Manly Beach, Australia: Sydney’s Best Kept Secret

Manly Beach is a ferry ride away from Sydney and departs from Circular Quay harbour. As I mentioned in my Sydney blog post, you can take the fast ferry (15 min ride) or the slow ferry (30 min ride) to get over to Manly. Even if you don’t have a ton of time to spend, I would still recommend taking the ferry ride because of the beautiful views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House, and Sydney skyline you experience from the water. PLUS, Manly is a really cool spot to spend a day or two!


When you take the ferry, you actually arrive into Manly Wharf. The beach is on the other side (only a 15 min walk). I was shocked by how many people hang out on the wharf side. Locals call this area “Wharfy” and there are a number of restaurants, bars, and other shops here. Jetty Bar (pictured below) is probably the most popular establishment. It is an old pier jutting out into Manly Wharf that they converted into a bar and tons of people flock here to watch the sun go down and enjoy a couple drinks. But, Australians don’t need a bar to enjoy the Manly sunset. The majority of people just bring their blanket or towel, pack a cooler with their food/drink of choice and just hang out by the water. Highly recommended and much cheaper! On a nice day, the wharf side is just as packed as the beach side.


The beach side of Manly is a classic Australian beach. Beautiful white sand and spectacular views of cliffs with homes scattered on top. The gigantic pine trees that line the boardwalk on the beach outskirts are unique and very impressive. The boardwalk also has a running/biking path and as well as a couple pavilions. 


Manly Beach is one of Australia’s most famous beaches for surfing. The first World Surfing Championship was hosted at Manly in 1964 and every February it is home to the Australian Open of Surfing. Volleyball is big here too and they just hosted Volleyfest last month, which is a world-class beach volleyball tournament. This 10 day competition showcases the best players in the world and draws 8,000 spectators daily.

Connecting the wharf and the beach is a main strip of stores, restaurants, bar, etc. There are a ton of good places to check out in this area, so pick one that meets your fancy and pop in. A good place to check out for food, drinks, and live music is Donny’s. They have a nice outdoor seating area in addition to the interesting decor inside that adorns their exposed brick walls. If you like a good dive bar, I can recommend the The Old Manly Boatshed. Their tagline is, “7 miles from Sydney and a 1000 miles from care”. We ended our nights here and had a blast in this intimate live music venue. Interesting crowd of all ages/origins, good music, people watching and cold beer. What more could you ask for?

If you have time, the last thing I would suggest is going on one of Manly’s famous walking trails. Most of them are right on the water and have amazing views. If it is the right time of year, they are a great spot for whale watching as well. Try the Fairfax Walk, which is highlighted by the North Head lookout. From this vantage point, you can see a great panorama view of Sydney’s sprawling skyline. Overall, Manly is a really cool beach town to check out. There is plenty to do and it is super easy to get to from Sydney.

Check out the local brewery in Manly Beach: 4 Pines Brewing Co.! 4 Pines – Best Australian Craft Beer

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