February 14, 2020 / By Laura Pattara
Spending a day on one of NSW South Coast’s most glorious beaches and sharing it with your bestest furry pal is a day well spent! It's also super easy thanks to the many quality dog-friendly beaches in the region. From time-share options to on-leash and 24 hr unleashed play areas, NSW’s southern coast is awash with a bevy of exceptional beaches you – and your fetching companion on four legs – can enjoy with abandon.
Ready to hit the beach with your furry travel mate? Here are the best dog-friendly beaches heading South on the NSW South Coast that you’ll want to pin on your map!
McCauley Beach, Thirroul, Wollongong
Dedicated dog-owners are know to drive south all the way from Sydney to spend a day at McCauley’s with their fur-babies. Just one glance and you’ll soon know why. A popular local surfing spot and favoured family destination, McCauley attracts super friendly folks, has smaller creeks that are ideal for young pups and kids and is so spacious it never feels overcrowded. Woofers and their loyal hoomans definitely give McCauley a 10/10.
Little Austinmer Beach, Wollongong
Over 300m of sandy shores just north of one of the Gong’s busiest patrolled beaches, Little Austinmer Beach is a paradise to explore with our four legged friends and boasts a truly beautiful setting, with tall pines and grassy slopes framing it from north to south. Given its somewhat restricted access (best you park on the northern end) Little Austinmer just doesn’t get the crowds of its big sister to the south. One of the best unleashed beaches in Wollongong.
Callala Bay & Callala Beach, Shoalhaven
Callala Bay and Callala Beach are two of the most charming areas on the NSW South Coast, ideal for relaxing vacations away from the crowds. Both towns boast sensational sandy stretches of beach (separated by a headland) and unleashed fun for dogs and their owners between 4pm and 8am.
Culburra Beach, Berrys Bay
Laid-back Culburra has two excellent surfing beaches which are both very dog-friendly and although that’s certainly reason enough to visit, we guarantee the town itself will also entice you to stay a few days. Just a 20-min drive from beautiful Nowra, Culburra is home to Culburra Beach (north) and Currarong Beach (south) which together offer over 7km of breathtaking sandy shores for you and your pup to enjoy. Between them sits the protected Wollumbula Lake – part of the Jervis Bay National Park – so you’ll find some dog-walking restrictions in this area where native birds nest. Unlimited off-leash fun is permitted on both beaches from 4pm to 8am.
Nelsons Beach, Vincentia, Jervis Bay
This long and glistening sandy stretch is one of Jervis Bay’s very best dolphin-spotting beaches and also one of its least-visited. A heavenly spot where dogs (and their owners) can play fetch, swim and soak up the rays for hours on end from 4.00 pm every day until 8.00 am the next. Nelsons is an expansive and super relaxing beach, especially ideal for early morning zoomies.
Plantation Point, Vincentia, Jervis Bay
North of Nelson Beach is where you’ll find Plantation Point, an extension of the same stretch of white sandy shores which also boasts a gorgeous reserve and amenities that make it ideal for family picnics. Much like Nelsons Beach, Plantation is an off-leash dog area between 4.00 pm and 8.00 am.
Narrawallee Beach, Narrawallee
Narawallee Beach is a fantastic long beach that's popular with locals and visitors alike. A short drive north of Mollymook beach, people are usually very friendly and keen for a chat. Here dogs are allowed off-leash from 6.00 pm - 8.00 am - 1 October - 30 April and 3.00 pm - 10.00 am - 1 May - 30 September, and on leash the rest of the time. Narrawallee also ranks in the top 20 of the Best 101 Australians Beaches so it is definitely worth a visit.
Collers Beach, Ulladulla
One of the South Coast’s most popular surfing spot is also an unleashed zoomies paradise for dogs. Collers is next to the Mollymook Golf Club and typically doesn’t see as many visitors as the adjoining Mollymook Beach to the north. The easiest access is access from Riversdale Avenue and as this spot is sheltered - it is a great spot for a calming swim as well.
Burrill Lake, Shoalhaven
An insider’s secret hideout and one of the most delightfully enjoyable spots for dogs the resplendent Burrill Lake is an outdoor lover’s paradise, ideal for kayaking, boarding, swimming and boating. The best and safest swimming and permitted dog-paddle spot is at the river-mouth, where lake meets ocean.
Cormorant Beach, Bawley Point
This small beach and adjoining foreshore reserve are ideal for large and small puppers alike. Rarely crowded there is plenty of room for a walk, a ball game and a swim but not so much space that you fear losing your chihuahua in the crowd – or sand dunes. Dogs can run free here, on the sandy shores, at any time of day or night.
A few things to keep in mind … for the sake of shared enjoyment and environmental sustainability, local councils on the South Coast have implemented some off-leash restrictions to help preserve prominent wildlife spots (bird nesting sites primarily) and help protect popular swimming spots and children’s playgrounds. Dogs are required to be kept at least 10 metres away of any playground and at least 200 metres away from patrolled flagged beaches and wildlife nesting sites.
You’ll find details for every beach listed on this guide on local council web pages - although the most prominent beaches also have signs at their main access points. On every beach that has a designated unleashed play area, you’re reminded to keep your pup on a lead until you reach the designated spot. Also note that unless you see signs stating otherwise, every beach that isn’t part of a National Park is totally suitable for on-leash walkies.
There’s no denying that the entire stretch of NSW’s South Coast is an ideal dog-friendly paradise. With so many wonderful dog-friendly beaches to explore, how could you not set your sights on the South Coast for a marvellous vacation?
We think you should know: The Weekender's travel guides are independently written by real travellers. We do not receive any money from, or have a sponsorship arrangement with, any of the entities listed in, or referred to in this article.