DEE WHY BEACH | ANOTHER TODDLER FRIENDLY FAVOURITE

Sydney offers a spectacular variety of beautiful beaches and we are slowly hunting down the best toddler friendly options. Dee Why Beach ranks pretty high on our list. I'll admit, we've only just scratched the surface when it comes to Sydney's beaches, but, what I love about Dee Why is that it has a similar sort of vibe to Bondi, just on a smaller, less chaotic scale. It has a wide variety of restaurants, cafes and bars along The Strand, a grassy promenade, there are ocean pools and not one but two playgrounds within walking distance of the beach. We headed out there on a Sunday afternoon while Braino's parents were visiting, to give them a taste of Sydney's stunning coast. 

While Dee Why Beach is one of Sydney's most well known surf beaches, we still found it to be safe for a toddler to splash along the shore. Farley enjoyed jumping over the waves with Braino. (Just be sure to always swim between the flags!)  Getting down onto the beach with a pram isn't impossible but it is a little difficult - you would have to carry it down a few steps. We had Braino's parents with us so they were happy to sit with Hallie in the pram at the top of the steps while Braino, Farley and myself had a splash on the beach. Hallie must have been very relaxed by the sea air; she slept the whole time!. There was a lot of seaweed on the beach the day we were there but I believe it's not a regular occurrence - it depends on which way the wind is blowing. 

Dee Why also has great ocean pools, an adult one and a children's one, and some rock pools which always make for great toddler entertainment. While we didn't spend much time at that end of the beach during this visit, I would definitely come back just for the ocean pools! You can push a pram right up to them - there is plenty of paved pathways and plenty of places to sit at the pools.

One of the best reasons why Dee Why is such a good option for families with toddlers is the choice of two fenced playgrounds within close proximity to the beach. There is one right on the promenade, the Michaela Howie Playground, at the southern end, overlooking the beach and another one a very short stroll from the car park at the northern end of the beach, at James Meehan Reserve, near the surf lifesavers building. Between The Strand and the beach promenade is a well maintain sections of lawn, which is perfect for picnics or setting up a portable BBQ. 

You could easily spend a full day at Dee Why Beach and be kept busy with all the swimming options, dining options and playgrounds. Or just come out for a lazy afternoon and discover something new each time. 

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TIPS & INFORMATION

Getting there: Unfortunately there isn't a lot of public transport options to the northern beaches. If you're traveling from the city the B1 bus or the L90 bus will take you to Dee Why town centre but from there, it's  15 minute walk to the beach. I would recommended driving. 

Parking: There is a large car park  located at James Meehan Reserve, next to the Dee Why Surf Lifesavers, It's free for vehicles displaying a Council parking permit and pay and display is available for those without. There is also plenty of on street parking in surrounding streets, just be sure to check the parking restrictions. 

Dining Options: There is a huge variety of cafes and restaurants along The Strand and in surrounding streets. The first time we visited we ate at Beach Burrito which is walking distance from the beach. On our most recent visit, we had an early dinner at the Dee Why RSL, at Braino's dad's Rossco request. I would recommend both. We also purchased iceblocks and coffee from the Beach Shack, next to the Ocean Pools. 

Shade: Both playgrounds have shade clothes but the beach and ocean pool are in full sun. Definitely pack full sun protection for the family. 

Toilets: There are public toilets located at either end of the promenade, in the Surf Lifesavers building and also in the building next to the ocean pools. 

Address: The Strand, Dee Why NSW 2099

 

MONA VALE BEACH - OUR NEW FAVOURITE!

New Year's Eve with a baby or toddler is probably always going to a bit of a non-event in terms of partying and staying up past midnight. But we were keen to do something low key and relaxing in the late afternoon. Friends of our who also have a toddler had mentioned how much they loved Mona Beach and we thought it would be worth checking out. We loved it - I think we have a new contender for our favourite beach! 

I'm not sure if it was just because it was New Year’s Eve, but the beach was surprising quiet! It was very easy to think you were in a sleepy seaside town rather than the norther beaches of Sydney. Here’s a few reasons why we thought Mona Vale was an excellent family friendly beach:

We set up near the ocean bathes and there was so much to do in same area. There is a sheltered bay with small waves on the northern side of the ocean baths and more of a surf beach with bigger waves on the southern side. The ocean baths were also perfect for little ones. There are two; the bigger one looked a bit deeper but we spent our time in the smaller one, it was ideal for Farley to wade through and splash around in. Also surrounding the bathes are shallow rock pools. Farley loved wandering and looking at the shells, however I would insist that toddlers need constant supervision. The waves wash in over the rocks making them very slippery. 

The other aspect that made Mona Vale Beach a real winner is the ample car parking and how close it is to the beach. I’m sure the beach gets busy at other times but we were really surprised at how much parking was available. (It is pay and display  - we paid $12 for 3 hours)  And there were showers and public toilets next to the car park as well. 

And as an added bonus, just across the road from the car park is a great playground and picnic tables - Apex Park Playground. The playground is shaded and on soft padded foam ground and has play equipment for toddlers through to older kids. And, could it get any better - there is a cafe next to the beach as well - The Bronze Kiosk. However it closed at 3:30pm so we didn't get a chance to sample any of the food. Braino went for a quick drive to get some fish and chips  from Mona Vale Seafood and we had a very relaxing dinner in the park. It was the perfect way to see out 2017. 

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STOCKTON SAND DUNES WITH A TODDLER | PORT STEPHENS

When researching for our weekend away at Nelson Bay, I was so excited at the prospect of visiting the Stockton Sand Dunes in the Worimi Conservation Lands. My childhood memories of exploring sand dunes at Double Island Point and Rainbow Beach in Queensland came to mind, only the Stockton Sand Dunes appeared to have much more on offer for thrill seekers. You can go sand boarding, do a quad bike tour, 4WD tour, camel or horseback safari, which would all be amazing ways to take in the scenery. However, I had to reel in my adventurous spirit somewhat; as adrenaline activities in your third trimester may not be the best idea. Plus Braino reminded me that we always have the most fun when we just chill out and let Farley explore and splash in the water. So we still headed to Birubi Point at Anna Bay, which is a 15 minute drive from Nelson Bay, and found that keeping it simple was the best way to enjoy the beach, rock pools and sand dunes with a little one. 

First, we headed down to the lower car park, where the tours leave from, including the camel safari. One of Farley's latest animal obsessions, second only to octopuses, is camels. One day, while I was searching for something in the garage, she found an old camel souvenir I had purchased in Egypt nearly 10 years ago and ever since she has been fascinated - we call it Zamel the Camel. (There is a camel on the Wiggles called Zamel and it always frightened her whenever it was on, so thankfully the new Zamel helped her overcome her fears) So I knew that she would really get a kick out of seeing some real life camels. The camels from Oakfield Camel Ranch wait right next to the car park in between safaris so it's really easy to get close and have a look. While children over the age of two are able to ride with a parent, Farley was technically two months too young and beside, sitting 7 foot in the air on the back of a camel isn't really ideal if you're heavily pregnant :( But Farley love just being able to see them - I'd say it was the highlight of her trip. 

After climbing up and over the small dunes between the lower car park and the ocean, we headed over to the northern end of the beach where we found some tidal pools amongst the rocks. This is a great place to take your little one for a swim and a splash - the beach is generally pretty rough with waves however around the rocks there were some clear, warm pools; shallow enough for a toddler to stand in while deep enough for a parent to lay back and relax. There were a few other parents who had the same idea. 

The amenities at Birubi Beach are fantastic too! There are large clean public toilets and showers, a kiosk and a restaurant - Crest Birubi Beach. There is also plenty of parking. The only thing it did, understandably lack was shade. So be sure to pack plenty of sun protection. 

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