Don't know Little Bay? That's because it's one of the East's great little secrets
Not all of Sydney’s beautiful beaches have been discovered by the tourist crowds, write Dillon Seitchik-Reardon and Caroline Clements
As new(ish) Sydneysiders, we’re constantly on the lookout for new swimming spots along the east coast. Ocean pools for laps (ideally 50 metres); soft, curling, uncrowded waves to surf (impossible); and adventurous hikes to hidden waterholes (abundant).
Little Bay is none of these.
This tiny suburb, tucked into the coastline between Malabar and the La Perouse headland, feels as though it was secretly inserted into rolling green pastures and built overnight. Its two micro beaches (Little Bay 1 and Little Bay 2) are protected from the large coastal swells and most wind directions, making it a perfect place to swim in most conditions.
Access to the secluded beach is via a timber staircase, past the Prince Henry Centre (with cafe) and a chapel. A toilet, change rooms and beach showers about halfway down get extra points from us. It’s also at this point that the big reveal happens. Shimmering blue water punches through hanging tree branches, exposing the beach vista below. On a sunny, day, this place is perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
Soft golden sands present ample spots for sunbathers to unfurl for the day, while nooks in the rocks offer sun protection and some degree of privacy. Families splash in the shallows, while spear fisherman launch of the rocks, others float around on the surface of the water, observing the reef below. Couples (us) cut short laps across the bay, debating the distance.
A stormwater culvert at the south end of Little Bay 2 is a good source of beach glass on a dry day, and hepatitis on a wet one. Like most harbour swimming places and the old days at Bondi, we suggest avoiding this beach after a heavy rain. Stormwater runoff from surrounding streets drain to the beach and is then flushed into the open ocean. Lucky it’s been dry for a couple of days when we visit and the underwater visibility is perfect.
Like many beaches along this coast, this one is bound by a golf course, so close that when you pop up from the beach, you might find yourself on a putting green, or dodging a speedy golf cart.
No matter how many times you visit, Little Bay feels like a real discovery. It’s the knowledge of these kinds of spots that divide the locals from the visitors in Sydney; so we’re making some headway.
Though generally safe for swimming, this beach is not patrolled by Randwick City Lifeguards or Surf Life Saving. Come at high tide when the shallow reef is covered to enhance your underwater viewing options
No dogs or glass allowed
Kamay Botany Bay National Park
So it's not the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, but the La Perouse to Little Bay Coastal Walk is a treasure of Kamay Botany Bay National Park. It’s less than an hour away from Sydney’s centre on public transport, and offers a perfect day's adventures of exploring, swimming and sightseeing — without the crowds.
The Kamay Botany Bay National Park visitor centre is located at Cape Solander Drive, Kurnell.
Malabar Ocean Pool
Malabar Bay is the fjord-like bay just south of Maroubra (north of Little Bay). On the southern side of the inlet, an odd-shaped tidal ocean pool creates a relaxed community meeting point. It was restored in 1997 by the Randwick Council and remains in great nick. On weekends people read newspapers in the sun and catch up with friends. An idyllic setting.
Bay Parade, Malabar
The Boat Dhed La Perouse
After all this exploring you’re going to need some fish and chips. At the northern headland of Botany Bay is the small suburb of La Perouse. Set out over the water in an recently restored boatshed is an old-world-style seafood diner with a menu by famed Sardinian chef Giovanni Pilu (of Pilu at Freshwater). Dine in at large communal tables on the wooden deck, or get takeaway to eat in the adjacent park.
1609 Anzac Parade, La Perouse
Dillon Seitchik-Reardon and Caroline Clements are Places We Swim. Follow them @placesweswim / buy the book placesweswim.com