18 Dog-Friendly Beaches In and Around Newcastle, NSW

Newcastle and the surrounding region is home to many beautiful beaches, and luckily there are some great off-leash beaches to take your dog to. Whether you’re looking for ocean beaches, harbour beaches or lake beaches, check out these dog-friendly beaches in the Newcastle region.

Dog-Friendly Beaches Newcastle

Looking for more things to do with your dog in Newcastle? Check out my dog-friendly Newcastle guide

Dog-Friendly Harbour Beaches in Newcastle

For a dog-friendly beach close to the centre of Newcastle, check out these beaches located on Newcastle Harbour that allow off-leash dogs both on the sand and in the water.

Horseshoe Beach, Newcastle

The closest dog-friendly beach to the centre of Newcastle is Horseshoe Beach. This smallish beach is just inside Nobbys Head, on the harbour side of the peninsula from the popular Nobbys Beach (where dogs are not surprisingly prohibited from the sand).

Horseshoe Beach with Dog
The dog-friendly Horseshoe Beach near the centre of Newcastle

Horseshoe Beach is hemmed in by the dune area behind it, so ideal for letting dogs off-leash and not worrying about them running onto a road. Because it’s located within the harbour, the waters are lovely and calm, so that your pup can safely have a dog paddle.

Horseshoe Beach
The calm waters of Horseshoe Beach

There’s a convenient large carpark at the western end of the beach, the closest spot to park and head to the beach with your pup. On busy summer days it probably gets parked out, but most of the time you should easily get a park.

Pitt Street Reserve, Stockton

On the northern side of the harbour from the Newcastle CBD is Stockton. Despite being so close geographically, it takes nearly 30 minutes to drive there from the centre of Newcastle, due to no direct bridge. Alternatively, small dogs in a carrier are welcome to join you on the regular ferries.

Stockton is home to two more dog-friendly beaches on the calm waters of Newcastle Harbour. Firstly, on the eastern side of Stockton, dogs are allowed off-leash at the Pitt Street Reserve, including Little Beach, just south of the main Stockton Beach.

Little Beach Stockton
Little Beach is just across from Nobbys Lighthouse

Little Beach is a lovely small beach, great for a walk or doggie swim in the gentle waters. It’s usually a lot quieter than Horseshoe Beach, so is ideal if you’re looking for a calm off-leash dog beach away from other dogs.

Ballast Ground, Stockton

There’s also a second off-leash dog beach in Stockton, on the other side of the Stockton Peninsula, although it’s even smaller than Little Beach.

This beach is part of the large off-leash Ballast Ground parklands. Located alongside the harbour, most of the water’s edge is lined with oyster-encrusted rocks, but there’s a small section of dog-friendly beach near the 16ft Sailing Skiff Club.

Ballast Ground Beach
The small beach at Ballast Ground

Islington Park, Islington

While not technically a beach, there’s another calm spot close to the centre of Newcastle that dogs can enjoy a dip in the water on hot days.

Islington Park is not quite located on Newcastle Harbour but upstream on Throsby Creek. While I haven’t personally checked out this location, I’ve heard reports from others that dogs can swim here.

For more details on this off-leash areas and beaches, check out the City of Newcastle website.

Dog-Friendly Ocean Beaches in Newcastle

All of the ocean beaches close to the centre of Newcastle in the Newcastle City Council area are off limits to dogs, due to being popular swimming beaches. Instead, head further south to the Lake Macquarie area, where there’s three off-leash dog beaches.

Nine Mile Beach, Redhead

The northernmost ocean-facing dog-friendly beach in the Great Newcastle region is a section of Nine Mile Beach at Redhead. Dogs are allowed off-leash on the sand all day long in between Second and Third Creeks.

The best access point is the small carpark on Cain Street, where there’s also a convenient map. Note that dogs must remain on leash on the access paths, plus in creeks, waterholes and in between First and Second Creeks. Dogs are prohibited north of First Creek at the patrolled beach.

Redhead Dog Areas
Clear signage of the dog areas at Redhead, plus a warning for snakes

This is a huge stretch of sand, both width-ways and length-ways. There’s plenty of room for dogs to run around, but be careful close to the water when the ocean is rough.

Off-Leash Nine Mile Beach
The huge off-leash section of Nine Mile Beach at Redhead

Blacksmiths Beach

Just a little south of Nine Mile Beach is the second off-leash dog beach in the region, Blacksmiths Beach. Once again dogs are not allowed on the full length of this long beach, in particular the patrolled section at the southern end of the beach.

The off-leash area starts at Awabakal Avenue and extends north to the Belmont Golf Club boundary. This is an access ramp at the end of Awabakal Avenue with plenty of parking.

Off-Leash Blacksmiths Beach
Dogs are allowed off-leash at part of Blacksmiths Beach

Note that this section of the beach also allows 4WDs with permits to drive on the sand, so keep an eye out and well away from any vehicles.

Hams Beach, Caves Beach

The final off-leash ocean beach in the region is Hams Beach, in the suburb of Caves Beach. The off-leash area is adjacent to the car park off Mawson Close, although I found it hard to distinguish the boundaries.

Off-Leash Hams Beach
On the off-leash Hams Beach at Cave Beach

Dogs are not permitted on Caves Beach itself, further to the south and near the popular sea caves. Confusingly, the off-leash area is marked “Caves Beach” on Google Maps, while there is a separate “Hams Beach” to the north.

Caves Beach Lookout
Checking out the sea caves from the lookout

Dog-Friendly Lake Beaches at Lake Macquarie

The Newcastle region is bounded on the south by the huge Lake Macquarie. With its shoreline a crazy 174km long, not surprisingly there’s also plenty of spots for dogs to swim along the edge of the lake at many of the adjacent off-leash dog parks.

The listing of off-leash dog reserves on the Lake Macquarie City Council website doesn’t make clear which areas are suitable for swimming. But based on my investigations, the following off-leash spots should be suitable for your dog to enjoy a swim, starting from Swansea and continuing clockwise around the lake:

Swansea Dog Exercise Area: Thomas Humphreys Reserve bounded by Wallarah Street, Coon Island/Tourist Park access road and the boat ramp access roads and car parks

Croudace Bay Dog Park: Bounded by the central car parks and Bareki Road, but the foreshore reserve area is only leash free from sunrise to 10am daily and 4.30pm to sunset on weekdays, excluding public holidays, while the central park area is leash-free all day long

Croudace Bay Dog Park
Enjoy a dog paddle in Lake Macquarie at Croudace Bay Dog Park

Booragul Dog Exercise Area: Booragul Foreshore Reserve extending from the car park near the Booragul jetty south the along the lake edge past Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery to Marmong Cove and Marmong St

Toronto Off-Leash Area: Lions Park bounded by Toronto Road, Anzac Parade and the Lake, but only leash free from sunrise to 10am daily, except on market days (the third Sunday of each month)

Blackalls Parks Off-Leash Area: Part of the parkland easterly from the picnic/shelter area

Coal Point Off-Leash Area: Gurranba Reserve bounded by Skye Point Road and the Lake

Buttaba Off-Leash Area: Foreshore Reserve bounded by Ilford Avenue and the Lake

Bonnells Bay Off-Leash Area: Pendlebury Park bounded by Grand Parade and the Lake

Off-Leash Dog Beaches Close to Newcastle

There’s some more great off-leash dog beaches close to Newcastle, just a short drive away on the Central Coast or at Port Stephens. Consider visiting one of these dog-friendly beaches nearby with your pup.

North Shelly Beach, Toowoon Bay

It’s just a 75 minute drive south of the centre of Newcastle to North Shelly Beach in the beachside Central Coast suburb of Toowoon Bay. This beach is just one of the fantastic dog-friendly ocean beaches on the Central Coast.

Just past The Entrance, head to the spot marked on Google Maps as “North Shelly Beach Dog Beach”. The off-leash section of this beach extends from the access stairs south alongside the golf course to the northern beach access walkway off Shelly Beach Road.

Dog-friendly Shelly Beach
The access stairs down to Shelly Beach on the Central Coast

Your pup will likely be sharing this beach with some of the local surfers, as it’s a popular break. There’s plenty of free parking near the access stairs at the northern end.

Shelly Beach with Dogs
Making friends on Shelly Beach

Birubi Beach, Anna Bay

Stockton Beach is a huge beach that extends for over 30km, from the northern edge of Newcastle all the way to Port Stephens. The beach at the far end in the suburb of Anna Bay is also known as Birubi Beach and it includes an off-leash area.

Birubi Beach
Looking south along Birubi Beach towards Stockton

Dogs are allowed along the initial stretch of this beach, starting at the headland. When standing at the access path (where there is a clear sign), the off-leash section to your right is just a little shorter than the off-leash section to the left.

However, there are time restrictions for when dogs are allowed off-leash. During the summer months, in between October and April, dogs are only allowed off-leash before 9am or after 5pm. During the rest of the day they need to stay on leash. However, during the rest of the year they are allowed off-leash on the beach all day long.

Birubi Beach with Dog
Checking out the surf at Birubi Beach

This beach can also be quite wild, so be careful around the water’s edge. Also keep well away from the camels being led on camel rides. Dogs are prohibited from the dune area where the rides mainly take place.

Bagnalls Beach, Corlette

For a gentler experience and a stretch of beach where dogs are allowed on the sand all day long, instead head to Bagnalls Beach, my favourite dog-friendly beach in Port Stephens.

Dog-friendly Bagnalls Beach
The calm waters of Bagnalls Beach in Port Stephens

Located in between Nelson Bay and Corlette, this beach fronts on to the placid waters of the port, so its crystal clear waters are always calm, great for smaller dogs. The adjacent reserve also permits off-leash dogs.

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

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