Fodor's Expert Review Cook's Beach
Cook's Beach lies along Mercury Bay, so named for Captain James Cook's observation of the transit of the planet Mercury in November 1769. The beach is notable because of the captain's landfall—it was the first by a European. It's a beautiful expanse of white sandy beach, albeit backed by growing sprawl of holiday homes. Forest-covered headlands overlook each end (take the walking track to Shakespeare Cliff Scenic and Historic Reserve, on the northern headland for the view), plus a pleasant inlet and river mouth at the south end. The beach is a good safe family swimming spot, likely to be crowded in peak summer (January) and delightfully quiet at other times of the year. As well as private holiday homes, B&Bs and a holiday park with campsites, backpacker huts, and studio units are located at the beach. Amenities: boat launching ramps; cafés (a few blocks back from the actual beach); parking (free); toilets. Best for: swimming; sunrise; walking.