Once a quaint fishing village, Watsons Bay is now a lovely seaside enclave with loads of appeal, located at the tip of the South Head peninsula in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Enjoy a family picnic in a lush park, swim in a harbourside pool, dine on delicious seafood at a waterfront restaurant or hike up to a historic lighthouse.
Things to do
Steeped in history, Watsons Bay is rich in Indigenous and colonial heritage. Tackle the Federation Cliff Walk, a five-kilometre clifftop walk with postcard views out to the Pacific Ocean stretching from Watsons Bay to Dover Heights, enjoying the dramatic views of the 80-metre sandstone cliffs at Raleigh Reserve and The Gap along the way. You will also walk by the spot where the full-rigged passenger ship the Dunbar shipwrecked off South Head in 1857.
The South Head Heritage Trail is another lovely walking track, taking you past Lady Bay Beach, which permits nude bathing, and on to the top of South Head. Here you’ll find the historic (and positively charming) red-and-white-striped Hornby Lighthouse, built in 1858 after the Dunbar sank. Between May and November, you can easily spot whales off the coast during their annual migration.
Watsons Bay is a calm, protected cove with a small sandy beach, making it perfect for stand-up paddle boarding, while Watsons Bay Baths, an enclosed harbour pool with sunbathing pontoons, is a scenic place for a swim.
Picturesque Camp Cove is a short stroll from the Watsons Bay ferry wharf but a million miles away from the rest of the world. The soft, sandy beach stretches out in front of multi-million-dollar mansions and offers a calm, secluded haven beloved by families. It’s also a great spot to go snorkelling or kayaking.
If you are willing to venture further, a 20-minute walk from Watsons Bay you will find Parsley Bay Reserve, a tucked-away harbour beach well-loved for its gentle, family-friendly waves. An enclosed swimming area, children’s playground, shady trees, kiosk and picnic facilities make it a quiet but popular local spot.
Watsons Bay is home to the iconic seafood restaurant Doyle’s on the Beach. Enjoy fine dining on the water, while feasting on fresh fish, lobster, prawns and other ocean delicacies. Alternatively, you can grab takeaway fish ‘n’ chips from Doyle’s on the Wharf, right where the ferry docks, and then enjoy it in the nearby Robertson Park.
Indulge in a glamourous high tea at Dunbar House, a historic building overlooking pretty Robertson Park. The perfectly-positioned Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, right on the water, has the more casual Beach Club, which serves a light menu, and provides a buzzy beer garden atmosphere and stunning harbour views.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.