"There's superb cold-water diving at the entrance to Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay. After World War I, a whole fleet of British submarines were scuttled there. I count an early-morning descent to the 'Intact Submarine' as one of the most magical dives I've ever madethe sea anemones glow a brilliant yellow in the bright underwater sun."Tony Wheeler, Melbourne-based cofounder of Lonely Planet Publications
WHAT COULD BE BETTER, when you know the surf's cranking, than waking up to a room-service cappuccino under a feather quilt at the InterContinental, overlooking Sydney's spectacular harbor? Or pulling on boardshorts and descending to the lobby, where the concierge procured you a Cohiba the night before? The entire bellhop corps seems drawn from the local surfer population, so don't be surprised if one tanned 'hop tells you the morning surf report while another picks out a board from your quiver, which they've politely stored in the luggage room.
Then it's time to catch the ferry to Manly, a quaint beach town at the northern mouth of Sydney Harbour, where there's nothing left to do but paddle into first-class beach-break surf.
Think of it as the Ultimate Urban Pleasures Surf Safari, the best way on earth to get your warm-water waves and high-end sushi, too. Numerous world champions have been minted on these breaks, including female shredder Layne Beachley. A drive north from Manly brings you to clean beach breaks like Freshwater, Curl Curl, and North Narrabeen. Drive south from Sydney's Bondi Beach, near Aussie actor Heath Ledger's home, and there's another string of great breaks en route to lunch at the Pavilion Cafe, in Maroubra Beach.
Après-surf, kick back at Sydney's Newport Arms, the classic surfer pub. Or stroll to Rockpool for celebrity chef Neil Perry's salad of wild greenlip abalone, mussels, clams, tea-smoked oysters, and fine noodles. You just might be ready to get tubed again in the morning.
Doubles at the InterContinental, from US$228; 011-61-2-9253-9000, www.icsydney.com.au. Dinner for two at Rockpool, US$192–$230; 011-61-2-9252-1888, www.rockpool.com. Manly's Dripping Wet Surf co. rents boards for US$35 a day; 011-61-2-9977-3549, www.drippingwetsurf.com.