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Freshwater Beach

A stunning family beach wedged between two headlands, Freshwater is a short walk north from Manly. A coastal walk further north will take you to Curl Curl. Swimming at Freshwater Beach started back in the early 1900s when campers would holiday close to the beach. A small creek running out the north end of the beach provided fresh water for the campers and gave the beach its name. The north headland provides excellent protection from the summer nor’easter, and waves are fairly consistent right along the beach thanks to reliable sandbanks.

Freshwater’s unique claim to fame is that this is where surfboard riding was popularised in Australia by Hawaiian “Duke” Kahanamoku. Duke famously carved a board from a piece of local timber and demonstrated surfing for an enthralled crowd on 10 January 1915. A life-size statue of Duke Kahanamoku on the northern headland commemorates the historic day.

An eight lane, 50 metre saltwater pool at the north end is a favourite with lap swimmers. There is a high-end restaurant and several cafes nearby which overlook the beach.

Freshwater is part of the Manly-Freshwater National and World Surfing Reserve that recognises the historical, cultural, and environmental values of famous surfing beaches.

General conditions

  • Good family beach with good swimming conditions and excellent body boarding at the south end.
  • Best with north east wind conditions.


Freshwater has some pretty reasonable waves in the one to two-metre mark. It can be busy on a summers day with people learning to surf, and families sticking in groups.

For less experienced surfers, the break at the middle-northern end of the beach is an ideal spot for you.

More experienced surfers may not get the wave they’re looking for but you can try the southern end which can get pumping with the right swell.


There is free parking for vehicles displaying Northern Beaches Council parking permits and pay and display is available to purchase for those without a permit. Designated disabled car spaces.


Freshwater Beach, New South Wales, Australia
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