How To See Sydney’s Four Best Beaches In One Day
Whether you’re a Sydney local or just visiting the coast, you’re going to want to jump in the car and check out these spots for some of the east’s best sunshine and sand.
After living in Sydney’s east for almost 10 years, I’m going to say I more or less qualify as a local. (Side note: I’m originally a Brissie boy, so despite my current residence, Queensland will always be my Origin team.)
And as a self-professed Sydneysider, I have insight into some of the top beach spots on the east side all within 10 mins of each other by car.
The perfect day could look like this: bodysurfing/bashing like a hero amongst the waves at Bondi in the morning, hitting up Bronte for lunch, taking in a picturesque sunset by the harbour that’s a total magnet for Insta likes (even if, let’s be honest, likes are dead these days)… and be home in time for Uber Eats to deliver your dinner.
So strap your boards to the roof, here’s my take on the best beach spots in Sydney.
BONDI: Best for… all the activities
I personally think Bondi is at its best in winter (thanks, global warming). It’s much easier to park, it’s far less crowded and, honestly, the chilly water isn’t that bad.
Down the South end of the famous stretch, I highly recommend going for an icy dip in the Bondi Icebergs Club sea pool then jumping straight into the sauna. Repeat two or three times for the massive spend of about $8.
If there isn’t much swell about, I’ll jump in my car and head up to the North end (the drive will take you, oh, about a minute) and take a leap off the Ben Buckler rocks for a swim with a snorkel. (Hint: This is also one of the best places to catch the sun setting behind Bondi.)
Surfing is good right up and down the beach – the more experienced surfers take the Southern end, while the learners and foam boarders make like the Starks and rule in the North. The all-important ice cream van is on North Bondi’s grassy knoll… and there’s about 10,000 more ice cream stores right up and down Bondi if the van doesn’t take your fancy.
TAMARAMA: Best for ’Gram-worthy content
Ah, Tama. (Because we Aussies love a nickname.) This is my favourite beach. Dolphins love frolicking here, and it’s got a solid reputation for being the place to go to see the beautiful people sunbake -- hence the other nickname, Glamarama.
For surfing, it’s usually a 7/10 -- big waves, rips, the occasional barrel. Experienced riders only. For the same reasons, swimming can be a bit hot and cold here, with the fast-moving water making it super dangerous at times. If you’re not confident in the surf, only swim when the flags are up!
If you have a pooch, they can go for a dip right around the corner at Mackenzies Bay (‘Maccas’ to the locals).
BRONTE: Best for a big crew
If you’ve got kids or want a more relaxed beach day, Bronte is the pick. There’s a huge park with BBQs, picnic spots and even a mini ride-on train on the weekends the kids will go nuts for. I love going for a big run from Bronte to Clovelly beach and back again, along the front of the Waverly Cemetery, followed by a swim in the ocean pool. Bronte’s pool has just been renovated, so it’s in mint condition at the moment -- definitely worth a dip.
If there’s a full moon, and you’re game, night swimming is great at Bronte pool, too. I also rate the surfing here (but with the big swell and break over the reef and rocks, you’ll definitely want some experience before jumping in the water).
Sunrise at Bronte on the cliffs is pretty special - if you want to be all romantic, treat your loved one to a breakfast picnic date up here and score serious points.
ROSE BAY: Best for sunset lovers
There are too many harbour beaches to choose from in Sydney: Watson’s Bay, Camp Cove, Parsley Bay… even Nielsen park is an old fave (it has a sectioned-off swimming area if you are a wimp and scared of sharks).
But I wanted to show off my old local sunset spot: Rose Bay Marina.
The sunset at Rose Bay is 10/10, though. Seriously amazing.
For something a bit more posh, Catalina restaurant is very nice.
If you’re after some drinks and finger food at a quarter of the price, the seaplane terminal has a cool little bar and deck called Empire Lounge that’s fairly new -- I rate it.