Australia

Like a Local – Bondi Beach, Sydney

by Sian Marsh  |  Published May 19, 2017

Becoming a public beach only in 1882 following private ownership, the suburb of Bondi in Australia was built surrounding the water front with views across the ocean. The beach is now a huge tourist attraction with people visiting the area to bathe in the refreshing water and lay on the warm sand.

Bondi Beach surfers at sunrise (Photo: Taro Taylor via Flickr)

Venture into the town to meet the locals; eat with them, drink with them and shop with them in this laid back Eastern Suburb of Sydney. Alternatively, join them in the ocean by taking part in some of the water sports that make Australia so renowned.

Bars

Located beach side, The Bucket List (Bondi Pavilion, 1 Queen Elizabeth Drive) is the perfect place to cool off with a pitcher of cider or an Australian brewed beer alongside a platter of snacks after a day at the beach. There is a large outdoor seating area with glass windows fronting the bar; they are permanently open in the summer allowing the salty sea breeze to blow through the establishment.

Beach view at The Bucket List (Photo: The Bucket List)

Beach view at The Bucket List (Photo: The Bucket List)

Bondi Hardware’s (39 Hall Street) brick and wooden interior is offset by the green vegetation which pops up throughout the venue, hanging from the ceiling, in pots on the bar and placed around the floor. The dim lighting and friendly bartenders create an enticing atmosphere for visitors to enjoy while signature frozen cocktails are being blended. Food is also available, from snacks such as salt and pepper squid to larger dishes.

Bondi Hardware’s rustic interior (Photo: Bondi Hardware)

Bondi Hardware’s rustic interior (Photo: Bondi Hardware)

Tuesday evenings at Bar 34 (34 Campbell Parade) bring open mic night to the seaside. What seems initially like a small bar opens up with a downstairs dance floor and ample outdoor seating around large wooden tables, overlooking Bondi Beach. Musicians play on one of two stages, either downstairs for dancing patrons or in the main bar, allowing the live music to filter out into the street through the open windows.

The Bar at Bar 34 (Photo: Bar 34)

The Bar at Bar 34 (Photo: Bar 34)

Choose from numerous types of rum at the Rum Diaries, (288 Bondi Road) to add to your classic mix or house cocktail; the choice includes the historic rum blazer which dates back to the 1800’s. Candles in gothic holders light the dark wood and red-walled interior, with menus scribed in italics for an authentic pirate feel. Outdoor seating is available on the street; there is a choice of dining table and bench or the cosier sofa and soft lounge seating.

Entrance to the Rum Diaries (Photo: Rum Diaries)

Entrance to the Rum Diaries (Photo: Rum Diaries)

Restaurants

Freshly made pasta is created every morning at A Tavola (79/73-75 Hall Street), combined with new ingredients every day keeping the menu evolving, from fresh seafood linguinis to spaghetti meat ragus and pesto ravioli. The restaurant is set up in the classic Italian style with bench tables through the centre for mixed dining and smaller tables around the outer edges. The small bar serves refreshing Aperol spritz, crisp Italian white wines and whole-bodied reds.

Mojos Tapas Bar (32 Campbell Parade) serves Australia-inspired and Spanish tapas in a fun, relaxed environment. The full glass front offers beach views with the inside decorated in wood panels and poster art; the restaurant has a second section at the back for more secluded dining. Dessert will be hard to resist with the sticky date pudding covered in butterscotch sauce and the strawberry fondue, which is great for sharing.

Sushi has become popular in Australia with sushi counters and restaurants on every corner. For a sit-down sushi dinner in Bondi try SOY Japanese restaurant (3/38 Campbell Parade). They offer cold and hot sushi, freshly made when you order, as well as other Japanese classics such as tempura, wasabi steaks and miso soup. The décor is modern: Black and white fixtures on the light brick walls with bench style wooden and steel tables.

Situated on the rocks overlooking south Bondi, Bondi Icebergs restaurant (1 Notts Avenue) has a light and airy interior which is flooded by the blue of the ocean and the fresh breeze. Blue cushions in various shades occupy the booth and lounge chairs ensuring colour in an otherwise plain, contemporary interior. The menu comprises a good mixture of seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes, accompanied by your choice of cocktails, fine wines and beer.

Breakfast

Barista bar at Trio (Photo: Trio)

Barista bar at Trio (Photo: Trio)

Simple, fresh, healthy food is on the menu at Trio (56 Campbell Parade) with a hint of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influence. Open for breakfast and lunch every day, you can get your daily dose of wheatgrass and green juice with a vegetarian shakshuka or simple avocado and eggs on toast. They also have sweeter dishes; pancakes, French toast and fresh muffins are on the menu. Ocean views are provided, whether dining inside or out.

On the corner of Lamrock Avenue and Campbell Parade, Lamrock Café (72-76 Campbell Parade) has a large outdoor seating area overlooking the beach with sunbrellas overhead to keep you cool. Try a fruity smoothie with a fry-up, breakfast panini or eggs benedict in the beachy vibes created by pastel coloured wooden stalls and the sea air.

Displays of round sourdough bread and piled-high pastries dominate the windows of Sonoma Bakery and Cafe (10/178 Campbell Parade). Croissants, Pan au Chocolat and other French pastries are available with a few Australian specialities such as toasted banana bread with butter. Savoury dishes include the ham and cheese croissant, quiche and a selection of muesli. In true French and Australian style, freshly brewed coffee is available to accompany any meal.

Sourdough display at Sonoma (Photo: Sonoma)

Sourdough display at Sonoma (Photo: Sonoma)

Get the best of everything at Skinny Dip (97 Hall Street). Pastries, toasted sourdough with eggs, fried breakfasts, cereals, French toast, pancakes, bagels and shakshuka are all available here. The relaxed bar-style eating is continued along the entrance window; a great place to people watch over a hot beverage or smoothie. Indoor and outdoor seating is available.

Activities

When the sea is calm, rent a paddle board from Bondi Surf Co (80 Campbell Parade) and venture out into the crystal clear water of the Pacific Ocean to see what marine life you can spot. A great way to catch a tan, get an upper body and core workout without worrying about getting too hot; you can jump into the ocean and cool off at any time.

If the waves are too rough for paddle boarding, join the local surfers and attempt the ultimate Australian hobby. Let’s Go Surfing (128 Ramsgate Avenue) rents a variety of boards dependant on your skill level. Meet the residents of Bondi while you are waiting to catch a wave or relax and enjoy the serene feeling the ocean encourages.

Surfing at Bondi (Photo: Let's Go Surfing)

Surfing at Bondi (Photo: Let’s Go Surfing)

To meet the underwater creatures of Bondi Beach, go diving with Dive Centre Bondi (198 Bondi Road). They can take you on a guided shore dive of Ben Buckler point in North Bondi. The rocks are home to some intriguing caves and swim-throughs. Maximum depth is 18-metres but the currents can be strong so it is only advised for more experienced divers.

Going to the beach is an activity in Bondi; whether it is walking or running along the promenade or the sandy shore, tanning on the golden sand or swimming lengths in the blue water of Bondi Icebergs pool (1 Notts Avenue). The large rock pool is filled by the waves of the ocean breaking over the rocky barrier.

Shops

Bondi Market (Bondi Beach Public School, Campbell Parade), which is only open on Sundays, has a variety of stalls including accessories, clothing and artwork. Local designers, artists and shop owners hold stalls to showcase their work. You can always find something unique to buy here.

Cushion stall at Bondi Market (Photo: Bondi Market)

Cushion stall at Bondi Market (Photo: Bondi Market)

For a bikini or one piece inspired by Bondi’s individual style Bondi Bather (4/157 Curlewis Street) delivers. High UV protection exists in their high-quality fabrics, preventing bright colours fading in the sunshine. White walls are covered with wave posters and vivid-coloured and printed bathing suits. Other than the wood and steel used in the shop furniture no decoration is required.

See straight into Nimble Active Wear’s (49 Hall Street) Scandinavian style interior through the glass frontage; all white with soft wood shelving and feature panels on the walls, sporadic pot plants and vintage bare light bulbs. The lighting is more for show than to provide light, as sun rays flood through the store. Innovative workout wear is sold here, developed with the active town of Bondi in mind.

Nimble Active wear store (Photo: Nimble Active Wear)

Nimble Active wear store (Photo: Nimble Active Wear)

From cards to cushions, to plants and plates, Abode Homewares (25 Hall Street) sells an array of beach style and French-inspired items to decorate your home. The shop is filled from floor to ceiling, with displays of individual pieces of furniture in the shop windows and placed around the store.

Ice Cream and Gelato

Bondi’s Messina Gelato (6/61 Hall Street) sells a selection of healthier gelatos and sorbets to help you cool off on a sunny day. The sorbets are all vegan, which doesn’t mean they lack flavour; the pandan and coconut is full of tropical tastes. Gelato flavours vary from classics such as chocolate chip or coffee to the more unusual and inventive flavours of apple pie or pannacotta with fig jam and amaretti biscuit.

Gelato counter at Messina, Bondi (Photo: Messina)

Gelato counter at Messina, Bondi (Photo: Messina)

The large curved counter at New Zealand Natural (1/178 Campbell Parade) displays the full collection of ice creams the brand offers. Promoting New Zealand values through their ice cream stores, their healthier scoops are made from fresh ingredients produced in New Zealand. Whippy ice cream (called flos) and thick shakes (made with ice cream) are also available if you feel like trying something different.

Enjoy the calories of your favourite Ben and Jerry’s at their Bondi scoop shop (138 Campbell Parade). The small store only has enough room for an ice cream counter. Choose from their signature flavours or sample one of their new concoctions. Walk over the road and sit on the grass to enjoy your ice cream as you look out to the horizon.

Ben and Jerry’s store, Bondi (Photo: Ben and Jerry's Bondi)

Ben and Jerry’s store, Bondi (Photo: Ben and Jerry’s Bondi)

The classic white and beige striped background to the neon italic sign leaves you in no doubt as to what is sold in Gelatissimo (3 Hall Street). The gelato counter sits along the store front curving to the back of the shop. All sorts of gelato desserts are available here including cookie sandwiches, cakes, Belgian waffles and of course gelato in a tub or cone with sprinkles and sauces. There are a few small tables to enjoy your dessert; they might be a bit too messy to eat outside.

Gelato at Gelatissimo (Photo: Gelatissimo )

Gelato at Gelatissimo (Photo: Gelatissimo )

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