An insider’s guide to 10 of the best things to do in and around Cronulla in Sydney’s south.
Cronulla Esplanade is, in the faint lifting of the early light, busy with a mix of power walkers, joggers, amateur photographers and besuited surfers gathering as if at a shambolic convention. As the slightest crack of golden light begins to break over the horizon, those with phones pause for long enough to hold them up to the sky and capture it filling with colour.
Life revolves around the ocean in Cronulla. Image: Destination NSW.
In the early morning, the cacophony of crickets and frogs is soon replaced by the sounds of squawking seagulls and cockatoos and waves thudding onto the sand. Rising with the sun is a long-held ritual here with a rotating cast of characters that crisscross along the path that snakes for some five kilometres from Greenhills Beach to Hungry Point Reserve.
The view over South Cronulla and beyond from the Esplanade. (Image: Visit Sutherland Shire)
After a swim, surf, morning walk or run, Cronulla locals then swap the sand and sea for coffee and gossip at one of the many cafes dotted around the beachside suburb in Sydney’s south. And there’s a lot to do besides going out for a quiet cocktail or dining out at some of the Shire’s best restaurants. Here are 10 of the best things to do in Cronulla to experience its diverse and spontaneous vibes.
1. Get a spa treatment
You will have ample time to do some soul-searching while nourishing your skin at Endota Spa, just minutes from the beach in South Cronulla. Furthermore, you can stretch, shape, tone or sweat or slow down and find some quiet in the stillness during a Soothing Stones massage. There are rejuvenation packages on offer at the spa that can be custom-designed to suit your needs.
2. Sign up for sunrise yoga
Follow the Sunrise yoga regular yogis page on Facebook to see when and where you can do the downward dog at dawn. The 6am classes are held in the southernmost corner of South Cronulla Beach and hosted by seasoned yoga professionals. Although it seems ridiculously early, this is peak hour on the Esplanade and the perfect place to be to appreciate those sunrise views. Top off your morning with a swim in a rock pool. Cronulla has some of the best Sydney has to offer.
Greet the sun with beach yoga in the morning.
3. Kayak into Cabbage Tree Basin
Your time in the Shire will take a more reflective turn when you hire a kayak from Bundeena Kayaks and paddle into Cabbage Tree Basin. Moreover, entering the mouth of the basin is a challenge if you don’t know what you’re doing as you have to time it with the ebb and flow of the tide. Scan the banks of Bundeena for water birds and sluice past the thick tangle of mangroves that mark the entrance to the waterway. Paddle all the way to the end of the creek to experience the serenity.
Book a tour with Bundeena Kayaks. (Image: Carla Grossetti)
4. Get on your bike
Chain Reaction has been catering to the changing needs of cyclists for three decades. The shop is run by hardcore bike geeks, everyone from recreational riders to international and Olympic level athletes. Talk to owner Chris about the best bike to hire and where to ride it. He’ll probs recommend the Woolooware Shared Pathway, which wends its way to Shorebird Reserve, an important habitat for migratory birds.
Hire a bike from Chain Reaction to ride to Woolooware Shorebird Reserve. (Image: Carla Grossetti)
5. Learn to surf
Cronulla Surfing Academy has been helping inspire young grommets to get to their feet for the past two decades. Former professional surfer Blake Johnston has also coached some of the area’s rising stars, including the current Junior World Champion Jarvis Earle. Beginners will first learn to balance on a foamie, before progressing through to fibreglass. Heads up: CSA coach and founder Blake Johnston is all set to attempt a Guinness World Record for surfing 40 hours straight in March 2023.
Surfing is one of the No.1 activities in Cronulla. (Image: Carla Grossetti)
6. Browse for books
The beautiful Berkelouw concept store was considered one of the flagship stores for the brand when it opened its doors in Cronulla. As well as books that focus on everything from fiction to cookbooks, the store is perfect for those looking for a unique gift. The store has an extensive range of stationery, leather goods and gifts. The Best Little Bookshop in Town is also worth a look-in. Talk to the erudite owner Grant who always has great recommendations.
Cronulla has two brilliant bookshops: Berkelouw and The Best Little Bookshop in Town.
7. Check out the Cronulla Surf Museum
Shoes. Cronulla Point. Wanda. Windy Point. These are just a few of the surf breaks dotted between Greenhills and Oak Park in Cronulla. The seaside suburb of Cronulla has a long association with surfing.
Junior world champion Jarvis Earle surfing off Cronulla. (Image: @maccasphotos)
And it has created a terrific training ground for the newly named Junior World Champion, Jarvis Earle. Meanwhile, head to the Cronulla Surf Museum tucked away in Cronulla Central to read about the history of the sport in the region.
An aerial view of the waves rolling into Cronulla. (Image: Destination NSW)
8. Take a self-guided walk
Cronulla is derived from the Aboriginal word ‘kurranulla’ meaning ‘place of pink seashells’ in the language of the Dharawal-speaking people, the Traditional Owners of the Land. You can learn about First Nations people at plaques placed along the Esplanade, where the waves have crashed along the coast for millennia. Walk the Walls provides another incentive to get your steps up. The annual event sees the walls become an ever-evolving exhibition of street art.
Walk the Walls is an annual festival that includes 40 streets and laneways.
9. Enjoy a Sydney staycation
Call recently revitalised Rydges Cronulla home for a few days and you will be right in position to check out some of the best bars and restaurants in the Shire. Rydges Cronulla has a cool, coastal vibe. The Alley, the hotel’s bar, has live music and DJs. As a result, it is a top spot to hang on a Sunday when the terrace becomes an open-air dance floor. The hotel has a pool and priceless views over North Cronulla Beach. And moreover, that’s where you will find some of the suburb’s best cafes and bars.
Enjoy a staycation at the revitalised Rydges Cronulla. (Image: Carla Grossetti)
10. Bunker down in Bundeena
Catch the ferry over to the newly revitalised Simpson’s Cottage, which is a chic option in the Royal National Park, just a short ferry trip away onboard the heritage-listed Curranulla. Make Bundeena your base for the monthly art trail. It’s one of the best things to do in Bundeena.
Views out to Gunyah Beach in Bundeena.
Locals in the know will also point you toward the Jean General Store. The boutique hardware and general store is run by award-winning interior designer Kelly Ross and partner Jimmy Lister. That is to say, it’s worth a visit.
Visit Jean, the general store run by interior designer Kelly Ross.