The Cronulla Esplanade is a paved path running adjacent to the Cronulla Beaches in Sydney. This trail provides beautiful views of the Cronulla coastline. Close by is Kurnell, situated in the Kamay Botany Bay National Park. It’s a desired location for whale watching. Although Cronulla and Kurnell are popular with locals, they don’t get the same hype as the Eastern and Northern Suburb beaches. So the coastal tracks of the Eastern and Northern suburbs are better known. But a new Sydney coastal walk from Cronulla to Kurnell is emerging.

There’s no doubt that the Bondi to Coogee and Spit to Manly coastal walks are magnificent coastal trails. 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. Certainly, 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 that completing the Cronulla to Kurnell coastal walk will be just as good. Plus, you won’t have to fight the crowds to stay on the path.

There are many variations of a Cronulla to Kurnell walk. We completed a monster 34km loop taking in Kurnell, the Kamay Botany Bay National Park, the Cronulla Beaches and Cronulla Peninsula. If you’re up for a speed hike, 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.

Cronulla Sand Dunes. The sun is low and the sky is clear. Thousands of footprints cover the hilly sand zones. They are surrounded by coastal bush and a lake to one side. Telegraph poles are in the distance.
Cronulla Sand Dunes.

The Cronulla to Kurnell Loop | Day Hike Guide

Our guide will detail how to hike the Cronulla to Kurnell loop, plus some other route variations to suit your fancy. This will ensure that you 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 Cronulla Peninsula.

If completing the entire Cronulla to Kurnell loop, these are the highlights in order:

Interestingly enough, the Kamay Botany Bay National Park is split into a Kurnell and La Perouse area. These 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. So to plan a separate day trip here, visit NPWS.

Otherwise, check out our Maroubra to La Perouse Coastal Walk guide which covers the main attractions of the La Perouse area of the Kamay Bay Botany National Park. The Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay Walk is also another great Sydney based hike.

Cronulla to Kurnell Hiking Preview

Cronulla to Kurnell Coastal Track + Cronulla Esplanade & Cronulla Peninsula

  • Type: 2x Loops
  • Distance: 34km
  • Time: 6.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 41m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Greenhills Beach Car Park

Travel Made Me Do It have personally rated this trail

Cronulla to Kurnell Loop Trail Options

Below you will find the ultimate guide to doing the entire Cronulla to Kurnell loop. We were determined to combine a Kamay Botany Bay National Park loop with the Cronulla Peninsula loop connected by the Cronulla Esplanade. The end result is a 34km hike which took us 6.5 hours.

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. What separates Cronulla and Kurnell by heading inland is Captain Cook Drive. On foot, you’re looking at 3-4km of very uninspiring roadside walking among an industrial area. Admittedly, this part of the route is tedious.

There is no defined walking trail on this portion of Captain Cook Drive. But there are bike lanes either side of the road. Plus, there are predominantly grassy areas to the side of the road, making it safe to walk. Whilst even during morning peak hour, there wasn’t an abundance of traffic. Once you have walked Captain Cook Drive and reach Kurnell, the rest of the trail is predominantly on the coast. Pure bliss!

Captain Cook's Landing, Kamay Botany Bay National Park. A small rock ocean rock pool is in focus. Various rocks, shells and moss fill the rock pool's floor. In the distance our the rocks which create the shoreline. Seven thin 'U shaped' bars, are equal distance apart, with the tallest in the middle and others smaller to each side. These are blurred in the background but a clear blue sky is clearly visible.
Captain Cook’s Landing, Kamay Botany Bay National Park.

The Out & Back Coastal Route Option 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 hike 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 on 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 Kamay Botany Bay National Park, away from the coastline, before you return to Cronulla via the coastal track.

Shells at Boat Harbour Reserve, Kurnell. Beck holds a mixture of purple and white shells in her hand which remains in focus. The background beach floor is covered in similar purple and white shells that are blurred.
Shells at Boat Harbour Reserve, Kurnell.

Cronulla Peninsula: Clockwise or Anti-Clockwise?

Whether you do the Kurnell loop or out and back, 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.

However, 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!

Breaking up the Cronulla to Kurnell Loop

Alternatively, you can break up this route into two or three different walks. There’s the Cronulla to Kurnell loop or out and back trail on its own. Plus, you have the Cronulla Esplanade and Cronulla Peninsula that could all be completed on separate days at your leisure.

Unfortunately, my Garmin watch nearly ran out of juice when doing the entire 34km Cronulla to Kurnell loop. So I had to break up the trail recording onto two different maps (the other map created on Wikiloc on my phone). Therefore, what you’ll see is the Kurnell to Greenhills Beach loop (21.3km), plus the Cronulla Esplanade and Peninsula return hike (11.7km) on its own. Of course, you could complete each trail on separate days, but we recommend you challenge yourself to do the entire 34km trail!

To that end, the rest of this guide will thoroughly detail the entire Cronulla to Kurnell loop.

Powered by Wikiloc
Powered by Wikiloc

Where to Start: Greenhills Beach & Bates Bay Road

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 NSW 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.

Beck standing atop the Cronulla Sand Dunes. The sun beams intensely above the sandhills. The sky is clear. The sand is well walked in the distance but sand in the foreground is untouched and has a rippled pattern from the wind.
Beck standing atop the Cronulla Sand Dunes.

Cronulla to Kurnell Via Captain Cook Drive

After playing around on the sand dunes, with your boots full of sand, continue your speed 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.

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.

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!

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.

Kurnell

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.

Entrance to Silver Beach, Kurnell. A small sand path covered in thin twigs and branches and surrounded by coastal shrubbery, leads you to a small beach with calm blue water. The sky is mostly clear.
Entrance to Silver Beach, Kurnell.

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.

Captain Cook's Landing Monument, Kamay Botany Bay National Park. A thin lightly coloured brick monument with a solid base stands tall on the grassy area. In the foreground is coastal shrubbery and one pink flower. What separates the monument and the coastal bush is paved path.
Captain Cook’s Landing Monument, Kamay Botany Bay National Park.

Inscription Point

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.

Inscription Point, Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Dan sits on a rock, looking towards the clam blue ocean. A natural window is created by the rock face and coastal cliff formations. The rocks have lightly coloured ripples and waves.
Inscription Point, Kamay Botany Bay National Park.

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 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 trail connecting you to Cape Solander.

Cape Solander

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, Kurnell. Beck sits on a sandstone ledge near the cliff's edge. There is something of an opening to sit on. The sky is clear and surrounding cliff face can be seen not too far away.
Cape Solander, Kurnell.
Coastal walk from Kurnell to Cronulla. Much of the coastal track from Kurnell to Cronulla is freestyling on flat rock formations along the coast's cliff. The mostly flat rock surfaces are a lovely light brown and white colour.
Coastal walk from Kurnell to Cronulla.

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 north-bound 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.

Cape Baily Lighthouse, Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Becks stands on a slab of concrete, which acts as the supporting base for the small concrete lighthouse. It's surrounded by bush causing an obstructed view of the coast.
Cape Baily Lighthouse, Kamay Botany Bay National Park.

Boat Harbour Reserve

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 as you near Cronulla. 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.

You’ll eventually arrive at a beach. 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.

Making a loop from Cronulla to Kurnell, Dan hikes the Wanda Heritage Walking Track. Dan is just right of centre on a sand trail surrounded by coastal bushland and bordered by a small wired fence. The sky is completely clear.
Making a loop from Cronulla to Kurnell, Dan hikes the Wanda Heritage Walking Track.

Cronulla Esplanade

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.

Greenhills Beach Lookout, Cronulla Esplanade. A larhe expanse od mildly hilly sand dunes are covered in beach shrubbery and yellow flowered weeds. A small viewing tower for lifeguards is situated next to a track leading to the beach. Waves are crashing near the shoreline creating lines of whitewash. The sky is clear.
Greenhills Beach Lookout, Cronulla Esplanade.

Upon reaching the Greenhills Beach Car Park, you’ll catch sight of your car. But for those wanting to complete the 34km Cronulla to Kurnell loop, you’ll now continue south on Cronulla Esplanade. It’s a fairly spacious paved path that runs adjacent to all of the Cronulla beaches. 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.

STORY TIME: 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.

Sea Wall at North Cronulla Beach, Cronulla walk. A concrete sea wall is seen in the foreground. A strip of sand, blue ocean and clear sky is uninterrupted by people.
Sea Wall at North Cronulla Beach, Cronulla walk.

Cronulla Peninsula Loop

Exploring the Cronulla Peninsula loop was an enjoyable part of the Kurnell to Cronulla loop. 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

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.

Gunamatta Bay, Cronulla Peninsula. A shallow clear bay sparkles. Boats fills the bay in the distance. The bay is surrounded bu bushland and waterside properties. The sky is clear.
Gunamatta Bay, Cronulla Peninsula.

Darook Park

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.

A kookaburra chilling at Darook Park, Cronulla coastal walk. A kookaburra is perched on a branch overlooking the water. Beneath if a patch of grass and is around it are plenty of bush and other trees.
A kookaburra chilling at Darook Park, Cronulla coastal walk.

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 & 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.

Salmon Haul Bay, Cronulla Peninsula. Becks stands at the bottom of a staircase on a flat rock platform looking out at the small bay. It's surrounded by rocks. The sky is clear.
Salmon Haul Bay, Cronulla Peninsula.

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.

Oak Park Rock Pool, Cronulla Peninsula. A ocean rock pool with one person swimming is placed divinely at the water's edge. The rock walls cause crashing of the waves much further away from the water's edge, creating whitewash in the distance. The sky is perfectly clear.
Oak Park Rock Pool, Cronulla Peninsula.

Blackwoods Beach, Shark Island & Cronulla Point

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. There is a spacious park opposite this beach that can get quite crowded on weekends and during summer. Due to the Esplanade being partly closed in late August 2020, we had to head back through the streets to continue on the Esplanade back to Greenhills Beach.

The home stretch back to the car was admittedly a bit tedious. With our legs pretty fatigued, we were happy to reach our car for a much deserved rest.

Cronulla to Kurnell Loop Recap

All in all, the Kurnell to Cronulla loop is a well varied summation of trails making for an epic single day adventure. Although not officially recognised, we feel the Kurnell to Cronulla loop, 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 Kurnell to Cronulla loop will rival the coastal track giants of the Eastern and Northern Sydney suburbs.

For more information on how to get to Cronulla, total costs and hiking equipment we used on the day, please read on. For information on how to get to Sydney in the first place and Sydney based accommodation, please check out our North Illawarra Day Trip guide.

Kamay Botany Bay National Park nearing Cronulla. Dan walks on flat slabs of rock, which are partly covered and immersed in sand. In the distance is coastal bushland and a blue sky with a thin slither of clouds.
Kamay Botany Bay National Park nearing Cronulla.

Getting to/from Cronulla

Reaching Cronulla is easy enough to do on public transport. There are of course many options. Alighting at Cronulla train 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.

Having a car is usually the best option for having freedom and flexibility for accessing trailheads. 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.

Local Supplies

Usually, our hiking adventures take us away from residential areas, so we need to pack our own lunch, snacks and drinks on a long day’s hike. However, because this loop takes you through the shops at Cronulla, you’ll have many options for food. For those unprepared that want to quickly grab something on the go, the Cronulla high street has many take away options and bakeries.

We packed our own snacks but needed some lunch. So we bought some sausage rolls from one of the bakeries. They came in at around $4AUD ($3USD) each. There’s also a small Woolworths Metro located on the high street.

Total Costs

  • Petrol: $10AUD ($7USD)
  • Food: $15AUD ($11USD)

= $25 ($18USD) for 2 people

Five Hiking Gear Essentials

Given the Kurnell to Cronulla loop is quite exposed, even in winter, you’ll need to be sun smart. 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.

Trail Navigation

Trail navigation is fairly straightforward for this hiking loop. 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. For those not so prepared, if you’re needing navigation help during the hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.

Bonus Tips

  • 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.

Who would you walk Kurnell to Cronulla with? Share this post with your hiking buddy.


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