Beautiful Bondi Beach

Where better to taste the salt water than at trendy Bondi Beach?

Regarded as one of the world’s best beaches ... you can feel the pulse of fun-loving outdoor Sydney on this big stretch of golden sand.

My advice . . . make sure Bondi is in your holiday plan. You'll regret it if you don't.

In fine weather during the summer holidays 50,000 beach-goers can enjoy the Bondi sand and sea during the one day.

Topless bathing is okay at Bondi Beach

... But make sure you use plenty of sunscreen! (Hey ... do that however much flesh you bare. There's no fun in sunburn).

While the main activities are swimming, surfing and sunbathing, there’s lots more that goes on.

This smoking and alcohol-free zone is a top spot for watching talent as nicely-shaped young bodies are always on display.

Bondi is a mecca for tourists ... especially backpackers ... who just love to soak up the Aussie beach atmosphere.

80,000 run from City to the Bondi Surf

Once a year at Bondi - in mid-winter - there's a huge event which closes roads and brings tens of thousands of people to the beach. It's the City2Surf run.

In 2014 I was there to cheer on some of my family at the finish, so here's a snapshot of the end of that event - at Bondi Beach.

Lifeguards in fancy dress! It's all part of the great City2Surf charity event fun.

Runners in Sydney's 2014 City2Surf race are relieved and proud to finish the tough 14km fun run. The event - which finishes at Bondi Beach - drew 80,000 entrants. Pictured (top left) are two of five from my family who ran. That's daughter-in-law Jacki who flew in from Singapore, and grandson William, 10.

A North Bondi surf club team power their "rubber ducky" through the breakers.

The surf at Bondi can be powerful

So take care!

Do what the lifeguards and surf lifesavers tell you. Make sure you swim between the flags and if you can always swim with a friend.

The entire beach is patrolled by members of Bondi and North Bondi surf clubs. 

They put up warning flags when needed and will evacuate the beach for a shark sighting or when the sea is huge.

In general, just swim between their red and yellow flags - that should keep you away from bad rips - and you will be clearly in their sight should you get into trouble.

Usually the flags are up in front of the Bondi Pavilion - which is toward the northern end of the beach.

Don't take the Backpackers' Express!

The southern beach area is hazardous at Bondi and not recommended for swimming because of rip currents.

There is a persistent large and often strong rip - referred to as the "Backpackers' Express". It runs out against the southern headland, taking unwary tourists on an unwelcome ride.

In fact, each year an average 274 swimmers are rescued from this south Bondi Beach area - and that's about twice the rescues of north Bondi Beach.

After arriving in Sydney in 1978, I followed so many other Kiwis to the famed Bondi waves. I couldn't stand on a surf board and spent the day body surfing ... and loving it!

Those Bondi Beach swells came through strong and true and although young and fit I’d had all the sea fun I could handle after two hour-long spells in the waves.

The beach strip at Bondi is 1km long

... And it has this wonderful wide golden sand.

I think of the super hot black iron sands of my Kiwi homeland (west coast North Island) and the pain my feet endured on sunny days running over the sandhills to reach the cold sea.

It was like an Olympic event - a sort of hop, skip and leap - to the safety of a towel thrown out ahead. A quick recovery and repeat and repeat ...

Back to the golden sands

Yes the sand can get hot here too, but thankfully not to the extreme of those iron sands!

The sweep of the beach at Bondi is from Ben Buckler at the north end of Bondi Bay to Mackenzies Point to the south.

If you're at Bondi Beach with the family, take the kids along to the public sea baths. These are at both ends of the beach. The kids can have a great time there most days without being scared by beach waves.

Through summer the water temperature averages a warm 21 degrees. In September/October it drops to an average of 16 degrees.

"Breaking the ice"

The public seawater pool (pictured) at the southern end of the beach is where Bondi Icebergs Club members famously "break the ice" by swimming on even the coldest days of the year.

Of course there are days when it's best to just watch nature's power. Here (below) huge seas pound the seabaths as spectators look on from the club building.

When conditions are good surfers play beach breaks at the ends of the beach (especially the south). There's always a few working the waves and you'll love watching their skill.

The famous Beach Pavilion at Bondi (towards the northern end) includes changing rooms and equipment hire (like sun shades and chairs) - and there's also a cafe.

If you want to picnic - but not in the sand - grab a spot in the grassy reserve between Campbell Parade and Queen Elizabeth Drive. It's a popular area in front of the beach.

Working out at the beach

Do you remember the Charles Atlas ads in comic books showing a weakling youth having sand kicked in his face by a big bully? That puny guy was Mac who lost his girl and then  used the Charles Atlas techniques to muscle up. Later, now big and strong, he decks the bully and becomes Hero of the Beach - admired by all the sheilas.

Well, at Bondi Beach you can build up a fine physique pumping iron.

The place to do so and to show-off those muscles is at the popular out-door workout area near the North Bondi Surf Club. And looking on admiringly can be your girlfriend ... or maybe your boyfriend.

At the southern end of the beach there’s the Bondi Beach Skate Park which always has plenty of action. (Pictured are onlookers at the Skate Park's big event - Vans Bowl-A-Rama).

Use the lovely green parkland

It surrounds the beach and is great for picnics. Why not join the kids kicking a football? Or maybe you love playing cricket or throwing frisbees. They’re all fun activities here.

Want to do much better than me and learn how to ride the waves on a surfboard?

You can take surfing lessons – small group sessions lasting two hours, or private ones - lasting 60 or 90 minutes at a time. Where better than Bondi to learn these skills?

Get up on that surf board ...

Lets Go Surfing's Bondi Surf Experience is a great way for beginners to start. Check out their website for a range of packages - which include special winter deals (hey, you'll be wearing a wetsuit and the waves are less crowded in winter). 

Bondi Beach has a wealth of activity - open air restaurants, urban-style shops, beach-vibe bars, hip Sunday markets, and wide open parks. 

People watching is pretty much a sport here - with Bondi's reputation for celebrity.

The "beautiful people"

You're quite likely to see a model or a film, television or pop star - maybe in one of the trendy cafes or restaurants of Campbell Parade, the beach's promenade.

Campbell Pde has many boutiques, hair and beauty salons, cafes, restaurants and hotels. The cuisine can be top quality with huge variety - Japanese, French, Mexican, Thai, Indian, you name it ...

But if the kids just want takeaways, then no worries ... you can easily get tasty burgers or fish 'n chips.

Take the scenic Coastal Walk

Do so at your own pace. You'll be passed by power walkers and runners striving for fitness.

Just relax and take in the scenic beauty. You don't need to be super fit. Hopefully you've still a little energy after sun and surf.

Make sure you fuel up with a sandwich or some fruit (and a bottle of water) before setting off big sunhat on head and camera at the ready...

The coastal walk between Bondi Beach and Bronte Beach is Sydney's most popular walk. People "do it" by the busload. The rewards are just wonderful.

Views to inspire and delight

Waves from the South Pacific Ocean roll in with their endless show of nature's power.

The first part of the walk takes you to pretty little Tamarama Beach - another very desirable and trendy Sydney location. It is postage stamp size compared with Bondi Beach, but the walk to it over Mackenzies Point gives great views.

Most of the pathway to Bronte Beach is sealed and can be mastered with a very leisurely stroll. You need care with a few rocky patches - and a steep set of stairs.

Sculpture by the Sea

Sculpture by the Sea is a unique event which brings 500,000 visitors to Bondi, Tamarama and Bronte each year to see innovative installations by high-profile artists.

The coastal landscape is transformed into a seaside art gallery as sculptures are spread across the 2km coastal walk from Tamarama Beach to Bondi Beach.

Take in this free celebration of modern art from around the world if you’re visiting Sydney between mid-October and early November.

It’s a chance to see remarkable sculptures displayed on the rocky coastline against the natural setting of Australia’s sun, sand and surf.

The event is now the biggest outdoor sculpture exhibition in the world. For photos of the 2015 event see our Sculpture by the Sea page.

(Pictured above is The Drogue - a sculpture by Kate Stehr of NSW).

Fancy a nude swim? Go to Nude Beaches Sydney.

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More Sculpture by the Sea

How to get to Bondi

From the City Centre: Quickest public transport - train and bus. (You can buy train tickets which include the bus).

BY TRAIN & BUS: Catch the train to Bondi Junction from Central Station or Town Hall. At Bondi Junction you are still 3km from the beach. So grab a 333 bus or the slightly slower 380 or 389 to reach Bondi Beach. It's best to get off at Campbell Pde near Hall St. Total time from Central - about 30 minutes.

BY TAXI: City to Bondi Beach is about $20-30 depending on traffic. From Bondi Junction to the beach is $5-10.

From Sydney Airport: Take a suburban train on the Airport and East Hills Line bound for either Revesby or Macarthur. Get off at Wooli Creek (the next stop). Make the change there for an Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra line train to Bondi Junction. From the Junction to Bondi Beach catch a bus (see above). Travel time from the Airport to beach - 47 minutes. 

Surfing Bondi

Southerly swell comes through at Bondi, giving persistent beach breaks.

In big swell Ben Buckler at the northern end has a good left.

The central part of Bondi Beach is closed to boards.

The waves are higher and rips stronger at the south end (Icebergs club area).

The southern beach breaks into the headland rip are left up to 2.5m.

Wonderful walk

After enjoying the delights of Bondi Beach, maybe you'd like to stretch your legs and explore?

Sydney's most popular walk begins at the south end of Bondi beach. It's the Bondi to Coogee coastal walkway.

There are "to die for" views all along this wonderful path, including this stunner above overlooking gorgeous Bronte baths and beach.

If the surf's pounding Bronte is also very popular for board riding.

It will take you about an hour to walk to Bronte from Bondi and another hour to Coogee.

Here's a suggestion: Take an early morning stroll along the coastal walk.

Take a dip at Bronte or keep going till Coogee and have brekkie there in one of their many beach cafes.

When are Lifeguards on duty at Bondi Beach?

April and May: 7am-5pm.

June, July, August and up to September 20: 8am-5pm.

Sept 21 to October 3: 6am-6pm.

October 4 to April 4: 6am-7pm.

A quick look at Bondi Beach facilities:

Freshwater showers - Abundant right along the esplanade, so no need to endure the sticky feel of salt and sand.

Toilets - Plentiful, including near the North Bondi SLSC and to the south near the Icebergs Club. Also near the middle of the esplanade.

Water taps & bubblers - Again there are many, including in the grassy park behind the beach.

Surf lifesavers - Members from two clubs keep watch over the beach. Look for their red and yellow flags and swim between them.

Shade - You'll need to bring sun umbrellas - or hire them - because there's no shade on the beach. Be generous with the sunscreen to avoid sunburn. Use SPF 30 or higher broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen. Retreat to the park behind the esplanade for picnic shelters or tree shade.

I’ll dwell on the dangers of our beach culture on another page – one that I hope will help you have a great Australian vacation without a tragic drowning.

In our harsh sunshine there’s also skin cancer to guard against. Melanoma can kill – even when you’re in your youthful prime.

Go to my Beach Safety  and Sun Safety pages for best ways to enjoy Sydney beaches without harm.

Did you know:

  • Bondi Beach is unusual in that it faces south? Most NSW beaches face east.
  • Bondi is an Aboriginal word meaning the sound of waves breaking over rocks.
  • Swimming was not allowed at Bondi until 1906.