Bondi is world-renowned, with its sandy beach, blue ocean, surf culture and focus on wellness pulling in people from all over. There’s a connection to nature here that’s rarely found in metropolitan cities, and a barefoot lifestyle that appeals to city dwellers.
“Bondi has a vibrant, health-conscious vibe,” explains Christian Ralston, a personal trainer and yoga teacher at BodyMindLife who works out of Bondi. “The quality of the water is so clean here. Local people know how lucky they are […] and how special it is.
“And so Bondi really appeals to people who take pride in where they live. People are attracted to Bondi because of the lifestyle here.”
According to Ralston, the best time to get down to Bondi is between 7am and 10am, or late afternoon between 4pm and 7pm. This is when the locals are getting up, catching the surf or working out on the beachside exercise equipment.
To get to Bondi Beach, visitors can catch a train to Bondi Junction and then a bus down to the beach. The 380 and the 333 buses are the most direct routes. Here are Ralston’s top things to do in Bondi.
North Bondi Rocks is Bondi’s best-kept secret. It’s where the locals come to sun themselves, most of them with pups in tow. As Ralston explains, tourists tend to stick around the middle of the beach, but heading north is where to find the local community. Spear fishers set out from this spot, and people are always jumping into the ocean from the rocks. On a clear day, snorkelling can be enjoyed with schools of fish, maybe a blue groper or two and possibly a stingray to be seen.
This is a cute little spot tucked away on Bondi’s busy Hall Street. The café’s patrons are most likely indulging in smashed avocado on toast or a banana and cinnamon smoothie after a morning surf. There are ample spots to settle into and enjoy some tasty grub or a quick coffee while perusing through Gertrude and Alice’s extensive selection of books – everything from classics to the latest bestsellers. It’s also the perfect place for people watching.
The newly opened Eden Restaurant is run by plant-based cuisine enthusiasts Simon Hill and Tanya Smart in collaboration with chef Claudia Pantoja. The light and bright space, which also comprises a garden courtyard filled with leafy pot plants, is the perfect spot to sample some delicious twists on classic favourites, including spaghetti ‘bolognese’, cheeseburgers, nachos and pizza. There are also salads, sharing platters and a variety of desserts on offer as well as a delicious selection of cocktails.
Experience Bondi at its finest and participate in a yoga class beside the ocean. According to Ralston, this is one of the best spots in the world to do yoga. Yoga by the Sea runs classes year-round, both morning and night, and a drop-in class costs 25 Australian dollars (£13). Just don’t forget to bring a mat! Afterwards, visit the world-renowned Bondi Icebergs Club at South Bondi. Entry to the club is $8 (£4.20) for adults and includes access to the oceanfront swimming pool and sauna.
Brunch is an art in Bondi, and there aren’t many better at it than Porch and Parlour. Think smash’n’hash, green brekkie bowls and chilli labneh eggs. Pair it all with a coconut coffee frappe or a golden gut turmeric tea. Porch and Parlour opens for brunch from 7am until 3pm and is just a stone’s throw from the beach.
Follow the trail running just above North Bondi Rocks to find a popular lookout point called Ben Buckler. This is a magical spot for watching the sun rise and set over the ocean on a clear day. During winter, between the months of April and September, it’s one of the best places to watch whales migrate, sometimes with their new calves in tow.
Experience paddock-to-plate dining at Lox Stock and Barrel, where the team believes that delicious food starts with great ingredients. Simple but spectacular is the theme at this NYC-style deli, which offers freshly baked goods as well as the usual breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Visitors will find European-inspired dishes with a decidedly Bondi twist – think home-made brisket pastrami sandwich with Russian coleslaw and pickles on rye, and crispy skin barramundi with corn, basil oil, truss tomato, salsa and lime.
The gelato here is hands down the best in Australia – it’s that good. There are 35 signature flavours, but what Messina is most known for is its ever-changing, week-long specials, which have included creative concoctions such as bougatsa (cinnamon-scented custard gelato with crispy filo pastry), Perfect Pearing (pear and white balsamic sorbet), and coconut and pineapple upside-down cake. Messina has stores dotted across the country, with its most recent addition to Bondi an ice-cream van parked down by the beach every weekend.
A much-loved watering hole on the main street in Bondi, this intimate little nook feels a bit like a beachside rum bar somewhere in the Caribbean. Grab a seat outside underneath the straw roof and enjoy burgers, margaritas or one of its famed $25 (£13) sangria jugs. The vibe here is mega chilled, and it’s well worth stopping here for a couple of sundowners and a spot of people watching. What’s great about Café Bikini is that it offers a peek into the slightly less glamorous yet more homely side of Bondi.
Every weekend, Bondi Beach Public School hosts a public market. On Saturdays, the school playground springs to life in the form of a farmer’s market, while on Sundays, it transforms into a fashion lover’s dream, with vendors selling everything from clothes by up-and-coming designers to one-off vintage pieces. There are also items of jewellery, homeware, skincare products, food, drink and music. It’s well worth a wander before a well-earned dip.