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West Head Beach: The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

West Head Beach: The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

West Head Beach is a beautiful hidden beach in Sydney. Tucked away in West Head in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, you’ll find the gorgeous golden sand beach with many striking submerged rocks along its shore. To reach West Head Beach, you’ll need to do a short yet thrilling walk from the well-known West Head Lookout.

In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting West Head Beach in Sydney.

About West Head Beach

West Head Beach is a small and secluded beach that’s only accessible by foot (if you don’t have a boat). That’s right, you can’t simply park and casually stroll onto the golden sands of this beach. You’ll need to park at West Head Road, walk by West Head Lookout and complete a short bush walk to arrive at the remote beach.

Because it takes some effort to reach and it’s a little off the beaten track, you can expect a peaceful and quiet visit. Although the beach is quite small, so it can feel busy on the weekends and during summer.

As expected, there are no amenities or facilities at this beach. Additionally, the beach isn’t patrolled as it isn’t a surf beach. Given it’s a beach within a bay, the waters are usually quite calm. But, if you go for a swim, you’ll just need to watch out for submerged rocks.

So, exactly where in Sydney is this glorious beach located?

Dan walks down a winding staircase that opens out onto West Head Beach

Where Is West Head Beach?

The beach is located in the West Head area of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in Sydney, New South Wales.

Specifically, the beach is located on Pittwater, which is a bay that flows between West Head and the Barrenjoey Peninsula. Indeed, from the beach, you’ll enjoy exquisite views of Pittwater directly in front of you and views of Broken Bay to your left. On the beach, you’ll face the Barrenjoey Lighthouse, which is positioned atop the Barrenjoey Peninsula. You’ll also get a good look at some of the Northern Beaches at the tip of the Barrenjoey Peninsula.

To help get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area on Google Maps.

A screenshot of a map showing the location of West Head Beach

How to Get to West Head Beach (Directions)

Unless you have a boat, the only way to get to the beach is on foot. Essentially, from West Head Lookout, you’ll complete the short West Head Beach Walk. Below, we’ll look at some trail specs for this lovely short walk.

West Head Beach Walk

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 0.9m
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 80 metres
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: West Head Lookout
  • Map: AllTrails

FYI – the West Head Beach Walk takes place on a section of the Aboriginal Heritage Walk, which is also known as the Resolute Loop Track or the Resolute Beach Loop Track.

A map showing the West Head Beach Walk

West Head Beach Walk: Our Experience

Overall, the walk to the beach is an easy and enjoyable bush walk. Below, we’ll talk about our experience doing this pleasant coastal bush walk.

FYI – given the terrain of the trail, we definitely recommend wearing proper footwear for the walk.

Dan walks up a winding staircase away from West Head Beach

West Head Lookout

After finding parking on West Head Road, you’ll walk towards the well-known West Head Lookout. Technically speaking, the lookout isn’t part of the walk. Indeed, you could bypass the lookout to begin the walk. But, while you’re there, you really should take in the splendid views from West Head Lookout. Certainly, it’s one of the best lookouts in Sydney.

From the large sandstone viewing area, you’ll enjoy stellar views of Broken Bay, Pittwater and Barrenjoey Lighthouse. On a clear day, you’ll also have far-reaching views across the Hawkesbury River and towards Lion Island Nature Reserve. You may also be able to spot some beaches on the Central Coast, such as Umina Beach.

Personally, Beck and I arrived at West Head Lookout for sunrise and we weren’t disappointed!

Sunrise at West Head Lookout

West Head Beach

After enjoying the views from the lookout, it’s time to start the bush walk to the beach. From the lookout, simply follow signs for West Head Beach or Resolute Beach, which are both in the same direction. Almost immediately, you’ll wind your way through some stunning coastal bushland. Soon, you’ll hear water cascading as it runs down rocky platforms positioned to the side of the track.

As you descend the leaf-littered track, you’ll arrive at a steep wooden staircase leading down to West Head Beach. By descending the steep and winding trail, you’ll soon set foot on the golden sands of this stunning hidden beach. As you walk along the sand, keep an eye out for the submerged rocks, which are randomly scattered across the beach. The submerged rocks look incredible, but they don’t feel incredible if you stub your toe!

Once you find that perfect sunbathing spot, simply plonk your towel down and relax. The rest is really up to you! Chill, sleep, read, swim, dry and repeat.

Personally, Beck and I love visiting secluded beaches. But, we love hiking even more. So, after scoping out this beach, we continued the Aboriginal Heritage Walk to find some other hidden beaches. If you want to follow in our footsteps, read on about other nearby beaches. Otherwise, you can simply spend a day at this sublime beach and retrace your steps back to West Head Road when you’re ready to head home!

Other Beaches Near West Head Beach

The other beaches near West Head Beach include Resolute Beach and Great Mackerel Beach. Below, we’ll look at some basic details about these other superb beaches.

Resolute Beach

Certainly, some people skip West Head Beach altogether and head straight to Resolute Beach from West Head Lookout. Resolute Beach is a slightly larger beach and a little more well-known. Essentially, it shares similar views and remoteness as West Head Beach.

Whether you’re heading to Resolute Beach after checking out West Head Beach, doing the out and back West Head Lookout to Resolute Beach Walk or doing the longer Aboriginal Heritage Walk, you won’t regret visiting the sublime Resolute Beach at West Head.

Read more: Resolute Beach – The Easiest Walk There and 9 Nearby Attractions

Beck walks on Resolute Beach, with bushland and an island in the distance, with a cloudy sky above.

Great Mackerel Beach

South of Resolute Beach, you’ll find the impressive Great Mackerel Beach, which is a larger beach than the West Head and Resolute Beaches. Personally, Beck and I extended the Aboriginal Heritage Walk to visit Great Mackerel Beach. Another option is to simply do the out and back West Head Lookout to Great Mackerel Beach Walk.

Beck making her way down onto Great Mackerel Beach

Other Walks Near West Head Beach

Other than doing the West Head Beach Walk and visiting other stunning beaches nearby, there are plenty of other great walks to do in the area. Below, we’ll go through some of the other best walks to do during a visit to West Head.

  • Aboriginal Heritage Walk: other than checking out West Head Beach, Resolute Beach and extending the walk to Great Mackerel Beach, the circular walk visits other attractions. This includes seeing Aboriginal engravings, Red Hands Cave (an Aboriginal rock painting) and the serene Resolute Picnic Area.
  • West Head Army Track: explore West Head Battery, which is a defence fortification built during World War II.
  • Koolewong Track: enjoy stellar views of the Hawkesbury River.
  • Flint and Steel Beach Walk: another great bushwalk to hidden beaches.
  • The Basin Trail: check out more Aboriginal art engravings near the start of the trail.
  • America Bay Walking Track: enjoy mouthwatering views of America Bay and find the waterfall at the end of this track.
  • Topham Walking Track: find the secret cave at the end of the track.
  • Towlers Bay Circuit: find Birnie Lookout, a secret cave and phenomenal views over Pittwater.
  • Frederick and Elvina Tracks: explore Lovetts Pool, Elvina Waterfalls and Elvina Bay.
  • Upper Gledhill Falls: chase more waterfalls while you’re in the area!

Read more: The Top 15 West Head Walks in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Beck and Dan sit on a rock ledge at the end of the America Bay Track
America Bay

How to Get There

The only way to get to West Head Beach is to drive there as there is no public transport access. If you don’t have a car, we recommend hiring one for the day.

Car Hire

If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.

To find out more about renting a car with Discover Cars, read our Discover Cars review and Discover Cars Insurance review.

West Head Beach Parking

There is a small roadside car park at the end of West Head Road near the West Head Lookout located here. Admittedly, these spaces fill up quickly. So, most people end up parking along West Head Road.

The park entry fees are $12AUD per vehicle entering the West Head area. But, if you have a NSW National Parks Annual Pass, entry is free. Indeed, if you explore NSW National Parks often, we highly recommend buying an annual pass. That way, you don’t have to pay for parking when you visit NSW National Parks where parking fees apply.

Where to Stay Nearby

Most people visit from Sydney, the Central Coast or Newcastle. If you’re visiting from afar and need somewhere to stay, we recommend staying somewhere in Sydney. We recommend using to find the best accommodation deals.

In terms of camping near West Head Beach, there is actually only one campground in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. That’s the Basin Campground, which isn’t located too far away from West Head Lookout. The Basin Campground is known for its resident kangaroos, decent facilities, fantastic fishing and watersports aplenty. For more information, head to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services website.

What to Pack and Wear

Here are our gear essentials for walking to West Head Beach. Of course, you’ll also want to wear swimmers, a hat, sunscreen and pack a towel.

Osprey Skarab 30
Osprey Skarab 30

The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.

Osprey Ultralight Raincover
Osprey Ultralight Raincover

A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.

GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle

The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.

BUFF Original Ecostretch
BUFF Original Ecostretch

The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.

Sony Cybershot RX100 VII
Sony Cybershot RX100 VII

Capture epic photos and videos with the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII. This is hands-down the best compact camera. We love using this simple point-and-shoot camera when we’re hiking as it’s lightweight and durable.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

Bonus Tips

  • Opening times: gates to West Head are closed between 8:30pm and 6am during daylight savings and between 6pm and 6am during the rest of the year.
  • Check for closures: make sure to check local alerts before you visit to make sure the walking track to the beach isn’t closed.
  • Other awesome national parks around Sydney: make sure to check out the Blue Mountains and the Royal National Park Coastal Walk.
  • Pooch can’t come on this adventure: dogs aren’t allowed in NSW National Parks.

We hope you enjoyed our ​​​​​​​West Head Beach NSW guide. If you have any questions, please leave us a comment below.

We acknowledge and respect the First Nations people as the Traditional Custodians of the land/water that we visited and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Daniel Piggott

Dan is a travel blogger, physiotherapist, hiker, natural wonder seeker and world traveller. He loves writing travel guides to help his readers explore the most beautiful destinations in the world.

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