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Beach safety

If you're exploring coastal national parks, you'll discover many beautiful beaches. While enjoying our beaches, it's important to keep beach safety top of mind. These beach safety tips will help you stay safe in the water and on the sand.

Read more about Beach safety

Plan your trip

Tell somebody

Give your trip details to family and friends who are not travelling with you. Tell them when you expect to return and let them know when you have returned. For longer trips or remote areas, consider filling in a trip intention form and taking a personal locator beacon.

When to swim in the ocean

  • If you are swimming at a patrolled beach, always swim between the red and yellow flags.
  • If you need help, stay calm and attract attention by raising your arm.
  • Check the beach hazard signs.
  • Rips and currents can occur even on still days. Find out how to spot or escape rips and currents.
  • Be aware of diving into water. Even if you have already checked water conditions, they can change.
  • Don't swim, surf, fish or go to isolated beaches alone.
  • Only swim during daylight hours.
  • Always supervise children in and around water.
  • Don't swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Marine wildlife 

Look out for marine stingers. If you see bluebottles, avoid the water and leave octopuses alone (the blue-ringed octopus is venomous).

During swimming season, The Department of Primary Industries operates a shark meshing program at selected beaches in Sydney, the Illawarra and Central Coast. Some of these beaches are near NSW national parks. Find out more about the SharkSmart program.

What to wear

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • A wide brimmed hat
  • Sun protective clothing. Remember that ultraviolet radiation (UV) levels can be high even on cloudy days.
  • Shoes—sand gets hot too.
  • Wear the right protective gear for your activity. For example, wear fins and a leash for bodyboarding, a life jacket for kayaking, and a life jacket while rock fishing which is compulsory in many areas. Get more advice on water safety gear.

What to bring

  • Insect repellent
  • A beach umbrella or other sun shelter.
  • Drinking water. Consider 2L per person. Take more than you think you’ll need.
  • Food and snacks
  • First aid kit
  • Mobile phone. Download the Emergency+ app
  • Remember to take your rubbish with you when you leave.

Other activities near beaches

If you choose not to go into the water, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy our beaches – walking, picnicking, bird watching, or taking photographs. If you intend to fish, please visit the fishing and rock fishing safety page

Aerial view of surfer in the ocean near Saltwater Creek campground. Photo: J Spencer/OEH