When I moved back to Sydney in 2014, I spent two months living in the Eastern Suburbs in Sydney during summer and it was a wonderful time of beach-hopping, snorkeling, discovering the different beach neighborhoods, and swimming in the numerous ocean pools.
Here’s a rundown of the Eastern Suburbs beaches in Sydney and why you should add them to your Sydney Itinerary.
Moving to Coogee Beach in Sydney was a dream of mine since I first stayed with my cousin there when I was 17. When I moved back to Sydney, I couldn’t afford to sign a lease on an apartment so I found a two-month sublet in Coogee to live in while I searched for work.
Coogee had changed a lot in the 14 years since my first visit but I still loved it. It had definitely become a lot busier and had been discovered by the tourist masses, not unlike its big brother, Bondi.
But despite this, it still had its laid-back charm and the beach was just as beautiful as it ever was. I was so happy to be finally living in Coogee, even if it was just for a short period.
It was such a great base to explore the other beaches of the Eastern Suburbs in Sydney too.
The Beaches of the Eastern Suburbs in Sydney
Coogee is one of the beach suburbs in the affluent Eastern Suburbs in Sydney and is 30 minutes by bus into the city (unless it is rush hour, where it can be double that).
Although it is a suburb of Sydney, it definitely retains a village-like feel with a bustling main street with lots of foot traffic, complete with a supermarket, retail outlets, restaurants, cafes, and bars.
The little one-bedroom apartment I was subletting was only five minutes walk from the beach and I could see the ocean from the bedroom window. On quiet nights I could hear the waves crashing.
It was a perfect time to be in Coogee, in the height of summer I could take advantage of the beach and the world-famous coastal walk right on my doorstep.
Other than the beach, probably the place I hung out the most was The Coogee Bay Hotel, a Sydney icon that has a sunny beer garden and was only a few steps from my door.
It is a massive place and is comprised of seven bars and a nightclub. It can get pretty rowdy on a Friday and Saturday night and that was one definite downside to living on Coogee Bay Road, those were earplug nights.
Most days I would walk along the coastal path towards Bondi, sometimes all the way but usually to one of the beaches in between.
There is a reason why the Bondi to Coogee walk is one of the top things to do when visiting Sydney; it may get crowded but it really is spectacular. Giant cliffs drop sharply into the frothy surf. Pods of Dolphins play offshore, catching waves beside bronze surf gods.
If you are lucky you can catch sight of humpback whales during their migration in winter. The coastal path winds above the cliffs with awesome ocean views pretty much the whole way.
Coogee is a stunning beach and although packed to the gills on weekends, there were never many people on weekdays, just us bums and a few tourists. Because of the rocky Wedding Cake Island perched just offshore, it was usually pretty calm so therefore not an attraction to surfers.
There did tend to be a consistent shore break which made it tricky to get in without getting pummelled. Once you were past that though you could float to your heart’s content, only needing to be mindful of man-eating sharks without the addition of rogue waves.
To avoid worrying about sharks altogether, Coogee has three beach pools. Three! Most beaches only have one if any at all. One of the pools is for women and children only, there is a pool right on the beach for everyone and a larger well maintained pool for laps where you have to pay entry.
I swam at the beachside pool a couple of times but there was another swimming area that I was a lot more interested in.
At the northern end of Coogee Beach, there is a memorial arch for the victims of the 2002 Bali bombings where 88 Australians lost their lives. There is one-word ‘Baths’ on the top of the arch but I couldn’t see where these ‘Baths’ were from the beach.
Walking up there for a closer look, I descended a steep set of stairs down to the rocks and discovered something fantastic: a natural rock ‘pool’ with crystal clear water to swim in.
The ‘pool’ was created by large rocks that blocked the waves with a little bit of artfully placed concrete and a couple more giant rocks to enclose the area further. It is such a great place for a swim. The water is so clean and clear here that you can open your eyes underwater.
Upon the cliff above the Baths is an unusual shrine to Coogee’s ‘Virgin Mary’. On 30th January 2003, a vision of the Virgin Mary was spotted from a Laundromat in Coogee that looked out over Dolphin Point.
This drew crowds from all over the city the following day when the vision showed up again between 3.30 pm and 5 pm. People prayed and cried, left rosaries and flowers by the fence post where the apparition appeared.
The vision was an optical illusion caused by the fence and the shadow it threw against the ground and headland, although many believed it was the blessed Virgin herself, with her appearance somehow related to the Bali bombing victims.
The fence was knocked down by vandals one month later and the apparition hasn’t been seen since. Now all that remains is the small shrine with some rosary beads, plastic flowers, and pictures of the Virgin.
Rugged Gordon’s Bay is the first cove over from Coogee. There is an underwater nature trail and it is popular for snorkeling. A lot of people swim off the rocks here too.
It is the least ‘beachy’ beach on the coastal walk with its rocky surroundings and fishing boats moored on the small seaweed-laden beach.
I think that is why it is so popular with Sydneysiders, it is something different.
Clovelly is a very narrow beach surrounded on both sides with concrete. Sunbathers lay out on the concrete and swimmers do laps from the small sandy beach to the rocky entry of the bay and back.
Another very popular beach but I’m not a big fan of all the concrete.
Nearby Waverley Cemetery has to have one of the best locations of any cemetery in the world. Cliffside overlooking the ocean, the mind boggles to think of what that piece of real estate would be worth now!
At least if you were buried there you know that relatives would visit, if only for the view.
Bronte Beach is the halfway point between Coogee and Bondi and along with its smaller neighbor, Tamarama, it is one of my favorite beaches in Sydney.
Bronte is one of the larger beaches along the coastal walk and is a lovely crescent shape with a surf club, large park, great cafes, beachside promenade, and man-made lap pool.
But the main reason that I adore Bronte is the rock pool. A natural rock pool like the one in Coogee, it also has incredibly clear, turquoise water and is a great spot for a dip. It is the best rock pool in the Sydney Eastern Beaches in my opinion.
Tamarama is another delightful beach in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. It is quite narrow but has a perfect patch of golden sand, a park with coin-operated BBQs, and a kiosk.
For some reason this beach tends to be the most empty, it could be because the waves can get quite rough here and there are no swimming signs up some of the time.
That is one of the main reasons that I like it, you can actually see the sand while other more popular beaches can seem like a mass of bodies with hardly a gap between them.
Mackenzies Bay is a small inlet that is popular with bodyboarders. Every seven years or so waves sweeping sand into the bay from nearby sand bars turn Mackenzies Bay into Mackenzies Beach.
The last time it was a beach was in 2019, so it may be a few years before this mythical beach appears again. Whether there is a beach there or not, it’s still a great place to hang out on the rocks and there are gorgeous coastal views from here.
Ah, Bondi. Probably the most famous beach in all of Australia and definitely the star of the Sydney Eastern Beaches. It is a gorgeous sight. As you round the coastline from Mackenzies Bay, the first thing you see is the beautiful Bondi Icebergs pool, turquoise waters perched out over the deep blue ocean.
Bondi Beach is the beach to see and be seen in the eastern suburbs in Sydney, and it has a gorgeous stretch of golden sand. The TV show, Bondi Rescue, is filmed here.
Surf shops line the promenade and there is great eating to be had along Hall Street and Bondi Road. For the most amazing gelato, don’t miss Gelato Messina – it’s heavenly.
Despite the backpacker crowd being fairly prevalent, there are still a lot of friendly locals fiercely proud of their little beach paradise. Every Sunday there is an eclectic market in the Bondi Beach Public School Grounds.
Fantastic hand-made jewelry, arts and crafts, vintage clothing and quirky gift options abound. The vendors are friendly and happy to chat and answer any questions about their products and it has a lovely local feel to it.
Walking south from Coogee on the lesser-known part of the coastal path, it takes about 1 – 1.5 hours to reach the surfie suburb of Maroubra. There are no beaches between Coogee and Maroubra, just a rocky coastline, but it is still beautiful.
There is a fantastic rock pool along the way, seemingly carved into the flat rock. It is definitely worth a stop for a swim in the crystalline water while waves crash nearby.
Maroubra is a lot less affluent than the other eastern suburbs beaches along the east coast and there is a lot of low-income housing in this beachside suburb. The notorious surf gang, the Bra Boys, live and surf in Maroubra.
The Bra Boys has produced more than a few top surfers and Bra boy Koby Abberton beat world champion, Kelly Slater, at the Australian Open held in Maroubra in 2004.
With its undeveloped rugged coastline and small, low-key main street, Maroubra is far removed from cosmopolitan Sydney and in that lies its charm.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time exploring the Eastern Suburbs beaches, despite the hecticness on weekends. It is a truly special part of Sydney that I think every visitor should experience.
How to Plan Your Sydney Eastern Beaches Vacation
Where to Stay in Sydney
Bondi and Coogee both have a few hostels – although I like Coogee more, I would recommend staying in Bondi as it has the best transport links of the beaches, with a train line nearby at Bondi Junction, as well as lots of buses.
Stay at Wake Up! Bondi Beach which has great reviews and is right on the beach. There are dorms and private rooms, and the rooftop has epic coastal views and free yoga classes.
In Coogee, stay at Mad Monkey Coogee Beach, which is also right on the beach and is known for its social atmosphere. There are dorms, private rooms and apartments to rent.
If you really want to be by the beach, go for Bondi – this has the best transport links of the beaches, with a train line nearby at Bondi Junction, as well as lots of buses.
The best hotels and bed and breakfasts in Bondi are The Chee Bondi Condo Hotel, Bondi Beach House Bed & Breakfast, and QT Bondi Condo Hotel.
The best vacation rentals in Bondi and Coogee are:
- One-Bedroom Apartment With Lap Pool Near Coogee
- Stunning Beachside Studio on Bondi Beach
- Contemporary Secluded Studio in North Bondi
- Tiny House Studio Apartment With Sea Views
- Sunny Bondi Studio With Garage, Balcony and Pool
The Best Insurance for Your Sydney Trip
Make sure you get travel and health insurance before your trip. Safety Wing is my go-to and they are cheap and easy to claim with – it auto-renews every month unless you turn it off so you don’t have to think about it for longer trips
Safety Wing also allows you to sign up when you are already traveling, unlike a lot of other travel insurance providers.
If you liked this post, check out more of my content about Sydney and its surrounds:
- The Ultimate Itinerary for 5 Days in Sydney
- The Best Sydney Walks
- 30 Reasons Why I Love Sydney
- Ultimate Bucket List for a Summer in Sydney
- Manly to Spit Walk: How To See the Best of Sydney Harbor
- Experiencing Real Autumn in the Blue Mountains of Australia
- The Best Long Weekend Blue Mountains Itinerary
- Celebrating Yulefest in the Blue Mountains of Australia
- Hiking the Other Grand Canyon in the Blue Mountains of Australia