Jervis Bay seems to have it all - white sands, dolphins and whales, forests that meet the shore. Alison Mackay and Richard Morecroft visit the best of the beaches... but agree that six is not enough!

We don’t like to be critical – and particularly not when it comes to one of one of the world’s great explorers – but had Captain Cook forgotten to clean his telescope? Apparently he didn’t explore Jervis Bay, but sailed on to where Sydney is now. Let’s be thankful though, as that decision has allowed this amazing region to remain in much better shape than might have been the case if the Captain had really looked around.  We still have majestic cliffs, unsullied by apartment blocks; clean white sand with enough space to park a beach towel even in the busiest summer; a road system which mostly works without a single traffic light; and, to get back to the really important stuff, crystal clear waters that teem with all manner of ocean life from the tiny to the immense.  Jervis Bay is magic. As we head into summer, it’s time to check in on some of the most magnificent beaches around Jervis Bay. What makes each of them so special?

Let’s start with the less visited northern side of the bay, on the Beecroft Peninsula, then work south.

6. Honeymoon Bay

Honeymoon is magnificent on an intimate scale. “Small but perfectly formed” comes to mind.  With camping available in the bush just behind this super-protected beach, it’s a perfect place for a young family to visit.  Viewed from above, Honeymoon Bay is an almost perfect ‘O’, with the result that it’s protected from all wind and weather except perhaps the occasional rampant westerly (not common in summer).  You can also access other more remote beaches on the northern peninsula if you want to get away from the holiday crowds – Target Beach and Silica Cove are only a few kilometres hike through the bush.

Best for…  Young families who can camp close by and play in the flat water in relative safety.

Honeymoon is magnificent on an intimate scale. "Small but perfectly formed" comes to mind.

5. Collingwood Beach

The main beach in the Huskisson/Vincentia region.  This gently curving two kilometre stretch of sand is a classic with a bit of everything. When the tide is low, it’s a walkers and joggers beach. There are sun-bakers and surf-splashers – though the waves rarely get big enough to be really challenging – and, if the wind is up, the northern end of the beach is brought alive by the rainbow colours of huge kites pulling kite-boarders back and forth across the water.  As the evening comes around, the fisher-folk gather to see what they can catch

Best for…  The iconic view of Point Perpendicular right in front of you, combined with pods of dolphins patrolling up and down near the shore. Moona Moona Creek at the northern end of Collingwood has a big exposed sand flat and shallow waters at low tide, making it perfect for paddling.

4. Greenfields Beach

One of the most beautiful little coves in the whole of Jervis Bay, Greenfields is only small and is completely surrounded by the bush, with large spotted gums coming right down to the sand.  There’s a grassy picnic area with good facilities just behind the beach, so it’s perfect for a full day out with family or friends.  The beach has interesting rocks to wander over to the south and at low tide you can get all the way to Chinaman’s Beach and walk back through the bush on the White Sands track.

Best for…  Frolicking in the gentle surf, exploring rock pools and having a nearby barbie just off the beach.

3. Hyams Beach

There’s not much to say about Hyams Beach that hasn’t been said time and time again.  But when you’ve got over two kilometres of the whitest sand in the world well… what else do you need?

Best for…  Everything really. Hyams Beach is synonymous with Jervis Bay. It can get busy in summer with parking a major challenge, but as it’s such a long beach, you can always find a quiet spot after a short stroll.

2. Murrays Beach

At the very tip of Booderee National Park, looking out over Bowen Island, lies the beautiful Murrays Beach. In what now seems an inconceivably bizarre plan, Murrays was once seriously intended to be the site of a nuclear power plant. Thankfully the project was abandoned, but the foundations are now the base for the extensive car park. There’s a boat ramp here which gets very busy during holiday times, but the beach is exceptional and at the eastern end at low tide there are beautiful small coves for an intimate picnic. You can also walk up the bush track to Governor Head for a spectacular view out over the ocean – a great whale-watching spot during the migration season. ?

Best for…  Launching boats or kayaks for a trip around Bowen Island. The rocks in the middle of Murrays Beach are also particularly good for snorkelling. Otherwise just hang out on the sand.

1. Whiting Beach

Not officially inside Jervis Bay (just on the southern side) but special enough to demand a mention.  You can leave your car at Summer Cloud Bay car-park and enjoy the walk through the National Park to Whiting, or go around by the rocks at low tide. Best of all, kayak from Summer Cloud around the “Pipeline” surf break and come in by sea.  Whiting is a small beach with a large protected swimming area… except when the southerly is blowing.

Best for…  The full bush and bay experience – and it’s usually pretty quiet at Whiting Beach.

So that’s our 6 best beaches of Jervis Bay. But if you reckon your favourite beach has been left off the list, you may well be right! Six of the best is not nearly enough…