19 November 2015
I grew up an hour north of Sydney and have spent a lot of time in the city centre and harbourside areas – but regrettably it took me 35 years to embark on the Bondi to Coogee Beach coastal walk.
I now recommend this walk as one of the best free things to do in Sydney. It’s a stunning walk, and the perfect way to spend a gorgeous few hours in the city.
This 6km coastal walk features stunning coastal views of cliffs, bays, rock pools and parks and passes some of the most beautiful and unique beaches, including Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Gordon’s Bay.
My parents grew up in this area and have always raved about the beauty of the beaches around here. And at times you will feel like you’re exploring the Portuguese Algarve, or the Big Sur coastal region of California. This is a part of Sydney not to be missed.
I would recommend planning for at least half a day, getting out of bed early to start your walk at sunrise and stopping along the way for a swim, or stop in at a cafe for a drink and bite to eat. You can start the walk either from Coogee or Bondi.
There are boardwalks for most of the track, but it can get a little hilly in parts with a few stairs to navigate which can be awkward if you have a young child in a pram, but we did it when our kids were young and had a great time.
There are six different sections of the walk, each offering a different experience and the Bondi to Tamarama section is the host to the annual seaside art gallery in November known as Sculpture by the Sea – the world’s largest annual free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition.
Here’s a brief run-down about the stops along the way.
Iconic Bondi is probably Australia’s most famous beach and closest ocean beach to the centre of Sydney. Famous for its glistening ocean, pristine sands, reliable surf, beautiful people, Bondi Icebergs, glitzy bars and cafes – popular with tourists and locals, this place thrives on a sunny weekend.
It’s definitely worth a look and if you want to spend the majority of your time here, start the walk in Coogee and head north to Bondi, or do the return walk or catch public transport back from Coogee.
Make your way up a set of stairs near the start of the walk and marvel at Aboriginal rock carvings in Marks Park, one of the walk’s highest points and a prime whale watching spot during May and November.
A pretty snow white sandy cove and another place to be seen. Overhanging rocks provide plenty of areas for shade and the turquoise water beckons you from the coastal path to sidetrack for a little while, for a cool dip and break from your walk.
A perfect spot for some morning tea and a swim. If you have children there is a small playground here as well and a place to lay in the sun or have a picnic.
For the surfers, there are some small, yet clean breaks out the back and less busy than Bondi. As always, make sure you swim between the safety signs or red and yellow flags.
As you walk around the bend of the path to discover Bronte, the fresh salty air, invigorating breeze, crystal clear water, and natural rock pool will tempt you for a swim – our kids loved having a dip here, and the ocean-fed lap pool tucked in beneath the south headland provides one of Sydney’s finest saltwater swim experiences.
You’re about a kilometre into the walk when you reach Bronte, and this was the place for us to stop and have lunch. The wide open grass area is perfect for picnics and there’s plenty of barbecues, covered picnic tables, and a great children’s playground. Or you can recharge at one of Bronte’s charming cafes.
Please remember to always swim between the safety signs or red and yellow flags!
What a delightful surprise this area is. The walk to get here takes you past the massive Waverley cemetery, perched on acres of beautiful headland.
If you fancy a bit of lawn bowls – in what has to be the best lawn bowls location I have ever seen – at the top of the headlands you will find Clovelly Lawn Bowls.
Clovelly Beach is very unique, a great spot for swimming. The beach sits at the end of a narrow bay. Concrete and natural rock retaining walls and sitting areas are on the edges of water, making it look like a large swimming pool.
You’ll see swimmers happily snorkelling around in the calm waters exploring the rocky areas that were clearly visible beneath them.
Gordons Bay is a beautiful inlet.
Again it is a really narrow rocky bay, with crystal clear cyan coloured water just perfect for snorkelling. The bay is protected by an offshore reef, which makes it the perfect place to explore the undersea world. It is known as the best area for diving in Sydney and has an underwater nature trail.
This secluded, tiny beach is taken mostly up by small dinghies and seaweed. Many people spread themselves out on the warm nearby rocks to bathe in the sun.
Just a short, yet slow and relatively steep walk up a hill brings you to the headland of Coogee Beach and the end of the coastal walk. Coogee would be the next biggest beach after Bondi.
Like Bondi, many international backpackers congregate here as is evident by the accents heard on the beach volleyball courts, the Brazilian jiu jitsu demonstrations on the open parklands, and the plethora of places offering Irish breakfasts.
We recommend an end to the walk with a late afternoon beer on the rooftop bar of the Coogee Pavilion, a legendary establishment in Sydney. In my early twenties it was the place to come watch and stage dive to live bands.
Exploring the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk is a relaxing and cheap way to take in one of the best regions of Sydney. Besides the harbour, it’s the beach lifestyle that makes Sydney one of the most desired destinations in the world!
To get to Bondi Beach, jump on a train at Central Station and depart at Bondi Junction Station, it takes around 15 minutes. From there take a bus to Bondi Beach. From Coogee, there are buses back to Central.