Fancy a spot of sand dune frolicking but not keen on driving far? Nestled within Royal National Park, Fran shares where to find hidden sand dunes without having to leave the city.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Dharawal people. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians of the land.

Quick Overview

Marley Beach is an unpatrolled beach within Royal National Park in NSW, a one-hour drive south of Sydney CBD. To reach the beach, you’ll need to take the Grade 2 Bundeena Drive to Marley Walk, which is 8km return, and takes approximately two hours to complete.

Before we begin, it’s important to temper your expectations – these dunes won’t be quite like the Stockton ones on the mid-north coast of NSW. But for just a one-hour drive south of the city, you’ll be rewarded with big mounds of sand and virtually nobody around.

About Marley Beach

Royal National Park is one of the main national parks within Sydney, where Sydneysiders can escape the city and trade high-rises for waterfalls, bushwalks, and beaches. The Figure Eight pools, Wedding Cake Rock, and Wattamolla Jump Rock draw some of the biggest crowds, yet Marley Beach remains comparatively lesser-known.

Read more: The Coast Track in Royal National Park

Marley Beach History

Located between Wedding Cake Rock and Little Marley Beach, Marley Beach is known for its sand dune formations, which are the remnants of what used to be a whole collection of beaches within the national park around 7,000 years ago. Erosion has caused these dunes to be much smaller than they used to be, but they remain pretty impressive!

The walking track to Marley Beach from Bundeena features traditional engravings of sea creatures carved into the rock at Jibbon headland.

How to Get to Marley Beach

By Car

Start by heading south of the city, towards Royal National Park. Pop ‘Bundeena Beach’ into your GPS and park near there as this is as close as you can get to the destination by road.

By Public Transport

It’s a bit more difficult (but not impossible!) to get to Royal National Park by public transport. The Parks Connections bus service takes passengers from Sutherland or Waterfall train stations to the start of the Bundeena track. Please note, the bus service only runs on weekends, and is not currently running.

Cronulla Ferries also has a service that operates between Bundeena and Cronulla but be sure to check it’s running before you go.


Marley Beach — Rolling Sand Dunes Close to Sydney, Frances Magiera, Sydney, NSW, boardwalk, coastline, blue sky

Where to Stay Near Marley Beach

If you want to turn your day trip into an overnight stay, there are three campgrounds within Royal National Park. Bonnie Vale is the closest, located about 7km from Marley Beach. Here you’ll find picnic and BBQ facilities, toilets, showers, and drinking water.

Skill Level


The track to Marley Beach isn’t wheelchair accessible. Take care when crossing some of the sandstone rocks over water.

Read more: Staying Safe on Coastal Rock Platforms

Distance / Duration

8km return / 2 hours at a leisurely walking pace

Essential Gear for Marley Beach

  • Drinking water
  • Picnic food
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • $12 per vehicle – Royal National Park entrance fee
  • Comfy walking shoes
  • Camera
  • First aid kit


Read more: Remember to leave only footprints


Marley Beach — Rolling Sand Dunes Close to Sydney, Frances Magiera, Sydney, NSW, sand dune, sun and sand

What it’s Like to Visit Marley Beach

We visited this spot on a sunny day during the week in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when no one really knows what day it is. While the walking track and actual beachfront were packed, the dunes were empty — proving that these sand dunes remain somewhat of a hidden gem in Sydney.

Running down the dunes without a single soul around, it really does feel like you could be in the Sahara Desert.

Finding the Dunes

Once you reach the Bundeena area of Royal National Park, follow the signs and take the Wedding Cake Rock track to continue past the sandstone steps along the creek, following the signs for Marley Beach. There are plenty of photo ops along the way, so take it slow and enjoy the walk.

Once you arrive at Marley Beach, head past the rock pools on the left flank and keep walking south until you can see the ocean on your left, and the tops of the dunes towards your right.

These aren’t the sort of dunes you can 4WD or sandboard on, but they still make for a great little adventure.

Read more: Sand Dunes & Stars At Hungry Gate (NSW)

Tips For Visiting Marley Beach

  • Make sure you come prepared to pay the $12 per vehicle Royal National Park entrance fee
  • Head out early (or better yet, on a weekday) to avoid crowded walking tracks
  • The dunes have no shade, so protect yourself from the sun, and don’t go at the hottest time of the day
  • Walk around until you find your favourite dune — there’s quite a few to choose from, and not all of them have the transverse ridges that make sand dunes iconic
  • Cool off with a dip in the ocean or nearby rock pool before you head back

FAQs Marley Beach

Where is Marley Beach located?

Marley Beach is located between Wedding Cake Rock and Little Marley Beach in the Royal National Park, NSW.

How do you get to Marley Beach?

You can get to Marley Beach by car or public transport, but travelling by car is the most reliable option.

When is Marley Beach open?

Marley Beach is open 7am to 8.30pm daily. Be sure to check local alerts for Royal National Park before you plan your visit, just in case it’s closed due to poor weather or fire danger.

What’s the best time of year to visit Marley Beach?

Marley Beach is a beauty all year round – but all beaches are better in summer, right?! If you’re opting to visit in winter, make sure to rug up nice and warm as it’s very exposed on the dunes.

Can you swim at Marley Beach?

Swimming at Marley Beach is not recommended as it’s both remote and unpatrolled. Maybe restrict yourself to getting your feet wet to be safe!

Do you need a 4WD to get to Marley Beach?

Nope! Royal National Park is easily accessible for 2WD vehicles.

Is Marley Beach free?

As Marley Beach is located within the Royal National Park, you’ll need to come prepared to pay the $12 per car entrance fee.

Is Marley Beach busy?

Nope. Fortunately, Marley Beach is quieter than competing attractions within the Royal National Park…for now!


Feature photo thanks to Andrew Harvey