Judging by the number of playful pups and gorgeous rescue dogs popping up on social media feeds over the past year, it’s clear that a serious case of fido fever has taken hold across the country.
Stats from a 2019 report on pet ownership in Australia shows that 3.8 million households around the country have a pooch living under their roof, and in 22 per cent of case, more than one. Until more recent stats are revealed, we can only assume that the number has skyrocketed as Australians are spending more time at home.
So where do you take best bud on a sunny day? Another trip to the park to chase the same, boring old stick? Why not give your furry friends their very own sea change and take them to one of the dog friendly beaches near you. If you’re lucky enough to live on the coast, there are plenty to choose from. If not, pack up the car and make a weekend of it. There’s loads of dog friendly accommodation options too.
Best dog friendly beaches near Sydney
North Harbour Reserve, Balgowlah
If you’ve ever taken on the Manly to Spit Bridge walk on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, you’ll already be familiar with the absolute dog haven that is North Harbour Reserve in the suburb of Balgowlah. It’s an open, off-leash park where dogs can splash, swim and chase balls to their heart’s content. There’s even a poop station with bags and bins provided, but it’s always a good idea to bring your own just in case.
Silver Beach, Kurnell
Located in the Sutherland Shire with views of Botany Bay, Silver Beach is a great spot for dog owners living south of the city. Dogs are allowed off-leash at the western end of the beach in front of the Bonna Point Reserve car park. A boardwalk leads you down to a long strip of bright white sand with a roped-off swimming area for pet owners to cool off while their pups run amok.
Rowland Reserve, Bayview
Known to locals as the Bayview Dog Park, this off-leash dog park is one of the most popular in Sydney. The main reason – there’s no restrictions on when dogs can visit! While many other dog friendly beaches near Sydney allocate certain hours to dog visitation, Bayview Dog Park is an all-day fun park for pets. The beach is located on Pittwater, and when the tide is low, sand bars emerge from below the surface and provide even more terrain for adventurous dogs to explore.
More dog friendly beaches in New South Wales
North Shelly Beach, Central Coast
The entire stretch between Shelly Beach Surf Club to Toowoon Bay is a dog friendly paradise, and it’s a social outing indeed. As one of the few off-leash beaches on the Central Coast, it’s not untrue to say that every man and their dog make their way to this stretch of sand every now and again. When the swell picks up, the waves can test even the strongest of four-legged swimmers, but there’s plenty of protected rock pools and inlets to explore as well.
Belongil Beach, Bryon Bay
Byron Bay is one of NSW’s most popular getaway destinations, and with more and more Aussie opting for road trips over flying, now you can take your beloved pooch to hang 10 at some of Byron’s best beaches. Laidback Belongil Beach is perfect for an afternoon stroll on the sand. To explore even further, the local council has created a map of the area’s dog friendly beaches and reserves (https://www.byron-bay.com/maps/dogmap.html).
Burrill Lake, Shoalhaven
Just south of Ulladulla, this little known slice of paradise is way too often overlooked by travellers making their way along the South Coast. It’s a “blink and you’ll miss it” type beach with a long winding inlet where the lake meets the sea. Here, dogs can swim and even give stand up paddleboarding a go with rentals available from the holiday park perched on the river mouth.
Best dog friendly beaches near Melbourne
Sandown Street Beach, Brighton
Only 11 kilometres from the CBD and lined with dog friendly cafes, Sandown Street Beach is the place to be if you’re a sun-loving social dog. Commonly referred to as Brighton Dog Beach, it’s got a huge fenced-off area with shallow waters and plenty of sand for those who want to stay dry.
St Kilda West Beach, St Kilda
St Kilda has always drawn a crowd. The iconic pier, outdoor markets, music festivals and bustling promenade make it a hotspot for Melbournites in-the-know. Even dogs have a long stretch of sand to show off their new collars, freshly clipped nails and shiny coats. St Kilda West Beach is leash year round, but will need to steer clear of nearby Middle Park Beach from November 1st to March 31st from 10am to 7:30pm.
Port Melbourne Dog Beach, Port Melbourne
Located between Station Pier and Lagoon Pier, Port Melbourne Dog Beach is a must-visit for Melbourne locals. With sand bars, shallow lagoons and plenty of open space to fetch, you’ll be dragging them back to the car by their tails (figuratively speaking, of course). The south end of the beach is an off-leash zone all day every day, while the northern section is open to free-roaming dogs during the cooler months.
More dog friendly beaches in Victoria
Whites Beach, Torquay
The most popular place for beach-loving pups in the area, Whites Beach has an excellent off-leash area to the east of the W57 beach marker. You may want to keep a close eye on your wandering dogs though as there’s a nudist beach that begins closer towards Point Impossible Surf Beach.
Forster’s Beach, Mornington
It may be a little tricky to get to, but the secluded 80 metre stretch of sand is a fabulous place to let your dog run free. Take the windy track down the cliff to the crescent shaped beach where dogs are allowed off-leash year-round. Continue walking along the track and you’ll discover Fossil Beach, another quiet gem that often goes unnoticed.
Inverloch Dog Beach, Inverloch
Adjacent to The Esplanade, this dog friendly stretch of beach is perfect for pups learning to paddle. Dogs are permitted off-leash year round between the Anderson Inlet and Grandview Grove, as well as a few other spots along the coast but restrictions regarding time of day and year vary.
Best dog friendly beaches near Brisbane
Colmslie Recreation Reserve, Brisbane
You’ll find the best of both worlds at Colmslie with one of Brisbane’s best dog parks right on the Brisbane River. Whether your pooch wants to stay dry and go for a paddle, this quiet spot just 20 minutes from the CBD is a great spot to let loose.
Palm Beach, Gold Coast
Heading to the glamorous Gold Coast with your furry friend? Make sure you stop by Palm Beach for a bit of fun in the sun. The off-leash sectio of the beach stretches from the parklands around to Currumbin Creek.
Around two hours drive from the CBD, Bribie Island is well worth a day trip. The entire south coast of the island is dog friendly, so pack a picnic lunch and plenty of schmackos because you won’t want to leave this pet-friendly paradise.
More dog friendly beaches in Queensland
Sunshine Beach, Noosa National Park
While the National Park itself is off limits to dogs, the huge stretch of beach leading up to the headland is an off-leash haven. While you wander along with your four-legged friend, have sticky beak at the gorgeous houses clinging to the cliffside. If you’ve worked up an appetite, head to one of the nearby cafes or bakeries for a bite to eat – many of which are dog friendly.
Goomboora Park, Cairns
While it’s not technically a beach, Goomboora Park is one of the best places to take your pup for a swim. There are a handful of dog friendly beaches in Cairns, including Trinity, Clifton, Ellis and Kewarra Beach, however owners need to be aware of crocodiles in the area. Though rare, crocodile attacks do occur π particularly at dusk, dawn and during the night. At Goomboora Park, however, there are plenty of spots for dogs to swim in the creeks as well as hit the walking trails on-leash and run about in the wide open picnic areas.
Home Beach, North Stradbroke
Just a short ferry ride from Cleveland, North Stradbroke has a fantastic dog friendly beach to take your best bud for the day. The entire island is fairly dog-friendly, though pups will need to stay on-leash in some areas including Amity Point and Flinders Beach. At Home Beach, however, dogs can roam free and play in the white wash awhile owners soak up the postcard-perfect views.
Shoal Point Beach, Mackay
Where the rainforest, city and sea converge, Shoal Point Beach offers a stunning backdrop for a day of four-legged fun on the sand. The laidback town of Mackay is bursting with awesome nature and wildlife adventures, but taking your best bud for a run on the sand has got to be one of the best. During low tide, the sand seems to stretch on forever. You can reach the off-leash beach through Williams Avenue.
Best dog friendly beaches near Perth
Quinns Dog Beach, Quinns Rock
Cruise north from Perth along Ocean Drive and you’ll come across a sheltered cove where dogs can splash about in the shallows. The offshore reef ensures the waves are never too big, making it a great spot for young pups or dogs learning to swim. There’s plenty of parking and facilities nearby, but you’ll want to keep an eye out for snakes if you’re visiting after the sun goes down.
Hillary’s Dog Beach, Joondalup
A little closer to the city, Hillary Dog Beach is part of a larger recreational area with plenty of space to run, swim, dig and explore. There’s plenty of specialised dog exercise equipment, plus doggy bins and bags and dog washing facilities. On weekends, there’s even a coffee van for dog owners to get their caffeine fix with puppuccinos on the menu too.
South City Beach, Perth
One of Perth’s most popular stretches of sand, the southern end of City Beach is constantly busy for a reason. The waves are calm, the water is clear and the wide open sand stretches for miles. It’s quite a social dog beach so expect lots of pats and pups playing together. Nearby, you can head to the dog friendly cafes in the dining precinct – Odyssea and Clancy’ Fish Pub are great picks.
More dog friendly beaches in Western Australia
Busselton Beach, Busselton
Famous for its beautiful timber-piled jetty – the longest one in the Southern Hemisphere at 1.8 kilometres long – the town of Busselton has a fabulous beach where dogs are welcome all year round. Part of Geographe Bay, the water is usually calm and clear – perfect for pups to gain their confidence in the water. You might even spot some dolphins further out in the bay while you wander along the shoreline.
Surfers Point, Margaret River
If you’re visiting this famed food, wine and surfing region of Margaret River with a dog in tow, you’ll want to check out Surfers Point for a play on the sand. Gnarabup Dog Beach is open to pets all year round but they’ll need to steer clear of the playground equipment. The surf here can get quite big so keep an eye on your best buds if they venture out into the waves.
Golf Club Beach, Exmouth
If you’re heading to Exmouth, you’ll find a long stretch of beach open to off-leash dogs year round. A little further south, McLeaod’s is another option for sand-loving pups. Keep in mind, Town Beach and Yacht Club Beach are off-limits to our four-legged friends.
Port Gregory Beach, Gregory
24 hours a day, seven days a week, dogs are welcome to roam free on this stunning stretch of the WA coast. Six hours north of Perth, Port Gregory is famous for its pink lake but your pups will love the pristine beach just as much. The off-leash section is well sign posted and is close to Port Gregory Caravan Park which is also pet-friendly.
The Foreshore, Esperance
Dogs are welcome to explore the foreshore but in most cases, they’ll need to stay on a leash. Between the hours of 5am-8am and 4pm-8pm, dogs are allowed off-leash from Tanker Jetty to Straker Street. Esperance has quite strict rules when it comes to exercising dogs off-leash. You can find detailed information regarding designated dog parks and off-limits areas here.
For a complete guide to dog-friendly locations in Australia, click here.
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