A stunning family beach wedged between two headlands, Freshwater is a short walk north from Manly. A coastal walk further north will take you to Curl Curl. Swimming at Freshwater Beach started back in the early 1900s when campers would holiday close to the beach. A small creek running out the north end of the beach provided fresh water for the campers and gave the beach its name. The north headland provides excellent protection from the summer nor'easter, and waves are fairly consistent right along the beach thanks to reliable sandbanks.
Freshwater's unique claim to fame is that this is where surfboard riding was popularised in Australia by Hawaiian "Duke" Kahanamoku. Duke famously carved a board from a piece of local timber and demonstrated surfing for an enthralled crowd on 10 January 1915. A life-size statue of Duke Kahanamoku on the northern headland commemorates the historic day.
An eight lane, 50 metre saltwater pool at the north end is a favourite with lap swimmers. There is a high-end restaurant and several cafes nearby which overlook the beach.
Freshwater is part of the Manly-Freshwater National and World Surfing Reserve that recognises the historical, cultural, and environmental values of famous surfing beaches.