Moderately hazardous: 4-6
Highly hazardous: 7-8
Extremely hazardous: 9-10
Horseshoe Bay (NSW 136) is the most popular beach in the town, and is located at the end of the main street, and backed by a beachfront caravan park and park. It is also patrolled by lifeguards during the summer holidays. The curving 150 m long beach is wedged between the hard sloping adamellite rocks of Point Briner and Monument Point. The point and its north-facing orientation results in waves averaging between 0.5-1 m. These maintain a low attached bar, that fills much of the bay (Fig. 4.72), with rips draining out either side of the bay during higher waves.
The patrolled Horseshoe Bay and Front Beach are the best areas for swimming and usually free of rips. Back beach is isolated and prone to rips.
Back Beach receives the biggest waves and usually has beach breaks. Bigger swell bring waves to Front Beach and Laggers Point, known as Trial Bay.
Back Beach, South Wall, Back (South West) Creek, the footbridge and Laggers Point are all popular spots, with a boat launching ramp 1 km up the creek. There is vehicle access to Back Beach with a beach driving permit required from Kempsey Shire Council.
South West Rocks is a growing town of 3500 located on the north-facing shore of Trial Bay and adjacent the trained Macleay River mouth. The town has three increasingly sheltered north-facing beaches
- Formal parking area