1. The Beaches
There are many reasons to visit Manly and one of them is for the choice of beaches. Manly is blessed with several stunning beaches. The main stretch along the North Steyne is great for surfing or bodyboarding. Surf lessons can be arranged via Manly Surf School. I had just one lesson with them and managed to ride a wave! The teaching was fun and of a good standard.
If you prefer to just take a refreshing dip, there is a flagged area towards South Steyne which is manned by lifeguards.
Beach volleyball is another popular activity and is great to watch or even join in!
Shops, cafes and restaurants are conveniently located opposite the beach, along the Corso and the side roads that lead off from it.
From the North Steyne, take a 10 minute walk to Shelly beach, spotting water dragons along the way. Snorkelling is particularly good here and you don’t need to go very far from the shore.
Shelly beach has access to free barbecues and set back from the beach, are walking trails where you can take in the wonderful views of the Northern Peninsula.
Hire a self-drive boat, kayak or a paddle board from Manly Kayak Centre, situated by Little Manly Beach, at the opposite end of the Corso from North Steyne. Private and group lessons are available too. I particularly enjoyed the paddle board lesson I had. The water was so calm, it was a great place to learn.
All the beach areas have access to nearby toilets, showers, changing areas and filtered water stations.
If you enjoy healthy living, then Manly is the place to come. Restaurants offer lots of nutritious dishes, bursting with flavour and cater for all dietary requirements. Organic and vegan food is popular here too and there are so many good restaurants, you will really be spoilt for choice.
Local and Australian fayre such as seafood and kangaroo fillets topped with crocodile tail fillets are on the menu at Manly Grill. Acai Bros serve delicious and healthy açai bowls. Dinners could include a poke bowl or Nepalese dumplings from Momo Bar. Whatever your preferred cuisine, you are likely to find it in Manly.
3. Manly Ferry
The iconic Manly Ferries have been running for around 160 years and they provide a regular and reliable service into the City in just 30 minutes. Whether you sit inside or outside you can enjoy some of the stunning harbour and ocean views that Sydney has to offer. At certain times of the year you may be lucky enough to watch whales breach or see pods of dolphins swimming along. At night time in May you will pass the Opera House, looking spectacular. It will be lit up with images projected onto it as part of ‘Vivid’, the annual festival of music and light. This is well worth seeing.
4. Fairy Penguins
Manly is home to a colony of fairy penguins, the only mainland breeding colony left in NSW. After dusk between July and February, see if you can spot one returning to nest. Volunteer wardens now protect the area at night time.
5. Sunrises and Sunsets
Another of my favourite reasons to visit Manly is to watch the sunrise and sunset. An early morning walk along the footpath between Manly and Shelly beaches will allow you to enjoy a beautiful sunrise over North Head. Watch the colours turn into golden hues the higher it rises.
Walk back towards North Steyne to see the sunrise as the backdrop to silhouettes of the iconic Norweigan pine trees.
As soon as the sun starts to set, Manly Wharf becomes noisy from the screeching sounds of the lorikeets heading to the trees for the night. It is here that you can also watch some amazing sunsets. Find a spot on the beach wall, or head to one of the restaurants or bars at the wharf and enjoy the views with a cool drink.
Suggested Further Reading:
Things to do in Sydney – recommended solo activities
Restaurants in Sydney – restaurants I have dined at solo and enjoyed
Recommended Accommodation in Manly: