Bondi Beach is not simply a beach. Yes, it’s the world-famous crescent-shaped beach a mere 4 miles from central Sydney, but it’s also an entire suburb stretching along the coast, known not only for its stunning natural beauty but also for its relaxed lifestyle and beachy vibe.
Hop on a bus from Sydney, and within 20 minutes it’ll be like you’ve come to a different world. In Bondi you can shop, eat, go for endless walks or hikes, take a dip in the ocean, and learn to surf some of the most famous waves in Australia, if not the world. You can do all this in one day, but chances are you’ll want a few extra days, because the laid-back attitude is contagious and before you know it, you’ll have forgotten all about your to-do list.
Getting to Bondi from central Sydney is easy. The public buses are reasonably priced and run every few minutes, so you could easily stay in the big city and just pack a beach bag for a day trip. But we recommend treating Bondi as a vacation from your vacation and booking a local place for a couple of nights to really relax.
Things To Do In Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach has plenty to keep you busy, although much of it is not your typical city-break sort of cultural entertainment. In Bondi, the outdoors is everything, and many of the area’s activities center on the spectacular setting and the water.
Here are just a few of the best things to do in the area.
Swim In The Coolest Pool Ever
There are swimming pools, and then there is the swimming pool at the Bondi Icebergs Club. In my book, this is simply the coolest pool anywhere in the world, and at times that might even be taken literally. Set in the cliffs and jutting out into the ocean, this seawater pool is open all year long, and for more than 100 years, swimmers have braved the weather and the huge waves breaking over the sides of the pool to swim their laps. With a sauna in place in case of chilly temperatures plus a good restaurant and bar, you could easily spend a few hours here.
Learn To Surf
When in Bondi Beach, surfing is a must. It’s great fun to go down to the beach in the morning with a coffee in hand to watch the dedicated surfers catching waves before heading into the city for work, but it is even more fun to join them. With experienced teachers aplenty, you can learn the basics quite quickly, and even if standing up on the board confidently and elegantly is beyond your reach, just hanging on for dear life while riding the waves is still loads of fun.
Go For An Artsy Walk
Once a year in October, the coastline to the south of Bondi becomes an open-air sculpture park. I love to visit sculpture parks on my travels, because I feel that sculpture in a natural setting is so much more enjoyable than in a museum or gallery. With art nestled in cliff faces, coves, and pools and looming large on the sandy beach, this is my favorite sculpture trail of them all, and it’s worth timing your visit to attend.
But even if you miss the sculpture trail, the Bondi to Bronte Walk is a real treat in and of itself. A 1.5-mile walk along the coastline past coves and beaches, this is an easy 1.5-hour round trip on which you might well spot whales, lizards, and plenty of indigenous plants and birds.
Go For A Hike
If the Bondi to Bronte Walk is not challenging enough for you, consider walking from Bondi Beach all the way to the beaches on the opposite side of the natural harbor of Sydney. You’ll follow a marked trail along the coast, through suburbs with some truly awesome real estate, through the city center, across the bridge, and then onward on the northern side back to the coast. The route is roughly 50 miles long, and you can do it all in one go, with hotel stops along the way and someone taking your baggage, or simply pick and choose the segments of the walk that interest you most.
Shop At The Market
A daily market in the summer and a weekend market during the rest of the year, the Bondi Beach Market is a local market selling anything and everything you might need for the beach: sunglasses, trendy cover-ups, beachwear, beach toys, surf wear, fun and artsy knickknacks, and plenty more. This is a joy to browse and is located just steps away from the beach promenade.
Watch The Sunrise And The Whales At Ben Buckler Point
To the left of the bay as you look out toward the sea, Ben Buckler Point juts out, offering not only spectacular views across the beach but also views of the sunrise and passing whales. Grab a coffee and a croissant along the promenade, head out to the end of the point, and settle down and watch the day break. The whale migration season is between May and November, with the best time in June and July, when you can actually spot whales swimming past from the land -- such an amazing sight.
Go Fly A Kite
Every September, Bondi Beach comes together for the Festival of the Winds, where you can watch hundreds of kites of all shapes and sizes on the beach. It makes for a spectacular sight against the blue sky. But while the kites are the main event, the weekend also features musical events, discussions, art, food, and lots of fun.
Where To Eat In Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach is a casual place, so you will find lots of food stalls, take-out joints, cafes, and easygoing restaurants, with a few fine dining options also in the mix. When in Bondi, it’s best to take it easy and grab some food to eat out on the beach.
Fish-and-chip shops line the beach promenade, and they are all good and offer freshly cooked fish; the most famous is Bondi’s Best. Grab some to go and sit on the benches along the beach. But be aware that you will have to share with the ibises that come and demand their share.
For a relaxed coffee and light snack, head straight to Gertrude & Alice, a bookstore and cafe. You’ll sit surrounded by books with lovely light, healthy snacks, and a delicious coffee while browsing the local authors.
For drinks and light tapas, reserve a spot at Vue, where you can sip cocktails and watch the beach world go by.
Best Places To Stay In Bondi Beach
There are plenty of great places to stay in Bondi Beach. In nearby Sydney, you’ll find all the big luxury chain hotels, if that is your preferred way to rest up, but Bondi offers plenty of self-catered and homesharing options.
For a small but perfectly located Airbnb option, look no further than this studio, which offers the most amazing views -- the only problem is that you won’t want to leave and get outside!
One of Australia’s coolest hotel chains is QT, where trendy meets luxury and art meets comfort. The Bondi location is right on the beach promenade, and you’ll appreciate being pampered by the hotel staff.
For somewhere in between hotel comfort and Airbnb freedom, the Bondi 38 serviced apartments give you the extra space and kitchenette for the odd meal at home, but also amenities like room service and laundry facilities. It’s also conveniently located near the beach.
What To Know Before You Go
When you are in Australia, sun awareness is key, especially when you are thinking of hitting the beach. So, follow the advice in Australia’s famous 1980s advertising campaign -- “Slip, Slop, Slap.” Slip on a shirt, slop on the sunscreen, and slap on a hat. In recent years, the campaign has been extended to include seeking shade or shelter and sliding on some glasses to block out the sun.
Also, when in Bondi, always heed the advice of the Bondi Beach lifeguards. The ocean currents along the coast are treacherous, and you must not overestimate your skills. On rare occasions, there might also be a shark warning, so always stay close to the beach and within the designated flags.