ocean Baths

I wouldn’t blame you if you skipped the beach entirely to go for a swim in the Merewether Ocean Baths. They’re fantastic.

The largest ocean baths in the Southern Hemisphere are shared by serious swimmers and people looking to cool off and laze around in the sunshine.

Budding photographer? Get there at sunrise to snap some phenomenal photographs.

Noting that the baths are closed for cleaning days, with the schedule available online. Plan ahead to avoid disappointment!

They can get overrun by blue-bottle jellyfish at times, which are not pleasant to deal with. If those pesky critters are floating about any beach, it’s best to stay clear.

Check out other tips for beach safety in Australia.

13. Burwood Beach/Glenrock Beach

This secluded beach is Glenrock State Conservation Area, a popular walking and mountain biking destination.

Unlike the beaches further north, it’s not patrolled and so, not ideal for swimming. There’s permanent rips at the rocks either end and usually 3-4 across the beach itself.

Instead, consider walking the 6.8km Yuelarbah track. You’ll encounter scenic views and waterfalls. Pack a picnic to stop for a bite along the way.

Best beaches in Lake Macquarie

A person stands looking out at Dudley Beach. If you're looking for things to do in Lake Macquarie, you should definitely explore the area's walking trails.
Post-bushwalk in Awabakal, looking out over Dudley Beach.
Close up of the yellow sand of a deserted Dudley Beach.
Dudley Beach is not as busy as nearby Newcastle beaches.

11. Dudley Beach

Okay, I know there has already been some top level gushing in this article.

But. I reckon Dudley Beach is hands down the best beach in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. According to me, the writer and dedicated beach enthusiast.

The beach is hidden in Glenrock State Conservation Area, surrounded by sweeping cliffs and bush land.

It’s not as popular as the beaches further north or nearby Redhead Beach, meaning you can often find yourself completely alone. Glorious.

In low tide, try fossicking at the southern end of the beach. The rockpools contain a fossilised forest!

If you fancy stretching your legs, I highly recommend the Awabakal Nature Reserve walk, which connects Dudley with Redhead.

The iconic shark tower of Redhead Beach, at one of the best beaches in Newcastle.
Redhead Beach’s Shark Tower.

12. Redhead Beach

This equally as gorgeous beach is located at the northern end of Lake Macquarie’s Nine Mile Beach.

Redhead Beach is best known for its red sea cliffs and Shark Tower, which is popular among photographers. I’m glad technology has progressed from some dude sitting on a wooden structure, tasked with keeping an eye out for these kings of the sea!

An excited spotted dog running up Redhead Beach in Lake Macquarie, with a stick in its mouth.

While not officially a dog-friendly beach unlike Horseshoe, dogs are accepted on some parts of the beach. Check signage while there for more information.

As one of the bigger beaches in the area, there’s plenty of facilities and it’s patrolled in the warmer months.

While fairly busy, it’s worth driving out to if you want to escape Newcastle’s summer crowds.

Looking back along Nine Mile Beach in Lake Macquarie.
Nine Mile Beach.

14. Nine Mile Beach

Nine Mile Beach actually encompasses three beaches – starting at Redhead and continuing on to Blacksmiths Beach in Swansea.

Traditionally, most people head there with their 4WDs and its also a popular destination for camping.

This is currently not permitted, so check online before making the trip out there, so as not to have your hopes dashed.

Noting this beach isn’t patrolled, so take caution if you’re there to go swimming.

A surfer stands looking out at the water of Blacksmiths Beach.
A surfer at Blacksmiths Beach.

15. Blacksmiths Beach

Blacksmiths Beach is located at the southern end of Nine Mile.

The beach is patrolled from September/October school holidays through until April.

There’s a few facilities here, such as the Surf Lifesaving Club (with a very cute mural on its wall). There’s also a Breakwall you can walk out across, to take in the view up the beach.

Mural of lifesaving guards at the Swansea Belmont Surf Life Saving Club at Blacksmiths Beach.
The mural at the Swansea Belmont Surf Life Saving Club.

It’s pet-friendly, so bring your canine or cat (no judgement here, I did once see someone with their cat on a leash at the beach. Respect).

Best of all, it’s accessible. You can follow a wheelchair buggy ramp that heads down to the water. Buggies can be hired free of charge from the surf club.

Blacksmiths is only 30 minutes south of Newcastle and there’s plenty to explore around the surrounding area.

Grannies pool is one of the best family-friendly beaches in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.
Grannies Pool is family-friendly.

16. Grannies Pool

This shallow tidal pool perhaps should be renamed ‘Kiddies pool’, as it’s perfect for little ones to splash around in.

Well sheltered by the Breakwall, Grannies Pool is a popular spot for families in the warmer months.

A 50 metre accessibility path which makes it easy to take prams and wheelchairs down to the pool.

There’s not much sun shelter, so bring a sun tent to keep things cool.

A nearby playground on Gommera Street is available to entertain the kids, should they get sick of frolicking in the water.

17. Belmont Baths

I know this is a post about the best beaches in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. But, it would be remiss not mention one of Lake Mac’s top swimming spots.

The Belmont Baths have been around for donkey’s years, but were upgraded a few years ago after a destructive storm.

There’s now a 70 metre long and 45 metre wide netted swimming pool, along with toilet and shower facilities.

Being a large coastal lake, Lake Macquarie occasionally gets visits from sharks. The nets keep the sharks out of this particular area, meaning everyone can share.

There’s baths by the Toronto foreshore as well, but they’re currently not netted.

I will say I’ve found them to be good for cardio, as you do end up swimming fast when in there!

Looking across Caves Beach in Lake Macquarie.
Looking back at the caves of Caves Beach.
Close up of the sea caves at Caves Beach, one of the best beaches in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.
Close up of the eponymous Caves.

18. Caves Beach

Caves Beach and nearby Ham Beach are both very nice. Caves has the edge due to its namesake – a network of sea caves.

These are best explored at low tide via the Caves Beach walk.

Stay for sunset then head to nearby Caves Coastal Bar for a meal and/or tipple.

So there you have it – a list of the best beaches and ocean baths in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. I hope you feel inspired to visit some of these lovely spots. Explore other weekend getaways in New South Wales and discover the best places to visit in Australia season by season.

Keen to experience some of these beaches for yourself? Pin this post.

Discover the best beaches in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie in New South Wales, Australia.

These beaches and swimming spots are found on the lands of the Awabakal and Worimi peoples. We acknowledge them as Traditional Owners and pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

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