Caroline Clements and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon travelled around Australia in search of the country’s most distinctive, remarkable swimming spots. It’s all documented in Places We Swim*, a book that’s part travel guide, part photo essay, and part cultural study.

We’re sure we’ll be stepping on a few toes by saying that North Curl Curl is our favourite place to swim in Sydney’s northern beaches. Even the name is a delight. We’ve literally been to all of Sydney’s northern beaches, even a secret bay called Paradise. This one makes Manly look like Melbourne’s St Kilda. Freshwater like a backwater. Nothing comes close.

Perhaps what elevates North Curly above all others is its unique combination of great elements. It has a warm lagoon (why so warm?), a dog beach, a sheltered corner, reliable surf, an ocean pool, and no tourists. It’s the perfect Sydney beach.

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We first came here on a recommendation from a local friend. Almost everyone in Sydney has a strong attachment to their home suburb, and the word “best” gets thrown around pretty loosely. Much of our research has been chasing down such leads, but this was one of the rare occasions when the place was better than we ever could have hoped.

North Curl Curl is a few hundred metres from the main road and completely surrounded by parks and sea cliffs, which automatically gives it a secluded feel. Sand dunes conceal the low-rise suburb behind, to the effect that you might mistake it for Queensland’s Fraser Island (if you squint). The broad lagoon further reinforces this idea, conjuring memories of Lake Wabby. This is one of few off-leash dog beaches in Sydney, and you’ll often see these “good boys” herding children around the shallows.

White sandstone cliffs look like frothy waves about to crash on the north end of the beach, yet they provide shelter and shade throughout the day. This cosy corner tends to be protected in most conditions, making it an ideal place to swim when other beaches are blown out. Follow the pockmarked rocks along the reef to get to North Curl Curl’s ocean pool. At 25 metres it’s not the biggest on the coast, but the large boulder in the middle gives it character.

It’s not Sydney’s most famous beach, and nor does it aspire to be. However, North Curl Curl has a humble local beauty that feels timeless and elegant, personality in excess, and every time you visit, you just want to get to know it better.

Easy. There’s abundant paid parking behind the North Curl Curl Surf Life Saving Club.

Dog friendly

Local knowledge
Like many Surf Life Saving Clubs along the coast, the North Curl Curl SLSC spends in excess of 5000 volunteer hours patrolling this beach. Pretty damn impressive.

Toilets, showers, kiosk.

Parts of the beach are patrolled, for safety swim between the flags. For more information, refer to before visiting.

This is an extract from Places We Swim by Caroline Clements and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon, Hardie Grant Travel, $39.99. Available in stores nationally and online, where they also sell prints of their favourite Places We Swim photos from around Australia. For more, follow them on Instagram via @placesweswim.