One of the largest Royal National Park beaches, Marley Beach (also known as Big Marley) is a curving 360m long south-facing beach. Large sand dunes extend up to 500m to the north behind the beach, which are over 130,000 square metres in size. Behind these dunes is Marley Lagoon which drains via Marley Creek across the northern end of the beach and into the ocean.
The beach is exposed to high southeast swell and southerly winds and there are permanent rips, so care is advised if swimming here – Marley is considered by Surf Life Saving Australia as the most hazardous unpatrolled beach in the park. There is not a lot shade at the beach. Surfing is best when the wind is from the north with moderate swells, and you can fish from the rocks and from the beach.
The S.S. Tuggerah, a steam powered collier, encountered a violent storm and capsized around two kilometres offshore on 16 May 1919 killing six crew (including the ship’s captain). The shipwreck was re-discovered in 1972 and is now a popular diving spot for experienced divers.
Getting to Marley Beach
There are few ways to reach Marley Beach (and Little Marley Beach which is 500m to the south and connected by a boardwalk):
- From Bundeena (8.3km return) – the shortest route is from the end from Beachcomber Avenue at the southern end of Bundeena, following the Coast Track (if coming from the ferry wharf add 1.8km each way to reach the traihead)
- From Bundeena Drive (7.8km return) – the Marley Trail (a firetrail) descends via Deer Pool to the Coast Track; turn left for Marley Beach (or right for Little Marley Beach). You can also take the Big Marley Trail (8.7km return) from Bundeena Drive.
- From Wattamolla (8.6km return) – follow the Coast Track north until you reach the beach; you’ll first pass Little Marley Beach.
The beach is along the Royal National Park Coast Track.