Last updated: February 19, 2023
A guide to the seven best beaches and ocean pools in the Newcastle area, some busy with good facilities and others much quieter and more isolated.
One of the perks of living in Newcastle is that this city is home to some of the best beaches one can find along the coastline of New South Wales.
In addition to fantastic beaches, Newcastle is also home to a few magnificent ocean pools, perfect for a family-friendly swim in beautiful surroundings.
Read on and find out which seven beaches and ocean pools you should go to during your next visit to Newcastle, the second-most-populated city in NSW.
Top 7 Newcastle Beaches
In geographical order, here are Newcastle’s seven best beaches.
Keen to spend a long weekend in Newcastle? Check out our guide to the best things to do in Newcastle for a ready-to-go itinerary.
1. Horseshoe Beach
Horseshoe Beach is all about man’s best friend. Located next to Macquarie Pier, you can let your four-legged pal go for a quick dip as you look out over the harbour.
This beach is a favourite for dog lovers, and your dog can run around off-leash. And what’s great is that the car park is conveniently located next door.
If you want to continue your walk, you can head through Camp Shortland park and down Macquarie Pier to the breakwater or up to Nobbys Lighthouse.
For more great spots in the Newcastle area to visit with your dog, check out the council’s list of leash-free areas in Newcastle.
2. Nobbys Beach
Nobbys Beach is a picturesque beach located on the ocean side of Macquarie Pier, carved out between Nobbys Lighthouse and the base of Fort Scratchley.
Very popular with locals and tourists, this beach is actually man-made from sand created from the nearby quarries, as part of the development of Macquarie Pier.
The beach is patrolled, and there are changerooms and a kiosk conveniently located on the boardwalk. If you are looking to make a day of it, there are shaded areas with tables for a picnic lunch.
There is plenty of parking nearby, but otherwise, it’s approximately 10 minutes to walk from the Newcastle Beach Light Rail stop.
3. Newcastle Beach
Newcastle Beach is beautiful and very central to get to, as it’s almost next door to the Newcastle CBD.
In the summertime, you may be lucky to catch a local surf competition, as it has a good reputation with surfers for having a great surf break.
If surfing is not your thing, Newcastle Beach has two great options for swimmers. The beach is patrolled by surf lifesavers, but if you don’t like waves or have young children, you can head to the historic Newcastle Ocean Baths next door for a dip.
If you still have the energy for a walk, from the south end of the beach, you can walk to Bogey Hole, which is a very pretty little ocean pool that all the locals know about.
Newcastle Beach is very easy to get to. There is plenty of beach-side and street parking, and it’s a 5-minute walk from the Newcastle Beach Light Rail stop.
4. Susan Gilmore Beach
Susan Gilmore Beach is named after an American ship that sank off the Newcastle Coast in 1884.
Despite the tragic story, this strip of sand is a great finisher to the Newcastle Memorial Walk as it shows off the dramatic coastline. You can also park up in the Bar Beach car park and look down out at the view.
This beach is not that well patrolled for a swim. But if you find a quiet spot on the sand, you can easily walk 1-2 minutes back to Bar Beach for a dip.
5. Bar Beach
If you are looking for a beach with a bit more action, Bar Beach is where it happens.
It starts with the great view from the car park at the top of the hill. Then you can choose between finding a quieter spot near the rock pools at the north end of the beach, or you can jump in between the waves on the other side of the rock wall.
Next to the heritage Cooks Hill Surf Lifesaving Club, you can grab a bite to eat and sit in the shade at the kiosk. There are change rooms and toilets conveniently located here too.
6. Merewether Beach
Merewether Beach is a great sunset spot in summer. The beach itself is very popular, but it’s also home to the largest ocean baths in the southern hemisphere.
Merewether Ocean Baths is a beautiful pool for laps or splashing around, with enough personal space for everyone. Overlooking the beach is the Merewether Surfhouse, with multiple levels for a fancy dinner or just some drinks by the sand.
There is parking next to the beach, but it does get busy during weekends and summer days. You can also catch a bus to the Jefferson Park bus stop on Frederick St, in front of The Beach Hotel.
7. Glenrock Beach
Also known as Burwood Beach, Glenrock Beach is a wild but stunning stretch of sand accessible only by two tracks. The beach is especially pretty where the sand meets the little lagoon.
The long way to reach these beaches is via the Yuelarbah Track, which is a 6.8 km circuit track that starts in Whitebridge.
The short way is to head to Hickson Street Lookout, and then walk a steep but fairly short walk down to Glenrock Beach. Take a quick stop at the top to admire the view, and maybe catch a hang glider making their launch from this spot.