Complete Beach Guide: Freshwater Beach

Freshwater Beach is where all the magic began. In 1919 Duke Kahanamoku, the great Hawaiian put on the first surfing exhibition in front of Australians; the rest is history. Surfing has become one of the biggest sports/leisure activities in Australia.

Freshwater offers gentle waves making it an ideal place for beginner surfers and swimmers, especially for little children. Despite the small size of the beach, it attracts big crowds, and it’s considered one of the most family-friendly beaches in Northern Beaches, Sydney.

Best Surfing condition for Freshwater Beach

Size0.5ft – 4 foot
Swell DirectionNE and N
WindN, W, and NW
Tide Mid tide going low to high
CurrentSlow to moderate, becomes strong when bigger than 4ft
General Level of SurfersBeginner to Intermediate.
CrowdVery Crowded especially on weekends.
Riding DirectionLeft and Right. South Corner provides the consistent right.
LocalismDoes not exist or Rare
Summary of Ideal Surfing Conditions for Freshwater Beach

Why is it called Freshwater Beach?

Freshwater is the beach is an open saltwater ocean beach, and it’s not made of freshwater as the name suggests. The name was given from the small stream of fresh water that goes into the north of the beach.

Freshwater was formally known as Harbord. The name of the suburb and beach had changed with the locals’ vote in 2008 to Few big local facilities still kept the name such as Harbord Diggers RSL club and Harbord Public School.

Is Freshwater Beach Safe to Swim?

Freshwater Beach is one of Sydney’s safest beaches for swimming. It is patrolled 365 days a year by professional and volunteer lifeguards. Waves tend to be more gentle compared to surrounding beaches making it ideal for swimming, especially for less experienced swimmers.

Always ensure you swim between the flags and do not enter the water if unsure. Beach conditions change constantly, and even competent swimmers can get into trouble.

Shark Attacks On Freshwater Beach

There have been no recorded shark attacks on Freshwater Beach. Click here For more information about Shark Attacks In Sydney

How Is The Surf At Freshwater Beach?

With double protection from the north head, Manly for the southeastern swell, and the rock platform on the north of the beach for the northerly swell, freshwater beach provide gentler waves than surrounding beaches.

Many beginner surfers prefer Freshwater Beach despite the problematic parking and the crowds for its gentle waves. It is close to CBD and making it easily accessible for visitors.

There are two main peaks to surf in Freshwater Beach: South Corner, Mid and North Corner.

South CornerMidNorth
Types of breakBeach / Point BreakBeachBeach
Left/RightRightLeft and RightLeft and right
Level of surfersMore experienced surfersVariesVaries

Note that two main channels/rip can help you paddle out. They are located near the rocks on both South and North of the beach, and you can use them to avoid excessive paddling and repetitive duck diving to get to the breaking zone.

However, be aware of this channel/rip as it can take you out very quickly when the surf gets bigger. Please note that when the swell comes from N or NE, the channels in the south of the corner can be pretty dangerous as you may get pushed into the rocks.

Parking at Freshwater Beach

There are two main paid parking zones: one on the north and the other on the south of the beach.

South Parking Lot

The North Parking lot is about 3-4 times bigger but doesn’t get followed. it’s extremely challenging to find a spot on good summer days. Due to high traffic, avoid Sunday morning during nipper season (Summer) after 8 am.

North Parking Lot

It costs 10 dollars an hour to park, but if you have Northern Beaches Council Sticker, it’s free to park. You may consider purchasing it from Northern Beaches Council website or other locals on Gumtree. It usually costs around 100-150 to purchase which lasts a year.

There is street parking available with generous 4 hours nearby streets. However, like a paid parking zone, you may have to do multiple rounds to get a spot.

Tips: Harbord Diggers have a large free-of-charge underground car park, and it’s only a 5-10 minute walk from the beach. They offer 6-hour free parking and have a great dining area suitable for families after beach activities.

Activities around Freshwater Beach

Scenic Walk: Curl Curl to Freshwater

There is a popular walking path north of Freshwater to Curl Curl beach. Its wooden path is built on top of rocks, boasting spectacular views. When the waves get bigger than 5 feet, the scene is just breathtaking with ain’t waves crashing on the rocks.

Rock Pool and surroundings

The freshwater rock pool is on the north side of the beach, accessible on feet from the beach, or there is a large car park on the top of the rock pool. It’s a 50-metre pool with a depth of around 1m. Unfortunately, there are no kids-playing-area

On the side of the rock pool is a fun water channel you can ride like a whirlpool. It’s around a 20-metre-long channel which will move you up and down when the wave comes in and out. The rocks block both sides of the channel, so there are no concerns about getting swept out.

Best Cafe In Freshwater Beach.

There are several coffee shops in Freshwater Beach and its surroundings. The most popular place by far is Mrs Jones Bakery. They have a fantastic line-up of pastries, cakes and gelatos. Expect some wait when visiting, but it’s well worth it.

There are three cafes right next to the beach car parks offering light meals and great coffee.

Surfing Shops Near Freshwater Beach

Bennetts surfboards.

Established in 1956, Bennetts Surfboard has produced quality longboards and surf-life-saving boards for the community.

They have a great range of longboards, including, Mctavish, Firewire, Takayama and their own: Bennett’s surfboards.

With deep knowledge regarding the northern beaches, Staffs are approachable and friendly, and the Bennetts family are still operating the business.

Here is the official website

Surfboard Hire In Freshwater Beach.

Unfortunately, there are no shops offering surfboard hire on Freshwater Beach.

You may hire a surfboard from Manly – Dripping wet and bring it over to Freshwater Beach.

Best Family-Friendly Places Near Freshwater Beach

Apart from the amazing beach, there are nice little spots where you may want to spend some time with your family. There are two playgrounds one in the park next to the south parking lot and the other one near the north side of the parking lot.

Playground Near South Parking Lot

The one on the north only has a small slide and a swing and is suitable for kids under 3.

BBQ + Playground Near the North Parking Lot

The playground in the North parking lot has a small BBQ, a shaded table and a medium-sized playground. This is a lovely spot if you have a group of families to spend some time together. There is also a large grassed area where children can go wild.

Places To Eat Near Freshwater Beach.

Harbord Diggers RSL Club

Harbord Diggers provide an excellent choice of food: Vietnamese, Italian, Chinese and good old burgers, fish and chips. It’s one of the most popular places to dine for locals with generous 6 hours of free car parking.

You can dine indoors or outdoors; the large outdoor area is an excellent choice if you have children or a dog.

There is a kids club where you pay the entry fee for kids, and they can entertain themselves while you enjoy quiet time with your family and friends.

Other Beaches around Freshwater

Manly Beach

Curl Curl Beach

Fairlight Beach


I have spent the last 15 years in Northern Beaches in Sydney and loves beaches. I have raised three beautiful children, all loving beaches and waves. I hope you share the same passion.

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