Bondi Beach: Bondi Beach is very popular but also very touristy. The views from above the beach are great and the surf was pretty good too. Walking around the town, I very much liked the vibe of the place as it reminded me of some Southern California beach towns with a very relaxed atmosphere and just a tad slower of a pace. There is a 6 km walk you can do from Bondi Beach out to a beach called Coogee Beach that I didn't have time to do, though I hope to walk when I am back in the area.
Manly Beach: What Manly Beach lacked in proximity to the center of Sydney (you have to take a 45 minute ferry to get there), it made up for in its atmosphere during the day. Of the beaches to date, it most reminded me of my residence of the last 6 years (Hermosa Beach, CA) with a palm tree lined promenade and a string of volleyball courts in the center of the beach (around 8 of them).
Once I saw that Manly had volleyball courts going with some pretty good games, I was determined to try and find out how to get in the mix. After scoping out the scene for about 20 minutes, I figured out there was some sort of system for pickup beach volleyball games where you would put your sandal down as a way to reserve your spot (but to be honest, all sandals were just in a pile and thus the process served no purpose and you just had to remember who you were after).
I ended up getting about 5 games in, where I played with and against people from Germany, Denmark and the Czech Republic. Little did I know that the volleyball courts here were such a melting pot for cultures. After a bit of beach volleyball on a perfect Sunday afternoon, I went and grabbed a couple beers at a cool little microbrewery in the area called 4Pines with a couple of the guys I played with. It was a great place to catch a beer and watch the sunset amongst a nice little crowd.