I grew up only about an hour north of Sydney and have spent a lot of time in the city and surrounding areas. However, it has taken me 35 years to embark on the Bondi to Coogee Beach Walk.
I am kicking myself for all those years I could have spent swimming in the tropical coloured waters of the rocky headland beaches along this coastal walk.
Absolutely stunning is about all I can say.
At times I felt I was exploring the Portuguese Algarve or the The US Big Sur Coastal Drive. My parents grew up in this area and have always raved about the beauty of the beaches around here. I finally listened to them and took the walk.
It was a last minute decision to go and we raced out of our house for the train totally unprepared and a little late in the morning. That harried departure meant we left without a camera or swimming costumes. Go figure!
It was a great test for the quality of our Android camera and videoing skills.
I would definitely recommending planning the day in advance, getting your butt out of bed early to start your walk and to make a whole day of it. You can start the walk either from Coogee or Bondi Beach.
There are boardwalks for most of the 6km trail, but can be quite hilly in parts with plenty of stairs-kind of awkward with a pram, a pregnant momma and a daddy with a bad back! But we made it and had a great day.
Here’s a little about the stops along the way…
Probably the most famous beach in Australia, a title which has me pleading with travelers visiting Australia,
“Please, whatever you do, don’t just hang out in Bondi and think that is our only and best beach. There are so many more beautiful beaches in Australia worthy of your time.”
Having said that though, Bondi is a beautiful beach. The water is crystal clear, the surf is usually battering away for some good body surfing, the lifesavers are famous for being on a reality TV show, and there are thousands of beautiful people enjoying all it has to offer.
It is worth having a look-see, but move on quickly further south on your walk. You are going to find quieter, less pretentious and far prettier coves and rocky beaches.
Tamarama Beach is very pretty snow white sandy and rocky cove.
For surfers, there were some really small, yet clean breaks out the back. There were nowhere near as many surfers haggling for the wave as you would find at Bondi. It is known as Sydney’s most dangerous beach for its rips.
Overhanging rocks provided plenty of areas for shade, the turquoise water beckons you from the coastal path to sidetrack for a little while for a cool dip and break from your warm walk.
This would be the perfect spot for some morning tea and a swim. If you have children there is a small children’s park here as well.
“Do you want to know why this is the best beach in the Eastern Suburbs for families?”
The children’s train driver asked us as Kalyra and I alighted from the small kiddies train opposite Bronte beach.
“The wide open grass area for picnics and games of touch footy and cricket?”
“There’s plenty of barbecues, covered picnic tables, and a great children’s playground?”
“It is good, but not the reason.”
“The Bronte Baths and natural rock pool which makes for safer swimming?”
“No. This is the only area that does not have a pub. That means no one drinking and swimming and getting out of control. We never have a problem at Bronte Beach, everyone is well behaved.”
I walked around the bend of the path to discover Bronte.
The fresh salty air, invigorating breeze, crystal clear water and pounding surf made me pining for my forgotten cozzies.
This was the place for us to stop and have lunch–a delicious vegetarian hamburger for only $8 from the surf club kiosk and a $2.50 cheese sandwich for Kalyra under the shade of the trees.
Kalyra had a play in the park and then stripped down to her undies for a swim in the rock pool and Bronte Baths.
The surf at Bronte can be quite rough and dangerous. If this is a bit daunting for you then head around a few bends until you reach….
What a delightful surprise this area was. The walk to get here takes you past the massive Waverly cemetery that takes up acres of prime headland real estate. It was a real bizarre sight and I am quite surprised that they have not yet moved all the bodies to build mansions here.
If you fancy a bit of lawn bowls, then – in what has to be the best lawn bowls location I have ever seen – on top of the headlands is Clovelly Lawn Bowls.
Clovelly beach is really strange, but perfect for swimming if you are concerned about rough water.
The beach sits at the end of a narrow bay. Concrete and natural rock retaining walls and sitting areas are on the edges of water making it look like a large swimming pool.
Swimmers were happily snorkelling around in the calm waters exploring the rocky areas and their own body parts that were clearly visible beneath them.
Gordons Bay is the place that most resembled the Portuguese Algarve for me.
Again it is a really narrow rocky bay, with crystal clear cyan water just perfect for snorkelling. The bay is protected by an offshore reef which makes it the perfect place to explore the undersea world. It is known as the best area for diving in Sydney and has an underwater nature trail.
This secluded, tiny beach is taken mostly up by small dinghies and seaweed. Most people seem to spread themselves out on the nearby rocks.
Just a short, yet slow and difficult walk up a steep hill you reach the headland of Coogee Beach and the end of the Coastal walk. Coogee would be the next biggest and busiest beach after Bondi, and I think more funky and fresh.
Many Irish and backpackers can be found here as is evident by the accents heard on the beach volleyball courts, the Brazilian jujitsu demonstrations on the open parklands, and the plethora of places offering Irish breakfasts.
We recommend an end to the walk with a late afternoon beer in the beer garden of the Coogee Bay Hotel, a legendary establishment in Sydney. In my early twenties it was the place to come watch and stage dive to live bands.
There is no doubt that Sydney is an expensive place to visit.
Why not reduce your costs and spend a day or even more exploring the Bondi Beach to Coogee Bay Coastal Walk and relaxing at its beautiful beaches?
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