Wollongong is deservedly popular for its beautiful beaches and luckily many of them are dog-friendly. In the Wollongong area on the NSW coast, in between Stanwell Park and Windang, there are ten off-leash dog beaches. Find out more about the best dog-friendly beaches in Wollongong to visit with your dog.
Off-Leash Dog Beaches in Wollongong
In the Wollongong City Council area, off-leash beaches are known as “green zone” beaches. Dogs are permitted on these beaches off-leash all day long. Note that you still need to be able to control your dog by voice commands or in another way – they shouldn’t be running completely wild!
It’s also your responsibility to ensure your dog doesn’t attach any wildlife, including birds. In particular, the sooty oyster catcher is an endangered species that forages for food on rock platforms and on the sand after storms. If any are around, keep your dog well away from them, perhaps on a leash.
While the majority of these off-leash areas extend for the full length of the beach, there are some that only apply to part of the beach. Adjacent areas may prohibit dogs or only permit on-leash dogs during restricted hours. Look for the large signs with maps at each beach, plus the additional colourful signs that mark the boundaries.
Stanwell Park Beach
The northernmost off-leash dog beach in the Wollongong area is Stanwell Park Beach. The northern end of Stanwell Park Beach has been designated an off-leash area, north of the creek. The best area to park to access this area is the carpark off Park Parade, just after Seaview Crescent. There’s a handy shower and tap at the carpark.
From the carpark, there’s a sandy access path to the beach along the northern side of the lagoon, with dogs permitted off-leash once you reach the beach. Then head north, with the cliffs along the beach forming a natural barrier, with the occasional hang glider or paraglider gliding in the air above.
The surf is often quite rough at Stanwell Park Beach. On the day that we visited, some of the local dogs were swimming in the lagoon, but this is technically within the time restricted on-leash only area, not the off-leash area. Dogs are definitely not allowed south of the lagoon entrance along the beach during the day, with a dogs prohibited sign displayed during our visit.
Sharkey’s Beach, Coledale
The next off-leash dog beach in the Wollongong area heading south is Sharkey’s Beach, at the southern end of Coledale. There’s a handy large carpark running along behind the beach, meaning it’s usually easy to park here except on the busiest days. Then it’s just a few metres onto the actual beach.
Note that there’s no fencing or natural barriers along the beach, so make sure you dog can follow your commands, and not run back off the beach into the carpark. The waves can often be quite rough as this beach, but not usually as rough as Stanwell Park Beach.
Note that dogs are prohibited from the rock platforms at the northern end of the beach. At the southern end of the beach is also a time-restricted on-leash only area, known as Brickyard Point Beach, for about 100m north of the boat ramp.
From the carpark, it’s a short walk back up the hill to multiple cafes in Coledale, perfect for a takeaway coffee for your beach trip.
Little Austinmer Beach
While dogs are strictly prohibited from the main beach at Austinmer, instead head just north to Little Austinmer Beach (or Little Austi as locals call it) for off-leash walks and playtime with your pup.
The best place to park for Little Austi Beach is the small carpark at the northern end. You’ll need to turn off the main road at Headland Avenue to access the carpark. It’s frequently full, with more parking available on the adjacent streets or near the boat ramp.
Little Austi is a smaller, more sheltered beach than Sharkey’s or Stanwell Park Beach, meaning the water is often better for a dog paddle. There’s a rock platform along part of the beach, that dogs should be kept off, the same as for the rock platforms at the northern and southern ends of the beach.
A visit to Little Austinmer Beach is ideally combined with a visit to Headlands Hotel, on the headland above, with it’s large dog-friendly outdoor area.
McCauley’s Beach, Thirroul
McCauley’s Beach is one of the most popular dog-friendly beaches in the Wollongong area, thanks to being the only beach in the region with a lagoon in the off-leash area. It’s a popular spot for dogs to swim, although the waters of the beach are partially sheltered and often ideal for a paddle or swim.
McCauley’s Beach is located on the southern side of Thirroul, immediately north of Sandon Point. The off-leash section starts at Corbett Avenue, probably the easiest access point. There’s a few parking spots next to the grassy reserve with a shower and tap, plus stairs down onto the beach next to the lagoon. Alternatively, park in the larger carpark at Sandon Point in Bulli and walk along the cycle path to one of the access paths onto the beach.
Note that dogs are strictly prohibited from the extensive rock platforms at Sandon Point. If entering or exiting the beach at Sandon Point, make sure you use the stairs to the north of the rock platform. Also try to avoid walking on the sensitive dune area at the southern end of the beach – instead keep to the formed access paths.
Bellambi Boat Harbour Beach
The next off-leash dog beach heading south is Bellambi Boat Harbour Beach, located in between the Bellambi Boat Ramp and Bellambi Rock Pool.
The waters of this beach are quite sheltered, facing north, making them great for dog paddling. There’s also a carpark right next to the beach, with easy access onto the sand.
However, the closeness of the carpark and roads is also a danger. It’s just a narrow strip of sand, without any fencing or natural barriers, that would prevent a distracted dog from running onto the carpark or road. If your dog is easily distracted, consider instead the nearby East Corrimal Beach.
East Corrimal Beach
Immediately on the other side of the Bellambi Boat Ramp carpark is the start of the off-leash East Corrimal Beach. This long stretch of off-leash sand extends for about 1km to the south, until just north of Bellambi Lagoon.
The easiest access point to the beach is from Bellambi Boat Ramp, which has plenty of parking. The northern end of the beach around Bellambi Point has some rock platforms with small areas of sand in between, the calmest spots for dog swimming, although dogs should be kept off the actual rock platforms.
Once you round the point, the southeast facing beach tends to be quite rough, and is best for long dog walks. The beach lies in front of a bushland reserve, largely undeveloped except for a wastewater treatment plant, meaning there are no nearby roads.
You can also access the off-leash area from the Bellambi Lagoon carpark. The lagoon itself lies within a “public access” area, with on-leash dogs allowed. A sign just north of the lagoon indicates the start of the off-leash area.
Puckeys Beach, Fairy Meadow
Puckeys Beach lies at the southern end of Fairy Meadow Beach, adjacent to the Puckeys Estate Nature Reserve, a natural annex to the Wollongong Botanic Garden due to its rare coastal dune system and littoral forest. Dogs are allowed to join you on-leash walking on the paths through Puckeys Estate, as well as off-leash on the adjacent beach.
The only place to access the off-leash dog beach is from the carpark behind the Fairy Meadow Surf Club, at the end of Elliots Road. Take the Puckeys Estate walking path closest to the beach, then take the first path branching to the left, where there is a sign stating “off-leash area entry”. Note that dogs are prohibited from the section of beach further north during the middle of the day.
The off-leash area extends about 1km to the south, ending a couple of hundred metres before the Fairy Creek lagoon. Dogs are prohibited from the beach after this point. If you’d prefer to loop back through Puckeys Estate Nature Reserve, I believe there is an access path off the beach at the end of the off-leash area.
Puckeys Beach is part of a long sweep of beach from Towradgi to North Wollongong, with waves that can be quite rough, so be cautious about letting your dog in the water depending on the conditions of the day.
Coniston Beach, Wollongong
While dogs are prohibited from the popular beaches at the centre of Wollongong, including North Wollongong Beach, Belmore Basin and City Beach, head to the southern edge of Wollongong for another off-leash dog beach.
The off-leash Coniston Beach lies immediately south of City Beach, backing onto Wollongong Golf Course. The long sandy beach extends for 1.5km south, until the Port Kembla Harbour seawall, perfect for long walks. Facing east, it’s definitely a surf beach, although the roughness of the waves varies.
This off-leash dog beach starts at Bank Street, just south of WIN Stadium and the adjacent playing field. There’s a walkway extending from the eastern end of Bank Street across to the beach.
An alternative access point is from the end of Swan Street, with a path crossing the golf course. Parking is probably easier at this spot, particularly on weekends, plus there’s a handy tap. Note that there is no public access to the roads adjacent to the seawall and the southern end of the beach.
MM Beach, Port Kembla
Port Kembla is home to two off-leash dog beaches. The northernmost is MM Beach, named after the long-established MM Kembla factory opposite. Despite its proximity to Port Kembla Harbour and the industrial area, it’s still a lovely beach.
On Google Maps, the beach is referred to as “North Beach”. The easiest access point is the small carpark at the southern end of the beach, where there’s stairs down to the beach. Despite Gloucester Boulevard running along behind the beach, there’s a hillside covered in vegetation in between, meaning there’s few easy escape routes.
Dogs are not permitted on the rock platforms at either end of the dog-friendly beach.
Perkins Beach, Port Kembla
The southernmost and largest off-leash dog beach in the Wollongong area is Perkins Beach at Port Kembla. This huge beach starts immediately south of the patrolled Port Kembla Beach and stretches for over 4km to Windang Beach, bordering bushland reserves.
At Port Kembla Beach, park in the further away carpark and use the southernmost beach access point at the end of the carpark to access the beach. The off-leash area starts immediately to the right, while dogs are not permitted to the north.
At the southern end of Perkins Beach, the off-leash area ends approximately level with Murrie Street in Windang. There’s a pathway to the beach starting from the carpark along the street, where the “Windang Dog Beach” marker is located on Google Maps. There’s also a few more paths through the bush to the beach in between.
We visited this fairly flat beach close to low tide, when a very wide expanse of sand was exposed and the waves were fairly gentle. Around high tide, the beach would be quite narrower.
On-Leash Dog Beaches in Wollongong
In addition to the above off-leash beaches, there are also a number of beaches in the Wollongong area that permit on-leash dogs on the beach during part of the day, referred to as “orange zone” beaches.
During the winter months, dogs are allowed on-leash on these beaches before 9am or after 4pm (and not at all between 9am and 4pm). However, during the summer months, from the start of the September school holidays until Anzac Day, dogs are not allowed on the beaches until after 6pm.
This applies at the following beaches: the southern end of Stanwell Park Beach, Coalcliff Beach, Scarborough/Wombarra Beach, Brickyard Point Beach in Austinmer (north of the boat ramp), Thirroul Beach, Sandon Point Beach in Bulli, Bulli Beach, Woonona Beach, Bellambi Beach, Corrimal Beach, Towradgi Beach, Fairy Meadow Beach and Fishermans Beach in Port Kembla.
Prohibited Beaches in Wollongong
Dogs are strictly prohibited from a number of beaches in the Wollongong area, known as “red zone” beaches. This includes some of the most popular beaches in the Wollongong area plus more fragile and smaller beaches.
This applies at the following beaches: Coledale Beach, Headlands Rock Platform in Austinmer, Austinmer Beach, Sandon Point Rock Platform in Bulli, the very southern end of Puckeys Beach in Fairy Meadow, North Wollongong Beach, Wollongong Harbour Beach (Belmore Basin), City Beach in Wollongong, Port Kembla Beach, Windang Beach and any other beach that isn’t a green or orange zone beach.
Dogs are also prohibited from all rock platforms in the region, regardless of whether they are at a green, orange or red zone beach. These fragile ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to off or on-leash dogs.
Finally, dogs are naturally prohibited from lifeguard patrolled areas. This includes the area in between the red and yellow flags, from the water to the dunes, plus the area 100m on either side.