Swim, surf, walk – do it all at Curl Curl
Curl Curl is a long sandy beach with massive sand dunes at the rear. It has surf life saving clubs at both ends, as well as ocean pools and easy headland walks.
Located just south of Dee Why on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, it is a great place to surf, swim, walk and bring your dogs.
If you are not a very competent swimmer, or don’t have a good understanding of rip tides, I would suggest keeping to the northern end of Curl Curl Beach.
Tucked directly below the headland, North Curl Curl is a pretty spot with interesting rocks and caves the kids can explore.
It is also protected from nor-easterly winds.
The waves are usually small here and are fun to catch if you are just a beginner at body surfing or boogie boarding, or, like me, prefer your waves to be on the smaller side.
The surf at South Curl Curl is pretty treacherous and the beach is often closed for swimming. When the swimming flags are up, they are usually pretty close together, with strong currents and rips close by.
If you want a swim, my advice is walk to the opposite end of the beach – and don’t be tempted to take a dip on the way. The middle of the beach is not patrolled and chances are you’ll be dragged out behind the breakers in a rip. Leave this part of the beach to the surfers.
Ocean pools are situated at both ends of the beach and are perfect for those who want to get wet but are not keen on the rough and tumble of the surf.
A 50m lap pool and kiddies’ pool are located at the southern end of the beach and are protected by the headland from southerly winds. In winter it’s a sun trap and a lovely spot to chill and catch some rays. It is also within easy reach of toilets, showers and changing facilities.
The kids’ pool is shallow making it perfect for wading and playing with buckets.
Pool on the point
The pool at the northern end of the beach is not as accessible as its southern cousin.
Cut into the rock platform at the base of the headland, it can only be accessed via the beach at low tide and involves a bit of rock hopping. You can, however, take the headland track above the surf club and follow the signs to the pool.
Even if you are not going to swim in the pool, the rock platform is a great place for kids to explore, clamber over rocks and look for crabs, anemones and fish in the rockpools.
Because this pool is located so far out to sea, it can be dangerous in big swells and should be avoided (people have been swept out to sea). If you want to have a closer look at crashing waves, you can get a bird’s eye view from above on the headland track.
Whether you visit Curly in summer or winter, get out and stretch your legs along one of the headland walks.
Fishermans Walk starts at south Curly just above the ocean pool and hugs the craggy headland to Freshwater Beach ocean pool.
I love this walk. It’s short, easy, relaxing and provides panoramic views over Curl Curl Beach. With a purpose-built boardwalk and only a few steps, this is a perfect track if you are pushing a pram or wheelchair.
The embankment to the road is often overflowing with flowers, depending on the time of year, and benches along the way provide somewhere to sit and contemplate. It also makes an excellent viewing platform to watch large swells smash against the rocks below.
Dee Why Headland
If you are hanging out at north Curly, take the headland walk to Dee Why.
More of a bushwalk than a boardwalk, you will be stepping over rocks and tree roots and walking in single file through narrow sections of the track.
My kids love scrambling over rocks and seeing who can climb to the top of a boulder first.
The first half of the walk offers panoramic views south to Manly, while the second half you are welcomed to spectacular views of Long Reef Headland.
Dogs’ day out
Behind the sand dunes at Curl Curl is a grassy open space where your dog can run free.
Unfortunately they are not allowed on the beach, however towards the northern end of the off-leash area the grassy field becomes a sand dune that slopes gently down to the lagoon.
This is the closest most dogs will get to a run on the sand and swim in salt water on our patch.
Most days you will see people throwing balls and sticks into the lagoon for their dog to retrieve, regardless of the signs warning that the lagoon is polluted. Take note, this water is unfit for humans.
Catch the ferry to Manly then the 136 bus to Curl Curl. There isn’t a direct bus on weekends from Wynyard in the city. If you have access to a car, my advice is drive.
There is limited parking at the southern end of the beach. A larger car park is at the northern end. But what I like is that in the middle, behind the sand dunes, is another massive car park. Even on the hottest days when everyone flocks to the beach, we have managed to find a parking spot here.