Rainbow Bay is Queensland's most southern beach. It's also a "pocket beach," bordered by Greenmount and Snapper Rocks and fronted by Superbank—one of the world's top surf breaks, says Aussie beach expert Dr. Andrew Short. The beach is popular with "all manner of surfers and their girlfriends" and is fed by adjacent Coolangatta tourist resorts and hotels.
Bondi is a legend. Dr. Short likes the good surf, bordering headlands and a cool beach crowd. Tourism NSW describes Bondi precinct as inhabited by backpackers, billionaires, board riders and the body beautiful. Swim at the seaside pool, then dine at iconic Icebergs. Or catch a wave with Let's Go Surfing and Bondi Brenda, "the high priestess of surfing."
It's "the original," with a surf club founded in 1909, says Dr. Short, "and still the best beach in Perth to be seen, with backing slopes to provide a good view down the beach." After all, it is all about the view. Cottesloe Reef is a popular snorkeling site with limestone pinnacles, patches of sea grass, kelp beds and sponge gardens. Poise your peepers for a glimpse of the rare leafy sea dragon.
Mindil is about to be more appealing with the expected late 2008 premiere of the new Baz Luhrmann film epic with Nicole Kidman, Australia, in which NT's capital city of Darwin plays a major historical role. Mindil is a relatively short beach, bordered by headlands, says Dr. Short, and is "exposed to 20-foot tides and the occasional wandering crocodile." Watch your step.
If you see surfers "running up and down the beach, they're following the waves," says Dr. Short. Scores of sunbathers seek this beach out, where Red Sun Camels offer dromedary rides morning and sunset. North of Cable's northern rocks, Short says you'll find a nude beach, and nearby (but not too nearby), snap to at Malcolm Douglas Broome Crocodile Park.
St. Kilda is a favorite seaside playground for sexy Melbournians wanting to be seen. On weekends, Melbournians walk, cycle and skate along the palm-lined boardwalk, or simply lounge in an outdoor café or cocktail bar to appreciate panoramic views of Port Phillip Bay.
Perennially in the news, Piha draws A-listers like a magnet, 30 minutes west of Auckland. Johnny Depp was likely there in January, and Icelandic singer Bjork and the group Rage Against the Machine hung out in Piha—way prior to Auckland's recent Big Day Out celebration. The busiest surf beach in New Zealand rages while some of the world's best lifeguard action is captured on local TV One's show, "Piha Rescue".
Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula, North Island
You're in hot water and it's okay. The correct time to go is about two hours before or after low tide; sit down, dust yourself off, use your shovel, then soak in the naturally heated thermal mineral water. It's like spa-la-la on the white, sandy beach framed by lovely pohutukawa (think "giant poinsettia") trees.
Yes, it's a must-do. Hop the 35-minute ferry from Auckland and head by car to a truly breathtaking spot that will leave the city buzz behind. You can see Great Barrier Island and Little Barrier from here, and you'll likely share the view with only a few other lucky souls. It's a memorable beach experience.
One after another, these golden-sand beaches stretch along 30 miles of turquoise bays and get a "10" rating for beauty and natural sex appeal in New Zealand's smallest but perhaps most outstanding national park. Sea kayaking with seals awaits your paddling pleasure. Dine or stay at Awaroa Lodge, where the buzz of thousands of cicadas reminds you how far from urban strains you are.