Northern Beaches

Northern Beaches

The magic of the Northern Beaches is that you can find whatever kind of beach you're after, from surfing swells to quiet coves. This stunning stretch of coastline curves 30km from Manly to Palm Beach and boasts more than 20 beaches, each with its own distinct vibe. Whether you want to surf, swim, snorkel or relax you'll find the perfect spot for you.

Surfing & beaches

Surfers make a beeline for the National Surfing Reserves of Manly, Freshwater and North Narrabeen, which hosted the World Surf League Championships in 2021. If you want to learn what it takes to ride a wave, sign up for surfing lessons at Manly Surf School or Manly Surf Guide.

Man enjoying the surf at North Narrabeen Beach, North Narrabeen

North Narrabeen Beach, North Narrabeen

For those who prefer calm, sheltered bays to big waves then head to the delightful Shelly Beach in Cabbage Tree Bay, Manly. This protected marine reserve is perfect for snorkelling and diving, the crystal-clear waters are warm, and the area is teeming with colourful fish such as blue groper and cuttlefish.

Freedivers exploring the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve, Manly

Cabbage Tree Bay, Manly 

Things to do

The ocean isn't the only waterway on the Northern Beaches. There's Narrabeen Lagoon, which is popular with families, kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders. There's also a 9km walking and cycling trail around the edge of the lagoon.

Narrabeen Lagoon at Narrabeen in Northern Beaches, Sydney North

Narrabeen Lagoon, Narrabeen - Credit: Northern Beaches Council

The Pittwater foreshore, just inland from Avalon Beach, is a wonderful place to explore if you like bushwalking.  Enter via Australia’s second-oldest national park, Ku-ring-gai Chase and take the Red Hands Cave walking track which meanders to ancient Aboriginal ochre hand paintings.

View from West Head lookout over to Barrenjoey Headland, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park

West Head, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park

This is perfect whale-watching territory, with scenic lookouts dotted along the coast from North Head to Barrenjoey Head, Sydney’s northernmost seaside point. Tour options of the Northern Beaches include EcoTreasures' wildlife discovery and Flamin’ Galah's Home and Away adventure.


Eat & drink

The Boathouse started at out Palm Beach and its particular blend of casual, café cool is now at Shelly Beach as well as Whale Beach. Manly is an eating-and-drinking hub with a range of casual options and the next suburb over you'll discover fine-dining Italian at Pilu at Freshwater.

Woman enjoying food and drink at The Boat House, Palm Beach

The Boat House, Palm Beach

The Newport is a destination pub, people from all over Sydney take a daytrip to this sprawling, beautifully renovated heritage property right on the Pittwater foreshore. It's got pizza and pub fare downstairs and fine dining at Bert's, upstairs. Nearby at Whale Beach, is Jonah’s another fine dining venue and boutique accommodation with outstanding views.

The Newport in Sydney North, Sydney

The Newport, Newport

Getting there

If you want to explore the Northern Beaches from top-to-bottom, the best way is to drive. It takes about 90 mins to get from the CBD to Palm Beach. A ferry will take you from Circular Quay to Manly and busses go all the way north. You can also cross Pittwater on the Palm Beach ferry and arrive at the Basin. Or, if you want to splash out, catch a seaplane from Rose Bay.


Sydney Beach safety

Enjoy Sydney's beaches by following these safety tips

Always swim between the red and yellow flags; surf lifesavers have identified this area as the safest spot to swim in the water. It's also a good idea to always swim with a friend.

Pay attention to the advice of the lifesavers and safety signs. Visit SharkSmart to understand any potential risks in the area you are swimming. You are always welcome to ask lifeguards for more safety advice. If you find yourself needing help in the water, stay calm and attract attention. Check conditions before you go. You can also find patrolled beaches by visiting



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