Sydney's Best Beaches: Surf's Up, Down Under
A few things considered synonymous with Australia: sun, surf and sand. And yes, there's good reason to associate the Land Down Under with excellent beaches -- as an island nation, they are, literally, everywhere. Sydney is no exception. Usually a short ferry, train or bus ride from the city center, Sydney's best beaches leave nothing to want.
Visitors will find large sandy stretches of beach, magnificent tree-covered cliffs as backdrops and brilliant blue waters perfect for surfing, as well as good public facilities. One caveat: While Australia is well-known for its beaches, it's just as notorious for rough waters. That said, Australia's lifeguards rank among the world's very best, and always mark safe swimming areas with flags -- pay attention to their directives for a safe and fun trip.
1. Manly Beach
The picture-perfect beach is flanked on either side by tree-lined cliffs with gorgeous homes perched precariously above. Visitors may hit the waves to surf, windsurf or snorkel. Others might prefer relaxing on the soft sands, or taking a stroll along the beachfront promenade and trails lining the cliffs. Pro tip: Grab a fish 'n' chips from one of the many vendors along the beachfront, and enjoy it while people-watching on the promenade.
2. Bondi Beach
The northern end of Bondi Beach generally has gentle waters, while near the southern end lurks a well-known rip-current -- heaven for local surfers, not so much for unfamiliar tourists. So save yourself and Australia's esteemed lifeguards the trouble, and swim where it's safe.
After hitting the water, escape the beach crowds and hit the breathtaking Coastal Walk, a nearly 4-mile pathway that hugs the rocky coast and passes many beaches adjacent to Bondi, such as Coogee Beach.
It's easy to reach Bondi from downtown Sydney. Take the Eastern Suburbs train line to Bondi Junction. From the station here, it's easy to take one of the clearly marked buses direct to the beach.
3. Tamarama Beach
The beach itself is small, less than 100 yards wide. And the brilliant blue water here, though patrolled, can be rough and dangerous. So it's imperative to follow lifeguards' warnings. The lifeguards here maintain rockstar-like status. In a country known for seemingly endless beaches and intense surf, the Tamarama Beach guards haven't lost a single rescue in more than 100 years.
4. Bronte Beach
Barbecues aside, Bronte Beach lies in the midst of stunning, rocky headlands, offering visitors soft sands and excellent swimming. The area is home to an enclosed sea pool, ensuring a safe dip in the water. Outside the sea pool, the water here -- like most of the beaches surrounding Sydney -- can become rough, though lifeguards patrol the beach daily.
Located in Sydney's eastern suburbs, Bronte Beach is easy to reach from downtown Sydney. Simply hop on Bus No. 378 from the Central Railway Station, which takes you directly to the beach.
5. Garie Beach
Garie provides a perfect respite from Sydney's more crowded and more urban beaches. The beach itself is a true showstopper: The sands stretch for nearly 1 mile, flanked by 260-foot-high cliffs, all set before crashing waves and gleaming blue water.
Although Garie is a notoriously popular family destination, swimming here can be dangerous. So stay between the flags, where lifeguards have deemed the water safe. Surfers can rejoice though, as rough waters make for good surfing, particularly as you head toward Garie Beach's north end.
Facilities here are on the sparse side. However, you'll find toilets, a surf safety center, car park, picnic area and snack kiosk.