Immortalised by the Beach Boys in 'Surfin’ USA', long, spectacular Narrabeen is hard-core surf turf – get some experience before hitting the breaks. Not the best for swimming, but there is a pool. At the far northern end of the beach, there's good paddling for young children on the lagoon side of the strand. Back from the centre of the beach, you can check out the lagoon trail.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Northern Beaches attractions

1. Collaroy

1.34 MILES

Collaroy generally has smaller waves, making it good for surfers learning their trade. There are cafes, a…

2. Dee Why

2.93 MILES

A no-fuss curve of family beach fronted by chunky apartments, some good cafes and ubiquitous surf shops. Grommets (young surfers) hit the waves and mums…

3. Curl Curl

4.02 MILES

Attracting a mix of family groups and experienced surfers, Curl Curl is a large, sloping beach with rocky saltwater pools at each end, a swampy lagoon and…

4. Newport

4.14 MILES

This well-known Sydney surf beach is a kilometre-long strip of east-facing sand with reliable waves and a backing of Norfolk pine trees.

5. Bilgola

4.82 MILES

With its huge saltwater pool and tucked-away location between the better-known Newport and Avalon beaches, little Bilgola feels like a bit of a secret gem…

6. Freshwater

4.85 MILES

This discreet, southeast-facing sandy bay just north of Manly has a cool ocean pool and plenty of teenagers. Good for learner surfers.

7. Avalon

5.57 MILES

Caught in a sandy ’70s time warp, Avalon is the mythical Australian beach you always dreamed of but could never find. Challenging surf and sloping,…

8. Manly Beach

5.93 MILES

Sydney's second most famous beach is a magnificent strand that stretches for nearly two golden kilometres, lined by Norfolk Island pines and midrise…