Manly is one of Sydney’s favorite seaside destinations offering a laid-back atmosphere and holiday vibe despite its proximity to the city. It is a peninsula bounded by sea on three sides and blessed with several beaches, coves and inlets waiting to be explored.
There are many ways to get to Manly Beach but we chose the 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay (a privately owned ferry also runs between Sydney CBD and Manly taking just 18 minutes). Cruising on the scenic Sydney Harbour for the first time was such an enjoyable experience for a landscape enthusiast like me.
My partner and I had just returned from an epic 6-week road trip in tropical North Queensland and were quite excited to explore Sydney together. The weather was perfect for soaking up the Aussie sun and thawing ourselves from winter hibernation.
And oh, it was my birthday too and I celebrated it by visiting my first beach in Sydney.
The Ferry Ride
Behind me are two of Australia’s most famous landmarks – the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The ferry ride was punctuated by the glistening harbour behind us, lush national parks, sweeping views of the ocean, and some rocky headlands battered by the crashing waves.
As our ferry approached the wharf at Manly, an idyllic beach suburb came into view. Pine trees line the esplanade and bobbing yachts dot the waterfront.
With its relaxed lifestyle, holiday atmosphere and proximity to Central Business District (CBD), Manly’s real estate is some of the most expensive in all of Australia.
After the “Conserve Manly” Project, high-rise development in the area has been regulated while new beachfront developments are limited to no more than three or four storeys in height.
The gateway to Manly Beach.
Just a few steps from the Wharf is Oceanworld Manly offering daily interactive shows and guided tours into the wonders of the deep.
The Corso is a pedestrianized promenade linking Manly Cove to Manly Beach. After disembarking from Manly Wharf, it’s a ten minute stroll towards the beachfront. The main thoroughfare is lined with cafes, shops alfresco dining as well as street entertainment.
It was winter time in Sydney when we visited Manly so it wasn’t as crowded as we expected it to be. The water is rather cold even for local Sydneysiders and those who were brave enough to face the waves and frigid water were wearing wet suits.
Manly Beach hosts annual sporting events like surfing festival, Ironman competition as well as beach volleyball and swimming tournament.
The lengthy and wide beach of Manly is popular among sun worshippers, picnickers, swimmers and surfers. There are pleasant self-guided foreshore walks to be had that are suitable for all levels of fitness.
Manly is a world-renowned surfing destination sharing this distinction with the equally famous Bondi Beach. There is a designated safe swimming spot marked by red and yellow flags where beach-goers can swim safely.
After three months in Australia, I finally visited my first beach in Sydney. It was a celebration of many “firsts” and was one of my most memorable birthdays. It was my first trip outside Asia, first birthday overseas, first beach (with serious waves) in Sydney and first time not to really care much about birthday. It must be a sign. You know what they say when you stop counting…