Bathing Beauties – Enjoying the Best Beaches Near Manly, NSW

Manly Beach is one of the best-known tourist destinations in Sydney, but Manly is so much more than one big name beach. Walking the Bondi to Manly path revealed Sydney to me and delivered more hidden coves and glorious beaches than I ever knew existed.

If you are after some sun, sea and sand, head to Manly and take your pick of eight different beaches – all within an easy 15-20minute walk of the Manly Wharf.

Grab your sunnies, towel and sunscreen – we are off to absorb some Vitamin Sea.

Heading in a roughly clockwise direction and starting with the big one:

Manly Beach

  • Location: Oceanside. 550m north-east of Manly Wharf
  • Length: 1.5km
  • Patrolled by Surf Lifesavers: Yes
  • Netted Pool: No
  • Facilities: All the usual and close to numerous cafés and ice cream shops etc.
  • General Comments: Surfing was first brought to Australia in 1915 when Hawaiian, Duke Kahanamoku, displayed the technique at the neighbouring Freshwater Beach. This sport was perfectly suited to Australia’s outdoor lifestyle and the first surfing competition ever held in the World occurred at Manly Beach in 1964. Manly is one of the iconic tourist destinations in Sydney and it gets incredibly busy, especially on weekends. I recommend you visit mid-week if you can.

Shelly Beach

  • Location: Oceanside. 1.6km East of Manly Wharf
  • Length: 100m
  • Patrolled by Surf Lifesavers: No
  • Netted Pool: No. The Fairy Bower Sea Pool is located nearby – a 4min walk.
  • Facilities: Showers, toilets, BBQs and coffee at The Boat House café.
  • General Comments: This is a little gem of a beach and is an easy stroll away from the madness of Manly Beach. It is popular with swimmers who lap along the protected waters between Shelly Beach and the Fairy Bower Sea Pool. Delightful.

Collins Flat Beach

  • Location: Harbourside. Approximately 2km South of Manly Wharf.
  • Length: Approx. 80m.
  • Patrolled by Surf Lifesavers: No
  • Netted Pool: No
  • Facilities: None
  • General Comments: It is a bit of a commitment to get to Collins Beach, but so worth it. Steep steps lead down to this secluded beach which also features a wonderful waterfall. This area is part of Sydney Harbour National Park.

Little Manly Tidal Pool/Beach

  • Location: Harbourside. 1km South of Manly Wharf.
  • Length: 140m
  • Patrolled by Surf Lifesavers: No
  • Netted Pool: Yes
  • Facilities: Change rooms, toilets and coffee.
  • General Comments: This looks like a popular destination for locals in the know. The grassed area edging the beach was full of parents and their small children lapping up the Autumn sun.

Cabbage Tree Bay/Manly Cove East

  • Location: Harbourside. 200m South of Manly Wharf
  • Length: 250m
  • Patrolled by Surf Lifesavers: No
  • Netted Pool: No
  • Facilities: Toilets, picnic areas and large areas of shade under the towering pines.
  • General Comments: I am not sure I would like to swim here as with so much boat activity nearby – ferries coming and going from the Wharf – I suspect that the water would be less than pristine. Lovely for walking and sunbathing.

Manly Cove West

  • Location: Harbourside. 200m north-west of Manly Wharf
  • Length: 230m
  • Patrolled by Surf Lifesavers: No
  • Netted Pool: Yes
  • Facilities: All the usual including long, shaded walkways with plenty of benches and seating areas.
  • General Comments: Manly Cove used to be one long beach, but was bisected by the Manly Wharf when it was constructed in 1856. This beach would be perfect for children and those who enjoy gentle, protected waters. Again, I am not sure about the water quality with all the Manly Ferries tooing and froing all day, every day. That didn’t seem to bother the people swimming and sunbathing as I walked past. Maybe I am worrying unnecessarily?

Delwood Beach

  • Location: Harbourside. 750m West of Manly Wharf
  • Length: Approximately 70m at low tide.
  • Patrolled by Surf Lifesavers: No
  • Netted Pool: No
  • Facilities: None.
  • General Comments: This little beach varies greatly in length dependent on the tide. A perfect spot for snorkelling over rocky outcrops and spotting marine life.

Fairlight Beach

  • Location: Harbourside. 1.1km West of Manly Wharf
  • Length: 80m
  • Patrolled by Surf Lifesavers: No
  • Netted Pool: No, a small rockpool instead
  • Facilities: Showers and toilets
  • General Comments: Similar to its near neighbours, Fairlight is a perfect pocket-sized patch of Paradise for swimmers and snorkelers of all ages. A good quality path links it to other beaches which would be perfect for people with mobility issues or parents with prams etc.

For a fabulous walking/swimming day(s) out, pack your swimmers and hear out on the Bondi to Manly Path from: 

  • Spit Bridge to Manly Wharf – 10km – also includes the lovely Clontarf Beach. HERE
  • Manly Wharf to Manly Harbour – 10.2km – HERE

This walking path delivers the best of Sydney Harbour and many more beaches than I have included in this post. Discover them yourself.

Bring on Summer!

Where is your favourite beach?

The Basics

What: The first official dispatch in 1788 from Arthur Phillip, governor of the newly founded imperial outpost in New South Wales, noted the ‘confidence and manly behaviour’ of the Aboriginal people encountered on the northern side of the entrance to Sydney Harbour. Source. That’s how Manly got its name.

Where: Manly is located on the northern side of Sydney Harbour, around 12.5km (by ferry) north-east of the Sydney CBD

Delwood Beach
Views back to the Wharf – Delwood Beach

When: I visited on a mild Autumn day and people where still swimming and enjoying the beach.

Why: Explore and enjoy Sydney from/in the water!

Who: Water babies, sun worshippers and all visitors to Sydney.

How: You have a couple of options to get to Manly. Buses run regularly, but why wouldn’t you choose the ferry? There are two types of ferry to pick from – the fast one or the more traditional rocking and rolling two-tier ferry. Go for the older version and sit out on the deck watching the gorgeous coves, bays and headlands of Sydney Harbour slip by. ($6.88 one way with an Opal card).

Related Posts: Away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney, about a 3hr drive North in fact, you can find more stunning beaches and swimming spots at Tuncurry and Forster.

Related Blogs:  For more swimming inspiration around Sydney, check out some beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes showcased by Cat and Joe at Walk My World.

Read About It: Still seeking stupendous swimming spots? Grab a copy of Wild Swimming by Sally Tertini and Steve Pollard who outline 250 large and small swimming destinations in and around the Sydney area. Find it at Book Depository.

#travelinspo #BondiToManly #sydneywalks #vitaminD #vitaminsea #manlywharf #waterviews #daywalks #shortwalks #sydneyharbour #manly #sydneybeaches #shellybeach #manlybeach #nationalparks

38 thoughts on “Bathing Beauties – Enjoying the Best Beaches Near Manly, NSW

  1. restlessjo June 22, 2022 / 3:48 pm

    Spoiled for choice, Mel! Got a favourite? Shelly perhaps, or does it depend on the mood?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Heyjude June 22, 2022 / 7:37 pm

    Let’s face it Sydneysiders are totally spoiled for beaches. My son used to live in Dee Why just along from Manly where you find a beach just as beautiful as well as a sea pool. Perhaps you could do a post about the northern beaches?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure June 23, 2022 / 8:29 am

      You read my mind! Yes, planning to walk from Manly to Palm Beach in the Spring and no doubt, there will be a whole new range of beaches to feature.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heyjude June 23, 2022 / 8:41 am

        Ooh, fabulous. I shall definitely look forward to those walks.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Toonsarah June 22, 2022 / 10:59 pm

    So many beautiful beaches to chose from in such a small area! You’ve done a great job of explaining the features of each 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure June 23, 2022 / 8:32 am

      Thanks for the lovely feedback. All I need now is for Summer to roll around and I can do a beach-crawl….as opposed to a pub-crawl, and perhaps that can be organised too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. wetanddustyroads June 22, 2022 / 11:26 pm

    Wow, so many beaches so close to each other … and the one as lovely as the next! And I do like them all … but especially the quieter beaches (like Shelly beach). I’m with you … bring on summer!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Monkey's Tale June 23, 2022 / 1:29 am

    I spent a few days laying on Manly Beach when I was 20 or 21, I didn’t realize there were so many more beaches and coves so close. I wasn’t much of an explorer in those days 🙂 Maybe next time I’m in Oz:) Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure June 23, 2022 / 8:34 am

      You have made up for lost time when it comes to exploring and I am bit like you – a late bloomer when it comes to adventure. Have a happy day. Mel

      Liked by 1 person

  6. alisendopf June 24, 2022 / 12:12 pm

    Oh yes. I’d be coming back all the time. Definitely worth the effort.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. travelling_han June 26, 2022 / 3:26 am

    Oh you can’t beat sunshine and golden sand – if only we had that here in rainy England!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The Travel Architect June 28, 2022 / 9:38 am

    How wonderful to be close to so many amazing beaches. I must ask, though, what do you mean by “netted” pool? I’m thinking it’s just a lingo difference between Aus English and Amer English. Do you mean a pool with lane markers?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Alison June 29, 2022 / 11:00 am

    Such gorgeous beaches. I’ve been to Manly Shelley and Bondi but not the others. Although I’ve not swam in the sea there.
    Great information, thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

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