Whether you’re up for a Crocodile Dundee adventure or you’d just like a taste of the Australian sun, the beaches in and around Sydney can offer you all that and more. Being in the southern hemisphere, Australia’s seasons are reversed from those in Europe, North American, and much of Asia, so if you’re looking for good beach weather, make sure to travel some time from September to May – that is, spring to autumn. The Sydney shoreline encompasses over 200 miles of white sandy beaches, exhibiting a variety of atmospheres from cosmopolitan Bondi Beach to majestic Cronulla.
For one Sydney beach, the name says it all – located at Sydney’s northernmost tip on an extension of land ending at Barrenjoey Head, Palm Beach lies with the Pacific Ocean to the east side and the Bay to the west. Before checking out the golden sand, take a quick tour of the opulent mansions of millionaires from the art and film industries – many live on this small spit of land.
Only about an hour from downtown Sydney, Palm Beach offers a long stretch of clean sand and water, with shops, restaurants, and entertainment at the southern end. With parking near the center of the beach, that leaves the rest of it as a sparsely populated, peaceful location from which you can surf or body board – but take care; without the huge crowds of other Sydney beaches, Palm Beach doesn’t afford quite the safety level to be found elsewhere; volunteer lifesavers are on duty only on weekends and holidays. And if surfing’s not your style, relax and take in the scenery, or amble up to Barrenjoey Head to see the lighthouse and catch the view across Broken Bay.
For the big name beach, Bondi has to be your choice. Parking is difficult to find even on slow days, so consider taking public transport to this world-renowned beach in the eastern Sydney suburbs. Easily accessible by taxi, bus, and rail, Bondi Beach offers sun bathing, swimming, snorkeling, and all sorts of water sports fun. If you’re in the mood for a bit of exercise, two scenic coastal walks will afford you great views and sights along the shore. The first, about 1 1/2 miles one way, starts at Bondi and heads south to Bronte Beach. Take in views from Mackenzie’s Point, but don’t try to swim in Mackenzie’s Bay – it holds dangers such as hidden rocks and is not patrolled. Farther on, admire the sandstone cliffs at Hawkesbury and see the aboriginal rock carvings in Marks Park. Next enjoy the quiet charm of Tamarama, a small beach, not as popular or widely known to tourists. You’ll finish your walk at North Bronte cliffs, where hopefully the Norfolk Island hibiscus will be in bloom, thrilling you with their exotic smell and colors.
Your second option for a scenic coastal walk covers a little under two miles and takes you from Bronte Beach to Waverly Cemetery. Highlights include the Bronte Baths and Waverly Cemetery where many notable Australians are buried, including poets Henry Kendall, Doreothea Mackellar, and Henry Lawson. A bit farther on you’ll find Bronte House, open to the public only once a year, but you can still see the waterfall at the top of Bronte park that feeds a charming stream winding its way through Coral trees, Eucalyptus, Norfolk Island Pines and Moreton Bay Fig trees.
Another popular Sydney beach is Cronulla, known for its excellent waves and shady trees, the waves seemingly Heaven-sent for surfers and body boarders. The waves allow for every level from beginner to expert, and the golden beach usually isn’t overflowing with packed, oiled bodies out for that heavy duty tan. Cronulla also offers sheltered waters for canoeing and kayaking, and jet boat tours will have you gasping for breath as adrenilin pours through your body at the speed with which you travel the seas! Cronulla is also one of the most popular beaches for scuba diving, offering clear waters in which to view marine life the likes of which you’ll probably never have the opportunity to see again.
Make sure to take a change of clothes, because after an adventurous day on the beach at Cronulla, you’ll want to take in the nightlife – restaurants, clubs, cafes, and a whole host of other attractions. Consider Paddy’s Irish Bar and Restaurant with its live bands and comedy nights, or just relax at an outdoor cafe and take in a movie at one of the cinemas.
Most of the more populated beaches offer a wide range of activities, from theater to festivals and food and wine parties. Restaurants and shops abound, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can charter a yacht, hire a kayak, parasail, hang-gliding, snorkel, scuba-dive…the list goes on and on. Surfing lessons are often available at stops right along the beaches, and you might even end up at Ocean World to watch sharks being fed by hand and applaud the antics of the seals as they perform.
Whether you’re making a day of it or taking a romantic walk along the sand, remember that Sydney’s beaches are each unique and draw different types of crowds. Some draw the tourists with their glorious views of the City Harbor, while others attract surfers and body boarders. Still others are dotted with family oriented picnic spots, and some draw nude sunbathers! No matter what type you are headed for, you’ll find enough beauty and tranquility or adventure and fun to dream of Aussie beaches for years to come!