#10: Why I didn’t lie out at Bondi Beach

March 24, 2011 in Australia,New South Wales,Places

As soon as I decided to go to Sydney, I started daydreaming about long, sun-drenched days at Bondi Beach–so much so that I included it in my Australia bucket list.

Bondi Beach on a stormy day in Sydney, Australia

Bondi Beach is synonymous with Sydney beach culture: I didn’t even realize that Sydney had other beaches! It seems like Bondi is the only beach you ever hear about. I was pleasantly surprised to find Bronte Beach while doing the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, and to learn about Manly Beach from a local.

Maybe not at Bondi, but “lying out” has always been one of my favorite activities. Sunny weather, a good book, a bottle of sunscreen and a colorful bikini are all I need for a very satisfied day. The whole swimming thing is a bit secondary. I’ve never liked getting my face wet—well, more accurately, I haven’t quite mastered not breathing in underwater. Or not opening my eyes with very-not-waterproof contacts in. The refreshing, azure water is there to splash on, cool off–swimming is best left to the fish!

And those are my issues in the controlled environment of a swimming pool. Growing up around lakes and rivers—and even then, I tend to stick to chlorine environments—I don’t fare well in oceans. I’m terrified of getting the wind knocked out of me by a big wave (which happened plenty of times when I was learning to surf in Hawaii), or being swept out to sea (knock on wood, hasn’t happened yet).

Ocean pools at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia

Especially after learning about the risks that awaited me in Australian waters. Rip currents. Sharks. Blue box jelly fish.  Did you know that if you’re caught in a rip current, you’re supposed to swim parallel to shore and stay calm? This is surely not what my first instinct would be if I was being swept out to sea. And that blue box jelly fish are the most lethal creature in the entire world?

And then, right when I was considering that odds of me actually dying in Australian waters were probably far less to me driving on Australian roads (you know, being reasonable and such), my roommate flipped on a show called Bondi Rescue. It’s the real-life version of Baywatch, complete with hot lifeguards and people constantly drowning in the surf. I only needed to watch one episode to know that I did want to end up like the Korean guy vomiting up buckets full of water. On TV. Not only in front of the hot lifeguards, but in front of an audience of plenty of hot Australians. No, no, I didn’t want to be that girl.

Street art on a stormy day on Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia

The risks of Bondi Beach aren’t limited to the water. Since it’s such a tourist hotspot, theft is common. Best not to leave your goods unattended on the beach while testing the waters–as I often do when I’m solo.

Basically, laying out—or, God forbid actually swimming— at Bondi Beach isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Even though it was #10 on my Australia bucket list, I really have no qualms about missing it. I discovered the beaches that aren’t quite as high on the tourist checklist, yet are still plenty popular with locals—for good reason.

And honestly? Since I didn’t want the papers to be splashed with “Travel blogger dies violent ocean death,” I pretty much stayed out of the water altogether. At the very least, I got a nice tan…

  • I’m with you that swimming in the ocean is best left for the fish. I do enjoy snorkelling though — in calm waters. Preferably warm, calm waters.

  • Megan Alley19

    Swim parallel to shore and stay calm!?

    I would be dead in 2 minutes.

  • I’ll take a tan any day!

  • “I did want to end up like the Korean guy vomiting up buckets full of water. On TV. Not only in front of the hot lifeguards, but in front of an audience of plenty of hot Australians. No, no, I didn’t want to be that girl.”

    I LOVED that episode, that guy was soo luck to live!

    You could have been a TV star, just like him if you had a paddle 😉

  • Candice walsh

    Ah, but good for pictures too. :)

  • Anonymous

    I do like snorkeling in Hawaii! I actually have quite a few beaches in Maui that I love–super shallow, warm water, quiet waves, pretty fish. Just right for me!

  • Anonymous

    You seriously need to read “In a Sunburned Country” by Bill Bryson about Australia. You would love it–I was reading his part about drowning in the ocean while lying at the beach for the first time and was just dying laughing.

  • Anonymous

    Right?! I still wear SPF but sunshine just makes me happier!

  • Anonymous

    Haha I think I shall totally forsake fame for a quiet afternoon on the sand–no way would I want to swallow that much water! That guy was super lucky to live, and it really shows how dedicated Australian life savers are. Either way, I don’t want my mom to see me on TV that way!

  • Anonymous

    Very true! The beaches are definitely gorgeous.

  • An Irish backpacker got caught up in a rip off Coogee this week. She ended up being rescued by one of Australia’s most famous football players!! Could have been you! I much prefer non-Bondi beaches in Sydney.

  • Wifeyofaroadie

    Hey Christine, really enjoyed this! Didn’t spend much time at Bondi either when I was there but I did like Sydney Harbour and Manly Harbour Village. Check out my post at wifeyofaroadie.com. You crack me up! I’ll give you a follow on Twitter.

    Wifey of a Roadie – Out!

  • be sure to get to some other beaches in australia. byron bay maybe?
    sweet pics though. the clouds look volatile.

  • Choco_mademoiselle

    nice pictures :) I’m glad you at least got a nice tan!
    have fun!
    angie_cro

  • Wow so much that I would have missed especially about how to swim in the rip tide. Not with swimming with sharks! Cross that off the bucket list and find a new beach.

  • I did know that I am supposed to swim parallel to the beach if caught in a riptide but stay calm?? Yea sure! I think I’ll settle for a tan too.

  • I’ve been in Manly for the last week and have been too scared to swim because of the massive waves and rips and I’m a strong swimmer! You might find the west coast beaches are more to your liking. The water is much, much calmer, especially if you go early in the morning before the sea breeze comes in, and there are a fewer people around so little chance of theft. The water is cleaner too. :)

  • Anonymous

    I mean, I guess I wouldn’t mind being rescued by one of Australia’s most famous football players (but only if they’re cute and subsequently fall in love with me!). I really liked the non-Bondi beaches, but I was still a bit wary of going swimming by myself–didn’t want to get swept away with no one to notice me gone!

  • Anonymous

    Glad you enjoyed it! Just walking through Bondi on the coastal walk was enough for me :) Just followed you on Twitter as well!

  • Anonymous

    I did the coastal walk on a very stormy day–although it ended up being sunny by Coogee! I’ll definitely have to check out Byron Bay–any other recs?

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! Can’t wait to check out Croatia beaches (someday!).

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, isn’t the rip tide thing ridiculous? I think they should talk about that on the plane ride to Australia, since no tourists are familiar with it!

  • Anonymous

    I’m pretty sure I would have no chance if I were caught in a rip tide. NO chance. At least I know what I’m good at–staying on land!

  • Anonymous

    Ohhh good to know. Any in particular you recommend?

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  • There definitely a lot of creatures in the ocean that can kill you, but staying informed and using common sense will keep you out of 99% of those life-or-death scenarios. Let’s take Jellyfish. To set the record straight, two popular types live in Australia’s waters. The first, the Portuguese Man o’ War (even though not technically a true jellyfish) is more commonly known in Australia as a bluebottle. You’ll see these guys washing up on the beaches of New South Wales (and possibly further north as well). It looks like a little inflated ballon with one long tentacle. They sting, and it hurts, but they don’t kill. The pain from a sting lasts about an hour. The second popular type is the Box Jellyfish, found swimming near beaches in Queensland between October and May. The sting from these jellys can be (and has been) lethal, but more often than not, the victims of the Box Jellyfish sting have survived.

  • Choco_mademoiselle

    :)) croatia’s beaches are wonderful :) and you can swim freely, there are no sharks.. :)

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been stung from a jellyfish in Nice–even if it doesn’t kill you, it’s still pretty darn painful! Certainly not an experience I’d care to repeat!

  • Lauren Fritsky

    That beach does have a strong current. Last time I swam in it, my friend and I were pulled really far from where we started. I stated in Bondi when I first came to Oz, and people in m hostel would go swimming at night — I was like no freaking way!

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely not! I didn’t even go in at Bronte past my knees!!!

  • Renee Eggers

    Too funny!! Way to sensationalise the risks of swimming at the beach – that’s why you are supposed to ‘swim between the flags’ so you don’t actually end up in a rip, or near jellyfish, and there are these fabulous things called shark nets that keep the rest of the nasties out (most of the time) 😉 Your photos are suitably dramatic – love it :) i hope you haven’t scared too many people off the amazing Aussie beaches – swimming is my favourite part! See you soon xo

  • Anonymous

    Haha you sound like SUCH AN AUSTRALIAN! I need you to give me some survival tips next time I hit up Sydney beaches. xo

  • I didn’t lay out at Bondi either! There were too many other beautiful beaches to explore nearby.

  • Anonymous

    Good choice! Glad I’m not the only one who missed it :)

  • I got caught in a riptide in New Zealand a few years ago – swimming parallel does actually work but what they don’t tell you is that by the time you’ve worked out you can’t swim straight back in you’re absolutely knackered!!! Luckily a lifeguard was on hand with a surf board for me to lie on…

  • I got caught in a riptide in New Zealand a few years ago – swimming parallel does actually work but what they don’t tell you is that by the time you’ve worked out you can’t swim straight back in you’re absolutely knackered!!! Luckily a lifeguard was on hand with a surf board for me to lie on…

  • I got caught in a riptide in New Zealand a few years ago – swimming parallel does actually work but what they don’t tell you is that by the time you’ve worked out you can’t swim straight back in you’re absolutely knackered!!! Luckily a lifeguard was on hand with a surf board for me to lie on…

  • I got caught in a riptide in New Zealand a few years ago – swimming parallel does actually work but what they don’t tell you is that by the time you’ve worked out you can’t swim straight back in you’re absolutely knackered!!! Luckily a lifeguard was on hand with a surf board for me to lie on…

  • Anonymous

    That sounds absolutely terrifying, and right about what would probably happen to me. That’s why I’m staying out of the water!

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