Last updated: November 29, 2022
Escape the crowds at Sydney’s popular beaches, and visit Ettalong, Umina and Pearl Beach on the Central Coast instead.
Facing Brisbane Water and Broken Bay, these three family-friendly beach suburbs are great for swimming and other water-based activities.
The three neighbouring beaches are all within easy driving distance, so why not explore all three of them in one day? Read on to find out more.
How to Get There
Take the Central Coast Hwy exit from the M1 heading towards Gosford and Woy Woy. Turn right into Woy Woy Road until you reach Woy Woy. Follow Ocean Beach Rd and Bourke Rd until you arrive at Ettalong Beach.
Alternatively, a ferry travels between Palm Beach and Ettalong Beach regularly. You can also catch the train to Woy Woy from the city and head to the beach by bus. Visit the Transport NSW website for more details.
The map further below should give you an impression of where the beaches are located on the Central Coast.
Just south of Woy Woy facing Brisbane Water, Ettalong Beach is the smallest of the three. The water at Ettalong is very calm and quite shallow, making this beach perfect for swimming, kayaking and stand-up paddling.
The Ettalong Beach foreshore has been upgraded in recent years, featuring play areas, barbecue facilities and cafes overlooking the beach area. In addition, a cycleway now connects Ettalong Beach with Umina Beach located just around the corner further south.
Don’t forget to visit the Ettalong Markets at the eastern end of Ocean View Road, where you’ll find a great variety of shops, restaurants, cafes and also the popular Cinema Paradiso. Ettalong Markets is the largest undercover market on the Central Coast.
Ettalong is also home to the popular Ettalong Beach Resort, one of the biggest resorts on the Central Coast, with excellent facilities and ocean views.
There are, of course, other and more affordable accommodation options available in the area should you wish to spend a few nights there.
Following The Esplanade along the coast, the next stop is Umina Beach. If travelling by car, the best spot to park is at the Umina Surf Life Saving Club, which also features a cafe and a park nearby.
Umina Beach is a long strip of sand facing Broken Bay with views of Box Head in the east and Lion Island and Barrenjoey Headland in the south. The northern part of Umina Beach is called Ocean Beach, which also has its own surf lifesaving club.
Umina’s long sandy beach is one of the most popular destinations on the Central Coast, great for families to spend a day and for surfers catching waves.
While it does get busy here on summer days, there is usually enough room a bit further away from the main area where the Umina SLSC resides.
To get to the next stop, Pearl Beach, follow Mount Ettalong Road past the Mount Ettalong Lookout. On the way back down, head into Pearl Beach road towards the beach.
Pearl Beach is the most secluded beach of the three, with calm waters and impressive mansions located right behind the sand. The beach also features a popular ocean rock pool at the southern end, great for swimming laps in the morning.
Pearl Beach is also home to Pearls on the Beach, an iconic Central Coast restaurant that combines relaxed beach house glamour with great hospitality. The restaurant is open from Thursday to Sunday for both lunch and dinner.
Please note that while the water at Pearl Beach may appear calm, swimming at the northern end is considered dangerous due to strong currents. The southern end of the beach is much safer to swim.
Mount Ettalong Lookout
It’s worth visiting Mount Ettalong Lookout, just north of Pearl Beach. A short walking track starting from the car park at a large water tank on Patonga Drive brings you to two lookout points offering sensational views of Broken Bay and surrounding areas.
Keen to visit even more beaches? Patonga Beach is the next beach located only moments away and easy to get to via Patonga Drive. Patonga is a quiet oasis, great for swimming in the calm waters or enjoying a picnic in the park at the wharf.
There is also a walking track between Pearl Beach and Patonga. This moderately challenging 3km bushwalk guiders hikers through a forest with red gums and eucalypts and also includes a pretty lookout point.
The best beaches in New South Wales.
From the M1 motorway, drive towards Woy Woy. Follow Ocean Beach Rd and Bourke Rd until you reach Ettalong Beach. From there, it’s an easy drive to Umina Beach and Pearl Beach.
In the below map from north to south:
- Ettalong Beach
- Umina Beach
- Pearl Beach