From far-flung hideaways to see-and-be-seen hot spots, these six beaches are the best Australia has to offer.
For Explorers: Cable Beach, Broome
The Scene: Adventurous types make the 2 1/2-hour flight from Perth to Western Australia’s exotic pearling port for a frontier-town atmosphere and a 13-mile sweep of white sand.
T+L Tip: Hole up at the luxe Cable Beach Club (61-8/9192-0400; doubles from $297) and arrange to join a 32-camel sunset caravan along the beach with Ships of the Desert (61-419/954-022; 30-minute tours from $31 per person).
For Serenity Seekers: Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas
The Scene: How to improve on a pristine arc of shoreline along the Great Barrier Reef? Have it all to yourself. This is Queensland’s discreet bolt-hole for the stealth-wealth set.
T+L Tip: Check in to Peppers Beach Club (61-7/4087-1000; doubles from $339), where the white-on-white interiors and a huge pool are refreshing on steamy summer days.
For Sybarites: Watego’s Beach, Byron Bay
The Scene: A former whaling town just a two-hour drive from Brisbane, Byron Bay has evolved into a hip beach getaway thanks to an influx of fashion-industry players who love the calm waves and hard-packed sand ideal for yoga sessions.
T+L Tip: Book one of 92 suites at the Byron at Byron (doubles from $423), set in a tranquil rain forest.
For Scenesters: Bondi Beach, Sydney
The Scene: Just 20 minutes from downtown, this half-mile crescent is the fulcrum around which Sydney—with its enviable work-life ratio—revolves.
T+L Tip: Relax in the seawater pool at Bondi Icebergs (61-2/9130-3120), the venerable swimming club on a cliff overlooking the beach.
For Nature Lovers: Wineglass Bay, Tasmania
The Scene: Go in search of Tasmanian devils and wallabies in their natural habitat at this flawless beach with the Hazards Mountains beyond.
T+L Tip: Unpack at the bold Saffire Freycinet (61-3/6256-7888; doubles from $1,927, including some meals, drinks, and activities), where athletic guides will lead you on a two-hour hike to the bay.
For Surf Bums: Bells Beach, Torquay
The Scene: Expert surfers ride the ocean swells against a dramatic backdrop of craggy cliffs. Ogle the stars during the annual Rip Curl Pro each Easter, or learn from the pros at Torquay Surf Academy (lessons from $121).
T+L Tip: Two hours from Melbourne, the beach is an easy day trip along the spectacular Great Ocean Road. In winter, look out for southern right whales.
The Trip Planner: Lynda Turley Garrett, President, Alpine Travel of Saratoga
In addition to snagging special deals on airfare and hotels, T+L A-List travel agent and Aussie specialist Garrett is well known for her beach advice down under. She’ll arrange private surfing lessons at Bondi or Watego’s Beach and give tips on spotting fairy penguins in Tasmania.
The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa
About 75 minutes by air from Sydney, Byron Bay has long been known for its pristine sands and stunning headlands. Set within a 45-acre rain forest, Byron at Byron Resort & Spa was designed by local architect Ed Haysom to blend into the natural canopy. The open plan of the main building flows between indoors and out: wide, covered verandas are furnished with cane lounges and slow-turning ceiling fans. The alfresco restaurant serves mod Oz delicacies with a refined twist. Take a 10-minute tour through the rain forest to the unspoiled Tallow Beach, or just sit back at Byron’s infinity pool and poolside sauna and soak in the natural setting.
A holiday in Tasmania may feel like a trip to the end of the earth. A reward for the long journey? The Saffire Freycinet, Tasmania's first world-class retreat. Spread across 11 lush acres, it is a reimagination of a beachfront shack, with an aesthetic that takes full advantage of the area's natural beauty. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the craggy Hazards mountain range, while light-filled living rooms face Great Oyster Bay. Most indulgent touch: each guest is given a complimentary treatment at the 1,600-square-foot spa.