Skip to Content

9 stunning Northern NSW Beaches

As we start to get out and about again a few days exploring the Northern NSW beaches with their stunning scenery and refreshing sea breeze sounds particularly appealing.  This area has a lot going for it.  Sparkling waters and soft golden sand beaches.  Rugged headlands and strong surf.  Stunning views and green countryside.  Not to mention wonderful restaurants making the best use of the fresh local produce.

It’s an easy day trip from Brisbane but staying on the Tweed Coast for a few days will open up the opportunity for a lot more local exploring.  Here are 10 of my favourite spots for relaxing and rejuvenating on the New South Wales North Coast.

1.   Fingal Head

Fingal Head
Fingal Head Beach looking out to Cook Island

This peninsula and headland are significantly less populated than the beaches to the north and south, one side runs along the Tweed River and the other along the coast with expanses of beautiful sand beaches, a headland where you can regularly watch dolphins play in the surf below or whales pass in season. 

Definitely take a walk up to the lighthouse for its amazing views and to see or climb down to the Echidna rock and start of the Giants Causeway, a lava flow from the now extinct Tweed Volcano out to Cook Island.

2.   Cook Island

Cook Island, New South Wales
Cook Island

Significantly smaller and less well known than the Cook Islands, it was never-the-less named for its discovery by navigator James Cook who sighted it at 5 pm on the 16th May 1770, three years before his first visit to the more famous group of islands.

Cook Island is an aquatic reserve and protected area.  It’s a significant breeding area for seabirds predominantly terns and shearwaters.  It’s also an important habitat for green turtles, stingrays, sharks and fish species.

Cook Island is only 600 metres offshore from Fingal Head but the surf in the area can quite often make it almost impossible to get out there safely as it did unfortunately last week.  Still, on a good day, it’s an excellent destination for kayaking, boating, snorkelling and diving and I definitely have a kayaking and snorkelling trip planned when the weather and tides cooperate.

3.   Kingscliff

Bush stone curlew

There is a bit bigger township here, large grassed reserve areas with children’s playgrounds and other facilities. The beach is again beautiful with golden sand as far as you can see.  There was a surf-patrolled area for safe swimming and lots of space to enjoy, it really is impossible to choose a bad place to stop along this coast.  There’s also a bike and walking path that runs right through Kingscliff and south as far as Casuarina Beach.

I must admit this family of endangered Bush Stone Curlew under one of the pandanus trees stole the show for me though.  These cute but dopey looking ground-dwelling birds do choose the worst places to nest but they are experts at disappearing on the spot, the chicks particularly appear to vanish and reappear into thin air.

4.   Salt Beach

Salt Beach

A surf beach with lifesavers on duty,  with three resort complexes and residential housing developments in the area it’s popular for family swimming but still a quiet beach even by Australian standards.  There’s plenty of room here to walk, stake out a good-sized spot in the sand or organise a game of beach cricket.

The bike path runs through here from Kingscliff in the north to Casuarina Beach to the south.  Several of the resorts offer bike hire options so you can explore if you haven’t bought your own.

It’s been a long hot summer already so a few days exploring the northern coast of NSW with some cooling sea breeze sounded particularly appealing.  This area has a lot going for it.  Sparkling waters and soft golden sand beaches.  Rugged headlands and strong surf.  Stunning views and green countryside.  Not to mention wonderful restaurants making the best use of the fresh local produce.

It’s an easy day trip from Brisbane but staying on the Tweed Coast for a few days opens up the opportunity for a lot more local exploring.  Here are 10 of my favourite spots for relaxing and rejuvenating on the northern New South Wales coast

 5.   Cabarita Beach

Diamond beach

This beach is super popular with surfers and has an isolated feel considering it’s just off the road. The nature reserve to the north and behind give a green backdrop, while the crashing Pacific Ocean surf and the headland to the south effectively make you forget about anything else around.

There are various surf carnivals held here throughout the year which up the numbers significantly but the rest of the time it’s definitely a spot for those who enjoy the peace and quiet. The area is equipped with picnic areas and barbeques.

6.   Norries Headlands

Norries Head

The walkway here from the Cabarita car park and reserve is a must-do if you are passing.  Enter through the Pandanas walkway which provides some shelter from the heat of the sun then climb the stairs and formed a trail to the top.  It’s only a 1 km return walk and has something for everyone with great views, regular spotting of whales in season, a great vantage point to watch the surfers, see a variety of local birds and get a bit of exercise.

To the north you are looking at Diamond Beach and the patrolled beach of Cabarita, to the south is Maggie’s beach with sand stretching off for miles to the next headland.

7.   Lake Cudgen & Cudgen Nature Reserve

Lake Cudgen

We just had a short stop here but if you’re prepared with the right gear – either a kayak or lots of mozzie repellant and walking boots, this looks like a beautiful area.  I would have loved to get out onto the lake in a small kayak, the water was incredibly still.  The morning was a little overcast early on but that only added to the mood and tranquillity here.

There are 137 species of native animals, birds and reptiles recorded in the immediate area and of those 19 are listed as threatened so it’s an important habitat.  Tread carefully and enjoy.

 8.   Cudgen Creek

Cudgen Creek

Continuing south on the inland side of the road is another great kayaking area.  If the tide is right, from the bridge you can spot a variety of birdlife on the sand island that appears in the middle, we saw egrets, spoonbill, a beach stone-curlew and pelicans amongst others.  Also, don’t forget to look up, there’s an osprey nest on a power pylon platform, when we visited a week ago it had two fledgling chicks occasionally showing themselves to call in the parent birds but were not yet ready to make the jump themselves.

On the beachside of the road, the creek forms a tidal lagoon which makes a lovely safe swimming and water lounging spot.  As the tide goes out you should take care with children swimming as it’s quite fast-moving as it heads into the ocean but the rest remains quite safe and several families were having a lot of fun floating down toward the bar on inner tubes.  Across the lagoon (you’ll want your swimmers on to walk across) is the surf beach and still more golden sands.

9.   Hastings Point

Hastings Point

Walk along the beach or in the shallow sandy waters of Cudgera creek until the beach becomes rocky and you’ll see plenty of seabirds including possibly the rare little tern as you head towards to surf.  Either clamber over the rocks to check out the rock pools or climb up onto the headlands for great views out to sea and of the beaches in either direction.

This would be another great whale spotting location in season and on the day we visited the local high school’s biology class had grids laid out exploring the rock pools and crevices.

There’s a camping ground opposite nestled between the inland side of Cudgera Creek and the beach.  It’s a spot I’ll definitely come back to again.  I think Cudgera Creek / Hastings Point could become a favourite.

10.   Peppers Resort and Spa

Peppers Resort & Spa

Often accommodation to me is about a clean place to shower and sleep but for this short escape, we wanted somewhere to relax and do as much or as little as we wanted each day and the Peppers Resort at Salt Beach delivered. 

Located on the beautiful Salt Beach you have everything you want within walking distance if you don’t want to drive.  There’s a restaurant on-site and a variety of cafes and restaurants just across the road, plus a convenience and bottle store if you wanted to self-cater or grab some snacks.  The location on Salt Beach is stunning, with sparkling clean water, surf, a surf-lifesaver patrolled swimming area and miles of golden sand in both directions.

The resort itself was a lovely respite from the heat of the day with a stunning lagoon pool and a quieter tropical pool towards the back of the resort.  I’m not sure I’d be as happy there during the school holidays but at the moment it’s a calm and beautiful spot.  You can rent a tennis racket at the front desk if you want to burn off some energy or hire a bike and explore the miles of bike paths running along the beachfront into Kingscliff or down past Casuarina Beach.

Clearly, in this photo it’s an early post-breakfast swim normally the loungers are full of towels and the pool is well used but I couldn’t resist one final dip before we headed off on our last day when we saw it was totally empty!  This is one very enjoyable pool to cool off and relax in.

I’d definitely recommend a few days on the Northern Coast of New South Wales.  It’s serene, scenic and full of interesting places to explore.  If you’re passing through the area try to fit in a few days to enjoy what the Tweed Coast has to offer.  For those living or staying in South East Queensland, it’s worth driving that little bit further on the weekend to spend time in this stunning region.  The beaches and scenery are lovely if you like a bit of serenity and if you start to miss a bit of the noise and nightlife then the Southern Queensland coast is not that far up the road when you are ready to move on.

What are your favourite spots on the Northern New South Wales coast?  Do you have a local getaway close to home but far enough away to feel like you’ve escaped from the day-to-day routine?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

budget jan

Friday 20th of March 2015

Gosh I can't wait to get down there and explore some more. The last time we were there was 27 years ago! Before that we holidayed at Coolangatta and fished in the Tweed River. Fishing from the bank was so easy and even as kids we managed to catch a flathead or two. I love curlews too. We have quite a lot of them running around in the suburbs of Townsville this year - more than usual - but probably not the endangered ones. Still it is good to see them flourishing. Cook Island is a similar shape to others on the sunshine coast - must be something to do with the prevailing breezes.

Jim Butcher @

Saturday 14th of March 2015

Awesome wrap of this part of the coast! We once spend a weekend at Seal Rocks just north of Newcastle a while back. It was part of a surf camp and was a lot of fun, but the beaches in that reserve are just spectacular. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience. Jim #teamwanderlust


Tuesday 10th of March 2015

I haven't been to Australia yet but I would love to make it to the land down under as soon as I get a chance! Your beach photos are so enticing - I just want hop on over to the nearest beach as soon as possible!


Tuesday 10th of March 2015

Salt Beach looks just so pristine and amazing - we don't have beaches like that in Canada! I'd love to enjoy this sunny, stunning beach!


Monday 9th of March 2015

I'm always looking for reasons to return to Australia, so thanks for giving me some more! ;)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.