It’s easy to see why Manly is one of Sydney’s most popular northern beaches.
By Siobhan Petri
Nestled between a tranquil Sydney Harbour beach on one side and the popular Pacific Ocean surf beach on the other, the laid back character of Manly Beach seems a thousand miles from busy Sydney, yet it’s only a ferry ride away. Whether you like to feed your sense of adventure, your tummy, your curiosity or simply sit back and take it all in, this beachside town has a little of something for everyone.
- Snorkel the sheltered waters of Shelly Beach
- Take a scenic bush and harbour foreshore walk
- Watch the world go by in one of many beach side restaurants
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Top things to do in Manly
Tickle your taste buds
One of the first things you’ll notice when you arrive is the bustle of Manly’s restaurants and bars. Soak up panoramic harbour views at the Manly Pavillion bistro, relax just meters off Shelly beach at The Boat House for a long leisurely brunch, or for something a little different, create your own platter of delicious meats, cheeses and pickles at Cured - it’s like a little bit of NYC found nestled in bustling Market Lane. The Four Pines Brewing Company is a craft lovers delight, take a tour of the on-site microbrewery, get tasting and dig into the delicious feasting plates. You really can eat, drink and be merry. As the day winds down, the Wharf bar is a great place to join the locals and watch the sun set over Sydney harbour. So many places. So little time.
Swim, surf and snorkel
From one end of Manly beach to the other, you’ll find an array of water activities to suit the whole family. Try a stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking tour. Manly Kayak Centre will guide you around exclusive beaches and stunning scenery and even offers a picnic. Everything is provided and it’s perfect for beginners. Learn to surf in Queenscliff (which is at the northern end of the beach) with Manly Surf School or perhaps an amble along the tree lined corso to the south end where you can swim and snorkel in the calm waters of the beautiful Shelly beach; it’s a great place for kids to swim. Join EcoTreasures for a guided snorkel to spot native marine life. Your guide will also educate you about native wildlife, Australian environments, heritage and the culture of Sydney on your headland nature walk. If stretching out on the golden sand for some Vitamin D is more your style, there’s 1.5 kilometres (0.9 miles) of it to choose your perfect spot from. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
Manly to Spit Bridge coastal walk
If exploring if your thing, the Manly to Split Bridge coastal walk meanders around the harbour foreshore through some of Sydney’s most stunning scenery and bushland. The whole walk is 10 kilometres (6 miles) however it’s broken up into a series of 1-2 kilometre (0.6 – 1.2 mile) short walks which are well sign posted with direction and information spots. Observe the bush and coastal wild life including whales during the migration season, learn about Australia’s colonial history, take in the views from spectacular vantage points and enjoy a well-earned dip in one of the many off the beaten track harbour beaches.
Visit Manly Sea Life Sanctuary
The kids will love the interactive sea life experience at Manly Sea Life Sanctuary. They’ll learn about Manly’s own Little Penguin colony, and the fascinating underwater world of Sydney Harbour. The giant underwater tunnel will bring you face to face with stingrays, sea turtles and majestic grey nurse sharks, and if you’re brave, you can be taken on a guided dive in the four million litre oceanarium.
How to get there
Manly is easily reached by ferry’s which run regularly from Circular Quay near the Sydney Opera House. The 30 minute ferry ride to Manly provides undoubtedly one of the best views you’ll get of a thriving harbour and the many beautiful harbour beaches along the way. Fares are around AUD $8 for adults and AUD $5 for children.