Whether you’re visiting for the first time, or on a business trip for the twentieth time, it's easy to take advantage of the outdoor activities this stunning city has on offer and get a glimpse of what makes Sydney so desirable to the world. Bonus, get in a workout at the same time!
ON THE WATER
Surf without leaving the city
It's practically at cliche status but surfing is one of those activities that will have you hooked in no time. It challenges you to the core, literally and figuratively. There aren’t too many cities in the world where you can ride decent waves without leaving the city. Sydney is one of those places, with plenty of surf beaches to catch a wave or two on. You can rent boards and book lessons at Bondi, Maroubra or Manly Beach. Check or call ahead for tide times and swell conditions and be prepared for an exhilarating full body (and mind) workout.
More on surfing: read my surfing confessions (pg 36)
Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, may not be the newest outdoor activity in town anymore but there’s still plenty of you out there that haven’t given it a go. Have a couple of spare hours? Head over to Watson’s Bay, Rose Bay, Balmoral, or Manly to see what gliding across the water while standing really feels like. It’s a hard to top core and balance workout. Falling in is highly probably but it's all part of the experience. Don’t forget to look up though or you’ll miss the views from this uniquely upright perspective.
Ocean pool activities
If you don’t fancy a swim in the open ocean, dive into one of many ocean pools, one of the best inventions ever, in my opinion. From the iconic Icebergs at Bondi to hidden gems amongst the Northern Beaches, Sydney-siders and visitors alike are spoilt for choice here. Some (Icebergs) are better for lap swimming than others but there’s always room for standing pool exercises while staring out dreamingly onto the open ocean. You may never want to swim in a chlorinated pool again!
There’s something special about practicing yoga outdoors. Although there's more visual and auditory stimuli to take in, if you find a more secluded spot that stimuli will only add to the experience. Tuning into the sound of leaves rustling in the wind, waves crashing onto the shore, or birds calling in the distance is a great way to clear and focus your mind. Grab a mat (or towel if you’re not traveling with a mat) and head to an outdoor space that brings you peace of mind. Be forewarned, though: it may be difficult to practice yoga in a four-walled studio after you try this.
Explore Sydney’s coast
Once again, you won’t be lacking choice here.
Bondi to Coogee coastal walk
Allow 2 to 4 hours (swimming will add time).
This ever-popular walk is far from over-rated. The views are spectacular, the cliff faces dramatic and the swim spots just ideal. Hot tips: Walk it on a weekday for less traffic and be sure to wear a hat as the walk is fully exposed.
Spit to Manly coastal and bush walk
Allow a full day for this outdoor adventure.
More of a bush walk than the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, you’ll need more time for this one but you won’t be disappointed. Cool off in beautiful swimming coves as you walk your way to Manly Beach, the unofficial capital of the Northern Beaches.
Maroubra Beach coastal walk
Allow 2 hours.
For something more secluded, access this coastal walk at the south end of Maroubra Beach. Follow the markers around to Malabar beach. You can make it a loop by heading back along neighbourhood streets from Malabar beach. Follow the trail markings closely as you may not have someone in front of you to follow.
La Perouse coastal walk
Allow 3 to 4 hours.
Another spot away from the crowds, La Perouse is found at the southern end of the Eastern beaches. This mildly undulating coastal walk is set amongst a golf course and a National Park and can be accessed via Anzac Parade drive or Congwong Beach. Follow the marked trail around the headland toward Henry Head lighthouse. Shortly past Cape Banks, veer inland back to Anzac Parade via Cape Banks road. There’s plenty to explore here. Entrance into the ocean is possible (tide and swell dependent) but apart from Congwong and Little Congwong beaches, there are no other official beaches along this walk.
Middle Head bush walk
Allow a half to full day.
Want to combine a ferry ride, spectacular city views, quiet beaches and a walk? Don’t miss North Head then. Grab the Taronga Zoo ferry from Circular Quay, walk up past the zoo entrance, and head into the bush on your right. Those coveted city views will follow you along the headland where you’ll also stumble across several idyllic beaches. Follow this walk all the way to Balmoral Beach if you fancy a full day out.
This inner-city green space is a bubbling hub of morning and evening exercisers, 7 days a week. Definitely find your way here if you’re lacking workout motivation. The sight of people running, cycling, walking and bootcamp-ing all around you is bound to get you going. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of space for everyone, even the horseback riders. Walk, run or bike around the perimeter or make your own route via dirt trails and inner roads.
Natural beauty at its best
Despite multiple visits to the city, I’m always blown away by Sydney's natural beauty. I find myself wanting to spend most of my free time outdoors soaking it all in. Having spent most of my life thus far living in a city larger than Sydney, I know how frustrating big city life can be. I find that the annoying aspects of big city life, though, motivate me to seek out and appreciate the green spaces, for their refuge and ability to put things in perspective. And Sydney, with its endless harbour and spectacular coastline is truly hard to top. What outdoor activities are you looking forward to trying in your city? Tell me in the comments below.
Find more inspiration for outdoor pursuits, by reading:
For outdoor adventures in Auckland, check out: