Uncommon options

Beaches are beautiful and so they are treasured. A streak of sand becomes a crowd of noise. The solution, however, is simple. Find the uncommon, undiscussed option.

Hidden gems of surf and relaxation

The sun tickles the skin as a wind skips off the ocean. Palm trees rustle and the water is warm against your toes. The waves loll back and forth. Then a beach ball hits you in the head. A child screams and a bus rumbles on the nearby road.

A beach is a place of picturesque charm: It attracts interest and soon becomes a clamouring throng. The charm thus washes away.

There is, however, a solution: Find those strips of sand off the beaten track. They exist, just think a touch outside the box.

Sydney… yes, Sydney!

Sydney may seem a ridiculous suggestion. The city is known -- among your friends, among travel agencies, among world travellers and among postcard makers -- for Manly Beach, Bondi and Coogee.

Those same people, however, may be unaware of another of the city’s gems: the small beaches of its harbour.

These charming, petite curves of sand offer a new perspective on the city. True, there is no surf (it is, after all, in a harbour), and they may be hard to find, but the romantic could never be displeased -- yachts stroll in the distance and the sun arcs to sunset. The family intent on a nice picnic should find what they want: The water is warm (in summer) and calm, and the view -- depending the beach -- may include the sails of the Opera House and the steel arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Photographers, or even a pair on a date, should also enjoy the experience.

There are several options. One can try Camp Cove, north of Watsons Bay, or the Forty Baskets Beach north of Dobroyd Head. You might also like Milk Beach in Vaucluse -- a common family spot -- or Balmoral Beach at Mosman.

There is also Cobblers Beach on the northern end of Middle Head and Obelisk Beach on the southern side of Middle Head. Be aware, though, these are nude beaches. So, too, is Lady Day Beach on South Head.

For a real getaway, a traveller might like Currawong Beach in the Great Mackerel Beach Reserve. Grab a ferry for this isolated spot. Expect to be without modernity: no phone, no internet.

Google "Sydney Harbour National Park" for more information.

Cambodia… yes, Cambodia!

One rarely includes Cambodia in the discussion of the beaches of South East Asia. A mistake! It offers, perhaps owing to its very exclusion from the ramblings of travellers, several secluded breadths of coastline.

One traveller, who liked the lesser-known spots of the world, reported the scene. Bars are built into thatched huts, empty sand stretches into the distance, and orange and blue shots are on offer, for free. Why? She never found out.

The beaches include Ochheuteal Beach or the shallows of Sokha Beach at the port town of Sihanoukville. Then there is the island of Koh Rong which offers 43 kilometres of beach. This includes Southwestern Beach -- a five kilometre strip, and Long Set Beach on the south east.

The Whitsundays… well that’s more obvious

The phrase “off the beaten track” is misleading. The imagery is of a Jeep and a small clearing in foliage, a slither of track curling into a black distance. It allows no room for a distinct and charming form of exploration: boating.

Imagine arriving in a pristine, veiled bay. From headland to headland stretches an elegant beach. The forests are ready to be explored and the water offers itself for a solitary afternoon dip.

Such is on offer in the 74 tropical islands of Queensland’s Whitsundays, about 900 kilometres north of Brisbane, 150 kilometres north of Mackay and 300 kilometres south of Townsville. If the beaches become dull, consider instead a trip to a natural wonder of the world: the Great Barrier Reef.

Yachts, including catamarans, motorboats and single hull sail vessels, can be hired from Whitsunday Rent-a-YachtWhitsunday Escape or Charter Yachts Australia. Try also Cumberland Charter Yachts.

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