Nothing makes you feel like a kid again like body surfing and generally frollicking in the sea, but the best part about not being a kid is that afterwards you can mosey over to the nearest pub, order up a cold beer, a plate of fish and chips and really let the salt soak into your skin.
Right on the water
A beachside pub is like a clubhouse where everyone’s a member and your reward for avoiding bluebottles and sunburn is cold beer and fish and chips. It should be a volleyball’s bounce from the shoreline, stock summery beers and not mind a bit of sand spilling from your pockets. The Collaroy ticks all those boxes.
After the surfboards, goggles and togs get put away at dusk, all those sun-kissed bodies need a place to let off steam. And that place is the Coogee Bay Hotel. As one of two major establishments that face the golden sands of Coogee beach, the Bay has no lack of loyal followers who fill out its expansive beer garden.
Downstairs at this mega-venue it's a mix of pub, restaurant, café, oyster bar and pizza parlour. Plus they've smartly installed a large kids' play area. But now that the rooftop is open the crowds are hiking upstairs for some of the bestviews in Sydney alongside cold-pressed juice highballs, tasty snacks cooked over charcoal and wine in chemistry flasks.
In addition to a pirate-themed rum and cider bar up on the top floor,spectacular views out over the breakers from the balcony and a stage at one end for live bands, the Steyne also boasts a bustling bistro downstairs, a cocktail bar called Blackett’s and a Chinese restaurant upstairs. Take your pick.
Who wouldn’t want to knock back cheap beers on the balcony here on a stinking hot sunny afternoon, all while checking out the crowd on the beachwalk or refuelling on a $9 steak (on Wednesday nights)? You have to sign up as a temporary member to get in. Once that's covered off, take advantage of the prices – particularly when it comes to tap beer and house wine.
The Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel has to be one of the most enviably located pubs in Sydney. When the weather is fine it's riotously popular, thanks to seafood platters, summery drinks and views out over the wide blue expanse of the bay, best enjoyed under the shade of a tree or umbrella in the beer garden.
Only a short stroll from the sea
When you’re the size of the Beach Road Hotel you can be a little something to everyone. Rock up on a Saturday arvo and the front bar is full of locals and regulars having a punt on the tote, yelling at screens showing various sporting events and downing lager. It’s a beer-drinking kind of place. Out the back, however, the beer garden feels more like a rosé-tinted locale, especially when the sun is splashed over the tables and chairs. .
To feel closest to the ocean, take the stairs to the second level of this beautiful Art Deco pub. Its elegant metal frame tables and stools spill onto an adjacent beer garden with views (of sorts) out to sea. This is more a Tooheys New kind of place than a spot for coastal craft beers, but cold lager on a hot day does the job.
The golden walls of the Harbord Hilton rise up behind Freshwater Beach like an enchanted sandcastle for fans of cold lager and the Manly Sea Eagles. It’s a bright and breezy spot only a short stroll back from the waterline that's resisted the urge to undergo some sort of Hamptons-inspired transformation. Touch wood.