Have you ever seen photos of those magnificent ocean-side pools in Sydney, Australia, and thought to yourself ‘They can’t possibly be that beautiful in person’? Me too. So, on a recent weekend trip to Sydney, I just had to see what all the fuss was about. Spoiler alert – they really are that beautiful.
And where exactly do you find these ocean-side pools? The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk!
The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk is a roughly 6km easy-grade hike along the rocky coastline of some of Sydney’s most famous beaches. Though it does have a few strenuous hills and its fair share of steep staircases, the walk is mostly flat, child-friendly, and super easy to navigate – just follow the water!
Just don’t expect to have the place to yourself. The mixture of tourists, local gym junkies, and instagrammers vying for that perfect cliff-side shot makes the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk the most popular walking track in the State!
It’s also suggested that it should take roughly 2 hours to complete (one way), but trust me, to fully take in the sights and adequately enjoy that salty ocean breeze, you’ll want to plan for double that.
Bondi is arguably Sydney’s, or dare I say it, Australia’s, most iconic beach. Come for the sun and sand, stay for those hunky Bondi Rescue Lifeguards!
The coastal walk itself starts just to the right of the beach on Notts Avenue, in front of the historic Bondi Icebergs Club – named for the insane club members who swim there during the Winter months.
Watching the waves angrily crashing against the pool is almost hypnotising. In fact, it’s actually kind of annoying just how beautiful this place really is.
Did you know that you can get married there? There’s even a museum on the 1st floor dedicated to the history of the 100+ year old Club.
Keep walking up the hill and you’ll hit a cliff-side viewing area that offers unbeatable panoramic views of Bondi.
To be honest, you could probably stop there and feel fulfilled for the day, but the dramatic scenery that lies ahead is just as breathtaking.
Tamarama is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, people included. In fact, local Sydney-siders even refer to Tamarama as ‘Glam-arama’ or ‘Babe-arama’, and it’s not hard to figure out why.
As Tamarama is generally too dangerous to actually swim at due to its strong currents and riptides, visitors mainly use this spot to sunbathe, play beach volleyball, and grease up their six packs.
Suffice to say, Tamarama may be one beach stop you want to skip if you happen to have any self-esteem or body confidence issues. Or maybe just if you’re a human with eyes who’s ever enjoyed eating carbs.
If you’re a long time reader of ours, you’d know how much we love doughnuts and burgers… I certainly didn’t belong there.
This is also the first stop on the walk that offers a beachside eatery, in case you’re feeling peckish – just don’t expect to find any fish and chips here. Kale smoothie, anyone? There’s also a large playground for the kiddies, and some undercover picnic/barbeque areas on offer (if you happen to get there early enough to snag one).
Just a short walk up from Tamarama is Bronte Beach. It’s time to have a break, grab some lunch, and dip your toes in the surf, because we’re half way! You’ll have been at it for 1-2 hours by now.
There’s no shortage of beautiful viewing areas here either, with beach goers casually lounging on the cliff-side.
Bronte is also home to the Bronte Baths, or ‘Bronte Pool’, which is much like that of the Icebergs – if not even more hypnotising. We even watched as surfers were crazy enough to jump from the pool straight in to the crashing waves.
As this walk is technically separated in to two sections – Bondi to Bronte, and Bronte to Coogee, some walkers will call it a day here. But I highly suggest that you don’t.
Once you traverse the steep steps taking you up from the Bronte Baths, and through the awkwardly placed parking area that acts as part of the walk (though there is no designated footpath), what you see next is a sight to behold.
It may not be for everyone, in fact it may creep some people out, and that’s okay! But I dare you to not be amazed.
The Waverley Cemetery is a clifftop Cemetery dating as far back as the 19th century, though it is rumoured to still have a few empty plots available. It’s often regarded as one of the most beautiful Cemeteries in the entire world, and oh man, do I expect nothing less than a view like this when I die.
Usually, it’s not always deemed appropriate to wander through the Cemetery itself, but due to current construction works on the coastal boardwalk until roughly September 2018, that’s exactly what you have to do.
This slight detour does add some more tricky hills that would otherwise be an easy, flat cliff-side surface, so prepare to do some lunges. Just remember to be respectful at the same time.
Up next is Clovelly Beach, and to be honest, it’s a little bit of a letdown after the incredible surf beaches on the first half of the walk. But that’s not to take away from the fact that Clovelly Beach is a tranquil, secluded spot that is more popular with young families and swimmers – if you don’t mind the smell of seaweed, that is.
Continuing along the track to Gordon’s Bay is the steepest part of the walk, with some sharp staircases and uneven surfaces, but the view on the other side is well worth the sweat! There’s also some seating areas as a reward at the end too, so never fear. Take your time. This is probably the most out of breath you’ll be the entire day, which I’d take as a win.
From there, it’s an easy shot straight on to Coogee.
The beautiful Coogee Beach is the last stop on the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk (unless you feel like continuing on to Maroubra), and the pavilion is the perfect place to sit and relax after a long 2-4 hours of walking.
You can even continue up the beach a bit and pay a visit to McIver’s Baths, or a bit further down, the tidal Wylie’s Baths; where you get the perfect view of Wedding Cake Island which protects Coogee from the rougher ocean swells – making it one of the safer beaches to swim at along the route, if you want to take a quick dip.
At the end of all of this, it’s not hard to see why the Coastal Walk is so popular.
The rocky beach views are spectacular, the ocean-side pools mesmerising, and if you’re not too scared of heights, sitting on the edge and watching the swirling blues of the waves crash is one of the more relaxing activities that Sydney has to offer.
If you feel like being really treated to some extraordinary viewing though, it may be an idea to do the walk backwards from Coogee to Bondi. That way, the beaches get more and more iconic as you go on, and you get the added bonus of the hike being mostly downhill if you’re not the fondest of uphill treks.
Oh, and just a free tip from me to you… make sure you lather on the sunscreen beforehand. This red and peeling face I’m sporting isn’t too cute a week later.
Special thanks to my parents for doing this walk with me, too. You the real MVP’s. They kept going despite their bodies telling them to stop (and put up with me stopping to take photos every 5 seconds), and for that I am thankful. If they can do it, so can you!
Aren’t they cute?