When talking to people who have visited Sydney on holiday, most people mention they went to Bondi or Manly Beach to enjoy the sun, the beach and the relaxed atmosphere just outside the city. To us however both of those places are most of the time quite far from the “dream”. Crowded, noisy and unauthentic (fast food chains and services provided with “tourist premium prices”).
We spent our time exploring the Northern Beaches. An area of coastal suburbs that spreads north from Manly all the way to Barrenjoy Head about an hour north by car. What you will find here is authentic, local and relaxed coastal towns, each with an amazing beachfront and rich local culture.
You can easily spend a full day or two exploring the region and it is easily done using public transport. To start, head north from the city to Barrenjoy Head. Here you will find one of the most spectacular views of Sydney region, looking down at the bay and beaches from Barrenjoy Lighthouse. Keep your eyes open for pods of dolphins swimming in the bay and during whale season, this is one of the best spots to watch these gentle giants migrate. After your walk take a dip in the calm bay or enjoy some surfing on the waves by the ocean side beach.
Heading back towards the city, stop in Newport for lunch at one of the many restaurants and cafes. For the rest of the afternoon, enjoy one of the many beaches between here and Dee Why, each as spectacular as the other. Making your way back towards the city, make sure to stop in Dee Why for dinner or a drink along the beachfront. Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and watch as surfers catch the last waves before sunset.
If you are looking to come back for a second day, head to Curl Curl beach or Freshwater
Beach in the morning. Enjoy the surf and the sun as the locals do. If you are adventurous and ready for a little secret afternoon activity, walk along the rocks at the southern end of Freshwater Beach and continue climbing over them as far as you can. Suddenly when you think you cannot go further, a secret “wormhole” passageway will lead you into the cliff and out the other side – to Manly Beach. Finally, head to the south end of Manly Beach and walk along the boardwalk to Shelly Beach. Here you will find a great place for snorkeling and an afternoon BBQ as well as breathtaking views from Shelly headland lookout.