As autumn gives way to crisper days and chillier nights here in Korea, I feel my heart pulling me back to my favorite city, Sydney. It's turning from Spring to Summer in Australia right about now. Layers are being shed and bathing suits are at the ready. It will soon be time to buy tanning oil and flip flops and damnit I wish I was there.
From Palm Beach in the North all the way down to Cronulla in the South, the city of Sydney lays claim to over 100 patches of sand and sea. Living there for two years meant I spent plenty of time exploring as many as I could. Even in that time I didn't see them all. Instead I found a few favorites, a few that I loved and returned to again and again.
1. Balmoral: This quiet beach town feels like a true locals spot. I would sit there with a coffee, people watch and imagine having a life there. Pack a picnic to enjoy on the grassy cliffs or grab some fish and chips and find a seat on a beachside bench. The beach faces into the harbor, so waves are basically non-existent. That makes it a great spot to launch a paddle board or go for a swim. Take the 244 or the 245 bus from the Queen Victoria Building bus terminal.
2. Bronte: Take a detour along the Bondi to Coogee cliff walk when you get to Bronte. It has all of the waves and beauty of Bondi, but without the crowds or people trying to sell you things while you read your book. A small strip of cafes lines the main street. The Bogey Hole Cafe is my pick for coffee and brunch. Take the 378 bus from Railway Square.
3. Camp Cove: Part of the Harbor’s South Head, Camp Cove is the perfect place to while away your day. Whenever Luke and I weren't sure about where to spend a lazy Sunday, we always ended up at Camp Cove. It's worthy of an entire day. Lie on the beach, eat lunch on the pier, and take a walk around the heads to watch the sunset over the city in the distance. A loop walk takes you around a lighthouse where, if you time it right, you might spot a migrating whale.
4. Milk Beach: Head to Nielson Park and keep walking until you find yourself on this tiny patch of sand with the harbor’s best views back over the city. I used to think this beach was Sydney's best kept secret, but the secret is definitely out, so get there early to get a patch on this small piece of paradise. Or do as the locals do and bring your Esky (cooler) and a floatation device and lay claim to the sea. Take the 324 or the 325 bus from the corner of Elizabeth Street and Park Street.
5. Palm Beach: It’s a small treck from Sydney by bus (about an hour and a half), but it’s well worth the journey. Famous for being the setting of the ever popular Australian soap opera, Home and Away, it’s a gem of Sydney’s north. The beach is long and full of stunningly beautiful Australians and their picture perfect blonde children. Take a walk to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse for views over the entire area. The rock pool is worth a dip of the toe too! Take the L90 from Railway Square.
Should you go to Bondi? Sure. It's an experience you have to have while you're in Sydney. You should go to Manly while you're at it, too. They're famous for a reason, they're pretty great. But these five beaches, these are my favorites. These are the ones that kept my coming back. They're the ones I'll dream about this winter while I'm bundled up in a coat, hat and scarf thinking about how last year at this time I was far warmer.