With a coastline that's almost 11,000 km long, it's no surprise the Northern Territory is home to some truly spectacular beaches. The region's vast coastline and remote beaches also offer some of Australia's best boating, fishing and beachcombing opportunities.
Mindil and Vestey's beaches are Darwin's busiest. As well as locally-produced arts and crafts, Mindil's famous Sunset Markets have up to 60 stalls offering a huge range of cuisines to be enjoyed on the beach. Mindil and Vestey beaches both provide breath-taking views of Darwin's dramatic sunsets.
Fancy a swim but need a little more reassurance regarding nasties in the water? About 9 kilometres North of Mindil, Nightcliff Beach has a ‘stinger net' protecting the beach. Alternatively, if you're more worried about swim-suits than jellyfish, Casuarina Beach includes a 7km stretch that's officially designated 'clothes optional'.
West side: Cox Peninsula
Just a 15 minute public ferry ride from Cullen Bay or a 140km drive around Darwin Harbour on the scenic Cox Peninsula Road, are two popular weekend beach destinations, Wagait Beach and Dundee Beach.
Wagait beach is a small community of pristine tropical sands stretching 20 km from Mandorah Jetty to historic Charles Point Light House. Beachcombers will find ruins of WWII Gunner Posts, red volcanic cliffs, freshwater creeks and crystal clear blue waters. Dingoes, dolphins, turtles and even seasonal Mantarays are some of the wildlife you can spot from the beach. Wagait beach plays host to the annual Mandorah Ukulele Folk Music Festival and fishing and bike riding competitions throughout the year. The Cox Country Club is open Thursday to Sunday nights serving meals that is often accompanied by live music. Mandorah Jetty, where the ferry comes in is a popular and easy to reach spot for local sea anglers.
The north coast beaches of Cox Peninsula are surrounded by the forests belonging to the traditional Kenbi owners. Permits are not necessary for visitors sticking to the beaches and the first line of sand dunes with a couple of unsealed tracks for 4WDs to explore.
On the west side of the Cox Peninsula is the beach community of Dundee and the mangroves of Bynoe Harbor, each hosting fishing competitions throughout the year. With several holiday homes and lodges, this is another favourite Darwin weekend away destination. Several Darwin fishing charters bring visitors on sea angling trips or turtle tours to the remote, uninhabited islands just off the coast here.
There are several unique places to stay in Dundee, Bynoe, Wagait and Mandorah but be sure to book in advance.
There are dangers to be considered when entering the Territory's waters, so always check safety signs and adhere to local advice before swimming. There are, however, plenty of places – and times of year – considered safe for swimming.
If you do want to err on the side of caution there are plenty of public swimming pools available for you to cool off from the tropical humidity.