Summer School Holidays in NSW: 5 unmissable beaches

Looking for some of the best beach holidays for families in NSW this summer? Our summertime destinations list has got you covered. Get ready to pack the sunscreen, roll up the beach towels and get a playlist ready for the kids – a memorable getaway with golden sand beaches, thriving marine parks, waterside restaurants and coastal adventures is within easy reach. You’ll even find deals where the kids can stay for free. When it comes to summer school holidays NSW ticks all the boxes.


Beautiful pink, purple and orange sunrise at the Nobby's Beach Surf Life Saving Club.
Sunrise at Nobby’s Beach Surf Life Saving Club. Image from Destination NSW.

160 km / 2 hrs from Sydney

Newcastle is a perfect combination of world-famous surf, family adventure and heritage charm. A leading beach holiday destination since the sea baths were hewn in 1819, Newcastle’s beaches include the famous Merewether Beach, home to the international Surfest competition, iconic Nobbys Beach and the cafes and kiosks of family-friendly Newcastle Beach

Enjoy the views with a drink and an Italian meal at Merewether Surfhouse. You can explore Newcastle’s vibrant past (and Supernova exhibit) at Newcastle Museum. Nobbys Lighthouse is an iconic and historic vantage point where you might also spot frolicking dolphins. Turn up the family fun at nearby Go-karting or Treetops Adventure

Need somewhere to stay?

A great option for families, the heritage-listed Terminus Apartment Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection offers a central location with stunning views over the harbour. Take a short walk through town to explore the restaurants and cafes.


image of a lighthouse right on the beach from faraway. People taking phots of the lighthouse.
Norah Head Lighthouse, Norah Head. Image from Destination NSW.

115 km / 1 hr 25 min from Sydney

Tucked between glittering waterways, this coastal hideaway boasts expansive lakeside waterfronts, golden ocean beaches and waterfront bars and restaurants. Get to know the region by walking or riding along the Tuggerah cycle pathway. Along the way you’ll see the 100-year-old Long Jetty, NSW’s longest jetty. You can also explore nearby historic landmark Norah Head Lighthouse on a guided tour. 

Explore nearby Tuggerah Lake with a standup paddleboard or kayak – you can hire what you need at The Entrance Boatshed. Relax in the evening with some international flavours at one of Toukley’s popular restaurants, including Lily Thai, Sorrisos Italian and Mexicoast Cantina.  ‘The Beachie’ is an iconic favourite with bars and family-friendly restaurants overlooking the water. 

Need somewhere to stay?

Perfect for families, the Beachcomber Hotel & Resort, Ascend Hotel Collection is an iconic waterfront hotel offering a range of restaurant and bar options next to the town’s glittering waterways. 

Merimbula is a gem of the Sapphire Coast with a huge range of beaches, wildlife and aquatic attractions. Hit the waves at Merimbula Main Beach, where surfers enjoy the well-known break. Families can relax, swim and snorkel at Bar Beach or enjoy a picnic at peaceful Spencer Park Beach. Short Point has good surf and some of the best views 

Related: Five regional destinations to visit this summer


Family enjoying a day of fun at Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures, Knights Hill.
Have some fun at the Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures. Image from Destination NSW.

A beach lover’s paradise with lively arts, culture and adventure to boot. Stretch out on Wollongomng’s famous golden sands at North Wollongong Beach or Wollongong City Beach and soak in some classic summertime vibes. Make the most of it by learning – or improving on – some surfing tricks with Pines Surfing Academy, Illawarra Surf Academy or Australian Surf Tours

Thrillseekers can fly high above the treetops on Australia’s highest zipline at Illawarra Fly or explore the 1.5km treetop walkway through the beautiful temperate rainforest. The Early Start Discovery Space Centre is a dedicated children’s museum with interactive experiences and learn-through-play activities for children up to 10 years and families.

Need somewhere to stay?

Only five minutes from the centre of town and close to the beach, Comfort Inn Towradgi Beach is a great place to chill out. Quality Suites Pioneer Sands is another great accommodation choice close to local restaurants, bars and cafes.


Aerial overlooking Minyon Falls in Nightcap National Park, Whian Whian
Minyon Falls in Nightcap National Park. Image from Destination NSW.

Situated between the curving Richmond River and North Creek, Ballina is a majestic slice of Northern Rivers magic filled with art, ancient rainforests, local produce and golden ocean beaches. Get the family adventure started by exploring the area on one of the Richmond Riverbank bike tracks. 

The spectacular Nightcap National Park is an hour’s drive north, and home to the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area and memorable Minyon Falls.  You can find family-friendly swimming at Shaws Bay. Sharpes, Lighthouse and Shelly beaches are also patrolled all year. Don’t miss the impressive Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum.

Need somewhere to stay?

For family-friendly accommodation you can’t go past Comfort Inn All Seasons. Only 140 metres from the Richmond River, Shelley Beach and Lighthouse Beach, this is the perfect base to explore the wonders of the Northern Rivers.  

Travelling with kids under 12?

Join Choice Privileges today for the Lowest Price Guaranteed when you book direct with Choice Hotels, as well as 4c/Litre off petrol at United Petroleum.*

Plus, Kids Under 12 Stay Free at family friendly Choice Hotels when you Book Direct.* (**T&Cs apply).

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