"Manly - Seven miles from Sydney and a thousand miles from care..." (slogan used in 1940 by the Port Jackson & Manly Steamship Company to describe "Australia’s Premier Seaside Resort").
Situated across the Harbour 11 km (7 mi) north-east of Sydney City on the lower Northern Beaches, Manly was named by Captain Arthur Phillip after his encounter with the confident and manly Aboriginal people who lived on the peninsula.
The main Manly shopping strip, the Corso, links the Harbour Beaches and the ferry wharf with the ocean surf beach. Manly is therefore the perfect destination to enjoy Sydney Harbour and the eighteen ocean beaches, coves and inlets used for swimming, sailing and surfing. Manly also has a huge range of shopping, dining and entertainment attractions to keep all ages and interests occupied.
1 Ferries dock on the harbour side of Manly a short walk across to the beach. Sydney Ferries depart from Wharf 3 at Circular Quay (adjacent to the train station). The Manly Ferry crosses the Harbour to Manly every 30 min. It is by far the most picturesque and relaxing way of getting to and from Manly. The ferry takes around 30 min and total travel time from the city centre is about 45 min. Single fares are $7.20/$3.60. You can tap your Opal Card, credit card, or buy a single trip ticket from the machines.
Sundays are a veritable bargain at $2.70 for a travel around Sydney when using an Opal Card or contact-less credit card at the Opal gates. The cheap price and popular destination leads to large crowds on sunny Sundays.
Manly fast ferries cost $9 for the same trip, and complete it about 10 minutes quicker. They leave from Wharf 6 at Circular Quay. You can tap your Opal Card or your credit card for the trip. They run a few services during the day direct to Watsons Bay from Manly - which is useful if you want to see Manly Beach and Bondi Beach in a single day, as this can save considerable time on the trip back to the city. This company also sells hop-on hop-off ferries passes for its ferries.
Bikes are permitted on the Manly ferry from the city at no charge, just wheel them on. There are a few different places to hire bikes from in Manly and plenty of tracks to use once you get there.
It is possible to take a cycle from the city to Manly on fairly quiet streets, on a reasonably well signposted route. While the main road follows the ridge as much as possible, the cycle route goes over the headlands, so you want to have your hill legs ready.
From the City, Manly is signposted from the north side of the Harbour Bridge. Take the Bridge and then the Manly exit from the Warringah Expressway.
From points further north, get on Pittwater Road and stay on it all the way to Manly. At Warringah Mall, Pittwater Road turns to the left which is clearly signposted.
Expect considerable congestion along Military Road leading to Spit Bridge during peak times, including weekends. Spit Bridge opening times can see even more extended delays. There are a number of parking stations in Manly. Street parking is hard to come by, and impossible to find on a sunny summer weekend.
Bus from the city to Manly is usually a two step affair. First get a M30 to Spit Junction. Change there for a 144 or 143 towards Manly. Outside of M30 hours, you can get any L90, 245, 247 and a few other buses to Spit Junction. The bus is a good option if you'd like to do some shopping in Mosman on the way, or maybe to stop off at one of the cafes or restaurants Military Rd in Neutral Bay on your return.
From Spit Junction there is a well marked path that runs along the harbour all the way to Manly. It will take a good 2-3 hours, and refreshments are not readily available. If you make the effort then there are some excellent views on the way in.
Manly has two sides, the harbour side and the ocean side. The harbour side has the ferry wharf, and some attractive bay beaches with constructed swimming rockpools and calm netted beaches. The ocean side has the surf beaches of North and South Steyne, connected by a beachside walkway and cycleway. Connecting the ocean side and the harbour side is The Corso. A wide pedestrian mall, buzzing at all times of the day and night. It is an eclectic mix of shopping and eating, with a few upmarket restaurants and bars, interspersed with dives, kebab shops, and suburban supermarkets. You'll also find the overpriced bland fare aimed at tourists, and more varieties of ice-cream that you can sample in a week.
Also on the harbour side is Shelly Beach, the start of The Spit walk, parks and gardens.
If you want to get out to North Head or to see the attractions in the surrounding area, car, bus, bike or walking are options. There are some great coastal walks available. There are lots of bike tracks in the area. See the bike hire places listed above.
- 1 Manly Ocean Beach, North Steyne Road (Walking up the Corso from the ferry wharf (5 minutes)). Manly Beach is popular with both visitors and locals alike and is the defining feature of Manly. There are free bathrooms and showers. Plenty of take away food options. Locker hire is available for storing your possessions.
- Manly Art Gallery and Museum, West Esplanade (next to Oceanworld), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Su, 10AM-5PM. The museum highlights the history of Manly with historical photos, swimming costumes and beach memorabilia. admission adults $3.50, concession / student / resident $1.10, children under 18 free.
- 2 The Quarantine Station, ☏ . Sydney Harbour National Park, Scenic Drive, North Head. (bookings essential). Day Tour: 1:15PM Tue, Thu, Sat, Sun. Adult $11, Concession $7.70. (Catch bus 135 from Stand B at 1:08PM - to meet with tour time) 3 hr tour includes supper. Ghost Tour: 7:30PM (8PM during daylight savings) Wed $22, F-Su $27.50. Kids Ghost Walk: 6PM (7PM during daylight savings) Fr $13.20, 2 hr tour. Wander through a maze of historic buildings and hear how Sydney was protected from diseases such as smallpox, bubonic plague, cholera and Spanish influenza. For the courageous, join the famous ghost walk conducted at night by kerosene lantern, followed by tea and damper to calm the nerves.
- 3 North Head (No public transport, but there is a car park. About a 30 minute hike from Manly itself.). A feeling of isolation with dramatic views over the Pacific Ocean. Whales can be spotted from this park on the clifftops.
- The International College of Management (formerly St Patrick's seminary). Beautiful building dominating the skyline of Manly.
- 4 Cabbage Tree Bay (About a 10 minute walk along the footpath at the south end of Manly beach). A smaller beach a short walk away from Manly that seems to attract families for the most part. Next to the beach are some walks along the cliffs with some dramatic views.
- 5 North Point. A clifftop walk with lots of World War 2 era military installations.
- Whitehall, 37 White St, Balgowlah. Victorian Gothic estate and former residence of Edmund Barton, Australia's first Prime Minister.
- Manly Surf School, North Steyne Roa, ☏ . Surfboard riding lesson
- Sea kayaking. Kayaks are available for hire from several places near the ferry wharf.
- Cruise through the air parasailing behind a speed boat.
- Sydney Harbour Parasailing, Unit 203, 11 Wentworth Street, ☏ .
- Manly Parasailing, Shop 208, Manly Wharf, ☏ .
- Walks Manly to the Spit walk. Manly to North Head (also suitable for cycling).
- 1 Manly Ocean Adventures, 1/40 East Esplanade (Manly Boat & Kayak Centre), ☏ 1300 082659 (local rate), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 7 days. Sydney's offshore adventure boat company. Departing from Manly wharf daily. Tours from 30 min to 1.5 hr experiencing the thrill and adventure of offshore powerboating. Go swell riding and jumping,see the rugged 100 m (300 ft) cliffs of North Head, WWII gun emplacements and awesome marine wildlife (including whales during migration). From $50.
- Scuba Dive. Manly's Shelly Beach (very gentle surf entry, max depth 12 m (40 ft) is often used for open water training dives, but is also a good night diving site. In addition, Manly is used as the launch for several boat operators.
- Dive Centre Manly, 10 Belgrave St., Manly, NSW, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Dive Centre Manly offers boat dives. PADI dive certification is available: Open Water is $395 mid-week. 1 dive trips are $50 without gear hire, $70 with tank and weights and $90 with full gear hire. 2 dive trips are $90 without gear hire, $120 with tank and weights and $145 with full gear hire..
- Pro Dive Manly, 169 Pittwater Road, ☏ , toll-free: 1800 820 820, fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Pro Dive's boat Sealife V (carries 23 divers, equipped with marine toilet) conducts 2 dive day trips leaving Manly Wharf and Rose Bay wharf on weekends and most weekdays; trips are $119 weekends and $99 weekdays if you only hire tanks and weights, or $189 weekends and $149 weekdays with gear hire. PADI certification is available: Open Water from $425.
- Sail. On Sydney harbour, with Manly Yacht Club for twilight races and weekend club races. Sail training available and casual crew welcome.
- Manly International Jazz Festival. Held annually in the first week of October and running for three days of fantastic music.
- Manly Food and Wine Festival ("A Taste of Manly") - Held each year in the first week of June, attracts some 30,000+ patrons who come to see and taste the exhibits in a great beachside setting.
Manly Corso is the street in centre of Manly that connects the ferry wharf and the Manly beach on the other side. It features restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, bars and shopping outlets.
There are several restaurant and take-away strips in Manly. The Corso runs between the wharf and the ocean, and there are restaurants along the Coroo, or just either side of it. There is a selection at the ferry wharf area, and again along the ocean side.
- Beaches Pizzeria Bar, 22 Darley Rd, ☏ . 5:30pm-9:15pm. Usually busy pizza place, with a large wine selection. No BYO. Small pizzas from $14.
- Ribs and Rumps Restaurant, 35 South Steyne, ☏ . A South African-themed and based steakhouse serving everything that once grazed or swam, with a few locations in Sydney, as well as South Africa and Dubai. Good place to try kangaroo. Beware of The Challenge. Part of the restaurant overlooks the beach, but fills up quickly in the season. burgers less than $20, steaks range from $30-40.
- Whitewater Restaurant, 35 South Steyne, ☏ . Ultra-trendy décor with fish and fusion menu, panoramic windows look across the road to Manly Beach.
There are numerous pubs and clubs in Manly, including some of the Northern Beaches more notorious establishments:
- The Steyne Hotel is popular with locals on Wednesdays (for Karaoke) and weekends
- The Ivanhoe is another favourite with locals
- The New Brighton Hotel (Shark Bar) is frequented by late teens and 20s every weekend. Serves $5 cocktails all day, every day.
- 4 Pines Brewing Company, 45 East Esplanade. Several locally brewed beers on premises. The unique flavours are far removed from the mass produced beers. Food in the form of burgers, chips etc is available.
- Henry Afrikas is a pub with a night club down stairs and a function room upstairs which is very popular with the younger crowd
- The Old Manly Boatshed is an underground drinking hole with frequent live bands
- The Wharf Bar is a popular bar next to the wharf frequented by a mixed crowd
- Charlie Bar is an annex off the Manly Pacific Hotel and popular on weekends
- Shore Club, yet another weekend location right across from the beach. Three levels of music and an open-air rooftop bar
- Hugos Pizza Manly serves pizza and cocktails with a view of the bay from Manly wharf
- Manly Wine Room by Gazebo is a funky place for a drink and some mussels and is situated at the south end directly across the road from Manly beach
- Boardrider Backpacker, ☏ . Rear 63 The Corso. Summer rates $28 dorm bed, $75 twin/double. With dormitory style accommodation or private rooms for the budget conscious traveler.
- Stoke Beach House (Stoke Stays), 24-28 Raglan St (Walk due north from the ferry terminal), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Well-equipped, free internet access available.
- Manly Beachside Apartments, 29 Pittwater Rd, ☏ , toll-free: 1 800 662 500. Clean comfortable, right by the beach in the heart of Manly.
- Manly Paradise, 54 North Steyne, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Motel and serviced apartment beachfront accommodation. From $110 to $330.
- Hotel Steyne, 75 The Corso (corner of The Corso and N Steyne), ☏ . Price varies upon views and noise level. Most rooms have a shared bath, some with a closet-type bath. Try to get one facing North Steyne (the beach) as the noise from the hotel bars can be intrusive. Private rooms vary in price from around $100.
- Novotel Manly Pacific, 55 North Steyne Road, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Run by Novotel and located over the road from Manly Beach. Great views and location but is a favourite with international sporting teams visiting Sydney.
- The Sebel Manly Beach, 8 - 13 South Steyne, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Hotel accommodation directly opposite Manly Beach.
Life guards supervise the beach every day of the year, and you can always check with them for the latest beach safety information. Only swim between the flags. No flags = no swim.
During the day Manly is often very busy with people but completely safe, although late at night during weekends some of the bars are likely to get rowdy and fights occur.
There isn't a great deal of shade on either Manly Beach or North Head. Ensure you have sufficient sunscreen and a hat during summer.
The cliffs around North Head can offer great views, but have been the scene of many accidents - take care and supervise children. Rock-fishing is this area can be dangerous.