Sydney’s Northern Beaches are world-famous for their pristine golden sand beaches and stunning natural landscapes. Nestled between the Tasman Sea and the Pittwater waterway lies a strip of 14 beaches that are some of the most beautiful in the world. This strip of natures best lends itself to some amazing locations to capture some spectacular Sunrises Daily photographs.
Today we are extremely lucky to learn the Top 10 Best Sunrise Locations on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with award-winning photographer Neil White. Neil has the unique distinction of capturing Daily Sunrise photos on Sydney’s Northern Beaches every day for the last 21 years. This remarkable dedication to his art has resulted in an unparalleled knowledge of the best locations on the Northern Beaches to capture the beauty of a sunrise.
(Please note that all of these locations require awareness and respect for the ocean and its raw power and the hazards within these locations. Accessing these locations is done so at your own risk and please always take extra care and stay safe. The ocean and shoreline are dangerous and unpredictable.)
Here are Neil’s Top 10 locations, why, and some extra bonus tips.
North Narrabeen Rock Pool
Well known in surfing circles as one of Australia’s premier high-performance waves, North Narrabeen also happens to be one of the most spectacular locations for Sunrise Photography. To capture the best pictures Neil suggests walking out to the rock pool at the northern tip of the beach. The rock pool has a unique wooden walkway that lends itself to the perfect sunrise photo. However, Neil has also recommended the natural rock pool to the left of the man-made rock pool. The rock platform provides a variety of light reflecting pools, rock patterns, and formations. This amazing location is a year-round option and the light show is one of the best.
This lesser-known spot is a lot harder to access and requires a more adventurous photographer. However, the rewards are worth the effort says, Neil. The reef is accessed via the southern end of the beach and please take extra caution as the hazards are serious. This year-round location has a remote aspect that produces stunning natural views and it’s hard to believe you’re less than 30km from the heart of Sydney. The rock platform has a variety of pools, patterns, and shapes that produce some amazing framing for your sunrise photos that are out of this world. In addition to this, there is often wildlife aplenty in the form of birdlife and the occasional sea life with Neil meeting the odd seal on the rocks from time to time.
Mona Vale Pool
Accessed via a short walk across the beach at the tip of Mona Vale beach is this beautiful rock pool and platform. Due to the lighting at the pool, this location is popular in both good weather and lighting and the not-so-good. The variety offered at this location is a big attraction for Neil who is always looking for that unique sunrise photo. To achieve this he uses a mixture of the rock pool, the headland to the north, and the rock platform as well as the beach itself. This location is also able to be accessed in large surf and high tide. However, always take extra care as the ocean is unpredictable and dangerous and camera equipment needs to be protected.
Another excellent year-round location. The southern end of the beach is ideal in the winter months and the northern end in the summer months. This location also offers options to capture photos in more difficult weather and light. The southern end of the beach has a nice variety of rocks and even a little waterfall if the rain has been falling. Above the surf club at the southern end are a variety of spots to capture sunrise photos with elevation to capture the beach and the headlands to produce a stunning variety of sunrise photos.
This long strip of golden sand is one of Sydney’s finest. Accessed via several walkways and little cul-de-sacs, Narrabeen beach offers the opportunity to capture that iconic uninterrupted open beach sunrise photo. With the sun on the horizon all year round, there is also a variety of options to include the sand dunes with a variety of vegetation including wildflowers and spinifex grass, rustic fencing, and walkways to produce the perfect sunrise photo.
This is one of the hidden gems of the Northern Beaches. Nestled between North Narrabeen to the south and Warriewwod to the north is Turimetta Beach. Please be aware that this beach is not patrolled and requires extra caution. A rugged beach with high shale bluffs and often very strong shore breaks this location is also for the more adventurous and prepared photographers. There are a variety of options for capturing the sunrise. Upon arrival, there are a number of elevated spots to the south accessed via the signposted walkways. The beach itself is accessed via stairs to the south or the north. The beach is short but very sweet with a splattering of rock shelves along the beach depending on sand movement. The southern end has a wonderful mixture of rock platforms and a large channel that are ideal for time-lapse photos. The headland at the northern end provides a stunning backdrop to your sunrise photo as there are no dwellings at all preserving the natural effect.
Another hidden gem Cooks Terrace is located at the southern end of Mona Vale Beach. An elevated rolling green hill allows for the stunning wide landscape sunrise photo. Down on the beach, you are greeted with wide-open beach shots and typically not many people around. For the more adventurous there is a small shale rock shelf that you can climb up to get the truly unique sunrise photo. Be warned that this is dangerous and you do so at your own risk.
Bilgola Rock Pool
This location is best in Summer as in the winter months the sun sits behind the headland to the north. The pool offers a wonderful frame for your sunrise photo with its wonderfully unique chain structure in the centre of the pool. The rock platform at the end of the pool offers even more variety and there is the option to include the beach, the pool, and the headland to the north.
This is a huge one. Long Reef offers a huge variety of options for an amazing sunrise photo. The rock platforms on the northern side of the reef offer stunning uninterrupted views. The platform itself has a huge variety of shapes and structures for you to play within your photos. On the southern side in the summer months, you can do the same. And of course, you can also walk along the headlands designated walkway to capture stunning elevated views of the sunrise. It’s also a popular whale-watching site at the right time of year. Please note that this is a marine reserve and is to be respected as directed.
The southern end of Avalon provides a wonderful backdrop to your sunrise photos. The pool and the rock platform are the best locations says Neil. This location is best in the summer months.
Now that you’ve learned the top 10 locations to capture a stunning photo of the sunrise on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, your next step is to get out there and capture the magic! Before you do though, be sure to read our guide on capturing beautiful sunrise photos on your smartphone.