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Best Beaches & Swimming Spots Wollongong, Illawarra and South Coast

Let us short cut you to the best beaches for kids and families! As locals, we know the best beaches in Wollongong and the South Coast of NSW. We are so very blessed to be spoilt in the Illawarra and South Coast with a smorgasboard of beautiful coastline and stunning beaches. Seriously, where else can you say you live amongst 17 and counting (yes, 17) beaches ranging from Stanwell Park in the north to Windang in the south alone?

So at Parents Guide, we’ve been hard at work researching (!) and have done our darnedest to come up with our very own list of child-friendly beaches for you to enjoy. Nothing spoils a trip with kids to the beach quite like when there is no loo in sight, and let’s face it, a beach with rock pools, loads of exploring and adventuring to be had, is a parenting win.

Want even more family-friendly FUN inspo across the Illawarra? Check out our best places to take kids in Wollongong

Best Beaches For Kids Wollongong and Illawarra

Coalcliff Beach and Rock pool

Such a great little spot. Never disappoints thanks to that view featuring our rugged and beautiful coastline. Despite its popularity in summer, it always has that secluded feel to it. There is a saltwater rock pool at the southern end of the beach and lots of rock pools awaiting little explorers. Amenities and a small playpark (Leeder Park) sits at the top of the stairs down to the beach. Parking can be a bit of a pain, but worth it. And, you get to drive over the beautiful Seacliff Bridge. Sublime!

Wollongong Harbour Beach

Enclosed, shallow, super pretty – amazing for toddlers! Plus The Harbour park and Levendi cafe is close by. Arrive early for parking on the weekends (more parks available up the lighthouse). Or if you fancy a change of scene, The Continental Pool is next door and has a great toddler pool plus a disabled access ramp. A winner all round! We recommend the small beach at the north end, or drive right round to the harbour and enjoy the small sheltered beaches by the Harbour cafe with amazing donuts!

The protected shallows of Wollongong Harbour Beach

Port Kembla Beach and Pool

A long-standing favourite, and over time, has earned itself about 100 child-friendly points. It also boasts being “regarded as one of Wollongong’s most prestigious beaches” (rumour has it that sand from this beach was shipped over to Waikiki – yes, Hawaii!). Loads of parking, there is also a large Olympic pool on the northern rocks which also hosts a toddler/baby pool area. This Illawarra gem has one of the largest foreshores in the region (running along the sand anyone?). Amenities galore, change rooms and showers. Need we say more? Oh, and it serves coffee AND ice cream.

Windang Beach and Lagoon

Windang Beach
Windang Beach

This jewel is located at the entrance to Lake Illawarra and it offers spectacular views of the famous Five Islands off the Wollongong coastline. It’s where the lake and ocean meet. Super popular with families because it hosts picnic and bbq areas, a cycle path, sheltered areas, amenities and the best part – is the colour of the water. Crystal clear; never falters. The beach is great for little legs not quite ready for big waves – lots of wading and safe splashing about to be had. It’s also where my son learnt to fish – so if you have a novice fisher on your hands, grab the rods and head out to watch the beautiful sunset.

Hyams Beach – South Coast NSW

I can still feel the white, soft, fine sand between my toes. Sand for daaaaaays. If you have yet to visit Hyams Beach, be sure to put it on your bucket list. Boasts some of the whitest sand in the world apparently. Nestled on the southern shores of the splendid Jervis Bay Marine Park, the marine park is a haven for dolphins, seals, penguins and even whales. I remember the water being so clear as I walked along the shore, that I could see an entire school of baby whiting along the tiny waves lapping up at the sand.

Take some shelter or a sunshade with you, pack a picnic, then dive straight into that crystal clear water. Unspoilt, and stunning. This beach remains one of my happy places and it’s only a 1.5-hour drive south of the ‘Gong. Bliss, who need a long haul flight to find paradise? However, just a warning – feedback from parents is that it is best to avoid during peak holiday times as parking can be a challenge.

North Wollongong Beach

North Wollongong Beach-1

Our list would not be complete without the inclusion of this iconic favourite. Not to mention the little inlets and more ‘lagoon-style’ areas (Belmore Basin) that sit to the left and right of the main part of the beach which are perfect for little waders, families and rock pool explorers. Eateries, amenities, parks, walking and cycling tracks await. Take a sun shelter and make a day of it. There is even the Ocean Rock Pool (accessible via Cliff Road), which I have taken my son to if the beach gets too busy and we are in a no-sand-in-our-pants kind of mood. No matter the weather (or your child’s mood), a trip to North Wollongong Beach will appease even the fussiest family member.

Seven Mile Beach National Park

Seven Mile Beach National Park

If you want to mix up your beach day with some scenic wildlife, bird spotting or nature trails, then Gerroa has it in spades. Not content with just offering one of the most golden beaches on the South Coast that stretches for miles (popular for beach cricket we hear), Gerroa had to go one better and package this natural beauty with a stunning local wildlife park!

There are picnic and BBQ areas, a more tranquil creek and lagoon for the little ones, fishing, and walking tracks – this coastal reserve ticks all the boxes for an adventurous family day out. It is also one of the best learn-to-surf spots on Australia’s south eastern coastline as it is protected from north winds and swells. The best part – if you can keep your little ones awake long enough after their big day exploring, take in the beautiful sunset over Seven Mile Beach; it is well worth it.

Thirroul Beach and Pool


So where is our kids favourite beach? They have sussed out that Thirroul Beach is where we go to eat fish and chips on the beach and eat strawberry gelato. It is also home to his favourite playpark and toddler pool. We both love how the beach is home to a perfect little inlet of water on the sandy foreshore that is perfect for his construction diggers and for me pulling him along as he zooms on his boogie board. The day that we went we took our Sun Shade and parked on the sand with all the other families. This great family-friendly beach with free swimming pool, never disappoints and with the new kiosk, hungry bellies are always happy ones.

Moona Moona Creek (Vincentia)

Moona Moona Creek (Vincentia)

Stunning location and boasting a beautiful kid-friendly lagoon (just check out the pic below!), Moona Moona Creek is also great for tidal paddling with sand bars and Collingwood Beach is adjacent to it. Perfect place for a family trip to the beach with safe water play for the kids,  Moona Moona Creek offers good BBQ facilities along with plenty of shade and grass areas. 

Please note: that this is by no means an exhaustive list, and we welcome all your comments, suggestions and feedback on this topic! We are especially keen to hear from those of you who have discovered your very own beach and inlet spots and want to share (or perhaps not, lol!).

Honourable mentions for best beaches for kids and families Illawarra wide:

  • Bulli Beach, the side north of the rock pool is sheltered, calm and has great shallow waters for exploring
  • Anywhere off Reddall Parade, Lake Illawarra (according to local mums!)
  • Coledale Beach
  • Shellharbour North Beach 
  • Minnamurra Beach – the lagoon side is stunning and no waves (the tides can be strong however)
  • The inlet in between East Corrimal and Towradgi beaches….great for fishing too we hear…  

More best beaches for kids and families further afield in the South Coast of NSW

  • Batemans Bay Snorkelling Trail
  • Tathra Beach 
  • Mollymook Beach 
  • Werri Beach and Point 
  • Anywhere in Jervis Bay (known for being safe from ‘rips’) 
  • Booderee (part of Booderee National Park) 
  • Culburra Surf Beach

For more Parents Guide ‘Fun Places to go with the Kids’ inspiration – click here!

Planning your child’s next awesome bday bash? Get all the party inspo you need with our local Kids Bday Party Directory HERE!

Some images and quotes have been sourced (with thanks) from Visit NSW.

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