You may have read about the beach here as it is one of the most popular tourist spots in Sydney….and you may have also read on other blogs and forums of people complaining about the crowds in the surf. Well I can confirm: it is next level crowded but a nice beach!
So I stayed on Bondi Beach (not literally on it, things haven’t got that bad yet) when I first got to Sydney. It is a lovely area with a number of very agreeable cafes and bars fronting onto the beach, and an abundance of accommodation around. On the topic of food and drink, if you are there, you must go to the RSL to the north of the beach, it is pretty low key but if you’re looking for an affordable meal and pint with an unbelievable view of the beach then this is the place!
I snapped up a second hand 7’6 minimal from a sort of cash converters esque place up the road from the beach, it looked in decent condition except the previous owner had drawn a massive lightening bolt on the back of it so I do look like a pillock wandering around with it, but oh well. After Bali I have become somewhat of an expert in haggling so I argued the price down and got it for a good amount! To be fair though I am used to paying through the nose for surfboards in the UK, and with so many manufacturers and shops here the market is flooded so the boards I’ve seen here are overall much cheaper.
So I have surfed Bondi a number of times now: at low tide, at high tide, at first light, and during a sunny Saturday afternoon. I have to admit, for a beach so famous for surfing it is actually a very difficult place to surf. There are gutters and rips galore, so much so that in large sections of the beach you could be a few metres off the beach itself but not be able to climb out. My advice is to absolutely heed where the signs on the beach say beware dangerous currents- I thought for a while they were just giving general advice but I think they are placed in front of the more dangerous sections…..
Having spoken to a few local surfers and surfed it myself, I have learnt that really high tide and a bit either side is the best time. At low tide it is incredibly shallow, and the waves are very dumpy.
So at high tide there seem to be two distinct peaks, one at the South end offering a good right hander, and then one towards the middle of the beach offering left and rights. There are more further north on the beach but that is a strictly foamie only zone (yes I got a bollocking by the lifeguards). The waves look well formed and I’ve managed to catch a few, I would say the biggest issue is though the crowds. I went out at dawn yesterday (Saturday) and even then the waves were packed. And when I say packed, I mean will have probably 10 surfers in a 5 metre radius around you (!). When cleanup sets come through, there are just boards galore bearing down on you and people getting tangled- it’s a bit of a mess. There are older guys (in their 50’s) that snake peoples waves and shout at people who are in their way, and I’ve actually been told I shouldn’t be there at all by a local. It is very strange how there can still be issues with localism at Bondi bearing in mind the lineup is around 70% French and Spanish with one or two brits thrown into the mix, but that’s Bondi I guess.
But yes, on the whole Bondi Beach is a lovely place and is a good place to learn. It can be rather packed and a hectic place out back though, and watch out for the rips!
Bronte is with out of doubt one of my favourite beaches that I have visited. It is quite a small one, with a surf life saving club and a small chip shop. But what really makes it amazing is Bronte Park which stretches away from the beach, and I love how it has forest/jungle vibes and a waterfall – it almost makes you forget you are in the middle of a huge city!
The first time I visited (actually, it was the second time. I walked past it when I did the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk) a surf contest was underway, and was glad I made the decision to leave my board at home as the surf was a bit big for me. There was a lone tent set up packed with surf esque guys, and a few people warming up in contest vests ready to head out. To the left of the beach was a reef break chucking out left handers that lurched forwards and detonated with some force, jettisoning some of the surfers who timed it slightly wrong into the shallows. To the right of the beach, a little bit further out than the seapool, there was a cool looking right hander which was marginally quieter and had some softer looking waves. And then out the back of both of these spots there was some kind of monstrocity wave that would kick up once in a while and looked like something out of a magazine! There were only one or two guys out that deep and they were occasionally rewarded whilst I was there.
Bronte is the first time I have seen a proper beach break, as in the waves break right onto the sand which spells absolute carnage for the swimmers between the red and yellows. Still, I have ventured in many times since my first visit, and there’s something to be said about bodysurfing a wave knowing full well that in a few seconds you are going to get smashed onto the sand and rolled up onto the beach. It fills me with child like joy, and I don’t think we feel that enough as we grow older!
I’ve popped a few pictures up from when I sat up on the cliff next to the beach. My absolute aim is to get out there and ride a few waves so when it mellows out- watch this space!
More to come from the below when I get the chance! (First one is Manly Beach, the second is Maroubra)