We realise this headline has probably enraged a large number of hipsters... But, luckily for us, this Bondi-dwelling subgroup can be easily disarmed with a well-timed compliment on their beards, dedication to whole foods or ironic Hawaiian shirts.
The battle of Sydney’s two most iconic beaches has been taking place for as long as we can remember, with both sides jumping at any opportunity to talk up their beachside ‘burb while simultaneously rejecting all invitations to actually go and see what’s on offer in the competing camp. Ah, Sydneysiders, you’re a special bunch. Look, to be honest, there’s not much to complain about if you find yourself in either locale but we reckon we’ve found a few criteria that put Manly in pole position. It’s controversial, we know, but hear us out.
Criterion 1: Not the Distance but the Journey
Bondi locals love to tell anyone and everyone that their slice of sand sits a mere 7km from the CBD. Sure, this might be closer than Manly, which is 14km out of the city, but when it comes to public transport options we know where we’d rather be based. Manly has an 18 minute, licenced (yep, you can buy beers) fast ferry to and from the CBD that provides passengers with some of the most picturesque views of iconic Sydney Harbour. Those heading to or from Bondi are stuck with either the dreaded train and bus combo or the ‘express’ bus route that is the 333, which involves 45 minutes of being crushed up next to someone else’s armpit and trying not to nosedive into it every time the driver slams on the breaks. Hmm… tough choice.
Criterion 2: Sand, Surf and Seafaring
Boasting numerous patrolled areas with a reliably decent wave as well as a number of sheltered coves, Manly offers ample space for you and your mates to claim a spot on the beach. Hell, you can even build a sprawling sandcastle with metre-wide moat beside your towels should the mood take you. There’s also no shortage of things to keep you occupied in the water in Manly, where the standard beach-going options are bolstered by kayaking, windsurfing and snorkelling at the famous Shelley Beach. By comparison, Bondi, with its two patrolled beaches, offers visitors just the run of the mill options of swimming and surfing and, to be honest, you’re lucky if you can find a spot to set up camp during the warmer months that doesn’t involve being head to toe with a stranger’s smelly feet. Enticing? We think not.
Criterion 3: Yum-Yums for the Tum-Tums
There’s no shortage of food options in either suburb but there are definitely dominant food trends. In Bondi, you’ll find an abundance of rather unenticing superfood-centric creations, whereas in Manly you’ll discover a plethora of taste-bud-tingling-titbits. Obviously your preference depends on your taste (and current health goals) but we’d choose the eight-hour slow-cooked Wagyu brisket at Papi Chulo and the homemade waffles at Barefoot Coffee Traders over a gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and fun free ‘brownie’ any day of the week.
Criterion 4: Walkies
When it comes to leisurely walks, Bondi locals will tell you there’s no better option than the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, which traverses 6km of the city’s most stunning coastline. Unfortunately, the secret’s well and truly out on this one and chances are you’ll be sharing the path with 10,000 other people, invariably getting stuck behind a slow-walking family who appears to have a strong aversion to commuting in single file at any stage. On the other hand, over in Manly you can enjoy the picturesque 10km Manly to Spit Bridge or 9km Manly to North Head walk, both of which take ramblers through beautiful bushland and along spectacular coastline, presenting some pretty amazing views of the city and wide open ocean along the way. Sure, they’re still popular, but not nearly as overcrowded as Bondi’s offering. If you pick the right day you could probably even make the trek in a sumo suit without bothering anyone.
Criterion 5: Celebs of a Certain Calibre
Finally, if you need any more confirmation that Manly is indeed better than Bondi, we’ll just leave you with this fun little fact: Ellen DeGeneres and Beyoncé have both graced Manly with their queenly presence. You know where they haven’t been? Bondi.