Bondi is a haven for the hip and healthy, but watch your surfing etiquette, says Cushla Chauhan.

What's your favourite thing about Bondi?

The lifestyle. Locals call their home the "Bondi bubble" because it's very hard to leave since every weekend feels like you're on holiday. Summer is all about swims, lazy breakfasts, dragging sand into the house, sunset drinks and relaxed dining. Winter is the same minus the swims and sand - or not.

Why is it a great area to be based?

So much of Sydney's allure lies in incredible coastline, and Bondi allows visitors to immerse themselves in the outdoor lifestyle while still being very close to the city. It also has a great sense of community and anything goes, so it's very liberating.


What's Bondi like in winter?

Much quieter, with parking spots available! Which makes it a favourite time of the year for locals. I love the wild seas too, when the water is the deepest of blues and the surf is so huge no-one can go near it.

What's the easiest way to get around?

Walk or cycle. If you're venturing (gasp) out of the bubble, Uber is a good option while buses to the city (or train station with trains to the city) are frequent. Without a designated car spot, finding a park in Bondi may result in road rage and will cost you your airfare home.

Where's the first place you'd take a visitor?

The Bondi to Bronte coastal walk, preferably at dawn after I've bullied them into it. I've done this walk a thousand times and still marvel at its beauty.

Where's your favourite brunch spot?

Weekends are horrendously busy, so expect queues and long waits for orders. My picks though: Porch & Parlour (great atmosphere, food and coffee), Organic Republic (a bakery with delicious sandwiches, fresh bread and pastries), Shuk (seriously good Israeli-Mediterranean fare) and the ever-popular Lox, Stock & Barrel.

Best place for takeaway coffee?

Massive, top of Campbell Parade; Bondi Hall, Hall Street; or Coffee on Curlewis Street if you're not going to sneer at this hole-in-the-wall, coffee-exclusive roaster serving coffee black or with nut "mylks" only.

Where's a great bar to while away an afternoon?

The super laid-back small bar The Shop. Also Porch & Parlour with sea views and scrumptious share plates, and The Hill Eatery's al fresco tables with sea glimpses.

Some good options for dinner?

Bondi offers multiple options from fancy to informal, from Indian to Italian. My favourites include Da Orazio for authentic pizza, pasta and habit-forming espresso martinis, Sefa Kitchen's Middle Eastern meza dining, Raw Bar for sushi at sunset, Pia Dina for casual eats. For a special occasion go to Icebergs Dining Room and Bar. High-end dining with the price tag to match but, perched above Icebergs' pool with mesmerising sea views, its location can't be beaten.

Where can you get the best views?

Icebergs or for a more affordable option score a balcony table at the North Bondi RSL, order a beer and hot chips and settle in for surfer and people-watching.

Where do you go for great seafood?

Bondi's Best on the north side (I like it better than the one on Hall St). A chilled vibe, licensed and with a menu that includes everything from fish and seafood to salads, chunky chips, sushi and sashimi.

Are there any good festivals?

Sculpture by the Sea held in spring where artworks displayed along the coastal walk from Bondi to Tamarama are set against the dramatic backdrop of sea and sky.

Where can you recommend for exercise?

Join the 6am throng of fitness freaks at the beach - jogging, swimming, doing yoga, power-walking, surfing and paddle-boarding. If organised fitness is your preference, take your pick from hot or hatha yoga schools, fitness centres or community classes at the Bondi Pavilion.

Where's good for local produce?

The Saturday farmers' markets at the local school: fresh produce, gourmet delicacies, flowers, food stalls, a chai tent, and everyone sprawled out on the grass listening to live music.

Where's the best place to shop for local brands?

For Australian designer brands (and if your credit card is up for a beating), head to Tuchuzy on Gould St. I also like Sydney brand Assembly Label on Bondi Rd and enjoy a rummage at the Sunday markets with its mishmash of vintage and new, bags, jewellery and homewares.

Any tips for people who want to surf in Bondi?

Bondi is a surfing battleground, so if you don't know how to surf or aren't etiquette-savvy, you could easily end up with a fin in your face. Book a session with Let's Go Surfing.

Is Bondi hipster central?

The hipster factor is real in Bondi (man-buns, arrow tattoos and 24-hour cold drip fair trade coffee made with cayenne and coconut sugar really are a thing) but if you're into the healthy lifestyle, you'll love it. People rise with the sun to exercise, yoga studios and health food cafes abound, and activewear is all-day wear. There's organic, vegan, gluten and dairy-free options aplenty . . . even purple carrots if you're partial.

Any other insider secrets you can share?

Gelato fans must go to Messina. Its ever-changing specials offer the most imaginative of combos with ingredients like chunks of cheesecake, cookies, fudge, honeycomb and more. Take a short bus ride to the The Gap coastal walk, grab fish and chips for lunch at Watsons Bay Hotel, stroll to Camp Cove for a dip in Sydney harbour. And swim between the flags. This should be temporarily tattooed on tourist's arms when they go through Customs.

New Zealand expat Cushla Chauhan now lives in Bondi and is deputy copy editor for Vogue Australia.