What to Do in Sydney's Bondi Beach
Sydney's most iconic beach is beloved by locals and travelers, sporting a curvy strip of sand backed by hip bars, cafés, and shops. The impressive waves are a magnet for surfers, but swimmers should stay between the lifeguards' flags to dodge the dangerous rip tides that have made Bondi Rescue such a popular Aussie TV show. Amateur surfers can take classes with Let's Go Surfing. Fringed by grassy picnic areas and barbecues, the beach also has a skate park, pavilion, and dramatic pool overlooking the ocean. Foodie drag Hall Street is the go-to for smart eats. Work off the Gelato Messina ice cream on the nearly four mile long Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, which takes in beautiful beaches and coves. Stop off at Tamarama for serious surfing or sunbathing, Bronte for lunch or a swim, Clovelly for snorkeling, and Coogee for a final cooling dip. Coogee Pavilion pours rooftop cocktails with sexy sea views. Spring's Sculpture by the Sea showcase brings art to the walk route. To reach Bondi take the train to Bondi Junction, then a bus; Coogee has bus connections to the city. And while it's perfectly possible to visit Bondi for a day trip, we recommend staying a night or two. Start with the seven places listed below.
Oprah Winfrey famously dropped in to Bondi Icebergs during her much-ballyhooed 2011 visit to Australia, which means this place has essentially been anointed as a go-to for anyone with a global profile. But even the plebes among us feel pretty special simply walking through the doors of this beachside icon, which boasts excellent food or, if you're simply wanting to throw back a few drinks, a nice balcony for tippling.
This alfresco café, perched above Icebergs pool at Bondi Beach, is a bit of an insider secret. Follow the steps below the Icebergs bar and bistro, and ask the crew to let you through the turnstiles.
Founded by local surf photographer Eugene Tan, Aquabumps Gallery occupies a sleek white-walled space in Bondi with a tropical garden courtyard at the end. Come to admire, or buy, Uge's gorgeous color photos of beach life, with sunrise and sunset shots of surfers catching waves, idyllic ocean pools, and hedonistic sunbathers. You'll also find black-and-white shots. Alongside snaps of Sydney beaches (Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly, Coogee, Maroubra, and Cronulla) and New South Wales' blissful Byron Bay, you'll find images of surf action from Bali to Fiji and Tahiti. Aquabumps started out as a website in 1999, and now attracts a huge, devoted following online as well as via its daily email and Facebook updates.
Decorated with cartoonish street art, Gelato Messina dishes up some of the best ice cream and sorbet in Sydney, with unusual house-made flavors from salted caramel to Aperol with pink grapefruit. You'll also find kooky daily specials on the board and cakes that look like they were whipped up by aliens. Originally started in Darlinghurst, its outlets now include Surry Hills, Pyrmont and most recently Bondi in Sydney, as well as Melbourne, the Gold Coast, and Las Vegas. What's more, it's open late into the night. Cue dance music as you wait in line — going out for ice cream is the new clubbing, don't you know?
Named for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, you can browse used books, settle into a comfy couch, or munch on “modern Australian cuisine” like mushroom and leek soup or sweet soy chicken with broccoli; there's no menu, just a changing list of a dozen specials.
The Merivale hospitality group is responsible for many of the city's most successful venue makeovers over the past decade. They have a way of coming in and sprucing a building up so perfectly that you barely remember what it looked like before. Their latest project is this beachside location where you can grab a drink (try the organic juices!), visit the flower stand, get a haircut, or play a classic game like ping-pong or Scrabble.
Scandinavian-inspired interiors create a sleek vibe at Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach, just a stroll from iconic Bondi Beach on fashionable Hall Street. It's part of a mixed-use development that has brought big brands to this once laid-back strip, with a bunch of top-notch restaurants and cafés near the pastel-pretty Adina, as well as a handy food hall. Book one of the 111 studios or one- or two-bedroom apartments with neutral schemes featuring hits of coastal color, photos from Bondi surf gallery Aquabumps, smart tech, kitchenettes, and balconies for people-watching. A covered outdoor pool beckons beyond the eye-catching lobby, plus there's a gym and jacuzzi. At chic Bills restaurant, which serves creative fusion cuisine like tea smoked trout with green tea noodles, kimchee, spinach, and ricotta dumplings with chili oil, and a waygu beef cheeseburger, you can charge food to your room; Sensory Lab café and Gelato Messina's ice-cream kiosk offer more temptation nearby.