Family Activities in Manly

Family activities in Manly

Keeping a family entertained all day is easy in Manly. This beachside suburb has everything you need for a fun-filled day out – and a lot of it is free. Discover a world-class patrolled beach, small coves and fantastic ocean pools plus playgrounds, picnic spots and child-friendly eateries.

Things to do 

Manly is the perfect destination for a family day out. The main drawcard is the beach, which stretches for 3km and is patrolled by three surf lifesaving clubs to ensure everyone stays safe. Enrol active kids who are confident swimmers in surfing lessons from Manly Surf Guide or Manly Surf School.

Adults enjoying a learn to surf experience with Manly Surf School at Freshwater Beach

Manly Surf School, Freshwater Beach

There's an ocean pool at the northern end of the beach and Fairy Bower Pool is at the southern end. Built in 1929, the rock pool is part of Cabbage Tree Bay, a marine sanctuary teeming with hundreds of brightly coloured fish species. Go snorkelling with Dive Centre Manly or EcoTreasures or hire a stand-up paddleboard.

Continue along the walkway to get to pretty Shelly Beach, a calm, sheltered beach popular with small children. There's a park with free BBQ facilities and the fantastic Boathouse café. If you prefer to pack a picnic, try and grab one of the many tables under the towering Norfolk Island pines along the Manly Beach promenade.

Family enjoying a walk at Shelly Beach - Manly - Sydney North

Shelly Beach, Manly - Credit: Northern Beaches Council

You can also enjoy Manly's coastline on land. Rent a bicycle from Manly Bike Tours and Hire and head up to North Head. The uphill ride will reward you with panoramic views of Sydney Harbour and the ocean. From there, follow the cycle path to Collins Flat Beach, a hidden harbour beach with views of The Heads.

North Head is an ideal position for whale watching during the migration period between May-November. If you want to get closer to these majestic humpbacks frolicking along the coastline, go on a whale-watching ocean tour with Manly Ocean Adventures and Manly Whale Watching, which depart from Manly Wharf.

Manly Kayak Centre, near the ferry wharf, is where you can hire kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to explore the northern waters of Sydney Harbour, one the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. You can also hire a yacht and skipper from Manly Sailing so all you have to do is sit back and relax.

Adult Sailing Lesson with Manly Sailing in Manly, Sydney North

Manly Sailing, Manly

Eat & drink

In keeping with its relaxed, coastal vibe, there are plenty of kid-friendly places to eat in Manly. You'll find a range of cafes and casual eateries on South Steyne, opposite the beach and children are welcome at the bars along the wharf, including the Manly Wharf Hotel and The Bavarian Manly Wharf.

Getting there

Enjoy the 30-min ferry ride from Circular Quay as it takes you across one of the world’s great natural harbours and out past the heads. It’s even quicker if you catch a fast ferry. Then hop off at the wharf for a short walk to the beach along the Corso, a lively shopping and pedestrian boulevard. Or take the Manly Scenic Walkway from Mosman.