Sydney’s Northern Beaches are famous for their relaxed vibe and active, outdoors lifestyle. The breathtaking coastline from Manly to Palm Beach collectively known as The Northern Beaches attracts visitors year round. Just a quick ferry ride from Sydney Harbour to Manly, the Northern Beaches are “only seven miles from Sydney and a million miles from care”!
For the past three years, living in the Northern Beaches has felt like an extended holiday with access to real life. My apartment is a two-minute walk from Narrabeen Beach, one of Australia’s most iconic surfing and swimming beaches. Just down the road, Narrabeen Lake is a great spot for kayaking, fishing, and having weekend barbecues. Most importantly, I can catch a quick bus to Sydney for work or play!
The Northern Beaches Lifestyle
When I first arrived in Sydney, I was searching for a place to call home. I knew I would be working here for the next few years, waiting for my Permanent Residency in Australia. While I loved Sydney and living in cool neighbourhoods like Newtown and Surry Hills, I ultimately wanted to live on the beach. I mean, if you come to live in Australia from overseas, you gotta live on the beach, right?
So I did a little research and found the Northern Beaches. Here I found a truly warm and genuine vibe, much like my home in Oregon. The locals were so friendly and laid back, balancing both a healthy active lifestyle and a great social life. I found heaps of outdoor activities and places to explore on the weekends and in my spare time. I was absolutely thrilled to finally find this amazing place that I now call home!
From surfers to yogis, sun worshippers and adventure junkies, there is something for everyone in the Northern Beaches. Here’s a little list I’ve compiled over the years to help you while exploring Sydney’s Northern Beaches!
There are plenty of great walks to enjoy for those wanting to get out and get exploring! Take a quick stroll around Manly to Shelly Beach, or walk along famous Palm Beach. You might even find yourself as an extra in the popular TV show filmed there, “Home and Away”!
If you’re feeling more adventurous and looking for a great place to watch the sunset, head up to either Barrenjoey or North Head. You can bring along a picnic and enjoy the view with a few friends, or even someone special. My favourite hike is the incredibly gorgeous walk from Manly to Spit Bridge. It takes about four hours, so make sure to bring a few snacks, and definitely a water bottle.
Interested in learning how to surf? Book a lesson with Manly Surf School or rent a board and head to famous Freshwater Beach, otherwise known to locals as “Freshy”. You can take a photo with the statue of “The Duke” and learn how he first brought surfing from Hawaii to Australia over 100 years ago!
If you’re an advanced surfer, head further north to Curl Curl or Whale Beach. Both have incredible waves and friendly locals, just make sure to follow surf etiquette and not drop in on anyone!
Whether you want to start or continue your practice, the Northern Beaches has it all. From standup paddle board yoga to aerial and acrobatic yoga, it is the place to be if you are yoga enthusiast. There are countless yoga studios that you can check out and see if they are the right one for you. Most offer free sessions for newbies, up to seven whole days of free yoga!
Just wander down the Manly Corso, or better yet, check out my review on different yoga centres in Manly for more details.
Chilling on the Beach
Narrabeen Beach stretches over three sandy kilometers (about two miles), and has both incredible surf and swimming. Escape the busy crowds of Manly beach at this quiet beach, just make sure to swim between the flags where there are lifeguards. The rip is pretty powerful and if you’re not a strong swimmer can be very dangerous!
Turrimetta is one of my favourite of all the Northern Beaches. There is hardly anyone ever there, and the rock pool is great for sunrise photos (and swimming). It’s a bit of a hike if you don’t drive, but it’s totally worth it.
Enjoy fresh oysters and yummy seared barramundi at White Water Restaurant along Manly Beach. For beautiful waterside dining, check out Pilu in Freshy. Sardinian dishes with a modern twist, this Italian restaurant is worth the price!
If you’re on a budget, try Jipang Japanese Restaurant in Manly at around $25 for two. Or try a tasty pie at one of the best pie shops in Sydney, Upper Crust. Located just off of Pittwater road on the way to Collaroy, walk off your pie along the Long Reef Coastal walk!
If your after something healthy and light, try a fresh Acai Bliss bowl at Driftwood Cafe in Narrabeen. Topped with bananas, muesli, strawberries, blueberries and chia seeds, this meal is packed with Superfood goodness!
When I feel like going out, I head to one of Manly’s many bars and hotels. The closest to of the Northern Beaches suburbs to Sydney, Manly Beach definitely has the best nightlife. Four Pines Brewery has a great view of Manly wharf (not to mention magicians that come and do magic tricks at your table) and eclectic beers brewed in house. My favourite is the one made with salt water!
Watch the sunset with a glass of cider at Wharf Bar, then head over to happy hour at the Steyne. Thursday to Sunday head upstairs for live music and over 100 different types of rum at the gritty locals fave, Moonshine.
There is so much to do, see and explore in the Northern Beaches, and I hope this helps you discover some hidden gems on your own!
Have you ever been to Sydney’s Northern Beaches? What are some cool places to explore that I may have missed? I would love hear your comments and thoughts below!