Boating on Sydney Harbour

Boating is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of Sydney Harbour. When you spend time on the water, you gain a whole new perspective. Sail past iconic attractions such as the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge as you sip champagne, get involved and hoist the sails on a majestic tall ship, or strap in for an adventure on a jet boat or in a kayak.

Boat moored in Vaucluse Bay near Nielsen Park, Vaucluse

Nielsen Park, Vaucluse

Things to do

Hop aboard a tour to explore one of the world’s finest natural harbours. Explore Sailing Sydney gives you the thrill of sailing aboard a traditional America’s Cup yacht. No experience is necessary and children as young as 10 can enjoy the daily tour. There's more adrenaline to be had with Oz Jet Boating on one of their bright-red ‘shark boats'.

Sydney Harbour marks the starting line of one of the great ocean yacht races. Every Boxing Day – 26 December – the world-famous Sydney Hobart Yacht Race sets sail on the 628 nautical miles to Hobart, Tasmania. You can watch the exciting start of the race up close on various boating and cruising tours.

Step back in time and sail on a tall ship from a bygone era. Join Sydney Harbour Tall Ships or Sydney Heritage Fleet Cruises and take a turn at the wheel, climb a mast for magnificent views or simply sit back and enjoy the spectacular scenery as the canvas sails billow in the breeze.

Couple enjoying food and drink on chartered sailing vessel on Sydney Harbour

Sailing, Sydney Harbour 

Boat hire

Charter a captain and a yacht as you sit back and take in those stunning harbour views. Options include EastSail in Rushcutters Bay, and Sydney by SailSea Sydney Harbour and Australian Spirit Sailing in Darling Harbour. There are sightseeing tours as well as lunch, twilight and dinner cruises. You can also charter motorboats.

If you have your sea legs and plan to skipper your own hire boat, consult the user-friendly Boating Destination Map from the Roads and Maritime Services to find facilities and services. There are marinas and jetties dotted around the harbour, from Manly near the harbour’s entrance to Cabarita on the Parramatta River.

Friends enjoying a day of kayaking on Sydney Harbour, Sydney City

Kayaking, Sydney Harbour


If you want to take things slow, hire a kayak for a leisurely time on the water. OzPaddle runs tours departing from Andrew Boy Charlton Pool in the Royal Botanic Garden, as well as Rosebay, or you can join Sydney Harbour Kayaks on a sunrise paddle from Neutral Bay on the North Shore.

Sydney swimming safety

NSW has a wide range of wonderful swimming options including beaches, ocean pools, harbourside pools, lakes, rivers, and swimming holes at the bottom of waterfalls. However, to ensure maximum safety and enjoyment, swimmers should follow this general advice:

Look for patrolled beaches. This is where lifesavers are on duty; you will see red and yellow flags that indicate this. You should always swim between the red and yellow flags as they mark the safest place to swim.

Never swim alone at night, or under the influence of alcohol, or directly after a meal.

Always check water depth, as rocks or trees could be submerged, and never run and dive into the water from a beach, riverbank or another surface.

Check for signs regarding advice on water conditions at your chosen swimming spot and at any natural swimming hole. Always proceed with caution as surfaces could be slippery and water conditions may not be immediately apparent; particularly if the area has recently experienced heavy rain or flooding.

Pay attention to the advice of the lifesavers and safety signs. Visit SharkSmart to understand any potential risks in the area you are swimming. 

Plan your trip