Norfolk Island is better known for its cliffs and towering pines than for palm fringed coral lagoons. However, there a number of places here that will delight the lovers of sun, sea and sand. Visitors who are accustomed to overcrowded and polluted beaches will be pleasantly surprised that here on Norfolk Island, it is easy to find an unspoilt sandy cove where you can enjoy peaceful solitude for a few hours!
For those wanting to make the most of ocean activities, you can hire fishing and snorkelling gear, and there is a local operator who can arrange for scuba diving for you. The hardier locals will tell you that the water temperature stays warm well into the winter months, and there are many who swim all year round.
A small warning: Norfolk Island is free of atmospheric pollution, and the sun’s rays are strong. You will need to remember your ‘SLIP. SLAP, SLOP’ routine. The largest and most accessible beach areas are in the penal settlement area at Kingston, to the south of the island.
If you drive towards the Kingston pier and turn to the left, you will come to Slaughter Bay, which is a reef lover’s delight. There is a stretch of sand, with several rocky formations on the shoreline. It is a great swimming spot, which you will be sharing with colourful corals and marine life. At very low tide, you can walk across stepping stones which take you right to the outer reef, not far from the water’s edge. This is a snorkeller’s paradise where, just a few metres from the beach, you will find yourself swimming among the coral gardens and encountering their fascinating inhabitants.
This lovely semi-circular lagoon, cut off from the sea by the reef, has been described as one of the safest and most family friendly beaches in the world. From the clean golden sands of Emily Bay, you can look across the sparkling waters to Norfolk’s two offshore islands, Phillip Island and Nepean Island. Energetic swimmers can do laps across the bay, while others can just enjoy a gentle splash in the calm shallow waters close to shore.
In the summer season, the most crowded part of the beach is likely to be the moored pontoon, where you can take a rest from your swimming exertions, do some diving, or simply gather with friends.
At each end of the beach, there are large grassy areas which are ideal for picnics or relaxing in the shade. Several picnic tables and barbecues are dotted around, and in the season, there is a very convenient café-de-wheelstype bus which sells food and drink.
At the Salthouse end, a gentle and shallow stream runs into the bay, a marvellous play area for small children. Closer to the reef and the headlands, there are delightful rock pools offering opportunities for exploration.
In between Slaughter and Emily Bays, around the Lime Kiln area, there is another small but very pleasant beach area known as Middle Beach. Both Emily and Slaughter Bays have good toilet and dressing shed facilities, and convenient parking.
As the name suggests, this beach is most easily reached from the cemetery area. Once there you can look out across the breakers to an ocean that probably extends uninterrupted to South America! This somewhat rocky and exposed beach is very much loved by traditional Norfolkers for rock fishing, beachcombing, or simply ‘blowing away the cobwebs’.
BUMBORAS AND CRESSWELL BAY
Although the misty seaspray of Cresswell Bay is visible from the Kingston pier, you will need to drive to the western side of the island to reach the beautiful little beaches here. From New Farm Road, turn into Bumboras Road. Keep to the left, and this will take you down an unsealed road into a picturesque and sheltered valley, where the Rocky Point Creek runs into the sea. It is a great spot for a picnic or barbecue.
A boardwalk, flanked by a forest of young pines and other native plantings, will then take you down to Bumboras Beach. This is a popular spot for boardriders, but the beach itself is a natural little playground. You can cool off in the sea or the rockpools, gather shells, build castles, do some rockfishing, gather hi-his (periwinkles) or simply relax in your own little secluded paradise.
If is not private enough for you, then you can clamber over the rocks around the point, and make even more delightful discoveries! On the north side, you will come to ‘Second Sands’ and on the southern end, there is ‘Beefsteak.’ These two coves are like secret hiding places, your own little kingdom for a few hours. But remember to make your way back before the tide is too high.
Instead of turning off to Bumboras, you can continue along the Rocky Point Road, which will lead you to the spectacular Crystal Pool. You need to be somewhat agile to negotiate your way down the slope. This natural ocean pool is several metres deep, but, as the name implies, the floor of the pool is crystal clear from the surface. This is a wonderful spot for diving, or for cooling off in the brilliant blue waters. Caution should be exercised if the waves begin to break over the sides. Don’t forget your camera – it is a truly magic place!
Follow the Anson Bay Road to the north west of the island. You will need to park your car at the top, and negotiate the zig-zag track down the cliff to the beach below.
This crescent beach, carved from the basalt cliffs, is probably for the more energetic and adventurous. Dive from the rocks, explore the pools or a nearby cave, catch a wave and surf, or even ride a board. However, if you are not a strong swimmer, you are advised to stay close to the shore, as there can often be a ‘rip’, and the ocean floor drops sharply away.
Once you have climbed back up the steep path, you may well feel the urge to head back down to ‘cool off’. We suggest you come prepared, and make use of the picnic and barbecue facilities on the headland. There is nothing better than sipping a glass of wine while you watch the sun go down on the western horizon.
Image Credit: Radio Norfolk – Robin Nisbet
Article content disclaimer: Article first published in YourWorld, Volume 02 Issue 01, 2012. Please note that details of specific travel, accommodation and touring options may be outdated. References to people, places and businesses, including operating days and times may be have changed. References to Government structure and Government businesses/entities may no longer be applicable. Please check directly with businesses and/or Government websites directly rather than relying on any information contained in this article before you make travel arrangements.