Looking to do the Bondi to Manly walk but not sure how to do it? Our new expat writer, Lucy Timperley recently completed the epic 80KM walk in one weekend! Since moving to Sydney just over a year ago, she told us how the Bondi to Manly walk is one of the best things to do in Sydney.
Originally from Manchester UK, Lucy is living the Bondi dream! She’s sharing everything she’s learnt about taking on the Manly to Bondi or Bondi to Manly walk so you’ll know what to expect when you do it too. Make sure you check out Lucy’s Instagram to follow her adventures around Sydney.
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Lucy’s Previous Hiking Experience
I am fairly active and really enjoy walking, but have never walked more than 20km in one sitting before. I’ve also never done a multiple-day hike so I really had no idea what to expect.
I absolutely love the variety of coastal walks in Sydney which often include beautiful rock pools to swim in on a nice day and spectacular cliff top views. My favourite Sydney walks so far have been the Hermitage Foreshore Walk and Spit-Manly, both of which feature in this Bondi to Manly hike. Because I love these Sydney walks so much, I knew I needed to tackle the Bondi to Manly coastal walk.
Although this is a rough Bondi to Manly walk map, it also goes into North Head in Manly as well. The 80KM track will take you right around the Sydney Harbour where you’ll be able to discover various hidden gems in Sydney. Expect to find beautiful rock pools, ocean pools and so many walking tracks, you’ll wonder if you’re still in the city!
Bondi To Manly Walk Accommodation
Because you can split the walk up into multiple days if you like, we chose to do it on one weekend. Because I live in Bondi, we chose to stay in Vibe Hotel in North Sydney which is halfway around the full 80km walk.
Depending where you live, I would really recommend treating yourself to a hotel for the evening to avoid a very early start on the second day. Also, the luxury of a hotel room with a nice bath and a rooftop pool just in time for sunset was just what we needed after a long day of hiking!
How long to allow to walk from Bondi to Manly?
I was first inspired to do the hike after seeing the above hyper lapse video on Facebook by The Guardian, which I just thought looked incredible. I’d also seen various signs for Bondi-Manly when doing other walks such as the Hermitage Foreshore walk so decided to do a bit of research on what it would involve.
I downloaded the Bondi To Manly WalkAppwhich summarises all the options for planning your walk over the course of 1-day up to an 8-day hike. From there we decided that the 2-day hike might be achievable. We completed the full walk as a group of 5 girlfriends with a couple of other friends joining us for various sections along the way. This is the beauty about this walk, you can technically bring loads of friends and family along to join you for during different sections if they don’t want to do the entire walk.
Is It Better To Start Bondi or Manly?
The app only covers the route with Bondi as the starting point and the signage along the way also shows Bondi to Manly Walk so it is probably easiest to navigate this way round. I don’t think either route would be more or less hilly (or beautiful) so it really is up to you depending on your navigational skills!
How To Plan The Walk
The Bondi To Manly App recommends completing the walk in two stages:
Day 1: Bondi – The Rocks (35km, 10 hours)
Day 2: The Rocks – Manly (45km, 12 hours)
I would actually recommend splitting the walk more evenly than the app suggests, finishing at North Sydney on Day 1. That way you also get to finish the day by crossing Sydney Harbour Bridge which feels like a fantastic reward!
The app gives you information on various viewpoints, aboriginal rock engravings and points of interest along the way, as well as helpfully pointing out public toilets. We judged our start time each day based on the sunset time (around 5.30pm in September) and worked backwards as we didn’t really want to be walking in the dark.
Bondi To Manly Walk Highlights!
So I’m going to break it down and share some of my Bondi to Manly walk highlights with you which includes some fab lunch spots!
Day 1 Highlights
The start of Day 1 takes you from Bondi up to Camp Cove where you can stop for a delicious bag of freshly squeezed orange juice.
From here, you head down past Watson’s Bay and join the Hermitage Foreshore walk to Rose Bay just in time for lunch. There are plenty of café choices in Rose Bay if you prefer something lighter, or we went for carb-loading option at the Rose Bay RSL right on the water.
Leaving Rose Bay, you follow the coastal route past Redleaf Beach and up to Rushcutters Bay before passing through the Botanical Gardens with amazing views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House (see photo).
We stopped for an ice cream at Circular Quay before crossing the Harbour Bridge to finish off Day 1.
Day 2 Highlights
I’d recommend getting an early night for an early start on Day 2. We grabbed a coffee about 6.30am in North Sydney to start us off with the aim of getting through 10km before a breakfast stop. The path takes you the coastal route through Kirribilli and Cremorne with different vantage points of the harbour.
We stopped for breakfast at Mosman Rowers which was absolutely lovely, again right on the water and no need to deviate from the path at all to visit. After breakfast, you pass the zoo and join the Taronga-Balmoral walk which is a beautifully hidden boardwalk through the foliage.
On reaching Balmoral we had a well-earned coffee and cake stop (and sock change!) – the end is quite literally in sight from this point with the best of the walk yet to come.
The Spit-Manly section of the walk to complete the hike is absolutely beautiful with lots of hidden white sand beaches, clear blue water and stunning waterfront homes. The views on the way down to Spit Bridge were my favourite part of the whole walk.
What’s The Hardest Part About Doing The Walk?
The South side (Bondi to the Rocks) signage isn’t as good as the North side but it is fairly easily to just follow the coastline and use the app to navigate to the next point (it is linked to Google Maps) to keep you on track.
Unusually, the soles of my feet were the sorest part. I would really recommend bringing a spare pair of trainers to try to combat this if possible (see below) and definitely some spare socks too. It also rained a lot on the morning of Day 2 so that made it pretty miserable but the rain ponchos helped!
What To Pack
For your day bag, I’d bring the following: a large bottle of water (there were plenty of places to fill up along the route so no need to take enough to last you the whole day), some plasters, suncream, a couple of spare pairs of socks, some snacks (e.g. protein balls, sweets etc.) and a waterproof rain mac.
If you’re able to, I would really recommend dropping a bag at the hotel beforehand – The Vibe hotel were very accommodating in letting us do this and then leave the bag in storage the next day to collect on your way back from the walk or a few days later as we did. This really helped minimise the amount we needed to carry on the actual hike.
In your overnight bag, in addition to your usual toiletries, pyjamas and activewear for the next day, I would put in some Epsom salts, a spare pair of trainers for the next day, a pair of flip flops to wear in the evening (trust me you won’t want to put your trainers back on for dinner!) and swimwear if your hotel has a pool.
Things I Wish I Knew Before I Did The Walk
If you have the luxury of time, doing the hike over more than two days, I would recommend doing so. That way, you can stop for more breaks and maybe a swim along the way. We felt like we were quite rushed to get round within daylight hours so if you want to go at a more relaxed pace, three or even four days would be better.
Alternatively, I have heard of people doing the walk over a couple of weekends which would allow the feet to recover!
My three main tips for completing the Bondi to Manly Walk!
1. Make sure you check the weather forecast and pack accordingly. It wasn’t much fun at all in the rain so I would recommend booking a cancellable hotel if possible so you can make a judgement call nearer the time if the weather is bad.
2. Ask people to join you for parts of the walk. It was lovely to have some new company at various different parts. You can send you location on WhatsApp so they can track where you are up to.
3. Definitely take a spare pair of trainers, either in your day bag or your overnight bag at the hotel. Wearing the same pair for two days definitely took its toll!
Favourite Part Of The Hike
I absolutely loved the walk It was such an amazing way to see the beautiful Sydney Harbour from lots of different vantage points and also for exploring new areas I had never been to before, even though I live in Sydney. I now have a long list of beaches (you pass 36 on the hike!) and restaurants on my list to return to!
We hope we’ve inspired you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new in Sydney. Not only will you feel proud of yourself for completing this epic Sydney walk, you’ll feel more empowered to get out and explore more of the best things to do in Sydney!
Read More Sydney City Walks
Looking for more walks in Sydney to complete? Read our Sydney guides below!