City Guide: Bondi Beach

ABOUT BONDI BEACH 

Only a 30-minute drive away from Sydney’s CBD (downtown), Bondi is one of the world’s most famous beaches, and certainly one of Australia’s most famous beaches. For many Australians and international visitors, Bondi Beach epitomizes the sun and surf culture of Australia. Bondi is a wonderful treat being so close to the city, but it is also a wonderful location for walking with walkways all along Bondi’s beachfront and stretching out to the neighbouring beaches. Bondi is a mixed bag of fun with cafes all along the main strip, backpackers and parties on one end, families and locals on the other.

 

MUST SEE BONDI BEACH 

The main strip along the beachfront, Campbell Parade is where you’ll find a string of ice cream shops, eateries, boutiques, hostels, tourist outlets, and even the infamous tattoo shop Bondi Ink, where the reality series is filmed. Cross the narrow street, and you are on the boardwalk and the sandy beach.

Along the coastal walk you can visit Tamarama, also known as Glamarama by the gay community –this is a tiny beach set in a cove right next to Bondi Beach; Bronte Beach is next –an adorable little beach village with cafés and a beachside pool; if you continue on a little further you will come to one of the other main beaches in Sydney, Coogee Beach, which is also home to the Coogee Beach Hotel for great nightlife on the weekend, or some refreshing beers during the week. The 6km coastal walk pretty much ends at Coogee, however if you do go down a little further you will arrive at Clovelly, a sheltered beach popular with families, and then Gordon’s Bay a great location for snorkelling and scuba diving. This walk is definitely a must, along the way you will see wonderful rock formations, the quintessentially Aussie surf lifesaving headquarters’ at each beach, surfers galore, and even the occasional dolphin in the distance. The sea is sapphire blue on some days and aquamarine on others… on any given day you will feel like you are walking in a scene from a travel brochure.

Head to The Pavilion. This is the main building that you will see on the beach in Bondi. It is an art deco building, with a few stages and rooms tucked away inside. A lot of exciting stuff happens here, from workshops such as African drumming and yoga, to the annual film festival and theatre performances.

 

COOLEST ACTIVITIES BONDI BEACH 

Surfers of all skill levels head to Bondi Beach and its surrounds to try out the waves. If you’re a beginner, get lessons from a personal instructor or head to one of the local surf schools, and before long you will be hanging with other surfers catching some great Aussie waves. Bondi is a pretty good place to learn, as the waves are not too strong or too big here. If you are looking for some competitive surf action, then try heading to Coogee and the other beaches surrounding Bondi. If surfing is not your thing, well you can either roll out a towel and work on your tan, or sit up on one of the cliffs and watch the surfers below with a bird’s eye view.

Head to the Bondi Markets and you’ll find original designer clothing, exotic imports, handmade jewellery, arts, crafts, home-ware, retro furniture, vintage clothing… and some great food!

Eating out? The Waverley Council publishes a brief dining out guide. Copies are free at The Pavilion shop. Among the dining options are Sean’s Panaroma, a Bondi landmark offering a mix of classic Italian and Australian dishes as well as superb views of the ocean and at the other end of the beach, you’ll find Icebergs. It has its own salt water pool right on the beach and is often host to many Australian celebs and the who’s who of sports and entertainment. When you are ready for dessert, join the queue at Gelato Messina for a true Italian delight.

If you want to experience the Nightlife in Bondi, the big three are the North Bondi RSL, Beach Road Hotel and Bondi Hotel across from the beach. Beach Road tends to have many great acts playing there, from reggae and drum-n-bass, to rock and folk… and a lot of action on the dance floor! Beach Road closes at midnight due to neighbourhood noise constraints, but the party generally continues either at peoples’ houses (you will always meet friendly locals to invite you over at Beach Road) or at Bondi Hotel.

 

WHERE TO STAY BONDI BEACH

Parking the campervan is not easy since Bondi is urban. You can try parking the van up on a quiet side street and you might get away with it, although there are “rangers” who do go around giving out tickets from time to time. Definitely do not attempt to park up near the beach or on the strip, as you will be fined and told to move on.

There are no actual campgrounds in the inner Sydney area, the closest would be around 40 minutes outside of town at Lane Cove River National Park. Another option is Cockatoo Island, which is the largest inland island in Sydney, and a short ferry ride from Circular Quay. Both these options are not cheap options. The best bet in Bondi (and all of Sydney) is to give the campervan a rest for the night and get a hostel, which will be the cheapest option.

 

WHEN TO COME BONDI BEACH 

Sydney enjoys a sunny climate all year round with more than 340 sunny days per year. Summer is from December to February and is the best time to enjoy the great outdoors and the Aussie lifestyle in Bondi –during the summer months there are lots of barbecues, festivals, markets, music events and a great open-air cinema event to experience. In the winter months, Bondi quietens down as the cold sets in. While Sydney might not get as cold as Europe, it still gets cold enough to need a jacket and scarf. If you are hoping to swim and sunbathe then Bondi will be best for you in the Spring, Autumn and Summer months. As Aussies would put it, is a little too “nippy” (cold) in the winter months.

The major annual events in Bondi are the Bondi BeachFest in November, with musical acts, a lifesaver parade, skate and surf shows, and lots of food and beer as Aussies know best! If you are a bit of a runner you might enjoy the annual fundraising City to Surf in August, or for the more artsy film types there is the world famous Flickerfest Film Festival held at The Pavilion in January. For skate enthusiasts, Bowl-A-Rama is a well-known skate competition that takes place at the Bondi skate park in February each year with the beach in the backdrop; the event is held in New York and Wellington as well, and attracts the world’s top pro and master’s skaters. Whether you are a skater or not, this is definitely a fun filled 4-day event full of skate culture, music, beer, barbecues and great entertainment. For something a little more laid-back, there is also the Ben & Jerry’s Open Air Cinema in January and February each year. As you can see, the summer months are bustling in Bondi.

Written for Share A Camper

Cover Image:  https://www.sydney.com/sydney-life/things-to-do/featured-photographer-aquabumps-2/

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