With more than 241 km of spectacular shoreline, Sydney is an ocean lover’s paradise. Its lush headlands offer views from all angles — especially when dolphins and whales put on a show — and beachside suburbs drip with local culture and flavour. And now, with a freshly minted multiday coastal walk that connects many of the city’s iconic landmarks, neighbourhoods, and natural wonders, it’s easier than ever to explore the blue lungs of Australia’s largest city in one magnificent journey.
The 50-mile (80 km) Bondi to Manly Walk (also known as the B2M) is one of just a handful of urban coastal treks in the world. Linking the city’s most beloved surf beaches and winding around the famous Sydney Harbour, the trail meanders past clifftop viewpoints, secluded coves, architectural wonders like the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, and important Indigenous sites like the Aboriginal engravings at Grotto Point. The B2M route, which makes use of existing well-maintained walkways and bush walking tracks, officially opened in December 2019, but saw upgrades in 2022 when Australia reopened its borders to travellers. And with new attractions and experiences popping up along the route, there’s even more reason to add this beach-to-beach trek to your next Australia adventure.
How to plan your coastal walk in Australia
The entire trail takes about four days to a week to complete (when walking about six to 12 miles or 10 -19 km each day and stopping for activities and swims), but there are several itineraries that split the trek into two- or three-day routes, as well as shorter hikes that can be done within an hour.
Created in collaboration with Local Aboriginal Land Councils, the trail is marked with more than 350 Aboriginal whale symbol signs. A digital walking app is also available for download, allowing hikers to navigate as they go. As you’ll be returning to your hotel each night, there’s no need to carry a big backpack, but you’ll want to have sun protection and water.
The easy- to moderate-grade journey has segments that are accessible to those with disabilities, as well as some kid-friendly walks. Outdoor enthusiasts can trek straight through or opt to stop for activities, from climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge with an Indigenous storyteller guide as part of BridgeClimb’s Burrawa Indigenous Experience to checking out the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which will welcome its highly anticipated Sydney Modern Project — the city’s most significant cultural development since the opera house — in December 2022.
Highlights along the way
The trail officially starts at one of Australia’s most famous surf beaches, Bondi Beach, where you’ll want to grab a coffee at Porch & Parlour and visit the historic Bondi Icebergs Club. The walk continues along the eastern suburbs’ coastline toward South Head, where sheer ocean cliffs like The Gap reward hikers with unparalleled views over the Tasman Sea. After visiting the heritage-listed Hornby Lighthouse, loop around to Watsons Bay, where you’ll want to stop for some well-earned fish and chips at Doyles on the Beach Restaurant.
The next stretch takes hikers past historical cottages and magnificent Victorian-era homes. Don’t miss a dip in Parsley Bay, one of the many beaches you’ll pass along the way, before continuing along the Hermitage Foreshore Walk toward Sydney Harbour and highlights like Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, a bench carved into the sandstone by convicts in 1810. A slew of new tours led by Aboriginal guides allow travellers to experience Sydney’s iconic landmarks from a fresh perspective — whether it be an Aboriginal Bush Tucker Tour in The Royal Botanic Garden or learning about the relationship between Sydney’s first inhabitants and the Harbour on The Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour with Dreamtime Southern X.
After meeting the koalas at Taronga Zoo, marvel at the Aboriginal rock art at Reef Beach and Grotto Point. The final stretch of the walk loops around Manly, one of Australia’s most picturesque beachside enclaves. Stop at Shelly Beach, which is renowned for its sea life — much of which has flourished thanks to efforts made to restore important seaweed species. See the underwater forests up close on a snorkelling tour with Ecotreasures or grab lunch at The Boathouse Shelly Beach — a local favourite — before catching the ferry back to Circular Quay.
Best time to visit
The weather is most favourable from September to November and February to May, when temperatures range between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit (20-25 degrees Celsius). The annual humpback whale migration takes place from May to November, and peaks in July and September, so those months are ideal for anyone looking to see the majestic creatures from shore or on a boat tour.
Where to stay
Since Sydney is well-connected by public transit, it’s best to choose a base near the Central Business District to return to after each day of walking, also eliminating the hassle of transferring luggage.
In the stylish inner-city suburb of Surry Hills, Paramount House Hotel (located in the former Australia headquarters of Paramount Picture Studios) offers a hip base complete with a wine bar, rooftop bakery, and the destination-worthy Paramount Coffee Project, where morning fuel comes in the form of artful avocado toast and an expertly crafted flat white. Closer to the water, the upscale Ovolo Woolloomooloo offers design-forward loft suites in an industrial-chic heritage wharf building that also houses one of the city’s top plant-based restaurants, Alibi. Along with some cool historical features (including some of Sydney’s oldest elevators), the hotel throws in perks like complimentary minibar snacks and social hour cocktails for those craving a post-hike sundowner.
This story first appeared on www.travelandleisure.com
Main and Feature Image Credit: Courtesy of Tourism Australia