Travel > Visiting Sydney, Australia

The Trick to Sydney — Stay out of Syndey :)

A couple of months ago I turned 30. In the spirit of staying young and seeing the world, my girlfriend and I decided to pack up from San Diego, California and jump to the other side of the world.

I’d been on a surf trip in Bali a couple months earlier and had asked some Sydney locals about where eat, visit, tour, and drink while we were there. Surprisingly, they all said the same thing — ‘don’t stay in Sydney.’

They didn’t mean don’t fly into Sydney, they just recommended we get out of town as fast as possible and explore the coast. It sounded expensive but then they gave us some of the best advice I’d ever received. Hotels and cars are for suckers. ‘Get a caravan mate.’

Without planning much more — we decided to listen to them. We had our phones, some bathing suits, and a whole lot of anxiety about living in a van together.

After landing in Sydney we spent a quick night in Bondi, acclimated to the time zones and culture, and then started exploring.

Bondi is VERY similar to San Diego , so we acclimated at an uncomfortably fast pace. The restaurants and bars looked, tasted, and felt like home. The beaches were beautiful and crowded like our own.


We loved Bondi — but within a day we realized the advice was spot on. We didn’t come to Australia to feel like we were at home, we were itching to get out of the city.

After a day or so we grabbed a flight up to Cairns (pronounced like Kahn I think — still not sure). Our goal was to see the Great Barrier Reef before it was gone and we got what we asked for. We arrived on Super Bowl Sunday and watched from a pub in downtown Cairn. The city has a Florida touristy vibe and we didn’t care for it at all, but the excitement of the reef kept us going.

The next day we took a big tourist rig out to the reef. Our airbnb host helped us pick a good one and we didn’t regret it. The day was a scattered mix of sun and rain which made it even more exciting out on the water.

The reef was unbelievable, even as its rapidly being bleached by higher ocean temps. We saw thousands of fish, snorkeled with some big green sea turtles, and even spent some alone time with a reef shark. He was cool though.

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By the time got back we’d seen everything we set out to at the reef and we were ready to get the van and go.

We flew back to Sydney, bummed around the beaches again for a day and then hit the road. 

First thing we did was head west. We ran right outside the city to Blue Mountains National park . Hands down one of our favorites ever. 


Then we drove as far north as we could handle (Seal Rocks) and spent a night in some of the most absolutely coastline we’d ever experienced. No crowds, just beautiful.


On the way back south we detoured to Mungo Brush dunes (AMAZING). 

We kept working our way south. Hitting hidden gems we can’t even mention here :)

We stopped off and spent a night in Manly beach too — getting some great surf and an even better Jellyfish sting. 


One of our favorites of the whole trip was a little spot called Hemingway’s right off the main drag in Manly. The food was delicious and the decor an ode to the author extraordinaire. 

All in all, if you do Sydney, don’t do Sydney…just get in a van and go!

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