Sydney’s unique setting and natural beauty is best experienced on one of its spectacularly scenic coastal and harbor walks – a favorite local pastime. One Sydney summer I had the pleasure of exploring some these gems, which range from multi-day, multi-terrain bushwalks to half-day clifftop strolls affording stunning ocean views.
If you’re in Sydney for a short time only, opt for these two classics: the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk and the Manly to Spit Bridge Harbor Walk.
Bondi to Coogee Scenic Coastal Walk (2-2.5 hours)
If you have time to do one walk only, choose the 5km Bondi to Coogee trail for some breathtaking coastal scenery. It begins at the iconic Bondi, Sydney’s most famous beach, and follows the coast south to laid-back Coogee Bay, a backpacker hangout.
From Bondi, you climb a sandstone cliff for gorgeous views of the Pacific before traipsing down to “Glamarama”, a golden beach at Tamarama Bay. Ooh and aah at the beautiful bods baking in the sun and the fierce mini tsunamis crashing onto the shore.
Next on this scenic coastal walk is Bronte Beach. Linger awhile at the historical Bronte Baths or have a quick bite at a beachside cafe.
A further twenty-minute stroll will take you to Waverly Cemetery. Graves of famous Aussies abound in this most charming of burial grounds. Look for Henry Lawson, the poet, and Lawrence Hargrave, the aviator.
Other highlights include Aboriginal rock carvings at Mackenzies Point, Ray O-Keefe Reserve and Williams Park, waterfalls at Bronte and Tamarama and seasonal whale (June-July) and dolphin (October-November) sightings along the coast.
Visit the Waverly Council website for a user-friendly map and practical information on the Bondi to Bronte section of this scenic coastal walk.
The Manly Scenic Walkway – Manly to Spit Bridge Harbor Walk (4 hours)
For those with a little more time, the Manly to Spit Bridge walkway is a superb way to get to know Sydney intimately.
This 9km harbor walk features a diverse series of tracks offering up native coastal heath and sub-tropical rainforest vegetation, aboriginal middens and rock carvings, secluded beaches and shiny white yachts in emerald-turquoise-blue bays.
There’s also the amazing view of the historic entrance to Sydney Harbour – where the First Fleet crossed between the North and South Heads in 1788. Opt for the detour to the Arabanoo Lookout and the side trail to Grotto Point and its charming lighthouse built in 1911.
Part of this scenic harbor walk also skirts the backyards of affluent Sydneysiders, giving you a glimpse into the Aussie waterside lifestyle. Take a dip at the pretty little beaches at Fairlight and Forty Baskets, or stop for a picnic and a swim at Clontarf.
Although the official brochure puts the walk at 4 hours, I recommend making it a whole day affair, with a morning swim at the easterly Forty Baskets, a picnic lunch at one of the lookouts and an afternoon swim at Clontarf. At Spit Bridge, take a bus back to Manly for dinner at one of the fabulous restaurants overlooking Manly Beach.
1. Manly Scenic Walkway: Manly to Spit Bridge
2. Bondi Beach
3. Tamarama Beach
1. Personal experience
2. Manly Council website
3. Waverly Council website
4. Lonely Planet Sydney City Guide, Print Edition