There are also plenty of things to do with the kids during a family vacation, such as exploring the museums, hiking the trails and playing carnival games at the several theme parks. A visit to Sydney should also include an afternoon of relaxing on the pristine beaches and splashing about in the cool waters; however, it can be hard to find a coast that's both enjoyable for the adults and safe for the young ones.
One of the city's best waterfronts for children is Coogee Beach located off Arden Street. The waves are gentle and swimming is patrolled all year-round. At the north edge of the beach, you'll find Giles Baths, an open pool with harsher waves crashing up against the rocks, as well as Dolphin Point (you won't see dolphins here – it takes its name from the six members of the Coogee Dolphins rugby team that died here during the 2002 Bali bombings). As you walk along the beach, you can expect to see a pleasant park that opens up to Grant Reserve, an ideal place for picnicking and letting the kids have fun on the playground. Keep walking to the south end of the beach and visit Wylies Baths, a historic pool that is perfect for young children due to its netted enclosure. Music fans may want to take a visit to nearby Wedding Cake Island, which inspired the Midnight Oil song.
Located in Manly, Shelly Beach is a sheltered bay that's enclosed by a reef and headland. The tranquil, shallow emerald waters give you a clear view of the friendly underwater creatures, which is why it's such a popular site for snorkelling and scuba diving. It's smaller compared to other beaches in the city, but there's plenty to do here. Bring along some fresh produce and meats to grill in the barbecue area, or grab a bite to eat at Le Kiosk. Walk through the trails to find lookout points revealing the gorgeous North Head and Northern Beaches, and be sure to check out the Sculpture Walk in Cabbage Tree Bay for a look at works that represent different features of the area. Keep in mind that Shelly Beach is a part of a protected marine preserve, so you can't take home shells or other little souvenirs from the habitat. Also, try to arrive early to find parking, since the lot fills up fast due to the site's popularity.
Head to the north side of the city for a day at Balmoral Beach. It's set among the ritzy suburb of Mosman, and you'll find elegant summer houses and expensive yachts here, but the most beautiful views are the lush displays of greenery from Sydney Harbour National Park and the Sydney Heads. This beach also has historical significance - it was once inhabited by the indigenous Borogegal tribe before settlers arrived in the 1800s and turned it into a whaling station. Take a dip in the clear waters of the enclosed swimming area or one of the baths, and enjoy a picnic under the shade in the park. Visitors can also take advantage of the delightful system of walking paths that take you along the foreshores and through the brush. Arrive in summer and you may catch a Shakespeare play in the Rotunda.
Don't let the name fool you – this coastal locale is entirely safe for swimmers. Located in the Vaucluse suburb, Shark Beach is protected by nets to keep out the dangerous creatures. Note that this is a small beach and the site can become overcrowded, and the best times to come are early in the day or later in the evening. One of the best features is the surrounding Nielsen Park, which is brimming with scenic hiking paths that lead to breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour. After you and the family are tuckered out from an afternoon of swimming and trekking the landscape, head to Nielsen Park Cafe for a bite to eat or enjoy a relaxing picnic underneath the shade of a lovely fig tree.
Clovelly Beach is more suited for older children who want to learn to snorkel. The clear waters are ideal for spotting the wide variety of marine life here – you can expect to see sponges, octopus, starfish, sea plants and colourful fish. The water is bordered on each side by 2 long walls of rock, creating a natural enclosure to protect swimmers. The sands and grassy area are also great spots for sunbathing, but adults should be aware that there's little shade at Clovelly, so you'll need umbrellas and plenty of sunscreen.