The Coogee Island Challenge (summer edition) is the first ‘cut of the cake' for swimmers looking to take on this epic island journey swim, with its autumn equivalent swim being held in April.
This swim is the perfect opportunity to circumnavigate Wedding Cake Island, a little rock reef sitting offshore from Coogee Beach in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, and start the ocean swimming season with a bang.
The event offers three ocean swim distances; an 800m Junior Dash (10-12 years of age), a 1km course in the relative safety of the bay and then the main event - a 2.4km ocean swim that circumnavigates Wedding Cake Island. Both the 1km and 2.4km swims are for ages 13 years and over.
Coogee Bay is well-protected from heavy swells by the headlands to the south and north and by Wedding Cake Island that sits offshore.
The 800m 'Junior Dash' is a great introduction for the kids and the rectangle course sits just off the beach, with loads of surf lifesavers in the water providing support and comfort for the junior swimmers.
The 1km ‘Splash and Dash’ is encapsulated within the surf-free waters of Coogee Bay. This swim is perfect for beginners or those experienced ocean swimmers wanting a warm-up for the Challenge later in the morning.
The 2.4km swim is one lap circumnavigating the famous (in the Eastern Suburbs) Wedding Cake Island. Starting at the north end of the beach, swimmers will head out past the northern headland to swim clockwise around the island. Once around the back, buoys will mark the course straight back to the beach, this time finishing in the middle of the beach to a roaring crowd lined up along the walkway.
When swimming around Wedding Cake Island, you may experience some mild to challenging conditions, including a sweep and wave reflection. But don't fear, the beautiful underwater views and stunning views of the island make for an exceptional swim.
Once you finish your ocean swim or two, head to the surf club for a drink and to tell stories about your morning adventure!
You can also walk south down the beach to Wylie’s Baths, located behind the surf club. Wylie’s Baths were established in 1907 by Henry Alexander Wylie, a champion long-distance and underwater swimmer.
Here you can relax for the afternoon, take a refreshing swim, lay on a comfortable massage bed and enjoy a relaxing post-swim massage while listening to the soothing sounds of the ocean.
There are plenty of options to eat at Coogee that are just a hop, skip and a jump away from the beach. Barzura restaurant has a great selection of breakfast and lunch options and coffee to compliment it. You can also enjoy a sneaky cocktail after your ocean swim while enjoying the amazing beach views from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
The Coogee Pavilion has something for everyone from pizza, pasta, burgers, Mediterranean cuisine and seafood. Enjoy your meal on the rooftop terrace, and then take the kids to enjoy the games arena.
If you’re planning on driving to the event, make sure you get there early as parking at Coogee can be difficult during summer. There’s an all-day paid beach car park at the north end of the beach and paid street parking everywhere else.
However, public transport to Coogee is excellent via bus services from Circular Quay, Bondi Junction, and Central Station.