Yeeearsssss ago, I moved to Sydney – I’m originally from the United States, but after a few years of slogging it out with Aussie immigration, I’m now a passport carrying true-blue Aussie battler through and through! The cool part is, over the past fifteen years, I have lived all over Sydney! I’ve lived on the North Shore, Inner West and next to the beach – so, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’m a bit of an expat village expert (if such a thing exists!)
Sydney is known for it’s pretty awesome beach culture and it shows! We’ve got beaches all up and down the coast. And if you’re looking to move to Bondi or Manly and you work in the city, both beachside villages are pretty easy to get to. For Bondi, you can take the bus from Circular Quay down to the Bondi beachside and for Manly, just take the ferry to the Manly Wharf. Manly also has the added feature of a pretty nice stroll though the promenade to the beach. And YES! When I was living in Manly, it was pretty EPIC taking the ferry to work every day!
Ok… Now, the age old question: Which beach is better for expats?
The “olds” preferred Manly, and the “youngs” preferred Bondi! This kinda makes sense because Manly feels secluded. We Sydney locals joke about bringing our passports when we go over the Harbour Bridge because heading up that way kinda feels like a different part of Australia. With Bondi, you’re pretty much just one bicycle trip away from the Central Business District (CBD) as long as you don’t mind that crazy hill at Campbell Parade (just think how amazing your glutes will be!)
One thing I really enjoy about Manly is that there is a marine reserve starting at the Manly Swim Club and it runs all the way to Shelley Beach. Here, you can go snorkelling or SCUBA diving. Shelley Beach is a tiny little beach you can see from Manly and what makes this so special is, this awesome little beach protected from the crazy waves. You can also have a BBQ and chill on the small patch of grass. And, since the surf is pretty quiet over on those parts, it’s great for grommets (also known as a kid surfer under 16). I’ve actually gone snorkelling and diving around there about a mazillion times. The water teeming with fish – that’s why I say it’s great for diving. If you’re good on your air, you can actually spend quite a long time SCUBA diving under the water, because it’s only about 10 meters. I’ve always lovingly called this part of Manly a fish nursery because it really is!
Both Manly and Bondi are crap for parking – so best to leave your car at home and to take public transport. It’s just not worth the frustration. Both beaches also have high-brow eateries as well as a few greasy spoons. Oh, and let’s not forget the great pubs with epic views. But, to be fair – Manly feels more Queensland and slooooow whist Bondi feels more hipster and closer to LA’s Venice Beach. But, both areas of Sydney still pull the same amount of interest. Also, both beaches have cool events like ocean swims, surf carnivals and weekend markets. They also have fun activities like concerts on the beach, fitness festivals and even a few years ago, Bondi had an ice-skating rink for winter. And, if you like bushwalking… both have wild and wonderful walks. Manly has North Head which is good for blue-tongue lizard and bandicoot spotting. This is also a great place to picnic whilst watching cruise ships coast into Sydney Harbour and for fireworks!
Bondi is where you start for the Bondi to Bronte (or Coogee depending on how far you want to go) coastal walk. It’s also home of the Sculpture by the Sea! But, to really enjoy the coastal walk, it’s best to go when it’s whale migration season!
Been to Sydney? What are your thoughts and tips for the BEST suburb? Please add your favourite in the comments!
An Aussie girl gone walkabout in the great big world!