The Bondi to Watsons Bay Walk spans a beautiful stretch of coastline on Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Forming the beginning section of the Bondi to Manly Walk – the 80km coastal path that connects Bondi to Manly on the Northern Beaches, the Bondi to Watsons Bay northbound walk is a lot quieter than the Bondi to Coogee Walk that goes south from Bondi Beach. Nevertheless, the Bondi to Watsons Bay Walk is still a fairly popular walk, and there are actually lots of beautiful hidden spots along the way – read on to discover them!
The Bondi to Watsons Bay is a 8km one-way walk. However do note that the first 3km of the walk goes uphill (though not too steep and perfectly manageable) along mostly residential streets so you won’t have any coastal views for a while. There are also several sections of the walk where you’ll have a gorgeous view but then the coastal path ends and you need to walk on streets again for a little bit which can sometimes be irritating. Whilst the Bondi to Watsons Bay Walk isn’t my favourite out of the Sydney coastal walks, there are certainly sections of it that I absolutely love – in particular along the last 5km which is known as the Federation Cliff Walk or Waverley Cliff Walk.
If you don’t have time to do the whole 8km walk (which should take under 2.5 hours), or would just prefer to skip out the part where there are no views, you can start the walk at Dudley Page Reserve and end at Watsons Bay (this is the Federation Cliff Walk). This will shorten the walk by almost a half.
How to get to Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach is located just 7km east of the centre and can be easily reached from Sydney CBD.
Just take the 333 bus from Circular Quay all the way to Bondi Beach.
Parking can be quite scarce and really expensive at Bondi Beach (around $8 per hour). If you are doing this walk by car I suggest to park at Watsons Bay (it is easier to get a parking spot here providing you get here early at the weekend!) as there is lots of parking in Watsons Bay that is free and unlimited. Take the 380 bus from Watsons Bay (by The Gap) all the way to Bondi Beach and then walk back to Watsons Bay.
Bondi Beach is a very popular beach and one of Australia’s most well-known beaches so it is always extremely busy here. It is also the most famous surf beach in Australia as the waves are great here! You’ll most likely recognise it from the TV show Bondi Rescue – which shows the Bondi lifeguards regularly doing rescues. It was here that the world’s first Surf Lifesaving Club was formed.
Bondi Beach is busy, full of life and is a great place to sit and enjoy the sun and great atmosphere for a while before starting the walk to Watsons Bay. There are plenty places at the pavilion and on the parade to grab food or a coffee, and there are toilets, showers and changing rooms by the beach.
It is also worth noting that at the southern end of Bondi Beach is the Icebergs Swimming Pool. This is one of the most scenic ocean pools and definitely one of the most Instagrammable places in Sydney so you should definitely stop off and have a look before starting the walk. If you do fancy going for a swim here it costs $8. This is an iconic pool and is definitely something you should add onto your Sydney bucket list!
If you don’t want to swim in the pool and you only want to get a picture, you can get the aerial picture below from street level when you are standing on Notts Avenue overlooking the pool – as if you are heading south to Bronte.
BONDI BEACH TO WATSONS BAY WALK
Distance: 8km (can be shortened to 5km if starting from Dudley Page Reserve)
Level: fairly easy – mostly flat. The walk follows paths, parks and paved roads and is pretty easy to navigate.
To start the walk, head to the north of Bondi Beach. You’ll see the Children’s Rock Pool, walk around them and on the rock shelf for a little bit, then when you can’t go any further head onto one of the residential streets by Ray O’Keefe Reserve. Head up Brighton Boulevard and on to Campbell Parade. If the water is particularly rough just head straight onto Campbell Parade from the beach and make your way towards Military Road.
Walk up Military Road for about half a kilometre, past Bondi Golf & Diggers Club. You’ll then see Williams Park and the golf club on your right – head down the path for about 200 metres and you’ll come to a roped area of rock that contains some incredibly well-preserved Aboriginal engravings of fish, an emu and several other creatures. There are many Aborginal engravings in the National Parks around Sydney, but it’s not often you’ll see them just on a cliff edge, especially right near such a touristy area! Enjoy the stunning views before heading back onto Military Road to continue the walk uphill. It goes a little inland so you won’t have any sea views for a little while.
As mentioned earlier, this part of the walk is pretty uneventful until you get to Dudley Page Reserve as you’ll be walking uphill on residential streets (albeit the houses are stunning and absolutely huge!). It is almost 3km to Dudley Page Reserve so it will take you around 35 minutes or so to get here from Bondi Beach. This is the steepest part of the walk but it is still perfectly manageable.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of green patches you can wander off onto – one being Raleigh Reserve. Turn right off Military Road onto Raleigh Street, which is about 1km on from the Aboriginal engravings. At the end of Raleigh Street you’ll come to Raleigh Reserve which leads into Rodney Reserve. From the reserve you can see some nice sea views, but you’ll need to get back onto the residential streets after a few minutes when you see Weonga Road.
Head to the end of Weonga Road then turn right back into Military Road. After about 100 metres you’ll see Dudley Page Reserve on your left hand side.
Dudley Page Reserve
As mentioned before, Dudley Page Reserve in Dover Heights is where the views on this walk really start! The views of Sydney Harbour from Dudley Page Reserve are just incredible as the reserve has a stunning elevated view of the city. It is a popular place for people to relax and have a picnic before continuing the walk. It also makes the perfect place to watch the sun going down behind the Harbour Bridge at sunset, and at New Years Eve when you can see all the fireworks!
If you want to start the walk from here you will need to get the train to Bondi Junction from Martin Place, then take the 380 bus to Dover Heights..
FEDERATION CLIFF WALK
At the end of Dudley Page Reserve go down the steps, turn right and make your way on to Lancaster Road. Walk to the end of the road and you’ll see the gate that leads to the Clifftop Board Walk. This is the start of the Federation Cliff Walk, also known as Waverley Cliff Walk. From here it is 5km to Hornby Lighthouse at Watsons Bay.
As you walk along the Clifftop Board Walk to Diamond Bay you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the sandstone headland in front of you and the ocean to your right. The path is nice and easy, with lots of boardwalk and steps going down. You’ll then walk along a grassy reserve but after a few hundred metres you’ll briefly need to turn left, go up the steps and walk along the road as private land goes to the edge of the cliff (as is common along a lot of the walk). After a couple of hundred metres walking along Ray Street you’ll find yourself back on the cliff top walk though and heading into dramatic Diamond Bay Reserve. Follow the steps down to Diamond Bay.
The rugged Diamond Bay is one of my favourite parts of the walk. However it does have a sad story as several lives have been lost here in the past few years due to people trying to get THE Instagram shot at the top of the staircase clusters carved out of the rock on the cliff edge. A quick Google of ‘Diamond Bay Reserve death’ will bring up several articles of people who have tragically lost their lives here and plummeted over 30 metres to their death onto the rock bed below.
Due to these tragic events safety measures have been imposed and the staircases are now blocked off and an elevated boardwalk has been built. Extra security measures such as patrollers, CCTV, barriers and fencing all round the wall were installed last year to stop people jumping down from the elevated boardwalk and trying to get down to the cliff edge. Don’t worry though because you can still see the picturesque staircase from the path and you don’t need to trespass to do this!! If you really are desperate to have a picture of you at the top of the steps then Photoshop yourself in but always write a disclaimer stating you photoshopped yourself in so as not to influence anyone else to try and get a photo with themselves in. Seriously. Fatal accidents happen a lot on the cliffs around Sydney so please don’t risk it. Nothing is worth risking your life for. Do not try to jump the fence. The wind can be really strong and unpredictable here.
I find the waves mesmerising here. So powerful yet so peaceful and the views out to the ocean are stunning. The headland and rock face is also really impressive and you can see the Macquarie Lighthouse on the other side of the headland. Watsons Bay is about 2km from here.
Walk along the elevated boardwalk and follow the path to the right until you come to the ramp at Chris Bang Crescent. Follow the road round to the right for about half a kilometre until you come to the footpath leading to Clarke Reservation and subsequently Christison Park.
If you want to make a 500metre detour to one of the best views of Sydney Harbour, head down New South Head Road to Johnstons Lookout for a stunning aerial view of the harbour. Honestly the panoramic views here are fabulous! Just beware you will need to walk back and it goes a little uphill!
Coastal Cliff Walk
The Coastal Cliff Walk is a lovely elevated cliff top walk that stretches from Christison Park, around Macquarie Lighthouse and Signal Hill Reserve. It hugs the coastline pretty much all the way until The Gap and has really nice views. And if you come during whale watching season (May to October) you may even spot some whales!
The walk is also very popular with dog walkers and children playing games. There is a part of Signal Hill Reserve and Christison Park where dogs are allowed off leash – check the signs for details.
Between Christison Park and Signall Hill is Macquarie Lighthouse: one of the oldest lighthouses in NSW built in 1818. A few hundred metres past this you’ll also pass what looks like a smaller lighthouse but is infact the Marine Rescue Port Jackson Radio Base( South Head Signal Station).
For about 100 metres you’ll walk along Old South Head Road before turning off to the right into Gap Park. The views along the Coastal Clifftop Walkway in Gap Park are really nice, and at the end you will come to The Gap.
The Gap is another stunning viewpoint in Sydney but like Diamond Bay it also has a sad story. The Gap is notoriously known as a place where people go to commit suicide by going over the edge of the 100 foot cliff and falling on to the rocks below. It is estimated around 50 people end their lives here each year.
In recent years though, lots of funding has been spent to prevent suicide here at Gap Bluff Lookout. There is a big metal fence surrounding the cliff edge – now if someone climbs over the fence it triggers an alarm to notify the Police. And there are many Lifeline posters up and signs giving advice and support about talking to someone. There are also several emergency phone booths here where you can call the Police or Lifeline 24/7 if you need someone to talk to. Additionally if you see someone here who needs emotional support, please offer to it them. As well you’ll see several candles and flower memorials left here for people who lost their lives.
The views across the ocean, towards Manly and North Head and down the headland from here are beautiful, plus if you follow the fence around to the other side and look behind you you’ll see stunning views across to the harbour and city.
Not far past The Gap is the HMAS Watson Military Reserve so you can’t walk up too far past the fence. Due to it’s prime location, South Head was used as a practice battery is the late 1800s-early 1900s and there are some parapets (concrete defensive walls) here. There are also some lookouts but you must exercise caution. Note The Gap is a part of Sydney Harbour National Park so no dogs are not allowed on this coastal path around The Gap.
On the other side of the peninsula from The Gap (about 200 metres away) is Watsons Bay Wharf – just head down the steps and across Robertson Park to reach it. You’ll walk past the lively Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel which has a great outdoor area and is really popular for drinks and socialising. Watson’s Bay is a delightful charming area and is Australia’s oldest fishing village established in 1788! It is also the point where Governor Philip first landed in Australia. There is a really friendly upbeat vibe about this place!
When you get to Watsons Bay you can either finish the walk here or do the quick walk up to South Head and picturesque Hornby Lighthouse via Camp Cove then return to Watsons Bay to finish, which I definitely recommend doing!
From Watsons Bay to Hornby Lighthouse is a 20 minute walk (1.5km), so walking to Hornby Lighthouse and back will add roughly 45 minutes onto your walk. It is certainly worth it though as it is a lovely easy walk and the views across to North Head and Manly are stunning.
Camp Cove Beach
If you are facing Watsons Bay Wharf, turn right and walk along the beach for a couple of hundred metres until the end of the beach where you will see a turning on your right hand side. Go up the steps and then turn left onto Cove Street. Carry on to the bottom then turn right at the end onto Victoria Street. Take a left onto Cliff Street and you’ll find yourself on the picturesque Camp Cove Beach. Even though the beach seems tucked away it gets pretty busy on weekends as it is a great place for swimming. The Camp Cove Kiosk is a cute Instagrammable place and you can stop off for some freshly squeezed orange juice or snacks here if you need.
You’ll see a stairway near the kiosk at the end of the beach that will take you on to the rest of the walk. On your left you’ll see the Camp Cove Jetty which is also gaining popularity on Instagram. The path is well maintained and easy to follow, plus the harbour views are really sensational along the walk. Like in many parts around the entrance to the harbour you’ll see a cannon the was used to protect against military invasion.
Lady Bay Beach
Just half a kilometre along from Camp Cove Beach will take you to Lady Bay Beach. Note this is a nudist beach just so you are prepared (and of course don’t take photos if there are people here!). Lady Bay Beach is a really stunning beach – in fact all of Sydney’s nudist beaches are all really stunning! It feels very private and quite rugged yet you get great views of the city and the harbour in the background! The water is calm here so it is a really good place to swim too.
South Head & Hornby Lighthouse
Continue along the South Head Heritage Trail and you’ll reach a nice rocky area that also has stunning views across to the city. Following the path around you’ll then come to the beautiful red and white Hornby Lighthouse. This is the third oldest lighthouse in NSW and is my favourite lighthouse ever! It is so Instagrammable and looks so cute and vintage! I just love the views across to Manly, North Head and Middle Head from here. There are lots of rocky ledges for people to sit on, relax, watch the sunset and enjoy with friends that you’ll always find a spot for yourself here on the South Head. It also makes for a great whale watching spot as you look out across to the ocean!
To walk back to Watsons Bay take the same route back.
Where to get food along the Bondi to Watsons Bay Walk:
- One of the many eateries at Bondi Beach.
- At the junction of Old South Head Road and New South Head Road by Christison Park there are a few cafes.
- Watsons Bay: Dunbar House for coffee or lunch, Doyle’s Fish & Chip Shop or Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel.
- Camp Cove Kiosk at Camp Cove Beach.
How to get back from Watsons Bay
You can either get the ferry or the bus back to Sydney.
If you want to take the bus, get the 325 bus from Watsons Bay to Town Hall. Click here to see the timetable and route map.
The most scenic way to get back from Watsons Bay however (and to beat the awful rush hour traffic on New South Head Road!) is to take the ferry back to Circular Quay (or Manly if that is more convenient for you). The ferry to Circular Quay takes under 20 minutes, which certainly beats the hour or longer it can take on the bus if you get stuck in rush hour traffic. There are two different ferries you can get – the direct to Circular Quay (CCWB Ferry) or the F4 Cross Harbour ferry that stops off at Rose Bay first. This second one is more frequent and tends to generally have ferries every half hour, but do check the start and finish times as they tend to start late and finish quite early in the evening!
I definitely recommend to take the ferry back – this is one of the most scenic ferry rides in Sydney!
As mentioned earlier the best thing to do is park at Watsons Bay in one of the free spaces then take the 380 bus to Bondi Beach and walk back to Watsons Bay. To head back to the CBD just head down Hopetoun Avenue until you join with New South Head Road which takes you into town.