Spending time outdoors, getting back to basics, walking barefoot, evening card games by the fire – us Aussies love camping. Couple that with waking up to the sounds of lapping waves, picturesque views and days spent cooling off in the ocean, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable way to pass the time.

We’ve searched along the New South Wales coast – here are our favourite spots to pitch your tent by the sea.

Little Beach Campground, Bouddi

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Tucked into a scenic cove and surrounded by bushland is Little Beach Campground, located in Bouddi National Park on the Central Coast. There are only six spots available at this site – ideal for surfers, nature-lovers and those seeking peace and quiet. You’ll find barbeque facilities, toilets and picnic tables too. Spend your days fishing, swimming or reading a good book, and be sure to bring your walking shoes for the Bouddi coastal walk.


Diamond Head Campground, Diamond Head

This camping spot in Crowdy Bay National Park, on the mid-north coast of NSW, is an excellent base to explore the local area, surf or swim in the calm waters. There are a bunch of great walks to do in the park too, including the five-kilometre Diamond Head loop, where you’ll see sweeping coastal views, forest and mountains. Caravans and motorhomes – as well as tents – are welcome here, and facilities include barbeques, picnic shelters and showers.


Forster Beach Holiday Park, Forster

Forster, on the mid-north coast of NSW, is vibrant and laid-back town with an abundance of natural beauty. The main street is dotted with boutiques, eateries and gelatarias. The campsite, which has great cooking facilities and a boat ramp, is just a short walk from Forster Main Beach, where you might be able to spot some dolphins. (Be sure to book early, as the campsite is popular in the warmer months.) Nearby, go bodyboarding at One Mile Beach, or spend a morning snorkelling in the balmy waters of Tuncurry (just across the Coolongolook River).


The Basin, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase

Among the pine trees and lush grassland of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is The Basin, one of Sydney’s finest camping spots. This particular spot is only accessible by boat, or you can catch a ferry from Palm Beach Wharf. The water is clear, calm and safe for swimming, and the campsite is spacious and has plenty of room for activities. Enjoy a picnic during the day sitting next to kangaroos, and at night light a campfire (in one of the designated areas) to toast marshmallows.


Seal Rocks Holiday Park, Seal Rocks

Three hours north of Sydney, the campground at Seal Rocks is a stone’s throw from a pristine beach with white sand and bright blue water. You won’t find hotels or shopping strips at Seal Rocks – just a small corner store and a coffee stall to grab your morning brew. The cooking amenities are excellent at the campground, and there are villas and cabins to stay in, too. There are plenty of scenic walks to keep you busy at Seal Rocks, but really, you won’t want to leave the beach.


Shoal Bay Holiday Park, Shoal Bay

Life at Shoal Bay in Port Stephens seems to move at a slower pace. The azure water is sheltered from the wind, the locals smile as you pass by, and you’re surrounded by nature. At the holiday park, choose from shady powered campsites, accessible cabins, villas, safari tents and the popular ensuite van sites. Plus, the park is dog friendly, so you can take your best buddy on your next trip, too – just let the staff know when you book.


Lakesea Park, South Durras

This caravan park is just 20 minutes north of Batemans Bay, on the southern coast of NSW. Expect to find natural wildlife, grassy shaded sites and good facilities (including barbeques, a camp kitchen and free gas). Close to both Durras Beach and Lake Durras, you can enjoy surfing, kayaking and fishing, as well as bushwalking in nearby Murramarang National Park. Bring board games, cheese and crackers, and a fishing rod.


Lighthouse Beach Holiday Village, Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie’s charm lies in its friendly locals and abundance of beaches. Right by the town’s longest beach, this tropical campsite is far enough from the bustle to enjoy some tranquillity, but close enough to town to take advantage of all the bars, cafes and restaurants. Golf-lovers: the campsite is also adjacent to an 18-hole championship golf course.


Racecourse Beach Tourist Park, Bawley Point

The 3.5-hour drive south of Sydney to Bawley Point is almost a holiday in itself. Cruise down winding roads, where you’ll enjoy views of the coast and nature. Racecourse Beach, just south of Bawley Point, feels a bit like a camping resort: there’s a pool and sauna, two tennis courts, a basketball court, a mini-golf course and of course the beach. Once there you can go bushwalking, fishing and swimming. Or sit back with a glass of wine and do nothing at all.


Terrace Reserve Holiday Park, Brunswick Heads

This seaside village is 20 minutes north of Byron Bay, right at the mouth of the Brunswick River on Simpsons Creek. It’s a short stroll to the main beach, and ideal for a long, relaxing stay – or even a short stop on a road trip. There are unpowered sites, powered sites and deluxe cabins. From fishing to kayaking, swimming and surfing, there’s lots to do at Brunswick Heads.


Lennox Head Holiday Park, Lennox Head

The crystal-clear swell at Lennox Point, on the far-north coast of NSW, draws in surfers from all over the world. The town of Lennox Head has a relaxed vibe, but there are still plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars. The campsite has both powered and unpowered spots, and is spacious enough for big groups. The tent sites are located near the waters of Lake Ainsworth and Seven Mile Beach. Pack your surfboard.

Please not that Ballina Shire Council has issued an amber alert for blue-green algae at Lake Ainsworth. Recreational use is not restricted, however visitors should be cautious of any slicks and scums, and follow all signage. Broadsheet is also aware of a drowning at Seven Mile Beach on January 18, 2023. Please note this beach is not patrolled, and can sometimes have strong rips and currents. Always be cautious and follow beach safety advice.


When swimming at Australia’s beaches, be aware of strong currents. Always swim between the red and yellow flags, which indicate the section patrolled by Surf Lifesavers. Never swim alone, at night, under the influence of alcohol or directly after a meal. Always check water depth before diving in and never run and dive into the water from the beach. Learn more about water safety in Australia here.

This article was originally published on September 22, 2022. It has been updated to remove out-of-date details and reflect safety warnings.