This Australian beach rivals Fiji but is less than an hour from Sydney

Would you believe me if I told you, an hour away from Sydney, there’s a place where a waterfall plunges into an emerald lagoon, which then spills out onto golden sand, which then opens out onto ocean?

Spoiler alert: there is. And it’s called Wattamolla Beach.

Located in the Royal National Park south of Sydney, Wattamolla is one of those special places you hear about, but rarely get to visit.

I’ve wanted to go there ever since I was a kid. But despite visiting the Royal National Park several times, until recently, I’ve never made it to Wattamolla, despite trying three times.

The first attempt I cancelled due to bad weather. The second and third were cancelled because of good weather.

One of them, I got halfway there before getting a National Parks alert on Twitter that the carpark was full, the other I drove all the way to the National Park only to see the giant queue of cars before deciding to go somewhere else.

This should probably be no surprise, considering how popular Wattamolla has become on social media (Wattamolla Falls and Wattamolla Beach have a combined 10,465 hashtagged posts to their names), with Instagram users likening it to a “land before time” and a “paradise on earth.”

Looking at all the rave reviews of the place, I went half expecting it to feel like Fiji.

TikTok users, for instance, can’t get over the fact there is a “waterfall next to an ocean,” with the comments on many of the Wattamolla videos featuring friends imploring each other “we need to go.”

As for me, on a recent hike from Bundeena, I ditched the car and decided to walk to Wattamolla, and my persistence was rewarded.

I started out by getting the train to Cronulla. Then I got a ferry to Bundeena. There, I stocked up on drinks and snacks at the corner store and set off.

Ten kilometres later, after passing Wedding Cake Rock, as well as Marley and Little Marley beaches (as well as what felt like several thousand trail runners …), I made it to Wattamolla.

Though I went on a cloudy day, after rain, so the water was murkier than in the photos I’d seen on Instagram, I was rewarded (early in the morning at least) by (relatively) small crowds and a peaceful experience.

There is a popular rock jump spot at Wattamolla Falls (reminiscent of rock jumps I have seen in Samoa and Fiji), but it has been fenced off for safety reasons (there have been numerous injuries and drownings here). So instead of jumping down, I walked down the path to reach the bottom. As I dove in the water (from the sand) I spotted a water dragon.

I then got out, feeling refreshed, and made myself a coffee with my hiking stove.

Looking over Wattamolla as the sun came out, I decided it wasn’t quite the love child of Fiji, the Philippines, Koh Samui and Samoa that I had hoped for, but still: it’s a special place (and if you go very early in the morning, you can certainly imagine yourself to be on some castaway island).

As I kept on walking I noticed a bunch of people SCUBA diving in the water, apparently around a submerged shipwreck. I then finished my hike, realising that when it comes to the Royal National Park, I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg (there’s also the Infinity Pools, Wattamolla Dam and Curracurrong Falls).

Read related topics:Sydney

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