You are in Sydney for a few days, and you want to go to the beach. You will straight away face a challenge: Bondi Beach or Manly Beach? What’s the best beach in Sydney (Australia)? The Bondi vs Manly is always a great debate.

Bondi Beach and Manly Beach are the two most famous beaches in Sydney, a fabulous city that’s on the must-see list for anyone touring Australia. Despite their differences, they will both serve you the Australian cliche. So, how to choose between Manly or Bondi Beach? First, if you have time to visit both, do it. But if you have to pick one, I hope this will help.

Why I would recommend Manly Beach

Manly Beach Sydney
Manly Beach Sydney

1. Manly includes a ferry trip around Sydney Harbour

It’s so much nicer to go to the beach by taking a boat rather than the bus. And if you time it well, you can even get a magical sunset on the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.

2. Manly has the bay and the ocean

In Manly, the calm bay is only one street away from the lively ocean! It is ideal for water-based activities like kayaking (check out this post about our kayaking in Manly) or sailing. There are many things to do in Manly for nature lovers.

Kayaking Sydney Harbour from Manly

3. The atmosphere in Manly is chilled

Manly is relaxed. You quickly forget you’re close to a big city. I find the ambience there nicer than in Bondi. Bondi is busier – which will please some people of course.

4. The cafes and restaurants in Manly are better

If Manly is a bit more expensive than Bondi for eating out, the options and the quality are more attractive. If you’re more into bars and nightclubs, then pick Bondi.

5. There’s a marine reserve in Manly

Just a few minutes walk from Manly Ocean Beach, Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve is famous for snorkelling. To find it, aim for Shelly Beach. There are many fish hanging around the rocks (including curious blue gropers) and they often spot Port Jackson sharks in the more sandy area. If you don’t have snorkelling equipment or don’t feel comfortable snorkelling by yourself, you can join a tour (click here*) where they will provide equipment and a guide. You can read more about scuba diving Shelly Beach and the Cabbage Tree Bay Reserve here.

Why I would recommend Bondi Beach

bondi beach sydney
Bondi Beach Sydney

1. Bondi is close to the city centre

It only takes 15 minutes to drive to Bondi from Sydney CBD.

2. The Bondi to Coogee coastal hike is awesome

The Bondi to Coogee walk is amongst my favourite around Sydney. I particularly liked the rock formations and the quiet bays. A good alternative to escape from the crowd on the main beach. It is an easy walk: allow two hours to complete the 6km simple track slowly.

There are great hikes in Manly too with views of the harbour or the ocean. But they are less accessible. You’ll have to walk 30 minutes across the town to start the easy Fairfax Walk, on top of the cliffs. The Spit Bridge to Manly is my favourite walk there, but the 10km are not that easy if you’re just looking for a beach day. It’s also possible to walk on the ocean side from Manly to Dee Why (and come back by bus if you want). It’s spectacular, but I still prefer the Bondi to Coogee walk.

Manly to Spit Bridge

3. Bondi Beach is the place to surf

The first surf club ever was established in Bondi. Although you can surf in Manly, Bondi is iconic for this. And the waves are better.

Don’t know how to surf? That’s fine. You can click here to book a surfing lesson in Bondi*.

4. The atmosphere in Bondi is lively

I know, I know. Manly was cited earlier for its atmosphere being nicer than Bondi. But in the end, a good atmosphere is very subjective. If you’re more into partying, then you will like Bondi better.

So, which one would YOU pick? Bondi Beach or Manly Beach? What’s the best beach in Sydney (Australia)? Leave a comment below!

Planning a trip to Sydney? I recommend staying near the CBD. Circular Quay or Darling Harbour are both close to the water and very scenic. From there, you can easily catch a bus or a train to explore the Sydney region. Click here to check availabilities*.

Where are Manly Beach and Bondi Beach?

Both Manly Beach and Bondi Beach are located in Sydney in New South Wales, Australia.

Manly Beach is in the northern suburbs of Sydney. From Sydney CBD, you can catch the ferry to visit the bay for 30 minutes (or even half this time if you board a fast ferry!) and finish your trip in Manly. You can also go there by bus.

Bondi Beach is in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. From Sydney CBD, you can catch a bus for 30 minutes (or a train + a bus) to go there. Alternatively, there are nicer ways to reach Bondi: ride a speedboat around Sydney Harbour (click here to book*) or a tourist hop-on-hop-off double-deck bus (click here to book*) for example.

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Sydney: Manly or Bondi Beach?


Eloise is the creator and writer of She writes about her experiences exploring exotic destinations and finding hidden gems closer to home. Her goal is to share tips and stories to inspire and encourage others to go on their own adventures. She loves outdoor and nature-based activities like scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and sailing. She grew up in France and has lived in England and Turkey before calling Australia home for the past decade. So let's get ready for another adventure!

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