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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Sun, sand and surf -- Sydney's beaches have got it all. Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help beachlovers get the most out of a short stay in the city.
10 a.m. - Start off at Circular Quay, near The Rocks, the oldest part of Sydney. For about A$7 (US$5) you can take a Sydney Harbour ferry to the seaside town of Manly, with the 30-minute journey providing breathtaking views of the iconic Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Kirribilli House -- the prime minister's residence -- as well as the spectacular north and south heads, the maritime entrance to the harbor.
10.30 a.m. - Manly is one of Sydney's most popular seaside destinations, considered the jewel of north shore beaches. It offers gentle activities from strolling along the pine-tree lined Manly Beach, to fishing and scuba diving as well as more extreme sports such as diving with sharks at the Oceanworld aquarium, kayaking and parasailing.
12.30 p.m. - Enjoy an early lunch at The Bower Restaurant on Marine Parade. This restaurant is situated on the south side of the beach overlooking the ocean and is a perfect spot to enjoy fresh seafood while watching surfers ride the waves at the Fairy Bower surf break, just over the balcony from your table.
2 p.m. - Take the rest of the day to stroll along the northern beaches, stopping for an occasional drink and to soak up the views from Freshwater, Curl Curl, Dee Why, Long Reef, Collaroy, Narrabeen, Warriewood, Mona Vale, Newport, Bungan, Avalon, Whale Beach and finishing up at Palm Beach. To do this trip justice you need five or six hours, but if you get tired, you can always hop on the L90 bus which runs on the main road close to all of these beaches and will drop you off at Palm Beach, the northern most suburb of Sydney.
Fans of the Australian soap opera "Home and Away" will recognize Palm Beach, as it is where the show is shot -- the area is called "Summer Bay" in the series, however. Visitors can often see the cast and crew filming there.
7 p.m. - Enjoy dinner at Barrenjoey House Restaurant at Palm Beach. This area is nestled on a peninsula with lush evergreen bushland and sandy beaches, surrounded by the blue ocean. The menu offers various choices including Tasmanian Pacific oysters with pickled ginger and wasabi mayonnaise and lightly spiced ocean trout fillet with mussels in garam masala broth.
10 p.m. - Head out of Palm Beach and back to the city. You can either hire a seaplane to fly you back to Rosebay, Sydney's first international airport, or take a taxi (expect to pay about A$100) or simply catch the local bus. All three options will provide you with the opportunity to travel back down the coast - the highlight of this trip is the descent toward Sydney Harbour Bridge at night, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the lights of North Sydney, Sydney Harbour and the city skyline.
11 p.m. - Have a night cap at the Opera Bar on the footsteps of the Opera House and soak up the views.
9 a.m - Start off again at Circular Quay, where scores of cafes offer great breakfast options.
10 a.m. - Hop on a number 380 bus (about A$4 single journey) form Circular Quay to Bondi Beach, perhaps Sydney's most famous and the key to the city's eastern beaches.
11 a.m. - Have a mid-morning coffee or juice at the Crabbe Hole cafe by the poolside at Bondi Icebergs Club, which is located at the southern end of Bondi Beach. Here you can enjoy the beach's expanse of white sand and panoramic ocean views, while watching the local swimmers do laps in the rock pool beside the cafe.
The Icebergs Club was founded in 1929 and has become famous for its winter swimming season. On the first Sunday in June -- the official start of winter swimming -- large ice blocks are dumped into the pool, followed by hardened swimmers.
12 p.m. - Walk south along the coastal path, stopping at Mackenzies Point to take in views of both north and south Bondi. On the headland you will see a chimney in the middle of a golf course. On the other side of the chimney there is a rocky platform with a whale carved into it -- one of the many Aboriginal rock carving sites identified around Sydney.
In recent years this pathway has become famous for the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition around October/November. It is Australia's largest annual outdoor public display of sculpture, attracting interest from all over the world.
Keep walking to Bronte beach, hemmed in by a bowl-shaped park and sandstone headlands, through Tamarama beach (known to the locals as Glamarama) and over the hill to Waverley Cemetery, where local legends and Australian poet and writer Dorothea Mackellar, author of "My Country," and poet Henry Lawson, whose portrait is on the Australian 10 dollar note, are buried.
Rounding the bend you pass through Clovelly Beach, Gordons Bay and then reach Coogee Beach.
3 p.m. - Take a late lunch at any of the beachside cafes along Arden Street and Coogee Bay road with choices of Indian, Thai, Italian or just pick up a packet of simple fish and chips and enjoy it while sitting on the sand.
It's easy to while away the afternoon at Coogee, just watching the people go by or with a dip in the water.
6 p.m. - Take a number 377 bus back to Circular Quay and then head to the Blu Horizon bar on level 36 of the Shangri-la hotel for cocktails and to catch a last glimpse of the waterways around Sydney Harbour.
8.30 p.m. - Stroll down to The Rocks and enjoy dinner at the world renowned Rockpool restaurant. For nearly 20 years, chef and co-owner Neil Perry has been one of the brightest stars on the Sydney dining scape. Food on the menu includes twice cooked Murray cod with olive tapenade and black olive oil as well as suckling pig with sweet potato and ginger puree.
10 p.m. - Head back to Circular Quay for a last nightcap before preparing for your departure.
Editing by Miral Fahmy