The Botany Bay Coastal Walk typically starts in Kurnell and ends in Cronulla. This standard route option is a brilliant coastal walk. But, if you want to explore more of Kurnell and Cronulla and are up for a hiking challenge, we recommend an extended version of the Botany Bay Coastal Walk. This 34km double circuit walk includes a Cronulla to Kurnell circuit and a Cronulla Beaches Walk circuit. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about this extended Botany Bay Circuit Walk challenge, including how to find the (not so) secret Cape Solander Cave.
Table of Contents
Why the Botany Bay Coastal Walk?
There’s no doubt there are more popular coastal trails in Sydney such as the Bondi to Coogee and Spit to Manly coast walks. Certainly, the coastal tracks of the Eastern and Northern suburbs are better known. Due to their popularity, these trails tend to get all of the accolades among coastal walking junkies! But with that, comes crowds and packed trails.
Don’t get us wrong, if you haven’t walked Bondi to Coogee or Spit to Manly, make sure it’s on your to-do list. But, we can guarantee the Botany Bay Coastal Walk is just as good and without such large crowds. Sure, Cronulla and Kurnell are popular with locals. But, they don’t get the same hype and hoards of tourists as the Eastern and Northern Suburb areas.
Of course, we’re going to step things up a notch. We’re going to recommend you take on the Botany Bay Coastal Walk challenge, an extended route, which involves exploring all of Kurnell and Cronulla (including the popular Cape Solander Cave)!
Botany Bay Coastal Walk Circuit Challenge
We completed a monster 34km double circuit walk taking in Kurnell, the Kamay Botany Bay National Park, the Cronulla Beaches and Cronulla Peninsula. Why you ask? Well, we were determined to combine a Kamay Botany Bay National Park circuit with the Cronulla Peninsula circuit connected by the Cronulla Esplanade (Cronulla Beaches Walk). The end result was a 34km hike which took us 6.5 hours! To that end, a new walking challenge for others to also have a crack at!
If you’re up for a hiking challenge, we’ll show you how to follow this trail in detail. Plus, we’ll review all of the highlights en route. But, if 34km sounds a tad too intense, we’ll go through some other trail variations to combine Cronulla and Kurnell.
Botany Bay Coastal Walk Challenge Highlights
The Botany Bay Coastal Walk challenge ensures that you’ll see all of the highlights along this stunning coastline. These include all of the landmarks, beaches and bays spotted throughout the Kamay Botany Bay National Park, the Cronulla Beaches and the Cronulla Peninsula. This also includes the Insta and Tik Tok famous Cape Solander Cave.
If completing the entire Botany Bay Coastal Walk challenge, these are the highlights in order.
- Cronulla Sand Dunes
- Kamay Botany Bay National Park (Botany Bay Coastal Walk)
- Cronulla Esplanade (Cronulla Beach Walk)
- Greenhills Beach
- Wanda Beach
- Elouera Beach
- North & South Cronulla Beaches
- Cronulla Peninsula Circuit
- Gunnamutta Bay
- Darook Park
- Salmon Haul Bay
- Bass & Flinders Point
- Oak Park & Shelly Beach
- Blackwoods Beach, Shark Island & Cronulla Point
- Cronulla Park
Interestingly enough, the Kamay Botany Bay National Park is split into a Kurnell and La Perouse area. These NSW National Parks areas are divided by Botany Bay. For the purposes of this guide, we will only detail the Kurnell area of Kamay Botany Bay National Park. However, the La Perouse area of this national park has many other amazing walks, landmarks, bays and islands to explore.
To find out more information about the La Perouse area of the Kamay Bay Botany National Park, read our 3 Best La Perouse Walks guide. In this guide, you can read about the awesome Cape Banks Circuit, which includes exploring the Henry Head Walking Track, Congwong Beach and Bare Island.
Essential Information About Botany Bay Coastal Walk Challenge
Before we describe the highlights of the extended Botany Bay Coastal Walk (including details about the Cape Solander Cave), we’re going to talk about some essential information. This will include information about trail specs, trail variations and logistics. We’ll also provide GPS-guided maps.
Botany Bay Coastal Walk Challenge Stats
- Type: 2 x Circuits
- Distance: 34km
- Time: 6.5–8 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 310m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Greenhills Beach Car Park
Travel Made Me Do It have personally rated this trail
Botany Bay Coastal Walk Challenge: The Boring Bit
Yes, there is a tedious section of the Botany Bay Coastal Walk Challenge, initially from Cronulla to Kurnell. Basically, to complete this larger loop of the Kurnell area of the Kamay Botany Bay National Park from Cronulla meant initially heading away from the coastline. The link between Cronulla and Kurnell by heading inland is Captain Cook Drive. On foot, you’re looking at 3–4km of very uninspiring roadside walking in an industrial area. Admittedly, this part of the route is tedious.
There is no defined walking trail on this portion of Captain Cook Drive too. But, there are bike lanes on either side of the road. Plus, there are predominantly grassy areas to the side of the road, making walking safe. Even during the morning peak hour, there wasn’t an abundance of traffic. Once you have walked from Cronulla to Kurnell via Captain Cook Drive, the rest of the walk is predominantly on the coast. Pure bliss!
How to Avoid the Boring Bit From Cronulla to Kurnell
Don’t worry, there’s an option to avoid Captain Cook Drive and this industrial area. Alternatively, you could do an out and back walk staying by the coast the entire time from Cronulla to Kurnell. Basically, instead of heading inland from Greenhills Beach, just follow the coastal track to Kurnell.
If you decide to do the out and back route, you can easily make a small loop at the top of the Kurnell area of the national park. You can do this by looping around one of the many trails there (such as the Yena Track). This will ensure you get a taste of the tip of the Kamay Botany Bay National Park, away from the coastline, before you return to Cronulla via the coastal track.
Botany Bay Coastal Walk, Cronulla and Kurnell Trail Options
There are many variations of the Botany Bay Coastal walk as well as other shorter Cronulla and Kurnell walks.
As mentioned, the typical Botany Bay Coastal Walk involves walking from Kurnell to Cronulla. It’s also known as the Kurnell to Cronulla Walk, Cape Solander to Cronulla Walk and Kurnell to Boat Harbour Walk. For your reference, here’s the standard Botany Bay Coastal Trail map.
In comparison, the extended Botany Bay Coastal Walk (the challenge), involves a circular walk, starting and ending in Cronulla and exploring Kurnell along the way. It’s also known as the Kurnell Loop Walk. Here’s the Cronulla to Kurnell map (Part 1 of the Botany Bay Coastal Walk challenge).
The challenge also includes a circular version of the Cronulla Beaches Walk, which explores the Cronulla Peninsula (Part 2).
For your reference, here’s a map of the typical Cronulla Beach Walk.
Of course, you can break up the Botany Bay Coastal Walk into two or three different walks. There’s the Cronulla to Kurnell loop or Cronulla to Kurnell out and back trail on its own. Additionally, you have the Cronulla Beaches Walk and Cronulla Peninsula that could be done together or separately.
To give you an idea of the distances of the Botany Bay Coastal Walk challenge, the Cronulla to Kurnell circuit section is around 22km. Whilst the Cronulla Beaches Walk circuit is around 12km. Sure, you could complete each walk on separate days. But, we recommend you challenge yourself to do the entire 34km walk. To that end, the rest of this guide will thoroughly detail the Botany Bay Coastal Walk challenge, including details about the Cape Solander Cave.
Start at Greenhills Beach (Parking For the Botany Bay Coastal Walk)
Park at the end of Mitchell Road, Cronulla. The large car park is located next to Don Luca Reserve parallel to Greenhills Beach. This is the easiest access point to the Cronulla Sand Dunes, otherwise known as the Wanda Sand Dunes or the Cronulla Sand Dune and Wanda Beach Coastal Landscape. Other than the stunning Cronulla coastline that you’ll initially see, it’s the sand dunes that are the first major attraction of today.
To reach the sand dunes from the car park, follow Bates Bay Road. It begins as a paved path. It then transforms into gravel and then a dirt trail before succumbing to a large amount of sand. Alas, a sand trail! To your right will be the green coastal bushland that makes up the Cronulla Conservation Park.
To your left, you will see the newly constructed Greenhills Beach suburb. In August 2020, Greenhills Beach is still very much an unfinished project, so expect there to be eye-sore construction sites and equipment. The sound of construction certainly disturbs the ambience during these initial stages of the walk. But soon enough, you’ll forget all about that when you get to the surprisingly grand sand dunes.
Cronulla Sand Dunes
Upon arrival at the Cronulla Sand Dunes, will be a lookout of the conservation area. It’s worth heading onto the platform to take in the area as a whole. The rolling dunes are surrounded by a lake to the left and the now all too familiar coastal bushland. Before too long though, you’ll be trying your best to climb up and down the sand dunes.
Deservedly added to the New South Wales heritage list in 2003, much of the Cronulla sand dunes are now a conservation area. It’s great to see natural landscapes protected. With wind erosion from mother nature and commercial use from humans, it’s a shame that the Cronulla sand dunes aren’t quite what they used to be. But they are still quite impressive. You’ll find locals exercising here, sweating it up as they take on the mammoth dunes. They’re much bigger and steeper than they appear from the initial lookout. So many a footballer has dreaded pre season training here.
Similar to the Perry Sandhills we visited recently, take your time to find untouched portions of the sand dunes. That’s how you’ll find amazing rippled patterns in the sand. But keep in mind that the Cronulla Sand Dunes are very well known to locals. So you’ll likely be sharing them with a few others. Photography here was quite challenging early morning with the sun beaming brightly above the sandhills.
Cronulla to Kurnell Via Captain Cook Drive
After playing around on the sand dunes, with your boots full of sand, continue your hike on Bates Bay Road. You will eventually reach another lookout with views of the Cronulla Conservation Park as well as Kurnell based industrial complexes. Soon after this lookout, you’ll reach the end of Bates Bay Road and have two choices. If you are completing the out and back route to Kurnell along the coast, turn right. This will take you to Greenhills Beach where you’ll start your coastal walk to Kurnell.
Otherwise, if you are keen to follow the Cronulla to Kurnell loop, turn left. Admittedly, this is where the uninspiring part of the loop begins. You will be taken on a paved walking track on Lindum Road. The path is lined with plants, bush and small trees. After almost 1km, you’ll reach Captain Cook Drive. Turn right to head towards Kurnell. This is where you will want to be speed hiking to get this part of the walk over and done with. We’re not going to lie, there’s nothing attractive about this part of the walk. But to make a loop, it’s a necessary sacrifice!
WHY SPEED HIKE? Specifically for the Cronulla to Kurnell loop, we utilised speed hiking to complete the Captain Cook Drive part as quickly as possible. Speed hiking allowed us to arrive at Kurnell much sooner compared to walking at our usual pace. This meant we could maximise our time seeing the gorgeous Kamay Botany Bay National Park.
There is no defined walking trail, so be careful when walking roadside. It’s safe to do, but be careful and only walk during daylight hours.
Arriving at Kurnell is certainly a relief after the boring roadside walk. From Captain Cook Drive, make your way to the paved path adjacent to Botany Bay and turn right. Seeing the calm blue bay glistening in the sun is a welcome sight. You’ll initially walk by Silver Beach with its small slither of sand. Unfortunately, you’ll pass by a Caltex Oil Refinery Terminal which again brings you back to civilisation. But soon enough, you’ll officially reach the Kamay Botany Bay National Park.
Kamay Botany Bay National Park
From Kurnell, the paved path officially becomes the Burrawang Walk. This track will take you to Captain Cook’s Landing monument; the first major landmark of the national park. On its own, the Burrawang Walk is a 1.2km loop connecting Captain Cook’s Landing with the Visitor Centre. Please note that just before reaching the monument, there is a 100 metre dirt trail to the right that takes you to Captain Cook’s Landing car park. There is a large bathroom here for your convenience.
Captain Cook’s Landing Place
In 1770, Captain Cook famously landed here at Inscription Point. The landing of his Endeavour crew would make a huge impact on Australian history. This guide does not wish to discuss the historical or cultural significance of this event in any further detail. Rather, we’ll describe the landscape and monuments themselves as part of the Cronulla to Kurnell loop.
Along the shoreline are rocky platforms, creating small and shallow ocean rock pools. Nearing the water’s edge is a small plaque detailing this point of interest. Near the rocky platform are commemorative ‘U shaped’ bars with sharpened ends that are equally distanced in a row. On the slightly hilly grassy area adjacent to this, is a tall brick monument with a solid platform base. From the shoreline, coastal shrubbery and the rare pink flower obstructs views of the monument. Separating the shoreline and the tall monument is the paved Burrawang track.
The monuments are not overly extraordinary. Despite their historical significance, the Kurnell to Cronulla loop is not improved or worsened by these landmarks. In truth, it’s the stunning coastline right around the corner at Inscription Point which is where the true highlights of this coastal walk begin.
Follow the Burrawang Walk a little further along the shoreline. But don’t follow the paved loop to the Visitor Centre. Instead, when it begins to loop inland, continue towards the coast on a grassy area. You will then reach an opening to access the rock platforms at Inscription Point. This popular spot for rock fishing is also a place of natural beauty.
You’ll start to see the amazing geology on display along the coastline at the Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Incredibly lightly coloured rocks with artistic ripples and wavy patterns are heightened by the sunlight. Expect a grand palette of colours mixing together white, yellow, orange and brown. Uniformly organised and contoured circular impressions indent the rock wall. There is even a natural rock window. It’s a wonderfully naturally carved feature of this coastline.
This part of the coastal track exceeded our expectations. Although the walk along the rock platform at Inscription Point is comparatively short, it’s packed with beauty. After scoping out more epic rock patterns and shapes, you’ll find a steep staircase leading you back onto the mainland.
Yena Track & Whale Track
After Inscription Point, the next highlight of the Kamay Botany Bay National Park is Cape Solander. So once you have climbed the staircase, you can follow the road (Cape Solander Drive) clockwise to Cape Solander. But we were sick of walking roadside, even within the serene surroundings of the national park’s bushland. So we decided to turn right, as to head in an anti-clockwise direction.
In doing so, you’ll walk roadside for a few minutes, until reaching some bush trails. The first bushwalking trail you’ll reach is the Muru Track trailhead. But we recommend walking another 50 metres or so to reach the Yena Track trailhead. This trail more logically connects to Cape Solander.
Admittedly, there are myriad of small interconnected bushwalking trails in this part of the national park. But do your best to follow the Yena Track towards Cape Solander. There are many signposts with whales on them to help you. They signify directions towards the Whale Track, which is the final part of the Yena Track connecting you to Cape Solander.
Cape Solander Lookout
You’ll walk through fairly dense bushland on the Yena Trail. But as you approach the coast, the trees and bush thin rapidly. The walking trail widens and the open space increases. The ocean can be seen well before you reach Cape Solander.
When you finally reach Cape Solander, turn right and you’ll join a boardwalk following the coastline. Be aware that for the remainder of your coastal walk in the Kamay Botany Bay National Park, there’s a combination of boardwalk and freestyle rock formation walking.
Cape Solander is well known as a popular spot for whale watching. Expect it to be busy in the winter months. This is when whale sightings occur more frequently during migration season. Cape Solander is a large area of cliffside rock formation that people happily sit, stand or wander on to whale watch. So even when it’s busy, there likely won’t be anyone in your way when hiking.
Most of the cliff face you will pass is quite unique. Every corner or bend in the coastline brings with it a new rock face, with its own shape, layers and colours. Such epic coastal scenery can be seen at Cape Solander, but also throughout this whole stretch of coast connecting Kurnell to Cronulla. This was our favourite part of the Kamay Botany Bay National Park.
Although connected by boardwalk for the majority of the time, large stretches leave you negotiating rock platforms and puddles. It’s a lot of fun. If you lose sight of the boardwalk, you might start to feel lost. But as long as you follow the coast, you can’t go wrong.
Cape Solander Cave
Before leaving Cape Solander, you may want to explore a little extra to find the (not so) secret cave. Also known as Skylight Cave, the Cape Solander Cave has become an increasingly popular natural attraction to visit. Thanks to social media, many people venture to the Kamay Botany bay National Park to explore Cape Solander Cave. Honestly speaking, when Beck and I visited, Cape Solander Cave wasn’t very well-known. So, personally, we didn’t explore Cape Solander Cave during the Botany Bay Coastal Walk challenge.
From all accounts, Cape Solander Cave is an awesome cave to visit. But, we warned. Because of the location’s rise on social media, it’s become a bit of a farse to visit. Expect a queue of people lining up to get their Insta shot in the cave.
Also, we’ve heard it’s difficult to locate Cape Solander Cave. Because of that, it may be unwise to try and find the cave if you’re doing the Botany Bay Coastal Walk challenge. It may just add on unnecessary time and walking to an already huge walk! So, perhaps leave Cape Solander Cave to the Insta-craving youths. Otherwise, you could always explore Cape Solander Cave as its own standalone adventure! Besides, from what we’ve seen, the cave-like structures and rock formations at Inscription Point are just as impressive as Cape Solander Cave!
In terms of location, Cape Solander Cave is relatively hidden near the Cape Solander Lookout Car Park. Bare in mind that there are dangers associated with finding and exploring Cape Solander Cave. Please exercise caution and safety when visiting.
Whether you explore Cape Solander Cave or not, you’ll soon join the Cape Baily Track. Before reaching the Cape Baily Lighthouse, you’ll pass Tabbigai Gap. It’s another stellar part of the Botany Bay coastline, featuring an impressive gap in the sea cliff walls.
Cape Baily Lighthouse
One of the attractions of the Kurnell to Cronulla coastal track is the Cape Baily Lighthouse. After 3km of following the coast from Cape Solander, you’ll follow a narrow dirt trail to your right. After a minute or so, you’ll arrive at the small concrete lighthouse. It was built in 1950, to assist northbound ships to travel safer along the coast. The lighthouse is still in operation today.
Built on a square slab of concrete, the lighthouse is surrounded by coastal bushland and trees which partially obstruct your view to the ocean. In all honesty, we weren’t blown away by the lighthouse. After seeing some epic lighthouses on our Victoria road trip, it didn’t really compare! But it’s a very small detour. So it’s still worth the visit. We used our stop here to have a quick bite to eat, before setting off towards Cronulla.
Potters Point and Doughboy Head
Be mindful that after rejoining the coastal track from the Cape Bailey Lighthouse, the boardwalks lessen. There’ll be more exposed rock platform to negotiate around Potters Point and Doughboy Head. Given the simplicity of following the coast, it’s easy enough to navigate. But there’s no official track at the end. You’ll be rock scrambling if you strictly stay by the ocean’s edge. Alternatively, you can find some unofficial tracks on the adjacent grassland. Following these tracks our much quicker, safer and afford better views of the coast.
Boat Harbour Reserve (Pimelwi Rocks)
You’ll eventually arrive at a beach surrounded by Pimelwi Rocks. This final destination along the Kamay Botany Bay National Park is Boat Harbour Reserve. It’s a quiet, calm and serene beach with clear turquoise water. Only the 4×4 vehicles and their owners situated on the sand disturb the peace. During the week is much quieter. But on the weekends, expect this beach to be full of 4WDs.
There was one noticeable white sandstone flat rocky outcrop that caught our eye, as we rounded the beach from the coastal track. It was a great spot for a photo and to observe our surroundings. After heading down a narrow dirt trail, you’ll end up on the beach. Opposite it, is a sort of shanty-looking town with simple beach-style huts and houses.
Walking on the beach is tough work, but you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction as you near the end of the Cronulla to Kurnell loop. Technically, Boat Harbour Reserve is situated in Kurnell. But soon enough the beach you are walking on becomes Greenhills Beach, signifying you are back in Cronulla territory. Both Boat Harbour Reserve and Greenhills Beach are dog-friendly locations!
Wanda Heritage Walking Track
Upon reaching Greenhills Beach, you have three options to continue your walk. You can simply continue to walk on the beach if you like. So you would continue on to Wanda, Elouera, North and South Cronulla beaches as you head south. That’s before alighting from South Cronulla to complete the Cronulla Peninsula Loop. Alternatively, you can return to the Cronulla Esplanade via Bates Bay Road, which means walking back the same way you started, past the sand dunes. The final option is following another trail.
We wanted to create a loop from Cronulla to Kurnell so we chose to walk on another path to return to Greenhills Beach Car Park. This trail runs in between the beach and Bates Bay Road. This is the Wanda Heritage Walking Track that also runs adjacent to Greenhills Beach. Due to sand dune erosion, a lot of the paths leading from Greenhills Beach to the Wanda Heritage Walking Track are closed. We had to skip the first couple of paths leading away from the beach because of this. We’re hopeful that at least one will remain open so you can continue the walk this way.
Similar to walking on the beach, tackling the Wanda Heritage Walking Track involves hiking on the sand. So expect quite a workout. It can be difficult walking quickly on sand. Our tip is to follow other people’s footprints. These parts of the sand are already deformed, so your feet won’t sink as much. This requires less exertion when pushing your foot off the sand.
Eventually, you’ll exit this track with the Greenhills Beach Car Park right in front of you.
Cronulla Esplanade (Cronulla Beach Walk)
Mind you, even in winter, if it’s a clear day, the Cronulla to Kurnell loop is very exposed. So you’ll really be feeling the heat. This is particularly true on the Wanda Heritage Walking Track, where the coastal bushland protects you from the wind.
Luckily, the Cronulla Esplanade is not as well protected. You’ll be relieved as the ocean breeze whizzes past you. The wind on your sweaty skin helps cool your body. But there are many beaches beside you to cool off at as well! But if your hiking adventure doesn’t involve a swim, make sure you have plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat.
Upon reaching the Greenhills Beach Car Park, you’ll catch sight of your car. But for those wanting to complete the 34km Botany Bay Coastal Walk, you’ll now continue south on Cronulla Esplanade. It’s a fairly spacious paved path that runs adjacent to all of the Cronulla beaches. This trail provides beautiful views of the Cronulla coastline. The walk is very popular with locals so expect it to be busy.
Given its popularity, the Cronulla Esplanade wasn’t our favourite part of the hiking loop. But it’s a necessary one to most efficiently reach the Cronulla Peninsula. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a well-maintained track with exceptional views. But it’s certainly not overly adventurous. But at least the Cronulla Peninsula coming up is a little more off the beaten track and quieter.
By the time we reached South Cronulla, we were starving! We had planned to go to Beach Burrito Co. But it was closed. Devastating! So we followed the High Street, picked up some lunch from a bakery, and then headed to Gunnamatta Bay.
Cronulla Peninsula Circuit: Clockwise or Anti-Clockwise?
Whether you do the Cronulla to Kurnell loop or out and back option, the Cronulla Esplanade and Cronulla Peninsula parts of this route will remain the same. Although, you can walk the Cronulla Peninsula loop clockwise or anti-clockwise. It doesn’t really matter. We only chose to walk anti-clockwise, because it coincided with buying lunch and made sense to continue in that direction.
But, traditionally, people would walk the Cronulla Peninsula clockwise. From South Cronulla, simply continue the Cronulla Esplanade in a clockwise direction. Once you finish the Peninsula loop, you’d head back through the high street and shops, before heading back towards South Cronulla Beach and rejoining the Esplanade. The choice is yours!
Certainly, exploring the Cronulla Peninsula loop was an enjoyable part of the Botany Bay COastal Walk challenge. Although it’s much quieter than the Cronulla Esplanade, it’s fairly residential. So you won’t feel as immersed in nature as you did in the Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Nevertheless, there are some hidden gems along the shoreline of the Cronulla Peninsula that are certainly worth checking out.
Gunnamatta Bay is the closest attraction of the Cronulla Peninsula to Cronulla Station. This is partly to blame for it being more well known than other attractions in the peninsula. In summer and during weekends, you’ll see hoards of teenagers fill the bay, playing the guitar, socialising and jumping off the pier into the bay. Maybe not the most peaceful of scenes. But if you can avoid these times, your visit to Gunnamatta Bay can be quite a serene and calm one.
Speed hiking the Kurnell to Cronulla midweek paid dividends when we arrived at Gunnamatta Bay. It was just past lunchtime but wasn’t crowded at all. After winding our way around the train station and Gunnamatta Park, you’ll arrive on a paved path opposite the bay. From here, you can easily access the sand to get closer to the bay’s sparkling water. Expect the bay to be filled with many boats.
If you hadn’t already had a bathroom break at one of the many surf lifesaver club’s toilet facilities along Cronulla Esplanade, there is a large bathroom here at Gunamatta Bay for your convenience. The paved trail at Gunnamatta Bay does come to an abrupt end. So you’ll just need to wander back through the park and continue on the streets of Cronulla to continue anti-clockwise on the peninsula. At least you’ll get some insight into some of the epic properties here that face the water.
After climbing and descending some mildly hilly streets, away from the shoreline, you’ll be steered back towards the water. The next stop of interest is Darook Park. It’s a quaint, charming and hidden park of the Cronulla peninsula. Although you would have just exited a suburban street, a feeling of calmness swoops over as you enter Darook Park. A small beach and surprisingly spacious grassy areas hug the shoreline.
Many couples vacate the suburbs to picnic here in the quietness of the park. Kookaburras line the branches of trees, overlooking the crystal clear water. It’s tempting to rest and relax here as it’s such a lovely spot. If you do, you won’t regret it. But we were keen to kick on with the hike. So we had another snack and drink before continuing.
There’s a similar style of park next door at Hungry Point. But there’s only a small patch of grass here. The rest of the point is taken up by a car park and buildings. A paved path, soon becoming the Cronulla Esplanade, begins from Hungry Point, which will take you to the rest of the peninsula’s attractions and back to the Cronulla beaches.
Salmon Haul Bay
Just around the corner from Hungry Point is Salmon Haul Bay Reserve. A well-known spot for beginner snorkelers. But also an appealing and enchanting small bay to enjoy from the water’s edge. It’s very well protected from the ocean’s roughness. So expect calm and smooth water all year round. A small set of concrete stairs lead you to a rock platform, facing the bay and another beach (Bundeena) in the distance. This is where the Royal National Park’s Coastal Track begins. But you’ll have to leave that hike for another day!
You’ll quickly realise why this is a great spot for snorkelling. Relatively shallow and clear waters make it easy to see the surrounding reef and marine life. Beck asks if we can return here to snorkel before we head back to the UK. I happily agree.
Salmon Haul was a wonderfully picturesque bay. Plus, just around the corner and up a slight hill is Bass and Flinders Point. There is a memorial plaque there honouring George Bass and Matthew Flinders. They sailed through Botany Bay on the Tomb Thumb discovering Port Hacking! From this vantage point, you’ll have a slightly better view of Bundeena. This perspective helps you realise how much more beautiful coastline there is to explore and hike in Sydney!
Once you rejoin the coastal path, back towards Cronulla, there are just a few more highlights along the way.
Oak Park & Shelley Beach
The remainder of the Cronulla Peninsula is made up of smaller beaches and their associated rock pools. The pick of the bunch being Oak Park Ocean Rock Pool. Growing up in Australia, I am so used to ocean rock pools that I never consider them to be particularly special. So it surprises me when Beck is continually blown away by them. In essence, they’re so simple, but elegantly framed by the rock walls, they are perhaps more picturesque than I think!
Opposite to the beach here is the small Oak Park. There’s also an old but charming yellow pavilion here. It adds a nice touch of character to this already sublime stretch of coast. Upon rejoining the Esplanade trail, you’ll find very similar scenes a little further along. Here, you have the small Shelley Beach and the accompanying Shelley Beach Rock Pool. Although there is no Pavillion here. Being located closer to Cronulla perhaps made Shelley Beach much busier. So we preferred Oak Park.
Blackwoods Beach, Shark Island, Cronulla Point and Cronulla Park
Once you have finished admiring this other rock pool, the Cronulla Esplanade continues past Blackwoods Beach and Shark Island. During these final stages of this Cronulla Peninsula loop, large apartments to your left start to fill your peripheries. With these eye sores comes some much-appreciated shade.
Soon enough, you’ll swing around the bend at Cronulla Point and descend towards South Cronulla Beach. Opposite South the beach, you’ll find a spacious park called Cronulla Park. Certainly, it’s a decent spot for a rest. Although, Cronulla Park can get quite crowded on weekends and during summer.
Arriving back along Cronulla Esplanade signals the end of the extended Botany Bay Coastal Walk challenge. Well done!
Botany Bay Coastal Walk Challenge Recap
All in all, the Botany Bay Coastal Walk challenge, exploring Kurnell and Cronulla, combines a number of trails making for an epic single day adventure. Certainly, walking from Cronulla to Kurnell, from Kurnell ot Cronulla, or at the very least, the trails of the Kamay Botany Bay National Park and Cronulla Peninsula deserve more praise. They are stellar locations for coastal walking. Perhaps one day, the Botany Bay Coastal Walk will rival the coastal track giants of the Eastern and Northern Sydney suburbs.
For more information on how to get to Cronulla and places to stay, please read on.
How to Get There
The quickest and easiest way to get to Cronulla is to drive there yourself. Indeed, having a car is the best option for having freedom and flexibility for accessing walks in Sydney. Using RentalCars.com is a good place to start if you need to hire a car. They are our go-to for car rental! Feel free to use our link to find the car you’re looking for.
Public Transport For the Botany Bay Coastal Walk
Reaching Cronulla is easy enough to do using public transport. There are of course many options. Alighting at Cronulla Station means your hike will start at Cronulla Peninsula instead. There are also buses that run from Cronulla to Kurnell and vice versa. If planning your day around public transport, use the Transport NSW website to plan your day. The trip planner is a fantastic tool that also tells you the price of your journey.
There are plenty of great Cronulla hotel options. If you’re needing a place to stay in Cronulla, we’ve got you covered. We’ve handpicked the best budget, mid-range and luxury options.
- Budget – Cronulla Motor Inn: by far, Cronulla Motor Inn is the most budget-friendly Cronulla hotel option. Featuring a swimming pool, the motel is only a five minutes walk from North Cronulla Beach. Sure, this motel is a little rough around the edges. But, it’s perfect for a short stay for the budget traveller.
- Mid-range – Quest Cronulla Beach: this hotel apartment is one of the area’s most highly rated accommodation options. Quest Cronulla Beach is beautifully located opposite North Cronulla Beach. The modern studio apartments all feature a kitchenette and on-site parking.
- Luxury – Rydges Cronulla Beachside: this hotel is the most popular Cronulla hotel option. Located opposite South Cronulla Beach, the Rydges Cronulla Beachside offers spacious accommodation with panoramic views of the Cronulla coastline and Gunnamatta Bay.
Five Packing Suggestions
Given the Cronulla to Kurnell loop is quite exposed, even in winter, you’ll need to be sun smart. Make sure to wear long sleeves, sunscreen, a hat and pack plenty of water and food. For a more comprehensive list of hiking gear and equipment, read 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. For a more general summary of everything you’d need for a trip, check out our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
Trail navigation is fairly straightforward for the Botany Bay Coastal Walk challenge. But at times, it was helpful to have a GPS-guided map when navigating around Boat Harbour Reserve when the Kamay Botany Bay National Park coastal boardwalk ends. Also, from Salmon Haul to Gunnamatta Bay in the Cronulla Peninsula is mainly street walking, so a map is handy to find the quickest route. So, consider downloading an online map before you set out. We recommend using our Wikiloc for GPS-guided directions.
- Start early: to beat the heat and the crowds (particularly on the Cronulla Esplanade), get as much walking completed as early as possible.
- Arrive at the Cronulla Sand Dunes for sunrise: For optimal photography, visit the sand dunes at sunrise or during golden hour just afterwards. Battling the full force of the sun was tricky when photographing this area.
- Check out Cronulla afterwards: Cronulla has many nice restaurants, bars and pubs to enjoy. Many of the venues face the beach, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when choosing a venue with a cracking view.
- Explore more of Kamay Botany Bay National Park: head to Kurnell Beach – a popular Sydney beach for snorkelling.
- There are many other trail variations and walks in Cronulla and Kurnell. We haven’t covered all of these other options. But, one of the other popular shorter walk options is the Wanda to Boat Harbour Walk.
Who would you do the Botany Bay Coastal Walk challenge with? Share this post with your hiking buddy.
Leave a comment