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Young man and women sitting on beach in front of Apollo rental campervan

Alyssa Tresider
/ Categories: AU Blog

The Best Beaches in the NT.

Australia's Northern Territory (NT) is an untamed paradise tucked away in central northern Australia. This vast expanse is where the Outback meets the sea in spectacular fashion. If you are planning a campervan road trip to explore the best beaches in the Northern Territory, where the sand is as fine as powdered sugar and the sunsets are so vivid they seem photoshopped – we have you covered! 

Whether you're an adventurous family seeking the next great road trip destination in a campervan or a solo traveller with a thirst for the remote and unexplored, the NT's coastline promises an unforgettable adventure. We'll guide you through everything from campervan hire essentials to finding the best Darwin beaches, ensuring your Australia road trip is nothing short of epic. Let’s dive in. 


What is there to explore in the NT?

Okay, we know what you may be thinking. ‘What exactly is up there in the remote reaches of the NT?’ Well, kind of a lot. The Northern Territory is jam-packed with natural wonders and rich Aboriginal culture. Beyond its famous, achingly beautiful ochre-red deserts, there lies a surprising diversity of landscapes, from the lush wetlands of Kakadu National Park to the dramatic cliffs of the Arnhem Land escarpment. 

It's a region where ancient Aboriginal culture is alive and thriving, offering opportunities to engage with indigenous art, music, and traditions first-hand. Also, prepare to be awestruck by the NT's unique wildlife. Here, you have the chance to witness crocodiles in their natural habitat and the plethora of birdlife that calls this part of Australia home. Plus, the coastal areas are dotted with hidden gems and beaches that offer solitude and stunning beauty away from the crowds.  

As we said, there is plenty to explore in the Northern Territory. For more tips on things to do on your Australia road trip to this region, check out our guides on the top things to do in Darwin and the best things to do in Northern Territory.


How can you best explore the beaches of the Northern Territory?

Exploring the vast and varied landscapes of the NT calls for a mode of travel that's as flexible and adventurous as the territory itself. Here, an Apollo campervan becomes more than just a vehicle; it's your passport to freedom. With a campervan, you can follow the open road at your own pace, setting up camp under the starriest skies you've ever seen. 

Campervan travel is unmatched for exploring the NT's beaches. It allows you to carry all your adventure gear, from buckets and spades to hiking boots. However, it's crucial to remember that taking campervans onto the sand is against your rental contract. Stick to designated camping areas and parking spots to keep your vehicle and these pristine environments safe. 

READ MORE: For tips on responsible campervanning in this region, check out the full guide to responsible campervanning in Australia. Oh, and if you are travelling with kids, you won’t want to miss our guide to activities for kids on an Australian road trip. The roads here are long, and you will want a few activities up your sleeve for driving days in the NT! 


Can you swim at the beaches in the Northern Territory?

When exploring the best beaches in the Northern Territory in the tropical northern heat, a dip in the NT's waters may seem inviting… but there are a few cautions to consider first! While they may look like any other Aussie beach, they are home to some pretty feisty wildlife, such as saltwater crocodiles and the Irukandji jellyfish, particularly during the warmer months. This doesn't mean you have to stay on the shore, but it does mean you will need to be aware of changing conditions. Here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Be Crocwise – Always look for signs indicating it's safe to swim, and remember the local advice to be "crocwise." This means keeping away from the water's edge even at approved swimming locations and avoiding swimming at night, dusk, or dawn when crocodiles are most active. 

  • Choose Safe Zones – For a worry-free beach day, seek out beaches near Darwin, like Mindil Beach or the Darwin Waterfront, where you can enjoy the cool waters under the watchful eyes of safety patrols.

Understanding where and when it's safe to swim ensures your Northern Territory campervan hire adventure is memorable for all the right reasons. For more tips on safe and responsible exploration, including swimming at beaches near Darwin, visit our blog on educational activities for kids on an Australian road trip.


The best beaches in NT

The Northern Territory's coastline is a hidden treasure of Australia, boasting some of the most spectacular and underappreciated beaches in the country. From the bustling markets skirting the edge of Mindil Beach to the serene sunrises and sunsets of East Woody Beach, there's a slice of paradise for every type of beach lover. 


Mindil Beach

Nestled just a stone's throw from Darwin's city centre, Mindil Beach is a vibrant cultural hub that comes to life as the sun sets. Famous for its bustling Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, held during the dry season, this beach offers a feast for the senses. Here, you can savour international cuisines, shop for artisan crafts, and enjoy live performances, all with the backdrop of one of Australia's most breathtaking sunsets.

What sets Mindil Beach apart is not just the markets or the festivals that light up the shore but its community atmosphere, inviting locals and travellers alike to come together in celebration. A mere 10-minute drive from Darwin, finding a spot for your campervan is a breeze at this beach near Darwin, with ample parking along Maria Liveris Drive, offering easy access to the beach and its festivities.

Where to stay near Mindil Beach

For those travelling in a campervan, the Hidden Valley Holiday Park is the perfect base to explore Mindil Beach and the greater Darwin area. Located a short drive from the beach, this holiday park offers a tranquil retreat with all the comforts of home. Facilities include a tropical swimming pool, BBQ areas, and the on-site Hidden Delights Cafe. The park's location, tucked away in a picturesque valley yet close to Darwin's attractions, makes it an ideal spot for families and couples looking to check out the best beaches in Darwin. 


East Woody Beach (Galuru)

Journeying further from Darwin, East Woody Beach (Galuru to the local Aboriginal people) offers a unique experience where the beauty of the Northern Territory's coastal wilderness is on full display. This secluded beach is renowned for its pristine white sands. A short walk to Dhamitjinya (East Woody Island) and up the rocks rewards visitors with a 360-degree view of Melville Bay and the remarkable opportunity to watch sunrise and sunset over the water from the same spot.

East Woody Beach is also steeped in rich Aboriginal heritage, providing a deeper connection to the land and its history. The drive from Darwin to East Woody Beach takes a whopping 28 hours, making it an adventure in itself! Perfect for those eager to explore the NT's remote landscapes.

READ MORE: It is worthwhile to note that visiting Aboriginal land in Australia requires a permit. If you hope to visit this area, you will need to get a permit online before adventuring to this remote outpost. 

Where to stay near East Woody Beach

For adventurers looking to stay near East Woody Beach, the Walkabout Lodge is a comfortable and convenient option. Located in the heart of Nhulunbuy, a short drive from the beach, the lodge offers a dedicated area for 4WD campervans. With facilities like powered sites, bathrooms, and access to some of the most stunning natural attractions in the region, the Walkabout Lodge is the perfect place to unwind after a day of adventure.

Image: Lachlan Gardiner


Casuarina Beach

Casuarina Beach stands as one of Darwin's most beloved coastal stretches. Whether you're up for a morning jog, a leisurely stroll to soak up the ocean breeze, or simply to watch a mesmerising sunset, this beach has it all. Notably, it's a favoured spot for those seeking to connect with nature without straying too far from the urban comforts of Darwin, making this easily one of the best beaches in Darwin, Australia. 

This beach is a mere 20-minute drive from the heart of Darwin, making it an easily accessible getaway for anyone looking to escape the city's hustle and bustle. For those exploring in a campervan, parking is conveniently available at the Casuarina Coastal Reserve car park, providing direct access to the beach and ensuring your visit is hassle-free.

Where to stay near Casuarina Beach

The BIG4 Howard Springs Holiday Park is a great choice for campervan travelers looking for a place to stay near Casuarina Beach. Located within a comfortable 30-minute driving distance from the beach, this holiday park offers guests plenty of great facilities. From sparkling pools (yes, they have multiple) and children's playgrounds to BBQ areas and a camp kitchen, the park caters to every need of campervan travel. 


Garanhan Beach

Garanhan Beach (Macassan Beach) is a hidden gem 38 kilometres from Nhulunbuy in Arhnem Land, presenting an untouched slice of paradise for those willing to venture off the beaten path. The beach is renowned for its long stretches of white sand, set against a backdrop of bright red laterite cliffs, offering a stark and stunning contrast that captures the unique beauty of the Northern Territory's coastline. The coastal breeze and shade from casuarina trees provide a natural respite from the tropical heat in this slice of paradise. 

Beyond its natural allure, Garanhan Beach is a cultural and historical landmark, with walking tracks leading to significant sites such as Wurrwurrwuy, where stone pictures chronicle the longstanding interactions between the Yolŋu people and Macassan traders. This is easily one of the best beaches in the Northern Territory for history buffs! 

Where to stay near Garanhan Beach

For accommodations near Garanhan Beach, the Walkabout Lodge in Nhulunbuy serves as an ideal base for campervan travellers. The lodge offers not just comfortable lodging options but also campervan parking facilities, allowing guests to explore the area with ease. Its amenities include powered sites, an amenities block, and access to stunning local attractions, ensuring a stay that is as convenient as it is enjoyable.


Darwin Waterfront

The Darwin Waterfront is a vibrant hub of activity, offering a unique blend of natural beauty and recreational facilities. Here, visitors can indulge in the tropical lifestyle that epitomises Darwin, with lush parklands, a man-made beach, and the iconic Wave Lagoon. The area is also a foodie haven, home to a diverse range of eateries from high-end restaurants to casual cafes and bars, ensuring your culinary desires are well catered to.

Where to stay near Darwin Waterfront

When it comes to finding a place to stay near the Darwin Waterfront, Discovery Parks Darwin is a great choice for campervan travellers. This holiday park is equipped with all the amenities needed for a comfortable stay, including powered sites, swimming pools, and BBQ facilities. Its location makes it an ideal launchpad for exploring the Darwin Waterfront, other top beaches near Darwin, and the surrounding attractions, offering convenience, comfort, and a touch of adventure to your Northern Territory, Australia road trip.


Gunn Point

Gunn Point, with its historical significance and natural beauty, offers a unique beach experience distinct from other Northern Territory coastal destinations. During World War II, Gunn Point played a strategic role in the defense of Darwin. The Gunn Point Peninsula now showcases the region's commitment to conserving its natural landscapes with its pristine shores. Murrumujuk Beach, one of the most popular beaches located within Gunn Point, holds a deep cultural significance with the local Aboriginal people.

A drive from Darwin to Gunn Point takes approximately an hour, offering a relatively quick escape to this remote coastline. For those arriving in a campervan, parking is available in designated areas a few metres back from the beach. These spots allow easy access while protecting the delicate coastal ecosystem and maintaining the area's natural beauty.

Where to stay near Gunn Point

Given that camping directly on Murrumujuk Beach is not permitted to preserve its pristine condition, visitors are encouraged to camp 10 meters back from the cliff edge, avoiding areas marked for erosion control. It's crucial for campers to be completely self-contained, as there are no facilities provided on-site. This approach ensures that the natural environment remains undisturbed for future generations to enjoy, aligning with the Northern Territory Land Corporation's vision for sustainable use and conservation.

Image: Lachlan Gardiner


Ready for your next adventure through the NT?

The Northern Territory's coastline is a playground for adventurers, history buffs, and nature lovers. Whether you're beach hopping in a campervan, soaking up the sunsets, or delving into the indigenous heritage that shapes this land, these best beaches in the Nothern Territory are the perfect addition to any Australia road trip travel itinerary through this region. Ready to explore the NT for yourself? Book your Apollo campervan online today and pick it up from any Apollo branch. The NT's best beaches await!

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