Manly and Manly Beach is the birthplace of Australian surfing and has a history dating back for more than a century.
Manly and Manly Beach was the location for the first World Surfing Championships held in 1964 and also hosts the Australian Open of Surfing event in February of each year.
Manly surfers and its surf breaks are famous locally, regionally and globally. It is recognised as an iconic site among surfing community in Australia and throughout the world.
With a half moon shaped beach, headlands at each end and a lagoon to the north, you can usually find a break to surf in almost all conditions.
For full details of all breaks, cameras and surf forecasts visit coastalwatch.
At the very north end of Manly beach, Queenscliff is a river mouth set-up, with plenty of sand build-up on the banks. Every now and then, there’s a good left on the point, but the rights into the rocks are more common with a strong rip along the rocks. This wave can be excellent depending mainly on sand bank conditions. There is also a good left several hundred metres south of the point and usually a good reforming shore break. Around one kilometre off the beach at Queenscliff is a huge open ocean wave known as Queenscliff Bomboras which breaks on swells over three metres.
Situated just south of Queenscliff (although there is no clear border), it can turn on excellent beach breaks. Generally better on higher tides and during times of good sandbanks and offshore winds, North Steyne produces excellent waves. Usually best in East to North East swells and West to South winds.
The South Steyne section of the beach often features a good left-hander, running into the rocks, with a rip at the south end. It also offers a good peak on the outside when the swell is big to huge.
It is one of Sydney’s best and most famous point breaks. The reef around the point is strewn with boulders. Breaks are very hard and best on two metre plus North East to East South East swells. On bigger South East to South swells, the wave tends to wrap around the point and lose power, spilling wide off the inside section of the reef. This site is only for experienced surfers.
The best surf appears with the arrival of the offshore winds between April and October (the colder months).
A short skate from the Manly beachfront, Manly Skate Park comprises a mini ramp as well as a great street course.
Going for a sesh on the halfy at Keirle Park is among the top pastimes for skaters with scooters, skateboards and roller-blades.
The cycle paths in Manly are also skate friendly and offer smooth scenic skating.
Manly Beach is a world famous beach and an Australian landmark. The three main sections of Manly Beach are Queenscliff, North Steyne and South Steyne.
The beach was named by Captain Arthur Phillip for the indigenous people living there. He wrote about them “their confidence and manly behaviour made me give the name of Manly Cove to this place”.
One of the first seaside resorts to allow daylight swimming and surfing back in 1903, Manly offers the unique combination of wide ocean beaches on one side and serene sandy harbour coves and inlets on the other.
Try the oceanside surfing beaches and coves of Manly for active water sports: surfing, windsurfing, parasailing, snorkelling and scuba diving. Or simply sunbathe, take a dip in one of the saltwater swimming pools or swim off the patrolled beaches.
For a different beach experience enjoy the sheltered sandy beach and gentle waves of Manly Cove, on the harbour side right next to the Wharf. Ideal for family picnics, BBQ, sailing, fishing, building sandcastles or just relaxing in the sun.
Practice your top spin at one of Sydney’s most famous beaches with courts available on the sand for free use.
A fantastic way to enjoy the beach, the courts play home to a range of amateur and elite beach volleyball players, including Olympic gold medallists all year round.
The public use of the courts is shared by the NBVA and Beach Volleyball.com.
Parks / Playgrounds
Manly has numerous parks and playgrounds for children of all ages.
You can picnic, exercise, play, BBQ or even cycle with various park sizes and options.
For a full listing visit Northern Beaches Council.
A bike is the perfect way to see the many natural and man-made attractions of the Northern Beaches.
Maps of some popular rides and a map showing all the recognised bike paths in the Manly area are available for download.
Seaforth to Shelly Beach or North Head
An 8 km ride and almost entirely off road. It starts from Baringa Avenue, Seaforth and via Burnt Bridge Creek Deviation takes riders to the new picnic area at Shelly Beach, or continue to North head where there is a cafe and barbeque area with magnificent harbour views.
Starting at Bareena Drive in Balgowlah Heights, this is a family friendly dedicated bike lane around Tania Park. Along the route you will see uninterrupted vista of the main harbour and Sydney Heads.
Balgowlah Heights Scenic Tour
This on road ride links the Seaforth to Shelley Beach Bike Path to the scenic attractions of Dobroyd Heights and Tania Park in Balgowlah Heights while keeping to the lightly trafficked streets and avoiding undue hill climbing as much as possible.
The Spit to Manly Ocean Beach
For a longer ride of around 19 km return, start at the Spit Bridge in Seaforth, continue through Baglowlah, Fairlight and Manly Lagoon and finish at Manly with views along the best beach in the world.
Finish with a swim or coffee with views along Manly Ocean Beach.
For further details visit Northern Beaches Council.
Travelling on foot lets visitors experience many unique aspects of the Manly area that remain hidden to most.
Manly walking tracks are designed for a variety of ages and fitness levels. Regardless of which one you choose there are many things to see along the way inclusive of wildlife, birds, Aboriginal landmarks, natural bush, scenic and views.
North Head Sanctuary
A spectacular place to walk. The quiet serenity of the headland is perfect for contemplating the city of four million people in the distance. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the bush tracks and observe the native wildlife. This walk also forms part of the Sydney Coastal walk.
Guided tours give visitors an insight into the fascinating military history of the site and include venturing into the WWII tunnels and fortifications.
For more information on walks at North Head visit Harbour Trust.
Cabbage Tree Bay Coastal Walk
Gain an insight into Cabbage Tree Bay’s unique marine life, plants, animals, history and attractions.
Manly Eastern Hill Heritage Walk
This walk will guide you through the Eastern Hill area of Manly with the option of visiting the beaches.
Manly Heritages Plaques Walk
Learn about Manly’s diverse history by following the numbered plaques surrounding Manly.
Manly Scenic Walkway
The Manly to Spit walk encompasses ten kilometres of stunning bush walking, encompassing panoramic views of the majestic entrance to Sydney Harbour and swathes of bushland.
The Heart of Manly Heritage Walk
On this walk you’ll discover Heritage Plaques which identify places of special interest.
For more information on the above walks visit Northern Beaches Council.
The history of the Manly Library goes back to the 1950’s.
In 1975 it moved from the Literary Institute Building in Wentworth Street to a converted shop-front across the road. The library remained in this “temporary” accommodation for 20 years.
In 1995 a three story purpose-built library of nearly three times the size was built in Market Place, where it remains today. The building was designed by celebrated architect, Felko Bouman, who was charged with transforming a back alley into a bustling piazza.
The library is located in the heart of Manly. The building envelops one side of the Whistler Street Car Park integrating access from vehicle to public foyers. The foyer area has been further enhanced by the inspired glass sculpture donated by local artist Warren Langley.
There is always something happening at Manly Library. For a full listing of activities and events head to Northern Beaches Council.
Manly Art Gallery
Magnificently situated on Sydney Harbour, just a four minute walk from Manly Wharf, the Manly Art Gallery was the first metropolitan regional gallery in NSW.
The Gallery has become a popular destination for thousands of local, interstate and international visitors each year.
Since opening in 1930, the gallery and museum has become a popular destination and well known for its focus on Australian ceramics and extensive holdings of paintings by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo.
For a current listing of free exhibitions and events visit Northern Beaches Council.
The Manly Environment Centre (MEC) shopfront started in 1991 as a unique combination of community, Council and local corporate sponsors.
As an action and education based centre, the shopfront houses more than 5,000 publications and other resources, the largest collection of environmental education materials accessible to the community in Australia.
Each year thousands of overseas visitors, local tourists, day trippers, local residents, students and children visit the MEC shopfront at 41 Belgrave Street, Manly.
Staff and volunteers also actively seek out the community to help inspire and lead them towards sustainability by presenting a variety of events, talks and workshops. Most importantly information is provided to people, empowering them to take action and make lifestyle choices which will create positive outcomes for themselves, the wider community (locally and globally) and the environment.
Sydneysiders are lucky enough to have a population of little penguins living right on their doorstep. The population, in a secluded cove in Sydney’s North Harbour and is the only breeding colony on the NSW mainland, with the penguins coming in nightly to nest. A volunteers programme watches over the penguins who have made their home underneath Manly Wharf, and are available to educate watchers on a nightly basis.
Meander in the sunshine, lose yourself in intrigue, find yourself at Manly Market Place. A unique and free open-air markets showcasing emerging design, fashion, gifts and farmers produce.
The laneways of Sydney Road and Market Lane, right in the heart of Manly, transform into a hive of activity every Saturday and Sunday as locally made, baked and grown produce is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
Experience the family friendly atmosphere with whimsical entertainment for young and old. Soak up the surrounds of inspiring boutique shops, bars and restaurants in and around our local seaside village.
Manly Market Place is open every Saturday and Sunday 9am – 5pm. For more information visit Manly Market Place.
North Head Sanctuary
North Head Sanctuary, Manly is one of Sydney’s hidden treasures. Right on Manly’s backdoor step are beautiful walks, breathtaking views, bike-riding paths and fascinating historical sites.
For those who want to get away from it all, take some time out with a leisurely walk along the tracks through virtually untouched bushland. Keep an eye out for native birds and animals as you take in the stunning views of the city, harbour and ocean beyond. You can discover more about North Head Sanctuary’s unique flora and fauna by taking a bushland walking tour with the Earthwatch Institute and Australian Wildlife Conservancy or visiting our North Head Nursery which is open every weekend from 10am – 4pm.
Bella Vista Cafe is another must-visit at North Head Sanctuary, Manly. Open seven days a week from 8am – 5pm, Bella Vista Cafe serves breakfast, morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. Gabriella Freddo and Barbara Gambato are your hosts, serving traditional home-style Italian food made only from the highest-quality ingredients.
How to get to North Head Sanctuary
|By Car||From Manly, follow Darley Road onto Scenic Drive. Turn left off Scenic Drive at the North Head Sanctuary sign. Parking is available on site.|
|By Bus||Sydney Buses run to North Head daily. The 135 service from Manly Wharf leaves approximately every half hour.|
|By Foot||The walk from Manly Wharf to the North Head Sanctuary takes approximately 45 minutes. Walking tracks link to the North Head Sanctuary from Shelley Beach and Collins Beach.|
|By Bike||From Manly, follow Darley Road up the hill to Scenic Drive, veer right at the fork in the road going through the sandstone archway. Take the second left off Scenic Drive at the North Head Sanctuary sign.|
To book a tour, call (02) 8969 2100. For more information visit Harbour Trust.
Manly Events Program
There is too much fun to be had in Manly with well over 100 events taking place throughout the year!
The majority are free and include surf contests, food & wine festivals, ocean swims and fun runs. Visit our Events page for more information.