Sadly, my Bondi to Manly adventure is done and dusted. It is such a glorious experience with every stage of the walk delivering stunning views, intriguing history and a wonderful opportunity to get the heart rate, and daily step count, UP.
Here are my top tips for this must-do walk.
What is it?
For the uninitiated, or those who have not heard me endlessly rabbitting on about it in the past, the Bondi to Manly Path is a +80km stretch of footpaths, boardwalks and bush paths linking Bondi Beach on the southern side of Sydney Harbour to Manly Beach, tucked behind North Head, on the northern side of the Harbour.
The path is pretty unique with its diversity, accessibility, and the fact that, often competing, local government areas have decided to work together to bring this journey into being.
- Stages: The path is divided into 8 stages of roughly 10km each. There is nothing stopping you walking multiple stages on the same day and, on most days I was out on the path, I did just that. Conversely if a shorter distance appeals, then check the Bondi to Manly website for connections to public transport and some suggested itineraries. You may be interested to know that the fastest time for completing the full length of the Bondi to Manly path is 6hrs and 9minutes. Hmm, not my idea of fun.
- Terrain: As I mentioned in the introduction, the walk offers a bit of everything in ascent, descent and the path underfoot. There are some stiff climbs up steep roads and sets of stairs that get the heart rate up and there are an equal number of lovely strolls through native bush over dirt paths, and smooth concrete paths with waves lapping at the edge.
- Accessibility: Some of the middle sections of the path are fully accessible to wheelchairs and/or prams, but you may have to plan some small detours to avoid steps and stairs. The team at Bondi to Manly have identified two mobility-friendly routes here.
- Signage & Waymarking: It has taken me nearly three years to walk the entire length of the path – scheduled during sporadic visits to Sydney. During that time, the signage and waymarking has improved dramatically and, on some sections, you could walk the entire stage just following the Buri Buri (whale) signs. I do recommend you download the Bondi to Manly app for a little reassurance if/when the signs disappear.
- Training: It is not really necessary to put in any serious training hours as the path is so well-connected to public transport, you could walk whatever distance suited you – 2km to 20km. Obviously you do need a certain level of fitness to make it enjoyable, but this path is open to all.
- What to Wear: Be comfortable. Along the path you will meet everyone from lycra-clad Yummy Mummies to strolling octogenarians. Wear whatever you damn well please. I recommend a good hat to protect you from our serious sun and some good sneakers, or those walking sandals. Hiking boots are not necessary
- What to Carry: Carry whatever your essentials be. I recommend you pack some sunscreen, snacks and a water bottle. While there are cafés at various points along the path, the ability to walk independently without having to rely on regular food stops, gives you a whole lot more flexibility. Many of the Council areas you pass through provide filtered water bubblers to top up your water bottle and staying hydrated is vital when it is hot. Also, don’t forget your phone/camera. You will definitely want to capture some of the breathtaking views.
- Getting There/Away: As mentioned previously, the entire length of the path is really well-connected to public transport – buses, trains and ferries. I especially loved the ferry rides. Go to Transport NSW to plan your trip. An Opal Card is super-convenient to access all forms of public transport.
- Where to Stay: Your choice of accommodation depends on two things (1) your walking plan, and (2) your budget. You could easily use a hub-and-spoke model by basing yourself in the Sydney CDB and travelling out to the different stages each day. Some of the suburbs you walk through have a few accommodation options and, what they do have, are expensive. AirBnB may be a good option.
- There is very little not to love about this path.
- Sometimes the signage did disappear, but the app on my phone fixed that quick smart.
- The Ending: Finishing at Manly Beach was a small let down as there is no ‘The End’ or “Ta-Da-You-Did-It” signage. That is a small thing in the scheme of 80km of pure joy.
- It’s too hard to pick a favourite section as they were all so diverse and each seemed to showcase a different aspect of Sydney and its history.
- History: I loved learning so much about our indigenous, colonial and military history. Many sections include comprehensive interpretative information boards and I think I would still be out there walking if I stopped and read every single sign.
- Views: The views range from sweeping water views across the glorious Sydney Harbour, to small windows through pockets of lush bushland, hidden beaches and coves, to million-dollar yachts bobbing in secluded bays. Stunning!
It is a terrible cliché, but the Bondi to Manly walk is a ‘must-do’ activity. For visitors to Sydney, you will experience the Emerald City in all her glory, going off the main tourist drag in many places and revelling in the well-trodden paths that edge the Harbour. For locals, the Bondi to Manly Path will reveal a few of Sydney’s hidden stories, good and bad history, and create serious housing envy as you stroll through the well-heeled streets of luxury suburbs.
- have a few days to spare
- feel like a city break, or
- enjoy a good walk
don’t miss the Bondi to Manly Walk.
Is there anything I have forgotten to tell you? Happy to answer any questions.
For a review of each stage, see my posts describing:
- Stage 1 from Bondi Beach to Watsons Bay – here
- Stage 2 from Watsons Bay to Rose Bay – here
- Stage 3 from Rose Bay to Darling Point – here
- Stage 4 from Darling Point to Kirribilli – here
- Stage 5 from Kirribilli to Taronga Zoo – here
- Stage 6 from Taronga Zoo to Spit Bridge – here
- Stage 7 from Spit Bridge to Manly Wharf – here
- Stage 8 from Manly Wharf to Manly Beach – here
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