Bondi Beach is not the biggest or best or most beautiful beach in Australia.
However, just 15 minutes from the city centre, Bondi became its most popular beach early on, when a tram dropped beach goers right at the front door, and is still a fun and exciting destination.
It’s crowded on summer weekends, and locals complain bitterly about tourists – both international, state and city-wide.
However any time during the week, or on those fair and sunny winter’s days, you can spend most of the day discovering Bondi in relative peace.
If you want to experience the suburb the way the locals do, here are some suggestions:
Beach run or walk: Bondites are a healthy bunch and early mornings see many locals and their dogs jogging the promenade, or doing a soft sand run. For more relaxed exercise, spend the early part of your visit walking the Bondi-Bronte coastal walk. This trip will take you around the sandstone cliffs with panoramic views of the South Pacific and breathtaking coastal cliffs. A return walk to Bronte Beach is around 6km…ask a local to direct you – they’re very friendly. There are lots of vantage points along the way where you can rest up and soak in the amazing views and, if you’re lucky, you may even spot some whales and dolphins.
Brunch: this meal is an important one for locals and it’s become part of the culture. High quality coffee and numerous options make brunch a high quality and inexpensive meal. Check out cafes off the main promenade for the best value for money...or look out for the longest beard and most tattoos on your barista.
Surfing: if you can already surf, rent a board at any of the surf store on the main drag and head into the waves. The water temperature is warm through until late April – after which you might also want to pick up a wetsuit. If you can’t surf – you can have a go at the local surf school in North Bondi.
Shopping: Behind the main road (Campbell Parade) is a pleasant and interesting shopping area – you’ll find plenty of shops in Hall and Gould Streets to browse. This is a place where surf shops and upmarket boutiques and gift shops sit side-by-side.
Markets: On Saturdays you’ll find the farmers markets at the local school on Campbell Parade in North Bondi. Even if you don’t need veggies, there is plenty of food snacks and gifts to pick up here. On Sundays in the same place is a brick-a-brac market; filled with new and used clothes, jewelry and gifts; many locally designed and made.
Sit on the warm sand: a favourite pastime for locals; grab your towel, a book and a hat and soak up the sunshine on the soft warm sands. People watch, paddle in the waves or just relax for a few hours and you’ll feel like a local in no time. Make sure you swim between the flags and watch your sun exposure…another local pastime is smirking at red-skinned tourists who didn’t reapply their sunscreen.
More fitness: As advised, Bondites are a fit and healthy lot and there are loads of Pilates, Yoga and fitness studios. Some trainers also have beach sessions if you feel the need!
Early drink: here are plenty of drinking holes open most of the afternoon and evenings. Wine bars are becoming a particular favourite and there are plenty to choose from. Try Hardware, The Anchor, Neighbourhood or the Speakeasy.
Quality dining: some great restaurants will impress your buds in Bondi. For a top quality (but pricey) meal with a view, try out either Icebergs or North Bondi Fish which bookend the beach. For mid level dining, try Brown Sugar, Mamasan, Lock, Stock and Barrel, Trio or perennial favourite Hurricanes. New spots Blanca and Panama House have a great vibe.
Listen to a tune: Sydney isn't known for its live music but there are a couple of places in Bondi that hire the odd musician. Ravesis and 34 Degrees South both have live music, and the latter has great cocktails.
Have you visited Bondi? Or are you a local? Add your suggestions to the comments section here.