In company with Bondi, Manly Beach is Sydney's most iconic strip of sand, named by the State's first governor Arthur Phillip in 1788 for the impression made on him by "the confidence and manly behaviour" of the area's Aborigines.
There are some fabulous waves along this stretch of coastline comprised of four beaches. Freshwater Beach is the founding site of Australian surfing where the Hawaiian surf legend, Duke Kahanmoku, amazed crowds when he hit the waves in 1914. Queenscliff is probably second only to nearby Narrabeen in producing world-class surfers. Marking the northern end of Manly Beach, Queenscliff has an ocean rockpool and lagoon. Queenscliff "Bommie" is popular with experienced surfers who use large surf boards to tackle the swell.
North Steyne Surf Club marks the middle of the beach, best left to advanced surfers. South Steyne is the southern end of Manly Beach, famous as a breeding ground for champion surfers, notably Layne Beachley, Pam Burridge, Barton Lynch and Midget Farrelly. Surfing is so embedded in the culture here that there are about 10 surf shops in Manly, making it a great place to shop for clothing and equipment. Other popular activities on offer include beach volleyball, kayaking and scuba diving.
You could stay for weeks while you work on your surfing, learn to dive, roller-blade the esplanade, sample some of the dozens of restaurants and cafes and catch some of Sydney's best musicians performing live at the area's pub venues.