5 Reasons to visit Manly, Australia

1. The Beaches

Manly beach, Sydney

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.

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Sydney Beaches – My Top 3

Sydney is a vibrant City with some fabulous beaches on its doorstep.  Whether  you want it for sunbathing, safe swimming, snorkelling or a surf lesson, in my opinion, some of the best are located on the Northern Peninsula.  These are my 3 favourites to visit as a solo traveller.

1.  Manly Beach

Manly Beach is a glorious, long stretch of soft, golden sand.  Alongside it is a promenade, lined with tall Norweigan Pine trees with colourful and noisy lorikeets and cockatoos flying between them.

Norweigan Pine Trees, Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia, Manly, promenade
Norweigan Pine Trees,Manly Beach

Facilities and Activities

Manly beach is split into 3 main sections, South Steyne, North Steyne and Queenscliff.  There are changing areas, showers, toilets, water filter stations  and food and drink outlets along the beachfront.  South Steyne benefits from a flagged area for safe swimming, manned by lifeguards.  North Steyne has a volleyball court for use free of charge.  Manly Beach is a surfer’s paradise and if you wish to book a lesson, contact Manly Surf School.  I did this a few years ago and it was great fun.

 North Steyne, Manly Beach, volleyball, Sydney, australia, manly
North Steyne Section of Manly Beach

Manly Restaurants

Manly is a place where you can indulge on luxurious treats or stay very healthy.  Either way, the food is outstanding.  Some of the places I have reviewed and recommend as a solo traveller can be found on my Sydney Restaurants page.

Manly Sunrises

If you happen to be staying in Manly and I recommend you do, head to the beach early one morning.  I have seen some of the best sunrises from this beach.  You can also watch the surfers from around 5am riding the early waves.  I stayed at the Sebel Manly Beach which is a stone’s throw from the beach and it was a great place to stay.

Sunrise, Manly Beach, Steyne, Sydney
Sunrise at Manly Beach

2.  Shelly Beach Manly

Shelly Beach, a picturesque, tucked away cove with a mixture of shingle and sand.  The water here tends to be very calm and clear, making it an ideal place to snorkel.  There is a lot of interesting marine life to see without swimming too far from the shore.

Shelly Beach, Sydney, Australia, snorkelling, marine life, walking routes, bush turkeys
Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach Walking Trails

Behind the beach are designated walking trails.  Follow the route for some amazing views and you may see the bush turkeys nesting.

Walking Trail, Shelly Beach, Sydney, Australia, snorkelling, marine life, walking routes, bush turkeys
Walking Trail

Shelly Beach, Sydney, Australia, snorkelling, marine life, walking routes, bush turkeys
Bush Turkeys

Food

There is a cafe/restaurant on the beachfront but also the beach barbecues are available to use and they are free!

Beach BBQ, Shelly Beach, Sydney, Australia
Beach BBQ

Freshwater Beach

Freshwater Beach is the birthplace of surfing in Australia.  ‘Duke’ Kahanamoku demonstrated surfing with a carved out piece of timber here in 1915.

‘Freshy’ as it I called by locals, is less busy and more rustic looking than Manly beach.  It has a stunning stretch of white sand and waves that are great for surfing and bodyboarding.

Freshwater Beach, Freshy, Sydney, Australia, Rockclimbing, rockpool
Freshwater Beach

Walking Trail

There is a walking trail from here that involves climbing over lots of rocks.  This will take you all the way to the next suburb along the Northern peninsula, Dee Why.

Rock Pool

Freshwater has a wonderful salt water rock pool visitors can use that has marked out lanes for lap swimming.

Freshwater Beach, Freshy, Sydney, Australia, Rockclimbing, rockpool
Salt Water Rock Pool at Freshwater

The local village is less than 10 minutes walk away if you want to wander around the shops, find a cafe or a restaurant.  Alternatively, barbecues are available for use by the play park at the entrance to the beach.

For the Solo Traveller

Having been to these beaches a number of times, in my opinion, they offer many facilities and activities suitable for solo travellers.  These are the main reasons why they are my top 3 Sydney beaches to visit alone…

  • Lifeguards patrol the flagged areas
  • Rock pool for lane swimming
  • Restaurants are casual with mixed clientele, not all couples
  • Book a surf lesson
  • Cook your own food on one of the beach bbq
  • Walking Trails
  • Nearby shops
  • Friendly areas
  • Beautiful scenery

Helpful Tips

There is little, if any, shade on the beaches and I have never seen sunbeds available for hire.  It is a case of making sure you have plenty of strong sunscreen, bringing your own sunshade if necessary and a towel to lay on.    Manly Beach can often become quite windy around 3-4pm!!

 

 

 

 

 

Top Things to do in Sydney

Sydney, Australia

Sydney is a great place to come as a solo traveller and there is plenty to do here, whatever your interests.  These are my 6 top things to do in Sydney.

Wild Life Sydney Zoo, Darling Harbour

As much as I love Taronga Zoo, Wild Life Sydney Zoo is less tiring and I can still see a lot of Australian wildlife.  It also means that by spending just a couple of hours here, I can combine it with another activity.  I particularly enjoy the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium or the fish markets which are nearby.

Highlights of the zoo trip for me are spotting the koalas in the eucalyptus trees, getting up close to the kangaroos, watching the cassowary with his razor sharp claw and the giant saltwater crocodile.

Koala, Wild Life Sydney Zoo, Wildlife, Darling Harbour
Wild Life Sydney Zoo – Koala

Manly Beach

Watching the sunrise from Manly beach is a glorious sight.  You won’t be disappointed.  Manly is home to many great places to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner so its good for the foodies out there.  During the day there are shops to wander around along the Corso, as well as market stalls on a Saturday.  Alternatively, relax or swim at one of the beaches.  If you are feeling more energetic you could book a surf or paddle board lesson or even join in a game of beach volleyball.  As the sun starts to set, head over to the wharf to watch it.  You may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Little Penguins that come to nest every night between July and February.

Sunrise, Manly Beach, Manly, Sydney, Australia
Sunrise at Manly Beach

Enjoy a Healthy Meal

Food in Sydney is consistently good.  But I have stumbled upon 3 favourites and they are all in Manly.  The food is healthy and delicious.  Momo Bar serve fantastic poke bowls and Nepalese dumplings.  It is a good place to come for dinner and bring your own wine.   Ora offers amazing, organic, unprocessed food for breakfast and lunch and the açai bowls at Acai Bros are delicious any time of day.

Poke Bowl, Momo Bar, Manly, Sydney, Australia, Resaurants, BYO restaurant
Poke Bowl from Momo Bar, Manly

Shelly Beach

Probably my favourite beach in this area.  I always love to have a beach barbecue and a snorkel here!  Shelly is a beautiful cove with walking trails and wonderful views.

Shelly Beach, Manly, Sydney, Australia
Shelly Beach

Hunter Valley

After my first visit here, I am now hooked!  I went on a  fantastic wine tasting tour combined with sampling chocolate, cheese and chutneys.  It was a fun-filled, social day trip just a 2 hour drive from Sydney.  It was also incredible to see so many kangaroos in the wild in this vast wine region of Australia.

Hunter Valley, Wine Region, Sydney, Australia
Hunter Valley

Darling Harbour Fish Markets

Just a short walk from Darling Harbour, this is always a great place to go.  Travelling on the Manly Ferry to get here is fun in itself.  Take in the views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge on the way.  Sometimes you are lucky enough to see dolphins or a whale too!

Manly Ferry, Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia
Manly Ferry

Once at the fish markets, there are many shops selling a variety of fresh seafood.  Seating areas allow you to choose some food and drinks and eat outside by the harbour.  Watch those seagulls though.  For any of you who have watched Finding Nemo, they really do have that ‘mine mine mine’ attitude!

Darling Harbour, Fish Markets, Oysters
Darling Harbour, Fish Markets

If you are looking for somewhere to stay in the area, have a look at the hotels I have recommended if you are a solo traveller.

 

 

Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Wine Tours

I came to the Hunter Valley with my daughter for a guided wine tour.  Never having experienced this before, it wasn’t something I would have considered for a solo traveller.  But having been, I realise it is a great thing to do if you are on your own.

Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park

Hunter Valley is one of Australia’s most popular wine regions and is only about a 2 hour drive from the centre of Sydney.

I recommend taking a detour on the way back to take a scenic drive through Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park.  This national park is worth a weekend trip on its own!  It is a stunning place offering peace and tranquility.  On this occasion we paid $12 for a day pass and drove the car through. Next time I will spend more time here.  It is a great place to be alone with your thoughts.

sunrise, hunter valley, Sydney, australia, nsw, solo travel, reviews
Sunrise, Hunter Valley

The early morning drive back to Sydney allowed us to watch the sunrise and see kangaroos in the wild at the coolest part of the day.

Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, national park, hunter valley, Sydney, australia, solo travel, reviews
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

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Safety Tips When Travelling Alone

As a female solo traveller I try to be aware of people around me and my surroundings all the time.  I go with my gut instinct, so if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  Don’t take chances, just walk away.  I think there are some basic rules that apply wherever you are when you are alone.  For example, making sure you keep to well lit areas where there are other people around, don’t go off the beaten track unless you are part of a tour etc.  To me, these apply anywhere you go alone whether in your home town or overseas.   There are a few extra ways I try to keep myself safe when I am overseas too though.  Here are some of my top safety tips when travelling alone.

  • Choose Your Hotel Carefully

Research the area your hotel is located in.  Try to make sure it is in a busy area.  Check if there is local transport close to the hotel or whether you be dependent on taxis.  Check the crime rate of the area if possible too.  I recently stayed in quite a well known hotel.  Because of this, I hadn’t thought to research its location, just what the rooms and facilities were like.  On arrival I discovered it was in an area with very little going on and a few characters around that made me feel uncomfortable.  Even though the local transport was not that far away, I would not have felt at ease walking to it alone, especially at night.  

  • Wear a wedding ring

If you are not comfortable with being approached by other men when you are away, one way to help reduce unwanted attention is to wear a wedding ring. Also, if you feel a man is starting to chat you up, drop in a comment about your partner or husband and that is often enough to put the message across loud and clear that you’re not interested.  One of my male friends recommended this to me.  Good advice!!

  • Arrange Tours/Activities through your Hotel or Holiday Representative

This is a really important safety tip when travelling alone.  I recently booked a tour off resort because it was much cheaper than booking through my hotel.  However, after realising I was the only person on it, there was a lack of necessary protective clothing and only one tour guide, I began to overthink about potential problems that could arise.  This caused me a lot of unnecessary stress. I realised that by booking in this way, nobody actually knew where I was or who I was with.  With hindsight this was not a good idea as a solo traveller.

Had I booked via the hotel, the tour would have been organised through a reputable company.  I would have been able to read reviews about it online and I would have been in a group of other people, if there was a problem.  Therefore, I recommend always booking a tour or activity via the hotel or a holiday representative.

  • Keep your trip off social media until you get back

Whenever we go away, we are excited to tell people about our trip.  We often spread the word and post pictures on facebook or instagram etc.  But we are also drawing attention to the fact that our homes are vacant if we live alone, increasing the risk of burglary.  If you still feel the need to post pictures while you’re away,  just check your privacy settings.  Maybe adjust the settings for the duration of your trip so that only close friends and family can see them.

  • Get a safety app for your phone

There are several apps you can now get for your mobile phone, such as Bsafe.  BSafe is a personal tracker letting people know where you are and if you are in a difficult situation. You can even set it for a ‘fake’ person to call you.  Read some reviews on the different apps around and see what works best for you and your solo trip. Also make sure that you contact your mobile phone provider before you go to work out the cheapest way to stay connected while you’re away.

  • Don’t tell strangers you meet that you are travelling alone

As lovely as you think the people are who you meet on your travels, be cautious.  You really don’t know them too well.  Try to avoid telling strangers that you are travelling alone, rather that you are on your way to meet a friend or partner. Also don’t tell strangers where you are staying.  In a country you are unfamiliar with,  you want your accommodation to be your comfort zone.

  • Arrive at your new destination in daylight if possible

Arriving in daylight gives you a chance to get a feel for where you are staying and get familiar with your surroundings before it gets dark.

  • Split your cash

If there is a safe in your room, use it.  Try to bring what you need for the day or evening and leave the rest securely in your room.

  • Organise taxis through hotels

Whenever I travel overseas, where possible I organise taxis through the hotel as they are likely to know and use reputable companies.  If possible, arrange a time to be collected and returned.  Carry the hotel and taxi firm’s number with you as well should you need to amend the time.

  • Ask staff for information on where to go as a solo traveller

Hotel staff are keen to make sure you have an enjoyable experience in their country and like to share their knowledge.  I have asked staff on occasions, where I could go as a solo traveller where I will ‘fit in’.  Don’t be afraid to ask for ideas.

  • Dress to fit in

Try to dress to fit in with others.  Don’t flaunt designer clothes and flash jewellery.  You could be making yourself a target for being mugged.

  • Appear Confident

If you appear confident you will look less like a tourist and more like you have a purpose, knowing where you are going to and what you’re doing.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my post about safety tips when travelling alone.  You may also like to read my solo travel tips page offering links to other posts useful for solo holidays, dining solo or solo activities.

Breakfast in Manly

Jetlag waking me up at 1:30am left me plenty of time to build up an appetite and think about where to go for my breakfast in Manly.  I passed some time watching the sunrise and then explored.

Breakfast in Manly after watching the sunrise, Manly, Sydney, Australia
Sunrise in Manly, Sydney, Australia

Breakfast in Manly along the Beachfront

Along the beachfront there were many places offering breakfast. I stayed at The Sebel Manly Beach.  Breakfast at adjoining Manly Wine was available and could be charged to my room.  It looked good and popular, as did Bluewater, Sugar Lounge and Hemingways which overlooked the beach.   To be honest, all of them would have been suitable for a solo traveller.

Many people in Manly exercise along the beachfront early morning while it is cool.  Other’s are surfing as soon as the sun starts to rise.  Therefore, I guess it makes sense that there are so many places to choose from for a good sized, healthy breakfast afterwards.

Breakfast in Manly in a Non-beachfront Location

I went a little further afield.   I walked along the beachfront, turned into the corso, the hub of Manly and off every side street are more cafes.  You really are spoilt for choice here in terms of places to eat and grab a coffee.

The corso, a pedestrian area, is filled with market stalls on Saturdays and Sundays and is a great place for a wander before or after breakfast.

Breakfast in Manly, followed by a wander around Manly Market, Manly, Sydney, Australia
Manly Market, Manly, Sydney, Australia

I found a couple of favourite places I enjoyed going to for breakfast as a solo traveller, Ora and Market Lane Cafe.  Click on the links to read a more detailed review about these places.  Both of these restaurants were in a non-beachfront location.

Breakfast at Market Lane Cafe, Manly, Sydney, Australia
Breakfast at Market Lane Cafe, Manly, Sydney, Australia

Bircher Muesli at Ora, Organic Cafe, Manly, Sydney, Australia
Bircher Muesli at Ora, Organic Cafe, Manly, Sydney, Australia

Ora had a charm about it.  The food was delicious, organic and unprocessed.  The menu was enticing with food I hadn’t tried before, certainly not made in the same way anyway.   Similarly with Market Lane Cafe, the food was excellent with some unusual choices on the menu. Both places leave you wanting to come back again to try something new.

Summary

In Summary, I believe Manly in Sydney is a great place to go for breakfast as a solo traveller.  Generally people are taking their coffee or eating with friends, kids, couples or solo, so I never felt out of place being on my own.  Many of the cafes/restaurants have an indoor or outdoor area. There is plenty to do before or after breakfast in the local area too, if you don’t have to rush off somewhere.

The exchange rate is quite good at the moment so prices seemed quite comparable to the UK in many cases.   I would definitely return to Ora and Market Lane Cafe but next time I am in Manly, I will be trying some of the other places too.  They all looked pretty good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sebel Manly Beach – Hotel & Apartments

The Sebel Manly Beach

The Sebel Manly Beach, one of the Manly Hotels with a perfect beachfront location.  It has been open for 55 years and  apparently guests here have included Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart and Elton John.

The Sebel Manly Beach hotel, Manly, Sydney, Australia, manly hotels
The Sebel Manly Beach

Sebel Manly Beach, Manly, Sydney, Australia, Manly hotels
Hotel Reception Area

The Buildings

There are 2 buildings, the main one, the North Tower is attached to a wine bar, Manly Wine and a Greek Restaurant, Terracotta Ouzeria.  I stayed in the other building, South Towers, in a single studio on the fourth floor.  The studio had a balcony with table and chairs and partial sea views.  My air conditioned room was spacious with a large, comfy bed.  The living area had a sofa, coffee table, desk and fridge, tea and coffee making facilities.  There was a large shower in the bathroom A safe was available free of charge and free wifi was also available.

 

Bathroom in studio room, The Sebel Manly Beach, Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia, Manly Hotels
Bathroom in studio room, Sebel Manly Beach

The Sebel Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia, kitchen area, Manly Hotels
Small kitchen area, The Sebel Manly Beach

Bedroom Area, The Sebel Manly Beach, Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia, Manly Hotels
Bedroom area, The Sebel Manly Beach

Living Area, The Sebel Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia, Manly Hotels
Living area, The Sebel Manly Beach

 

Views from Balcony at The Sebel Manly Beach, Manly Beach, Manly Hotels, Sydney, Australia
Partial beach views from balcony, The Sebel Manly Beach

The Balcony, Single Studio, The Sebel Manly Beach, Manly Hotels, Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia
The balcony

Facilities

The Sebel is a 2 minute walk to Manly beach, less than 5 mins walk to some great shops, restaurants, pubs and bars and Coles supermarket, the equivalent to UK’s Tesco or Sainsburys.

Manly Beach, a short walk from The Sebel Manly Beach, Manly Hotels
Sunrise at Manly Beach

The Corso, Manly, short walk from The Sebel Manly Beach, Manly Hotels
The Corso, Saturday morning market and shops

Each tower has a a swimming pool.  There is a heated one in the North Tower and an unheated one in the South Tower.  Also in the South Tower is a laundry with complementary washing powder.  The washing machine and tumble dryer is available free of charge.

Manly Wine’s espresso bar offers a la carte breakfast in the morning if required, but there are many places serving breakfast nearby.

Summary

Considering the facilities and location of The Sebel Manly Beach in this popular beach suburb of Manly, I felt my studio offered excellent value for money at £85 per night.  As a solo traveller, I liked the security of the hotel reception being manned 24/7 if there was a problem.  But I also had the benefit of the feeling of home living at the same time by staying in an apartment.

In my opinion The Sebel Manly Beach is a great place to stay and I will definitely return.

Read here for more of my solo travel reviews in Australia

Malaysia Airlines – London to Sydney via Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia Airlines were offering very competitive business class flights to Sydney, Australia, at the time of booking, once again with Dial-A-Flight.  and I was really impressed.  Note, I booked 5 months in advance.  Had I left the booking until a couple of months before, the price would have been almost double what I paid!  I am very excited to be heading to Australia to write some more solo travel reviews.

Staff were very friendly on board and I was offered a glass of champagne once I was seated.  The food was excellent with plenty of choice.  The meals tasted like the quality you would have in a good restaurant which was a pleasant surprise.  It was very nice to have proper cutlery, glasses and china plates too!

The seats were very comfortable.  There were buttons for back massage and lumbar support.  The headphones were great with additional noise reduction.  I was grateful for this as the man near me was snoring so loudly!  We were given a vanity bag, complete with the usual toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash, hairbrush, eye mask, socks.  Also a spray to cool you down, a nice touch as it became quite stuffy from time to time!

Malaysia Airlines - menu on outbound flight to Sydney, Australia from London via Kuala Lumpur
Menu on Malaysia Airline flight

Unfortunately there wasn’t a socket to charge my phone and laptop on the first leg of my journey to Kuala Lumpur.  However, wifi was available for a small charge.  The second flight from Kuala Lumpur had charging sockets but no wifi.

The first flight was quite long at almost 13 hours.  There was only a 2 hour break between both flights so not much time to hang around and get bored, but time to have a proper walk around and a stretch.  The second flight was much easier at 7 and a half hours.

In summary, Malaysia Airlines offered very comfortable flights and I would definitely book with them again.  Still, it’s been a long day and now I am ready to head to my hotel! The Sebel Manly Beach.

 

 

Sydney, Australia, here I come!

Sydney, here I come!

G’day readers! I’m excited to be heading off to Sydney, Australia in the morning!  So keep an eye on my blog posts and Hotel, Restaurants, Beaches and Activities pages for updates and solo travel reviews. It is a trip that will be part with family members and part solo.

I will be staying in The Sebel Manly Beach hotel, while in Manly and in Pokolbin Village while in the Hunter Valley wine region.

Some of the beaches I will visit will include the popular Manly beach, as well as Freshwater and Shelly beaches.  Manly and Freshwater beaches are popular for surfing whereas Shelly beach is great for snorkelling.  These beaches are on the Northern peninsula.  While I am on one of these beaches, I will start up one of the beach barbecues for a snag or two!  It’s got to be done!

Manly beach by night, Sydney, Australia
Manly beach by night

Food in Australia is amazing and the Australians very often seem to be one step ahead of us! I fell in love with their açai bowls years ago before they started to become popular here in the UK.  This time, I will let you know what I think of the poké bowls. Originally from Hawaii I believe and there are only a few places that sell them in London.   I am very keen to try these while staying in Manly.

The açai bowl I first tried in Sydney, Australia, food, healthy
Açai bowl

Activities will include visiting Darling Harbour,  a visit to Wild Life Sydney Zoo and Sealife to get up close to nature.  I will also head to Hunter Valley for a night, for a wine tasting tour in one of Australia’s major wine regions.  Hunter Valley won’t be a solo trip but I will let you know if I think it could be!

I will be in touch soon!!