White sandy beaches, turquoise waters and the crashing waves sounds like an idyllic vacation to most people. But for me it sounds like a day of boredom that will surely result in a sunburn. Call me negative, but beaches just never live up to their expectations, the lifeguards are never as attractive as Baywatch, the drinks never cheap or cold, and the water is salty. But Australia changed all of that, I have a new respect for beaches and I’m convinced that the Aussie beach culture could turn anyone into a beach bum.
Disclaimer: I didn’t actually spend time sunning myself in the sand, drinking a cold drink with a little umbrella and oggling at the backpackers flocking to Aussie’s claim to fame: Bondi Beach. But I did make my way from Bondi to Coogee on the Coastal Walk and it was gorgeous!
The activity surrounding the beaches in Sydney is enough to keep even the most high energy person you know on their toes. There’s shopping to be done, restaurant menus to sample, surfers to keep an eye on and some of the best people watching anywhere in the world. Bondi is particularly popular with the backpacker set, but don’t stop there, make this your starting point for the Coastal Walk.
Just past Bondi beach you will find the much quieter Tamarama Beach. The noise level comes down a few notches, much of the commercial traffic falls off at this point and the setting within a small cove makes for great scenery, but not great swimming. Reportedly this is one of Sydney’s most dangerous beaches for it’s rips. This is a great place for a picnic or to continue your people watching, but don’t stop here…
The views between the beaches are arguably better than the beaches, says the non-beach person. But, how can you argue with this view? The rugged coastline of Australia’s eastern seaboard is stunning and rivaled only by similar views in Big Sur, California for me. The rocky clifftop allows the perfect vantage point for miles around, but don’t stop here. Make you way on to Bronte Beach and Clovelly Beach…
The rock formations along the way just add to the coastal views and urge you further down the path. Along the way you will pass Bronte Beach, which is a popular beach on Nelson Bay in the Sydney ‘burbs. The beach is high on surfers’ lists despite the rough surf and popular with swimmers due to the rock pool at the southern end of the beach, which is one of the best known in Sydney.
Just after Bronte Beach you will find yourself in Clovelly, another small beach-side suburb. Clovelly Beach is favored among locals for swimming and is home to one of the first life-saving clubs in the world founded in 1906, so you can swim knowing you’re in good hands.
You have almost finished your beach bum conversion, just a short, but slow and slightly steep walk up a hill you reach the headland of Coogee Beach and the end of the Coastal walk. Coogee is the next biggest and busiest beach after Bondi, but it’s a bit more chill with less people competing for towel space. Enjoy the sun and take a dip in the cool waters, you deserve it after your trek.
By the time you have finished your mini-version of the coastal walk you will have taken in nearly 8 kilometers of Australia’s extraordinary coastline. You will have also likely gotten quite a bit of sun and hopefully converted to a beach lover, not hater. So, reward yourself with a cold beverage to end the day at Coogee Beach Hotel. It’s as easy as that, if you follow the coastal walk it will be hard not to become a beach bum convert like me!
WHEN YOU GO:
- Make a day of it! Plan to start early, pack a picnic (to save money!) or plan on grabbing a bite to eat at one of the great, but overpriced, cafes along the way.
- Wear sunscreen. I know you want to come home with a nice tan to show off to your friends, but wear at least SPF 30 if you don’t want to look like a lobster.
- Avoid weekends and holidays. If possible try to avoid the busiest beach times by not coming during the weekend or holidays. We were there just after New Year’s and it was a circus!