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Where to picnic on the Northern Beaches

On a beautiful sunny day (winter or summer), nothing beats an outdoor picnic lunch somewhere on Sydney’s northern beaches. Pack a picnic filled with local produce, maybe a pre-ordered cheese hamper or simply grab a take-away from a nearby restaurant or cafe. Most picnic areas have free barbeques, why not grab a snag (sausage!), some rolls and salad and cook your own? Or if you want someone to create it for you contact Purely picnic and they will set up a picture perfect picnic in your favourite spot! With so many places to choose from, we have tried to make it easier by putting together a list of some of our favourite picnic spots on the beaches.

1. Little Manly Point/ Little Manly Beach

Little Manly Point is only a short walk from the iconic Manly ferry terminal and is a great spot for the whole family. This hidden gem is home to a beautiful harbour swimming pool and on a nice sunny day, you can enjoy a dip followed by a post-swim snack by the ocean.

What is the parking like? There is some free on-street parking available with a 2 hour time limit.

There is also a pay and display parking area

Is there shade? Yes
What’s my view?Looking out across the water to Sydney Harbour, with city views in the distance.
What facilities are available?
  • Public toilets and showers are available
  • Electric barbeque
  • Playground
  • Beach enclosure
  • Seating available

 2. Shelly Beach

One of the most popular spots on the Northern Beaches for a picnic, Shelly Beach is the perfect place to sit back and relax with great friends and yummy food. Do not forget to pack your snorkel and mask as it is part of the Cabbage Tree Bay underwater wonderland with a large variety of marine life in relatively shallow waters. What are you waiting for? Pack an esky plus your picnic rug and make your way to Shelly Beach soon!

3. Manly Warringah Memorial Park (Manly Dam)

Located adjacent to Manly Dam, Manly Warringah Memorial Park is a beautiful picnic spot to enjoy a waterside feast. With lots of nearby outdoor activities such as mountain biking, hiking, kayaking and water skiing, we are sure you won’t be bored. It does get busy in the warmer months so make sure you reserve your table ahead of time with Northern Beaches Council or call 1300 434 434.

What is the parking like? Manly Dam has a pay and display parking available between 7am – 5:30pm
Is there any shade? Yes, they have some shaded picnic tables and many trees that provide lots of shade.
What’s my view?Overlooking Manly Dam and the bush land nearby
What facilities are available?
  • Picnic tables can be reserved
  • Mountain bike trail nearby
  • Walking tracks
  • Swimming access
  • Electric and wood fire barbeques
  • Playground
  • Boat ramp

4. Fairlight Beach

Fairlight beach is a unique spot to soak up the sunshine along the foreshore of Sydney harbour.  It is the perfect spot for a daytime swim with the family or a leisurely late afternoon gathering with a bunch of mates. You can sunbake on the beach or grass, then cool off in the water for a snorkel or swim a few laps of the adjacent harbour pool.

What is the parking like? Limited 2 hour street parking on neighbouring streets
Is there any shade? Some shaded areas
What’s my view?Sydney Harbour Entrance and both North & South Head
What facilities are available?
  • Rock pool
  • Beach
  • Public toilets  and showers
  • Picnic tables

 5. East/ West Esplanade

Close to Manly Wharf, East and West Esplanades are great spots to watch the incoming ferries with a scrumptious cheese board or other picnic fare.  Kick off your shoes, crack open a frosty beverage and watch the sunset along Manly Cove. Later on, make sure you check out some of the local bars and pubs.

What is the parking like? Limited street parking with a 2 hour free limit

3 council carparks close by that also offer 2 hours free parking.

Is there any shade? Yes, there is shade underneath the Norfolk pines.
What’s my view?Manly Cove, Manly Wharf and the incoming/outgoing ferries. In summer, you might catch a game of SUP ball.
What facilities are available?
  • BYO alcohol available Monday to Sunday between 8am-8pm
  • Public toilets and showers
  • Enclosed swimming area on West Esplanade
  • Picnic tables
  • Electric barbeque
  • Café and restaurants nearby
  • Art Gallery and Museum
  • Kayak/sup hire

6. North Harbour Reserve

North Harbour Reserve is a 40 minute walk from Manly on the Manly to Spit Bridge walkway and is a wonderful spot to bring both your kids and your dog. With lots of grassy areas, a basketball court and a playground, as well as a café nearby, it is the perfect place to spend a few hours with your entire family.

What is the parking like? Free 2hr street parking available on adjacent Condamine Street
Is there any shade? Yes, the large trees provide lots of shaded areas.
What’s my view?Views of Manly and Sydney Harbour National Park
What facilities are available?
  • Dog Friendly
  • Electric barbeque
  • Playground nearby
  • Public Toilets
  • Some seating available
  • Basketball court
  • Café nearby (Forty Beans)

7. Forty Baskets Beach

Forty Baskets is another fantastic picnic spot to stop along the Manly to Spit Bridge walkway where you can enjoy the calm harbourside beach. Don’t forget to pack your swimsuits and sunblock so you can enjoy a refreshing swim in the enclosed swimming area.

What is the parking like? Parking is available in Beatty Street, Balgowlah Heights
Is there any shade? Some shade under the trees
What’s my view?Manly Cove, Quarantine Station and North Head
What facilities are available?
  • Swimming enclosure and pier
  • Picnic tables
  • Electric barbeque
  • Swings
  • Public Toilets with Change Rooms

8. Clontarf Reserve

If you are looking for a great picnicking spot for a large gathering, try Clontarf Reserve located next to the picturesque Clontarf Beach.  With playgrounds, cafes, barbeques and an enclosed swimming area, this hidden gem is the best place to grab a picnic and enjoy the sunshine.

What is the parking like? Paid car park onsite and free on-street parking nearby
Is there shade? Yes
What’s my view?Spit Bridge and Middle Harbour
What facilities are available?
  • Enclosed swimming area
  • Electric barbeque
  • Toilets
  • Café nearby
  • Picnic tables
  •  Playground

9. Dee Why Beach/James Meehan Reserve

Dee Why Beach and James Meehan Reserve is a great spot to hang out with a group of friends or family members. With playgrounds at both ends of the beach, there is lots of space for you to spread out and enjoy your picnic.  You can even challenge your friends to a game of ping-pong with free tables for you to use but you will need to bring your own paddle and ping pong balls. If you ran out of time to get your picnic together, there are plenty of local shops nearby where you can put together an impromptu picnic or grab a takeaway.

What is the parking like? Pay and display parking on James Meehan Reserve (North end) from 7am – 7pm.

1 hour free parking along the beachfront.

3 hours free parking along Oaks Ave

Is there shade? Yes, underneath the trees.
What’s my view?The sun, sand and surf of Dee Why beach
What facilities are available?
  • Electric barbeque
  • Public toilets and showers
  • 2 fenced playgrounds
  • Ping pong tables (BYO paddles and ping pong balls)
  • Plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby
  • Beach
  • Seating available

10. Collaroy Beach

There is no better way to soak up the sunshine and fresh air than to picnic along Collaroy Beach. It is an ideal spot for families, with a calm, protected beach and a large enclosed playground close by. Close by is a grassy picnic area and rock pool.

What is the parking like? Pay and display parking, the cost is listed at the meter.
Is there any shade? Yes
What’s my view?Narrabeen and Collaroy Beach and ocean views
What facilities are available?
  • Electric barbecues
  • Enclosed playground (includes an all-abilities playground)
  • Access to Freewheeler wheelchairs
  • Sheltered picnic tables
  • Toilet and shower facilities
  • Café and restaurants near by
  • Rock pool

11. Bilarong Reserve

Located on Narrabeen Lagoon, Bilarong Reserve has lots of space to play a game of footy or a quick game of cricket. With a great bike and walking path around the nearby Narrabeen Lake, you will have plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs after lunch.

What is the parking like? Bilarong Reserve carpark is a pay and display ticketed carpark between 7 am to 7 pm.
Is there any shade? Yes
What’s my view?Overlooks Narrabeen Lagoon
What facilities are available?
  • Enclosed playground
  • Electric barbeque
  • Free outdoor exercise equipment
  • Bike path

12. Winnererremy Bay

Most commonly known among locals as the Flying Fox Park, Winnererremy Bay is a great spot for a good old-fashioned barbeque and an excellent place for families. Make sure you pack a big lunch because everyone will definitely build up an appetite on both the bike track and the large playground that even includes a flying fox!

What is the parking like? A ticketed car park is located next to the playground between 7am – 7pm.


Free parking available on Mona Street


Is there any shade? Yes, there are shaded areas over some of the picnic benches, there are also sunshades over the playground.
What’s my view?You can enjoy the view of the pristine waters of  Pittwater
What facilities are available?
  • Fully fenced playground
  • Toilets
  • Bike path
  • Electric barbeque
  • Seating available
  • Café nearby (Flying Fox café)

13. McCarrs Creek Reserve

If you are looking for somewhere a little further afield, then McCarrs Creek is the place for you! They have a small wharf that you can fish off and a shallow swimming area to enjoy. Get your friends together and enjoy a lovely day out on the grassy banks of McCarrs Creek.

What is the parking like? Pay and Display carpark available between 6am – 9pm
Is there shade? Yes
What’s my view?Overlooking McCarrs Creek
What facilities are available?
  • Woodfire barbeques
  • Public toilets
  • Picnic tables
  • Small fishing wharf

14. The Basin

If you have been searching for a secluded spot to have a picnic, then the Basin is the spot for you and getting there is half the fun! It is a short but scenic ferry ride from Palm Beach (you will need to pay a small landing fee of $3 per adult, $2 per child). Don’t forget to pack the sausages and your barbeque gear and if you are lucky, you might see a Wallaby or two hopping around the campground.

How do I get there?Hop on a Fantasea ferry from Palm Beach Wharf ($8.60/adult, $4.30/child one-way)
What is the cost?Day visitors landing fee: $3 per adult. $2 per child
What is the parking like? Park at the Palm Beach Wharf. Pay and Display carpark available.
Is there any shade? Yes
What’s my view?Overlooks Pittwater, out towards Palm Beach and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
What facilities are available?
  • Electric barbeque
  • Public Toilets and Showers
  • Camping area
  • Picnic Tables
  • Stand up paddle board hire
  • Enclosed swimming area

15. Clareville Beach

Clareville Beach is the perfect spot for families and their little ones as the small beach has no waves and tends to be quieter than other local surf beaches even in the warmer months. There are plenty of green patches to lay out your blanket and enjoy the awesome views across Pittwater.

What is the parking like? Pay and Display car park

Free street parking

Is there any shade? Yes
What’s my view?Overlooks Pittwater and Scotland Island
What facilities are available?
  • Electric barbeques
  • Beach nearby
  • Public toilets and showers nearby
  • Boat ramps