After Bondi, Coogee is the second most well-known beach in Sydney’s east, and like its busier cousin, it owes a little of its popularity to its convenient closeness to the centre of the city. Both are tourist magnets, especially in the summer months, but Coogee has a distinctly more laidback vibe, free of the poseur crowd attracted to Bondi’s rather more glamorous reputation.
Framed by golden sand, Coogee’s wide, crescent-shaped bay gazes out over the exposed rock formations of Wedding Cake Island, which lies about one kilometre out to sea. Coogee is one of the more protected of Sydney’s eastern beaches, with generally calm surf conditions good for swimming and casual paddling rather than surfing and boarding. As a popular tourist destination, Coogee Beach is patrolled 365 days a year.
At the foot of Coogee’s northern headland, Giles Baths is a beautiful natural rock pool providing a safe and shallow swimming hole ideal in all but the roughest sea conditions. Walking south of the beach along the grassy headland, you’ll find two historic man-made ocean pools, McIver’s Baths (strictly for girls and women and small children only) and the spectacularly picturesque Wylie’s Baths, built into rocks in a natural cliffside setting with fabulous views across the bay out to Coogee Beach and beyond.
Most of Coogee’s accommodation, dining and nightlife options are located a street or two back from the beach. The Coogee Pavilion just back from the sand on the northern end of the beach has been revamped into a smart casual seafood eatery and an upstairs cocktail bar with fabulous views from the outdoor terrace. Coogee Bay Road is the area’s main café, dining and entertainment precinct, home to the historic Coogee Bay Hotel which features a beer garden and regular live music performances.
One of Sydney’s most popular coastal walks is the 6km (one way) hiking trail between Bondi and Coogee. The walk traverses some amazing scenery, particularly along the boardwalk between Clovelly and Bronte Beach and offers a chance to spot whales from shore during the May to November humpback migration.