You beaut beaches: Bondi and Manly

By Jay Chabon


There’s a reason these two beaches are perennially popular tourist spots.

The beautiful sandy shores and swell waves alone are cause for adoration.

Add to that the ocean-side walking trails, spectacular neighbouring beaches, art galleries and film festivals… Here’s why we, and the world, loves Bondi and Manly beaches.



Above: Bondi Beach
Above: Bondi Beach.


Above: Bondi beach
Above: Bondi Beach Sydney. Image: Hamilton Lund; Photo courtesy of Destination NSW.


Bondi -The beach

Beautiful Bondi Beach, Sydney.

It was famous long before all the action and drama was broadcast on TV show Bondi Rescue.

Whether the cameras are rolling or not, there’s always action here.

The awesome waves and golden shores make a great spot to enjoy the surf and sand.

Even if you’re not a beach bum, there’s plenty of people-watching to do: from the beautiful people in bikinis and budgie smugglers, to the body builders at the sea-front outdoor gym (aka muscle beach).



Above: People walking at Bondi beach.
Above: Walking at Bondi Beach. Image: Pierre Toussaint; Photo courtesy of Destination NSW.

The walks

Stroll along the ocean-front promenade or take a walk along one of the beautiful cliff tops.

Among the most famous is the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk.

We love this one so much we’ve explored it before (For the Fun of It), but we never miss an opportunity to recommend it.

Lesser-known but also inspiring is the Federation Cliff Walk from Bondi to Watsons Bay (8km), Dover Heights to Watsons Bay (5km) or Dover Heights to Vaucluse (3km).

Suffer steep stairs and high hills and you’ll be rewarded with sea views at every step and picturesque parkland.



The other beaches

Not only is Bondi a beaut beach to visit, it also has equally attractive neighbours.

Tamarama – known among locals as “Glamarama” for the beautiful people that hang out there – is a great spot for families too, with a playground and grass for kids to play and barbecues, shaded spots and tables for parents to rest and recuperate.

Above: Bronte beach.
Above: Bronte beach. Image: James Horan; Photo courtesy of Destination NSW.

Bronte has these family-friendly features too, and boasts two rock pools: a natural hub for snorkelling and exploring: and a man-made 30-metre hole, great for laps or a paddle.

The Bondi to Cogee walk passes both these beaches.



The films

All that swimming and strolling is sure to tire you out.

Above: American Express Open Air Cinemas
Above: American Express Open Air Cinemas Bondi beach.

So switch to the screen and laze on the lawn overlooking the beach near the Bondi Pavilion at American Express Open Air Cinemas (February 6 to March 12).



Above: Flickerfest Bondi beach.
Above: Flickerfest Bondi beach.

Take in shorts at Bondi Pavilion for Flickerfest (January 10-19).

The showcase of the best short films from Australia and around the world includes comedy, romance, documentary, drama and flicks for kids.



Manly – The beach

Manly Beach, Sydney, is famed for it’s surfing, having produced the likes of seven-time women’s world champion Layne Beachley.

Like Bondi, it’s a top spot to swim, sit on the sand, or stroll the ocean-front promenade.

If waves aren’t your thing, or young children are in tow, try the more serene sandy shores around the ferry wharf.


Above: Manly Cove.
Above: Manly Cove beach.

Manly Cove Beach is shark netted, with no waves and plenty of space to play.

The other beaut beach



Above: Shelly beach.
Above: Shelly beach.


Equally awesome Shelly Beach, Manly, is a protected small cove and another great pick for littlies.

It’s also a perfect place for a day out for grown ups.

Take a leisurely walk there from the centre of Manly (this one’s nice and flat too, no steep hills or never-ending sets of stairs and you’ll get there in 10 to 20 minutes!).

Go for a swim or snorkel, and enjoy great views back to Manly Beach over an ocean-side picnic, beach barbecue or bite from The Boathouse kiosk or cafe.



Above: St Patrick’s Estate, which features in the Eastern Hill Heritage walk.


The walks

From the beach to Jay Gatsby’s Long Island mansion…make your ascent along the Manly Eastern Hill Heritage Walk to admire St Patrick’s Estate, a former seminary used as a location in Baz Luhrmann’s remake of The Great Gatsby.

The five-kilometre trail passes other historic buildings, national park, beaches (Little Manly and Collins) and Aboriginal sites.

Our much-loved Spit to Manly walk (Nature trail: Six super Sydney outdoor experiences) also features great places to stop and swim, including a nude beach if you dare (we don’t!).

Take a 15-minute stroll from Manly Wharf to reach the ocean pool at Fairlight or walk 40 minutes to Forty Baskets Beach hailed as “one of Manly’s best kept secrets”.

It’s off the beaten track, with beautiful views, gentle waters and shaded grass areas.

The Spit to Manly walk passes both these spots.



Above: Exhibition at Manly Art Gallery & Museum.  Paola Talbert’s image ‘Kairos – moment of truth’.


The art

Take a break from the sun, surf and sand and check out the creative collection at Manly Art Gallery & Museum.

Just a few minutes walk from Manly Wharf, it has a great collection of contemporary and early Australian art.

Check out the artist talks, performances, kids’  art workshops and other special events.

Or step straight from Manly’s nude beaches to its naturalistic art – the gallery also hosts a fortnightly Life Drawing Studio!

What do you love about Bondi and Manly beaches? Tell us in the comments section below.

// IS - 20240106 removed the comments