COVID safety at our beaches
Beach visitors must follow all current NSW Public Health rules. This includes (but isn't limited to):
- limits on group sizes
- social distancing
- staying home if you have even mild symptoms, are waiting on test results, or have been told to self-isolate.
We encourage beach users to 'swim and go'. Please don't risk your life by swimming at unpatrolled beaches.
Please see our Beaches page for information about crowds on beaches and links to information about individual locations.
Don’t let a fun visit to the beach turn into a tragedy. Follow these rules to stay safe when you’re visiting our beaches.
No flags = no swim
This is the most important rule to know when you head to the beach.
Red and yellow flags tell you that lifeguards or lifesavers are on duty. If you can’t see these flags, don’t go in the water – even at beaches that are usually patrolled.
Remember, any unpatrolled beach is a dangerous beach.
Beach safety tips
- No flags, no swim!
- Swim between the red and yellow flags
- Stay calm and raise an arm for help
- Read the safety signs
- Be sun smart – visit the Cancer Council website for sun safety tips
- Never swim alone
- Always supervise children
- Follow the advice of lifeguards and lifesavers
- Never drink alcohol and swim.
Our lifeguards and lifesavers are always happy to give advice about beach conditions. Go and say hi, and get the latest updates from them before you go in the water.
Visit our YouTube channel for more surf safety videos.
Rip currents – more commonly called rips – are strong currents of water flowing away from the shore.
Most beaches have rips, and they’re one of the biggest hazards at our beaches. They can change suddenly, and are often tricky to spot.
Some of the signs of a rip include:
- Darker water with no or fewer breaking waves
- A rippled surface surrounded by smooth water
- Foamy, sandy or discoloured water, or objects floating away from the shore.
Not all rips show all these signs. If in doubt, stay out of the water.
If you get caught in a rip:
- Stay calm and raise your arm for help
- If you’re on a board, stay with it
- DO NOT try to swim against the rip. If you start to get tired, try floating.
- Relax and let the rip carry you away from shore until it gets weaker. You can then swim sideways (parallel to the beach) or towards breaking waves and head back to shore once you’re out of the rip.
We have several shark management initiatives in place at our patrolled beaches. These include:
- Aerial patrols between Stanwell Park and Windang.
- Drone surveillance used for confirmed shark sightings. This helps identify the type of shark and track its movements.
- Jet skis used by lifeguards and lifesavers to try and steer sharks away from swimming areas
- Shark Shield devices used on many of our jetskis. Shark Shield sends out electric signals that sharks don’t like, and drives them away from the area.
Reduce your chances of coming across a shark by only swimming between the red and yellow flags at patrolled beaches.
Lifeguards will warn swimmers to leave the water and close beaches if a shark is spotted near a patrolled swimming area.
We've translated key surf safety information into some of our most common community languages:
- Beach safety brochure - Arabic PDF, 3041.91 KB
- Beach safety brochure - Chinese PDF, 3162.95 KB
- Beach safety brochure - English PDF, 4421.63 KB
- Beach safety brochure - Hindi PDF, 3080.2 KB
- Beach safety brochure - Vietnamese PDF, 3111.83 KB
See our Language Services page for information about other topics translated into community language.
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