Bondi Beach is a good place to stay if you want to be close to the surf and sand, and for the budget-conscious, there are two good backpacker hostels. Surfside Backpackers, 35a Hall St. (tel. 02/9365 4900; www.surfsidebackpackers.com.au), offers four- to eight-person dorm rooms from A$27 in winter and A$38 in summer, and single, double, and family rooms in a separate building (at higher rates). Noah’s, 2 Campbell Parade (tel. 1800/226 662 in Australia; www.noahsbondibeach.com), has a great ambience and offers modern four- to eight-person dorm rooms for A$25 to A$27, as well as doubles for A$70 to A$80. Ask about weekly rates. Rates are more expensive in the summer peak season of December/January.
If you decide to stay in Manly for a few days, consider buying a multiple-ride ferry ticket, which will save you a bit of money. And be warned that ferries from the city stop running at midnight. If you get stranded, you’ll be facing an expensive taxi ride back.
Manly has several backpacker hostels that are worth checking out. The best isManly Backpackers Beachside, 28 Ragland St. (tel. 1800/662 500 in Australia or 02/9977 3411; www.manlybackpackers.com.au), which offers dorm beds from A$25 to A$50, doubles from A$70 to A$190, depending on the time of year (the more expensive prices are for the peak summer period).