Cranky Fins Holidae Inn
One of my favourite old school films of all times is Gidget starring Sandra Dee. It’s an adaptation of Frederick Kohner’s book published in 1957. It follows the adventures of a teenage girl named Gidget who learns to surf in Malibu and falls in love with a hunky rebel named Moon Doggy, leader of the local surfing pack. Arriving at Cranky Fins Holidae Inn feels like the kind of place you’d find Gidget and Moon Doggy if a) they lived in Palm Beach, Sydney and b) they were in fact real people. Alas, much to my disappointment, none of this is true.
After laying on the beach surrounded by holiday home mansions, Cranky Fins is like a mirage luring you in with the promise of ice cold beers and buckets of sweet juicy prawns. The vibe is of the casual thongs and boardies variety with a side of beach hair and singlet tans. I was expecting a place full of prototypical beach bunnies and bronzed athletes direct from the set of Home And Away. Instead, down-to-earth looking locals and families are seated on bright aqua tables and benches outside and friendly staff greet you with big smiles.
Step inside and the bright colours continue with dark blue and orange booths and a light blue and yellow bar filled with random objects related to beach life. Hanging pot plants and netted glass balls dangle overhead and vintage signs with taglines like “Life’s A Beach” and “Don’t Play With The Locals” are scattered around the large space. The sea shack vibe is bolstered with colourful wall murals painted by surf artist and musician Ozzie Wright and ex-Mambo artist Gerry Wedd.
The cocktail list is fun and fruity, complete with plastic palm tree stirrers and cocktail umbrellas. They do mean margaritas and a great rose by the bottle. Beer wise it’s a Corona kind of place especially now I’m back in Darlinghurst on a hot summers day, Cranky Fins is definitely “where I’d rather be”.
We have the owners of The Bucket List (Bondi) to thank for this seaside gem and just like TBL, you can’t go wrong with a bucket of prawns to start your lunch/dinner. Then order the ceviche that rests like an island surrounded by corn chips. The chicken wings don’t look as appetising but taste great. Skip the tacos they’re a bit sloppy and not the best thing on the menu. Go straight for the whole fish with jalapenos and pineapple for a winning flavour combination. This is probably the best dish on the menu. Leave room for ice cream covered with chocolate and peanuts while you sip a (damn good) espresso martini.
You could easily stay for hours at Cranky Fins as lunch rolls into dinner. It’s the perfect summer spot for locals and day-trippers in need of a Sydney escape. Who knows, you might end up meeting your very own Gidget or Moon Doggy and decide to stay forever. We can only dream.
NOTE: The effort of getting to Cranky Fins is worth it so to help you out they’ve teamed up with Hyundai to offer free rides to and from for local residents and holiday makers.
1 Beach Road, Palm Beach 02 9974 1159 Open 7 days a week from 9am – late