Top 11 Sydney Beaches With Playgrounds

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Each time I post a round up of places or activities for Melbourne, I always receive emails asking if I can do something similar for other cities. So today on the blog we have a fab guest post from Seana Smith on the top Sydney beaches with playgrounds.

Seana specialises in writing about Sydney and when you sign up to her weekly newsletter from her blog and you receive a free download of ‘Culture for Kids and Carers – Sydney’s Best Art Galleries and Museums’. Be sure to check out Seana’s blog hellosydneykids.com.au

Note of warning about this post – I love Melbourne, but I also love the warm weather and this post made me want to move north!

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Oh we are so very spoiled here in Sydney. We’ve got the most fantastic child-friendly beaches. We’ve got the most gorgeous and groovy playgrounds

Best of all, we have some fantastic beaches with playgrounds right beside them. How lucky is that? And some have cafes too!

In the 15 years that I’ve been taking my four kids to these beaches, the facilities have improved a lot. And there are constant upgrading plans too.

A sunny Sydney day, the kids all creamed up and in their swimmers, a huge playground to explore, a safe beach, a bucket and spade, it’s heaven.

Just add a coffee from the kiosk and we’re set for a full day of fun and frolics.

And the best part? These beaches with playgrounds are totally free. No expense necessary. So egalitarian, so Australian.

Oh, alright, the parking can be costly in some places, that is true. And you might find yourself buying an ice block. But really what a cheap day out.

Well done those Sydney councils and the clever playground designers.

Anyway, cut to the chase. Here’s our family’s top 11 fabbest of the fab beaches with playgrounds in Sydney. Scroll down to read about all the beaches in full or click on the links below to go the beach of interest to you

Top 11 Sydney Beaches With Playgrounds

Collaroy Beach

Sydney Beaches Collaroy
We love this one most of all because it was one of the first we came to in Sydney. Believe me there had been NOTHING like this in Karachi where we had been living and so my eldest son and myself were in transports of delight. Clean sand, clear water, no dead dolphins or dogs on the beach, play equipment, swings and slides.

And fully fenced! And with surfboard sculptures! Actually I’m still in love with Collaroy and go there a lot. I love the beach, the views and especially the gorgeous rock pool.

The playground is about to get a major uplift, the landscape architect is the wonderful Fiona Robbe so it’s going to be amazing. I think my kids have worn out the old one!

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Dee Why Beach

Sydney Beaches Dee Why
An iconic beach, lots of shady reserve, an excellent kids’ rock pool for splashing, tick, tick, tick.

And look, up there near the rock pools, is a fully fenced playground, especially well suited to pre-schoolers. Wunderbar!

Dee Why is my husband’s very favourite beach. He loads up the twins, and sometimes the teens, adds boogie boards, surf board, buckets and spades and the scooters. It takes him forever to pack the car but they all have a splendid time when they get there.

The playground is pretty big, and yes it can get very, very crowded on hot, sunny Sundays. But no wonder. It’s got such wonderful views and little kids love it.

So a swim between the flags, a bit of a scoot along the prom, play with a ball on the grass, enjoy the playground, take a dip in the rock pools and then wander across the road to one of the fabby cafes along The Strand.

If you see a tall, slim man with a couple of sandy six year olds, say g’day, it’s my hubby.

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Clontarf Beach

This beach is just across the Spit Bridge, on the opposite side of Middle Harbour from Balmoral but it has the same Millionaires’ Row cache.

The beach itself is not spectacular but there’s a terrific netted swimming enclosure and a marvellous playground with a nautical theme. Add a kiosk and a large café and plenty of grass and it’s ideal for a long, leisurely picnic with friends.

Play cricket with the kids then sit down with them on the gently sloping soft sand beach. The views are so pretty from here, across Middle Harbour and up into Roseville Chase.

The kids can get very over-excited when Spit Bridge lifts up, that’s part of the fun of a visit here.

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Balmoral Beach

Sydney beaches - Balmoral
Balmoral is really many beaches in one huge arc. There’s the rocky beach end with its great snorkelling and rock pools and huge sweep of sand.

Then the main beach to the right of the ‘island’ great for lazing and swimming. Then there’s the baths area, excellent for the little ones and right by the kiosk and playground.

To the south is the large reserve shaded by gigantic, ancient fig trees and the gently sloping beach which has some shade, great for babies.

But back to the playground. It’s pretty small, but packs a punch well above its weight because of its nautical theme, and it’s simply outrageously beautiful location.

Aimed at toddlers and pre-schoolers, this playground is often totally packed out, and most mums and dads and carers are happily holding a takeaway coffee from the café and kiosk right alongside. Why not?

All four of my children have had many pirate adventures on the little boat in this playground. It looks straight out to sea, who wouldn’t hop on and set sail?

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Clifton Gardens

Sydney Beaches Clifton Gardens
These pretty pleasure grounds have ample reserve space for picnics plus two areas of beach, one side is netted and the other not.

The huge attraction for older kids here is the long jetty, it’s ideal for fishing and also for leaping wildly into the water. Come on mum and dad, join in the fun.

The playground here is enormous. There’s a huge area which is shaded and has pretty space-age equipment for older children, it’s terrific.

The younger kids space is fenced, which is a blessing as the beach is right beside the playground. There’s a Liberty swing here too.

Bring a cricket set and spend the whole day here. The parking isn’t cheap but it’s a great day out. There’s a little café at the far eastern end of the beach too and, wait for it, you’ll often find an ice cream van down here too.

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Parsley Bay

This is one of Sydney’s hidden treasures, a bit of a magical place for kids. The beach is pretty small and netted but very cute and the sea life around the nets is fantastic, so it’s a great spot to snorkel.

The playground is unfenced and at the side of the lovely reserve. It’s quite large and really suits the lush plants and trees around it. There’s a child-sized bush walk here too and a walkway over the beach, plus a kiosk.

Parking can be very tricky though; come early. leave late.

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Bondi Beach

Who knew? I know! When you read about Bondi, and we do read a lot about Bondi, nobody mentions the playground there. How daft!

Bondi is, of course, an iconic Sydney beach, and a suburb now known for its groovy shops and cafes and pricey accommodation.

There are some great areas for kids at the beach, especially the children’s rock pool at the north end. This is at the opposite side from the more famous rock pool where Icebergs Restaurant is situated.

A splash at the sheltered rock pool and then a play in the playground make for a great visit. Have an ice block and a cool drink at the café and you’ll be right. The downside of Bondi is the parking. There’s only one answer to that; buy a house within walking distance of the beach.

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Tamarama Beach

Sydney Beaches Tamarama Playground
Now this beach, the next one south from Bondi and just along the lovely walkway, is certainly not most people’s first pick as a kid-friendly beach BUT… bear with me.

The beach itself is a little stunner. It’s totally gorgeous and usually filled with totally gorgeous young folks sunning their gorgeous selves.

Tamarama has a reputation as a dangerous beach though, for good reason. Like all our Sydney beaches, you and the kids MUST stay within the flags.

But walk to the back of the reserve, collect a coffee at the kiosk on the way, and there’s a really lovely small playground back there. It is not enclosed but it’s far enough away from the water not to be too dangerous at all.

And so beautiful, really. So then why not wander along the walkway some more, push on to Bronte, why not?

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Bronte Beach

Sydney Beaches Bronte Beach
This beach wears the crown amongst the kids’ top spots in the eastern suburbs.

It’s got the entire lot; the sweeping beach, the sea pool, the huge swathes of reserve, the BBQs and picnic tables, the vast and elaborate playground. Plus the killer punch, a little train that takes the little kids on mini-train rides round its tracks. And a kiosk too. It’s joy.

Actually it’s not always joy as it can be a particular pain to find a parking spot anywhere close by. Of all the beaches, this is the one we’d always plan to drop one parent and a couple of kids with all the bags and eskies, then the driver sets forth to park and walk back.

My very favourite spot is the Bogey Hole, a natural rock pool at the south end of the beach, divine. Oh and the views, the views!

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Kyeemagh Beach and Baths

Sydney Beaches Kyeemach beach
Now here’s a good spot down south on the shores of Botany Bay. It’s a marvellous beach for junior plane spotters as the airport is just across the water and planes take off and land all the time. Fabulous.

The water is calm and safe, no surf, plus there’s a large netted swimming enclosure. The playground is up above on the grassy reserve. There are two areas in fact, one is enclosed and great for the little kids. Then there’s a big spiders web rope climbing frame and some other play equipment for the older kids.

A long bike path runs alongside the water for miles here, so you can enjoy a cycle with the family. Have a play and a swim and a cycle and then a cuppa at the café. And some fish and chips, why on earth not?

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Shelly Beach and Baths

Sydney Beaches Shelly Beach
I love the smaller Sydney beaches, the little brothers to the great big famous surf beaches, and this is one. Shelly Beach is a wee bit south of surfing mecca Cronulla, and by contrast is very child-friendly.

There isn’t much actual beach really, but the rock pool is very big and calm and has a beach at one side. It’s an excellent space for babies and toddlers with their buckets and spades.

Shelly Beach has a really superb playground. It’s fully fenced and has excellent equipment on a nautical theme. I do love a playground with some pretty artwork don’t you? And this one has my favourite playground bench in the whole of Sydney.

There’s no kiosk at Shelly, but don’t be alarmed as there are shops just along the road.

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So where shall we meet up one sunny day this summer?

I know, too many great places to choose from.

So lets visit them all!

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Seana Smith is a Sydney-based, Scottish-born mother of four children and author of four books. Seana’s latest book is Sydney’s Best Beaches for Kids,’ the indispensable guide to all the best and safest beaches, baths and ocean pools for Sydney families. All the beaches listed here are described in detail, with all the information you need for a fabulous family day out.

Sydney’s Best Beaches for Kids is a 50 page digital book. Beautifully designed, this digital book is downloaded as a PDF and can read on your desktop, laptop or mobile device for only $7.99. You can buy it here.

Seana blogs at: ‘Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel.’

Comments

    • says

      I know what you mean about the big beaches, painful for parking. I got a $99 fine at Mona Vale last weekend because I just stupidly forgot to get a ticket. Idiot. That was an expensive swim.

  1. Richard says

    I grew up in the eastern suburbs and have to say that Tamarama (quite rightly) has a reputation as one of the most dangerous beaches in Sydney and is definitely not kid-friendly! Playground yes, cafe yes, but what’s the point if your kids can’t do more than look out to sea. As a local, I would not recommend parents from out of the area taking their young families to this beach. Beachsafe.org.au rates this beach hazardous with a rating of 8/10.

    • says

      Hi Richard, I do agree. Things is though that lots of kids find themselves at Tamarama when Sculpture By The Sea is on and I wanted to point out that the playground is a good spot there. I would for sure take my kids for a paddle between the flags at Tamarama if we found ourselves there as part of a walk, but not go there as a destination when Bronte and also Clovelly are so close and safer. I lived at Tamarama when I first came to Sydney 25 years ago, will NEVER forget getting dumped there. I am a really strong swimmer but it was so different to any beach I’d ever experienced before.

  2. Mel says

    We’re an ex Northern Beaches family ( now Novacastrians) and I can vouch for Clontarf, Dee Why and Collaroy. I would easily rate Clontarf as the most family friendly ( especially when you have younger children and babies) in terms of beach, plenty of grass and shade , a great playground and cafe. It’s fabulous and you can happily spend a whole day there ( parking can get a bit expensive though). The playground at Queenscliff (on the same strip as Manly beach) is fantastic as well. There is parking, a cafe across the road and then you’re a short stroll along the beachfront down to Manly if you like.

    • says

      Queenscliff – of course! Just because it isn’t right beside the beach doesn’t mean it’s not a beach playground. It is… and lets not forget Mona Vale. I can feel another post coming on!

  3. says

    So spoilt for choice. Don’t forget Avalon Palm Beach Newport and Mona Vale. Nice to see Sydney beaches through your eyes. Thanks for the heads up on some I didnt know about.
    Carolyn

    • says

      Yes, Mona Vale would make the list. I’m there on Saturdays training for this ocean swim and must photograph it on a sunny day. The playground at Newport is pretty small but fine and there is a small play structure at Avalon. Oh we are so lucky!

  4. Kirralee says

    Fantastic list!

    Clontarf where have you been hiding??? Definitely need to check that one out. The kids were sooo excited when we ended up first in line in the traffic one day when the spit bridge opened, so they would just love being able to watch it again.

    Thank you.