As everyone has probably gathered by now, I’m a beach gal. I’m completely obsessed and in love with the sea, just like my mum. She had my brothers and I swimming in the ocean before we could walk. At home in Ireland we live by the sea. We would get up in the mornings and walk the length of the beach, followed by a quick swim with our dog, sunshine or not!
During the countdown to my move to Australia, I would sit in my office chair and daydream about white sand and glistening water. I couldn’t wait to try out all the beaches Sydney had to offer. There are over one hundred beaches in the greater Sydney area!
On my days off I would pack up my little backpack, take out google maps and find my way to a new beach. Most people I’ve met here are long term residents or locals and they would laugh when I’d come home and say I’ve spent the day at the beach. “Was it not freezing?!”, they’d gasp.
People told me it was a rookie mistake moving to Sydney in the wintertime and keep telling me “Just wait until you see the beaches here at summertime.” But so far, I’m thoroughly enjoying the coast here at the moment. There’s a certain charm about the beaches here at wintertime. The air is fresher, the sand is a hell of a lot less packed, and the waves are crazy for the surfers (or to watch the surfers in my case!).
Here I’ve put together a list of the top beaches to see if you’re visiting Sydney in wintertime:
Manly was one of the first seaside resorts to allow daylight swimming and surfing back in 1903. The beach was named by Capt. Arthur Phillip after the indigenous people living there writing: “Their confidence and manly behaviour made me give the name of Manly Cove to this place”.
Catch the ferry up to Northern Sydney to reach Manly for a couple of bucks, and pass all the iconic landmarks on the way like the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.
In the winter the sand is significantly less crowded. The water is crystal blue and shallow, perfect for paddling. If you want to brave the waves, Manly is one of Down Under’s most popular surfing beaches.
Or if you want to keep the toes dry, winter is the perfect time for whale spotting as they migrate up north this time of year. Daily hosts leave Manly harbour and you’re sure to spot some marine life out there.
On the opposite side of Sydney, lies the sunny southern beach of Cronulla (meaning place of the pink seashells). It’s super easy to get to as it’s the only beach in Sydney that’s accessible by train.
All the ingredients for a top day out at the beach can be found in Cronulla – fish and chips, icecream and gelato, cool surf shops for beach supplies and accommodation. It’s one of the bigger beaches to Sydney and has excellent surf schools for beginners.
There’s also a diving school here. Many backpackers will overlook this in favour for saving their diving experience for the Great Barrier Reef, but it’s worth considering learning here and getting your licence at a substantially cheaper rate than up north.
Arguably the most famous beach in Australia and even the world, Bondi certainly lived up to its name during the winter months. As a kid visiting Australia in the summer, we spent some time on Bondi. All I remember is huge crowds in the water and even more on the sand.
During peak season, numbers can reach up to 35,000 people in one single day! At winter however, it’s a completely different story. There is still a nice buzz about the place but with very minimal crowds. Keep an eye out for the lifeguards and camera crew for Bondi Rescue.
If you feel like taking a dip but aren’t confident with the winter waves, Bondi Icebergs provides a salt water swimming pool right beside the sea. Take a dip and enjoy a cool bevvie afterward!
There’s lots to keep you entertained at Bondi. Take a stroll over to the skatepark and watch the skaters, stroll along the boardwalk about take in the amazing artwork and graffiti, and if you’re feeling active, do the coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee, my personal favourite. It’s a workout but it’s worth it, the views are breathtaking and at the end you can treat yourself to a nice ice cream!
Tamarama beach is often referred to as Glamarama Beach, due to its very glamorous residents that flock to the sand to sunbathe! But in the month of July there’s not many sun worshippers out.
Instead, this tiny beach is a popular spot for families. Just behind the sand is a gorgeous picnic and grass area, often strewn across with people doing yoga and joggers stretching. There’s also a cute little playground for kids and great shower and bathroom facilities to wash up in.
Don’t be put off by Tamarama’s size; the swells are huge and it’s a popular place for local surfers. The water is deceptively deep here, I would not recommend swimming here unless you are confident. Tamarama is considered the most dangerous patrolled beach in New South Wales, with more rescues per thousand bathers than any other of Sydney’s beaches.
Right next to Tamarama is beautiful Bronte. The best way to explore this picturesque beach is through the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk. It’s Sydney’s most famous ocean-front walk, and during the winter there’s fewer crowds, which means more space to walk and less people getting in the way of your pictures!
There’s also an ocean pool in Bronte, perfect for small children and those who don’t want to battle the currents. Walking on and upwards from Bronte brings you to Clovelly Beach.
Clovelly is set in a small and peaceful bay, with a saltwater pool on the beach’s south. Clovelly has a milder swimming beach, and features an ocean pool cut into the rocks of the headland, as well as grassy parks and picnic tables, making it a great spot for children and families also.
A bit of a trek up north, but totally worth it, Palm Beach is nestled in between the hills of the rich and famous. With the likes of singer P!nk rumoured to vacation here, the beach is littered with other well-known faces of the popular to show Home and Away.
This place screams money, with its beautiful hillside houses and Mercedes Bens cars parked along the sand. Don’t let that throw you off though, it’s still got a very chilled seaside vibe and everyone is super friendly. It’s also hugely family orientated. You’ll see plenty of fathers and their kids out surfing together with mum watching close by from a beach towel!
If you’re a fan of Home and Away you can do a tour that picks you up from Syndey central and brings you around to all the hotspots. However it does come cheap, one tour will set you back at least $99.
We opted out and instead did a little touring ourselves. Just strolling along the beach we saw the Summer Bay Surf Club, Alf’s Bait Shop, the pier, the lighthouse and the famous cafe.
Less than a ten minute drive from Palm Beach, lies Whale Beach, a 600m long sandy beach with great waves for surfing. I’ve included this on the list as Palm Beach is quite far away, so if you’re travelling all the way to Palm Beach, why not get two for the price of one.
This sleepy beach is virtually empty in the winter months. It has the most beautiful deep orange coloured sand, with either end flanked by steep cliffs. It’s entirely different to the likes of Bondi and Manly, it’s more of a what I like to call, “wild beach”. It doesn’t have the commercial side to it like a lot of Sydney’s beaches and is well worth a visit just for its sheer beauty.
Right at the end of the coastal walk is the charming suburban beach of Coogee – pronounced “Cuh-jee” not “Coo-gee” as I’ve been corrected numerous times!
An ocean-side haven offering gorgeous coastline, a buzzing bar and restaurant scene and a typical Aussie beach vibe even in winter, Coogee is one of Sydney’s oldest beachside suburbs.
For a relaxing swim on a winter’s day , Coogee has two ocean baths: Wylie’s Baths, just a few hundred metres south of Coogee beach, and McIvers Baths, the last remaining women’s and children’s ocean bath in Australia.
Also hidden in the coastal pathways just above Coogee is a shrine to the Virgin Mary where she apparently appeared to onlookers in 2003. There is a dedicated spot on the hills where believers come to worship and pray.
So for now that’s a wrap on my time in Syndey! Next week it’s on up the east coast to check out more beaches and coastlines. I’m excited to see what the next six weeks has in store for me, so keep an eye on a Sun Scribes and I will update you all as much as possible while on the road!
Peace Out Guys x