Well Dad, you have to check out Bondi and the other little beaches that are dotted southward from the mouth of Sydney Harbour, and open onto the Pacific (OK - it's the Tasman Sea, but to an Irishman, that's the Pacific). On almost every beach, Bronte, Coogee, possibly Maroubra, Bondi itself, there is a saltwater pool, filled by the tide with seawater. During high tide, waves break over the thick walls of the pool, creating sea-swells for the swimmers. At lower tides, the surface of these pools are smooth and calm, independent of the waves around.
Access is a piece of cake (or more accurately a slice of toasted banana bread - seems to be the local favourite), so it offers the best of both worlds: saltwater waves, with steps.