Coco Ho enjoying a few waves in Cronulla, a hidden gem south of Sydney. Photo: Mark Morgan @mxmsurfphoto

Australia is, quite literally, surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. From dream-like stretches of sand in Byron Bay to the rugged, cold-water beauty of Margaret River and beyond, we’ve got a little bit of the best of everything. And as it is around the world, some places are better known than others.

Bondi Beach, for instance, is one of the most infamous ocean-side towns in the world, known for its rough and tumble past, its glitz and glamour future and the iconic images of a sunny Sydney day at the beach. Millions of people, surfers or not, visit Bondi each year – and I’m quite sure they leave with fond memories of a great trip – but what most people don’t know is that just south of Bondi, about 45 minutes away, is a little place called Cronulla.

Cronulla is surrounded by beach breaks and reefs

Cronulla is, for lack of a better phrase, a hidden gem (gah, I hate that you just had to read that). It’s small enough to be classed a town but big enough to have the comforts of a city. Fronted by the ocean, it’s surrounded by rock pools, beach breaks, reefs and headlands. But it’s also filled with parks, shops and apartment-lined streets.

It’s a place where you become a local – you pass the same people in the supermarket and see the same people in the lineup. But by the same token, it’s considered a part of Sydney. Hop on a train and 45 minutes later you’ll find yourself immersed in downtown Sydney, the mouth-watering scents of dumplings from Chinatown wafting by as you exit the gates at Central Station.

This is what’s so unique about Cronulla. It’s why we love it, and why you should too.

Plenty of good surfing options

But if you’re not hooked by the scenery and locale, then let’s talk surf. The surf in Cronulla isn’t world-class, by any stretch of the imagination. But it’s a guaranteed place to score quite a variety of fun waves, featuring lineups that have room to move. Along the front beach you’ll find The Alley, as well as The Wall, Elouera and Wanda. For those more inclined to the heavier stuff, Cronulla won’t let you down. Try the point and reef breaks such as Voodoo, The Point or Shark Island… Caught on the right tide and swell, offer up some of the best barrels in the Sydney region.

Local WQS shredder, Paris Whittaker, has made a name for herself with the diversity of spots on offer in her hometown. “There are so many different waves in Cronulla. And its geographic layout provides good surfing options with various winds and conditions. North Cronulla is basically my home break, but I also like heading out to the reefs and Voodoo. Growing up here has had a huge influence on me. I mean, the town has a really strong surfing vibe, and it shows a lot of support to local competitors.”

A strong group of surfer girls

And for Paris, being a girl has only added to that. “There is a strong group of girls that are surfing here now. You really notice them in the lineup. Surf schools and Cronulla Girls Boardriders club have been the key drivers in growing women’s surfing locally. It’s rad and certainly an encouraging era for girls to take up surfing.”

And that’s it. If you’re a gal on the hunt for some good times and a few fun surfs, Cronulla is a lesser-known must-stop for your Sydneyside visit. It might not be as famous as Byron Bay, Bondi or Margaret River, but it will be right up your alley.

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