Cellitos Beach is a hidden gem that is often voted one of the most beautiful beaches in NSW! Yet many people have never even heard of Cellitos Beach. It’s a secret paradise spot mostly known to the locals, but it’s just too good not to share!
Also known as Cellito Beach or sometimes Sandbar Beach – which is actually the beach adjacent to Cellito Beach, this beach is covered in beautiful white sand, has lovely clear blue water and has stunning views across to the headland.
Part of what makes Cellito Beach so beautiful is that it is quite remote and not so easy to get to, so it remains fairly undiscovered by many people. It’s pristine, it’s clean, and off peak you may even be the only people at the beach!
Where Is Cellito Beach Located?
Halfway between Newcastle and Port Macquarie – in the mid-north coast of NSW lies Cellitos Beach. Located in the Barrington Coast area, the nearest town is Forster: click for the Google maps location of Cellito Beach.
Cellitos Beach is just a 15 minute drive south of the beaches around Booti Booti National Park (Blueys Beach, Boomerang Beach, Elizabeth Beach and Seven Mile Beach), and half an hour driving in the other direction will take you to the lovely sleepy beachside village of Seal Rocks.
At just over 3 hours drive from Sydney, Cellito Beach makes a great place to visit on a long weekend from the Harbour City.
What Is There To Do At Cellitos Beach?
Some people come to Cellito Beach to go fishing and you’ll often find a few experienced surfers here as the swell is pretty big.
As the beach isn’t crowded you’ll find plenty space to set up for the day if all you want to do is relax and sunbake on the sand and go for a quick dip in the ocean. Towards the northern end of the beach you’ll also find couple of small rock pools.
At 2.5km long, Cellitos Beach is perfect for a long beach walk. The beautiful setting provides the perfect backdrop to a long beach walk. There are lots of nice shells on the beach but please don’t take them with you!
And of course if you want to explore around the area away from the beach, you can visit nearby Smiths Lake, do some bush-walking, or play a game of golf at Sandbar Golf Club – NSWs most hidden golf course!
How To Access Cellito Beach
To reach Cellito Beach you will need your own vehicle as there is no public transport. There aren’t signs for Cellito Beach – it’s a bit hidden, so you’ll want to put in the destination into your Google maps for the drive.
Turn off The Lakes Way at Sandbar Road – drive under the wooden ‘Sandbar’ frame and follow the dirt road down for about 5 minutes, turning left at Smiths Lake. Follow the directions from your GPS as there aren’t street signs.
From here you drive down a 2km dirt road, driving past the Sandbar Golf Course on your left. It feels almost like a dead-end when you reach the end of the road, but this is actually the car park. There’s plenty space for several cars to park and parking is free.
From the car park you can’t see the beach yet so it feels a little bit like you are in the middle of nowhere!
From the car park you’ll see the start of the wooden Rainforest Boardwalk which leads to the beach. There’s an information board that you might like to read to get more information about the local area and the Traditional Owners of the land.
Stroll along the wooden boardwalk for about 5 minutes (the boardwalk is roughly 400m long), wandering through the dense rainforest canopy. It’s a lovely walk – the boardwalk is level and provides some much needed shade when the sun is out.
Then you’ll come to the opening and a little lookout over the beach. Here the forest meets the sea and the rugged views of this unspoiled beach are absolutely beautiful!
Do You Need a 4WD To Get To Cellito Beach?
As mentioned earlier, to reach Cellito Beach you need to drive down a 2km long dirt road. A 4WD is not essential, but it will make the ride a bit smoother.
I drove there in a normal 2wd car right after the 2022 floods so the dirt track was COVERED in potholes. I’m taking: it felt like I was driving on a cattle grid for most of the way. Just drive slowly and try to avoid the potholes as much as you can (easier said than done!). My car was fine at the end.
Can I Camp On Cellito Beach?
The great news is that within the National Park there are a couple of campgrounds so you can stay very near to Cellito Beach. You can’t camp on the beach, but the Camping Grounds are just a short walk to Cellitos Beach.
There are a couple of areas at Cellito Beach where you can camp: Celeti Beach Campground and Sandbar & Bushland Holiday Park/Sandbar Caravan Park.
Celeti Beach Campground is the nearest camping spot to the rainforest boardwalk and the northern part of Cellitos Beach.
Sandbar & Bushland Holiday Park is right opposite Smiths Lake so has stunning lake views. It offers powered and unpowered sites as well as en-suite cabins. Located in a natural bush setting, this is the perfect place to stay for a few days and there is even a small convenience store here.
Sandbar & Bushland Holiday Park is also close to the Southern end of Cellito Beach – also known as Sandbar Beach.
Alternatively if you are looking for something special and fancy doing some luxury glamping here at Cellitos Beach, check out Simple Pleasures Camping Co. Starting at $250 per night you’ll get a boutique glamping tent complete with bathroom, hot showers and all the equipment you need for a comfortable stay! Note they are only available during the school holidays!
The campgrounds are getting more popular with each year, so it’s best to book early or to avoid going in peak season. It can get quite busy here during the school holidays!
Can You Drive On Cellito Beach?
4WDs can get access to the beach on the southern part of Cellito Beach via the Sandbar & Bushland Holiday Park. You need a permit to drive on NSW beaches: annual beach permits in NSW are $100, or you can pay $60 for a 30 day permit. Permits can be purchased from the store at the campsite.
Safety At Cellitos Beach
Cellito Beach isn’t patrolled – there are no lifeguards here, so please never go in the water if you are alone as there won’t be anyone to save you if you get into trouble.
Cellito Beach is known for having very strong frequent rip currents and big waves, so it is really important to know your swimming ability.
If you don’t know what a rip current is, or how to escape one – it’s important to read up on it and understand it as they are common in many of Australia’s beaches and the knowledge could actually save your life. A rip is a narrow but very strong current of water which moves away from the shore to the sea.
Rips are easy to get out of if you know what to do (swim to the side out of the rip). But if you try swim against the current you aren’t going to win: the rip is 3 times faster than you and will keep dragging you out to sea. You will honestly get exhausted trying to fight against it and could easily drown.
Many people seriously underestimate rips, or don’t take rips seriously. Rips can be very scary if you get caught in one, even if you are a strong swimmer.
It doesn’t even matter if you are a strong swimmer or not – all that matters is that you know the correct way to get out of a rip as soon as possible. Strong swimmers can drown because of a rip current if they don’t know how to get out.
At least 20 people a year in Australia die because they drown due to a rip current, and countless rescues are performed by lifeguards.
With no lifeguard here to help you if you get into trouble, if you are not experienced at how to get out of a rip current, for your safety I don’t advise you to get in the water past your knees here.
If you do decide to go into the water, it is a bit safer on the northern part of the beach. But don’t swim too near the rocks (rips are common here) and always go in with someone. As the waves are quite big, I wouldn’t recommend surfing here if you are a beginner.
And now for the next safety point…..
Are There Sharks At Cellito Beach?
Yep. Not the news you wanted to hear, but Great Whites and Bull Sharks are very known to often frequent the waters at Cellito Beach.
As far as I know, there haven’t been any shark attacks here, but there have been a LOT of sightings – even in very shallow waters.
Only go out into the water if it is clear and the weather is good. If the water is murky it’s also best to give it a miss. Most sharks aren’t out to attack people, but murky waters make it difficult for sharks to tell you apart from a fish so it’s best not to risk it.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Cellitos Beach?
As Cellitos Beach is getting more well-known, off-peak times is definitely the best time to visit if you want to get this beach to yourself! That means avoid the weekends, public holidays and the holidays – especially the Christmas holidays!
Not only are there lots of people here in December/January, but there’s also lots of mosquitos too and this time of year is often the windiest at Cellito Beach! Much better to visit in autumn or spring!
What To Bring To Cellitos Beach
Reef Safe sunscreen – the UV Index is always quite high here so always wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days!
Sunhat & sunglasses.
Swimming costume, beach towel.
Beach chairs and sun shade.
Surfboard, snacks, whatever else you need to enjoy!
It’s also not a bad idea to bring a spare tyre as you’ll be driving on a dirt road full of potholes. Remember most car rental companies will not help you if you break down on a dirt road, so it’s only recommended to bring your own car or a 4wd rental.
Final Words on Cellitos Beach
As you can see, Cellito Beach is a fantastic beach and is definitely worth a stop if you are on a NSW road trip whether you’re keen for a surf, 4WD along the beach or just to relax on the sand. This beach is incredibly beautiful and uncrowded however do always be safety aware if you do decide to go in the water, and always take away any rubbish with you!
More Australia East Coast Travel Itineraries:
The East Coast of Australia is full of beautiful scenery, from stunning beachside towns to hikes and waterfalls. If you’re set on doing an East Coast road trip, check out these other travel guides to help you plan your trip!
Fraser Island: Fraser Island Day Trip From Hervey Bay
Pelican Banks: Unknown Tropical Paradise Island In Australia!
Brisbane: 24 Hours in Brisbane
Byron Bay: Best Byron Bay Photography Spots
Nimbin: Things To Do In Nimbin!
Yamba: What To Do In Yamba
Lake Macquarie: Caves Beach – NSW Best Sea Caves!
Central Coast: Bouddi National Park Walk
Broken Bay: Pearl Beach To Patonga
Sydney: The Best Beaches Near Bondi Beach!
Southern Highlands: Fitzroy Falls Walk
Northern Illawarra: Sea Cliff Bridge Lookout
Southern Illawarra: 14 Best Things To Do In Kiama!
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Catrina is a Travel Writer, SEO Specialist and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. The majority of her work however features on her own website – 24hourslayover.com where she has written over 500 travel articles!