Bondi Beach is synonymous with Australian beach culture, and indeed the 1.5km-long curve of golden sand must be one of the best-known beaches in the world. It’s also the closest ocean beach to the city centre; you can take a train to Bondi Junction and then a ten-minute bus ride, or drive there in twenty minutes. Big, brash and action-packed, it’s probably not the best place for a quiet sunbathe and swim, but the sprawling sandy crescent really is spectacular. Red-tiled houses and apartment buildings crowd in to catch the view, many of them erected in the 1920s when Bondi was a working-class suburb. Although still residential, it’s long since become a popular gathering place for backpackers from around the world.

The beachfront Campbell Parade is both cosmopolitan and highly commercialized, lined with cafés and shops. For a gentler experience, explore some of the side streets, such as Hall Street, where an assortment of kosher bakeries and delis serve the area’s Jewish community, and some of Bondi’s best cafés are hidden.  Between Campbell Parade and the beach, Bondi Park slopes down to the promenade, and is always full of sprawling bodies. The focus of the promenade is the arcaded, Spanish-style Bondi Pavilion, built in 1928 as a deluxe changing-room complex and converted into a community centre hosting an array of workshops, classes and events.

Surfing is part of the Bondi legend, the big waves ensuring that there’s always a pack of damp young things hanging around, bristling with surfboards. However, the beach is carefully delineated, with surfers using the southern end. There are two sets of flags for swimmers and boogie-boarders, with families congregating at the northern end near the sheltered saltwater pool, and everybody else using the middle flags. The beach is netted and there hasn’t been a shark attack since 1929.


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