One of Australia’s greatest assets is its coastline. With a population of twenty three million people, the majority of Australians live along a coastline. The ocean plays a notable role in Australian culture overall, from sports to Aboriginal history, so it should not come as a shock that beaches are cherished in this country. Scattered all around the country, each beach has its staples and a reputation that precedes it.
For those of you who know me well or even at all, it is not a secret that beaches are a way of life for me. I mean it entirely when I say that, in another life, I probably would have been a mermaid with a glittery blue tail and a shell bikini top, hanging out with Ariel. But in this life, I’m still a very pale-skinned girl who lives in WisCOLDsin (for now) and denies it whenever she gets sunburned. Sunburns count as tans, right? Not lobster redness and pain. Sure, let’s go with that.
Sydney has been an unforgettable experience thus far and one of the highlights of the trip has been the amount of beaches I have visited. I know that every Australian has a different opinion on which beach is the best, but I’ve come up with my own review of three of Sydney’s most iconic beaches: Bondi, Manly, and Bronte. Take it with a grain of salt, pun intended.
1.) Bondi Beach
On, Bondi… Sydney’s most notorious beach. The beach that everyone thinks of whenever Sydney and surfing is mentioned. I’ll admit, I was impressed and was generally just content to see the beach that I had read so much about in my travel books. Not only does the beach offer a wide stretch of white-gold sand and turquoise waves lapping the shore, it also has the town of Bondi as a backdrop, with various restaurants, shops, and other venues. It is a splendid place to mingle with both Aussie locals and tourists and take a group photo (done and done). That being said, I think there is a lot of hype about this beach and name recognition is not everything.
2.) Manly Beach
Half of the fun of this beach is getting there by ferry. From Circular Quay, there are ferries heading to Manly every twenty minutes and the view leaving the harbor is spectacular. I encourage you to whip out your cell phones and film the panorama of Sydney as you exit the city. Once you reach the town of Manly, take some time to wander around the shops, try some barramundi, and listen to the street musicians (they’re actually very good. I spent a solid twenty minutes listening to a man play Why Don’t You and I on his acoustic guitar but that’s another story entirely). The beach itself is spectacular. Similar to Bondi in the sense that the beach is near a shopping and restaurant strip, the beach differs in the sense that it has more natural beauty. Fight me on this all you want, but Manly is hands down more beautiful than Bondi. My friend and I went on a beach walk and were surrounded by cliffs on both sides and a shoreline that seemed to stretch on aimlessly. What’s more is that there is a distinct separation between the chaos and chatter of the town and the beach. As opposed to the crowds and constant street noise of Bondi, once one steps onto Manly Beach, the main focus is the beach and Manly is a shadow in the distance, until you come back for a cold drink or souvenir. Manly also offers surfing lessons. I was too broke to try one, but I would definitely recommend taking a lesson there if the opportunity presents itself. Australia is the kind of place where you should try everything you can.
3.) Bronte Beach
I have a hard time deciding whether or not I prefer Manly or Bronte. A draw to Bronte is the journey getting there. To get to Bronte, you can opt to take the scenic Coogee to Bronte Beach Walk, an hour and a half long hike of medium difficulty. Even though parts of the hike might leave you mildly winded, the vistas make up for it and you will actually enjoy having your breath being taken away. While walking to Bronte, your eyes gaze upon a crystal-clear lagoon, waves cascading on rocks, and Australia’s largest cemetery (which might sound a tad morbid, but I’d pay big bucks to be buried there). Bronte Beach itself is a lot less crowded than Bondi (which you can also easily access by the beach walk) or Manly. The water is relatively shallow with ideal waves for swimming or boogie boarding and, adjacent to the beach, there is a tide pool popular among children and adults alike. If swimming in the open ocean isn’t the way you want to go, no worries. There is a saltwater pool next to Bronte Beach that is filled with the water coming in from the ocean. However, getting back from Bronte Beach can be a slight hassle, seeing as you will have to trek quite a bit away from the beach to reach a bus stop to take you to Bondi Junction and, from Bondi Junction, you will have to take a train to head back into the city. Definitely worth it though. Just don’t hesitate to ask people for directions to the bus stop if your data plan abroad isn’t google maps friendly. My group and I had a bit of an issue finding Tamarama Drive, where the bus stop is located. We ended up getting a year’s workout running from bus station to bus station and getting a quizzical look from the driver as a grand finale. But hey, these are the kinds of stories you’ll look back on when you get home.
Regardless of which beaches you go to, just remember to have fun, wear an ample amount of sunscreen, and find the perfect wave.
Until next time,
The Caro Chronicles