Places To Visit On The Northern Beaches

The Northern Beaches – One of the few places where you don’t have to leave home to feel like you’re on a holiday.

It’s that wonderful time of year when most of us are enjoying a well deserved break and finally have a moment to really breathe, relax, soak up the warm sun and enjoy the company of our families and friends. For those of us lucky enough to be located on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, we are so spoilt for choice for ways to while away the hours. With so many world class holiday activities right here on our doorstep, it can be hard to choose which activities and places to put on your must do list. So, to get you started, I’ve chosen a few of my personal favourite places and things to share with you. These include a couple of hidden gems that are not very well known or advertised to the general public; with us locals preferring to keep them selfishly to ourselves. So enjoy and soak up these beautiful last moments of 2012. I hope you all have a great break and wonderful year ahead in 2013!

Little Manly Cove

Tucked below the level of the road of Stuart Street Manly is Little Manly Cove. This compact beach has a small reserve between the road and the beach and a swimming enclosure with shallow waters which is perfect for toddlers and babies. There is a kiosk with stunning views towards Mosman and the Eastern Suburbs. There is plenty of shade on the sand in the mornings and rocky ledges on the southern end of the beach are perfect for exploring. Showers, toilets and change rooms are available and located near the kiosk. For families, the beach is small enough to let kids roam freely (with supervision of course), plus two swings for kids to play on, and Little Manly Point playground just a short walk away. For afternoon people I must point out that this beach is a west facing beach (which is very rare in Sydney) so be sure to bring lots of sunscreen, a hat and a bottle of water as it can get quite hot in the afternoons this time of year. Parking is available on Stuart Street and there is a small car park at Little Manly Point Park.
Where to find Little Manly Cove: Stuart Street, Manly

Manly Dam

Contrary to its name, Manly Dam is actually surrounded by Manly Vale, North Balgowlah, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest. There are several entry points. It is one of my all time favourite places! There are so many activities on offer and is generally reserved for locals. Choose from mountain biking, bushwalking, a tranquil picnic by the kids playground, an Aboriginal guided walk from one of its original inhabitants (showing you original rock engravings, paintings, ancient camp sites and more), fishing, water skiing, kayaking, bird watching or just marvel at the beautiful flora and fauna with over 300 native plant species, including 18 different native orchids.

My children are particularly fond of tubing on Manly Dam. The number of boats is strictly limited to just two boats at one time so make sure you book in advance.

Places to visit In The Northern Beaches NSW

Manly Ferry

Forget you’re a local for a minute and ride the Manly Ferry like a tourist enjoying the many beautiful sights along the way. Even if you are a regular on the Ferry you will be amazed at the difference when you are in holiday spirits and not tapping away on your iphone, ipad or planning your day. So relax and hop aboard with your family or friends and marvel at the many attractions, some of which include:

  • Fort Dennison, a place where convicts were confined in the early 1800’s.
  • Exclusive Sydney suburbs such as Mosman, Double Bay, Watsons Bay. You will be amazed at just how many luxury water front homes there are that are fit for the rich and famous.
  • Cremorne Point and Cremorne Reserve.
  • Middle Head.
  • Clark Island.
  • The entrance to Middle Harbour.
  • Picturesque harbour-side beaches and coves.
  • Bradleys Head, Taronga Zoo and the mast of HMAS Sydney.
  • Kirribilli House, the Prime Minister’s Sydney residence.
  • Admiralty House, Sydney residence of the Governor-General.
  • With a bit of luck you may spot a passing Tall Ship with sails aloft.
  • Whales, Dolphins, Turtles – well probably just seagulls but sightings do occur from the ferry.
  • The gateway to Sydney, with North Head to your left and South Head lighthouse to your right. What a beautiful and grand entrance to our remarkable city!
  • Shark Island and the Rose Bay Seaplanes.
  • Nestled on a thin peninsula, only five minutes from North Head, is the picturesque Manly itself, framed by tranquil harbour-side beaches and an impressive surf coast.

Shelly Beach, Manly

Shelly Beach is the southern-most beach of the Northern Beaches and is a simply divine little beach which has something for everyone. Being quite sheltered and a safe distance from the road, this beach is a good option for families but is certainly not exclusive to just families. The ocean pool, snorkeling, scuba diving, two free barbecues, a beautiful walk to Manly Beach, a bush track around the headland, a convenient kiosk and fine dining at LeKiosk are all quite amazing! The rocky patches at each end of the beach are excellent for novice explorers, plus there are toilets and a shower block by the kiosk. Parking is available for $8.00 per hour in the car park plus there is on-street parking along Bower Street. Be sure to marvel at the amazing Bower Street waterfront homes, which is arguably one of Sydney’s most exclusive streets.
Where to find Shelly Beach: Bower Street, Manly

Flying Fox Cafe

The Flying Fox Cafe is right beside a wonderful playground and caters very well for those with young children. There are some toys for the kids, plenty of space for strollers and the cafe has very lovely water views over peaceful Pittwater. There is a lot of undercover and outdoor seating from which to enjoy the views. The cafe is well removed from any roads or cars, however the water is relatively close and there’s only hedging and grass between the water and the cafe, so if you have a bolting or wandering young child, it is best to keep an eye on them. Above all though you will have relaxing time with great cakes, coffee, delicious breakfasts, and light or full lunches in a beautiful setting. For kids, there is a well thought out menu with some good healthy options to choose from. The cuisine is modern Australian.
For more information: or Phone 02 9986 0980
Where to find The Flying Fox Cafe: Winnererremy Bay Park, 2 Mona Street Mona Vale 2103

Newport Arms

Not the best hidden secret, but nonetheless, The Newport Arms is a great place to head to to enjoy Australia’s largest waterfront beer garden. Set on the shores of Pittwater, the views are stunning as you overlook Church Point, Scotland Island, Bayview and Ku-Ring-Gai National Park. An ideal location for a lazy afternoon beer or cocktail in the sun, while the kids (should you have any) play in one of the three children’s playgrounds. There is often relaxed live entertainment which sets the mood. Other facilities include a public bar, two garden bars, lounge bar and cocktail bar, A La Carte Terrace on Pittwater restaurant, bistro, cafe, TAB, Fox Sports and Sky channel and a drive through bottle shop. Most areas allow for wheelchair and pram access, making it an easy option for everyone.
For more information: or Phone (02) 9997 4900
Where to find Newport Arms: 2 Kalinya Street, Newport NSW 2106

Clontarf Reserve

Clontarf Reserve is a piece of paradise tucked in peacefully on the Northern Beaches amongst multi-million dollar homes. This scrumptious reserve is a real gem and is a favourite for locals but still avoids much of the tourist crowds due to its secret location. Clontarf beach is perfect for a relaxing swim; there are no waves. The amazing shaded children’s playground, swimming enclosure, shallow waters at low tide, barbecues, open grassy spaces, sandy beaches and picnic tables make it suitable for families with young children. My family are regulars at Clontarf reserve and can often be found fishing or boating in the harbour from there. There are also water taps, a bubbler and an outdoor shower.

Dogs are allowed on a leash in the main reserve area and a short walk down the road is a dog friendly beach where they are allowed without a leash.

The reserve has a kiosk, Clonny’s, which sells great coffee, fish and chips, sandwiches, cakes, ice-cream and cold drinks. There is also a small but beautiful restaurant which is available for hire for weddings and functions.
Clontarf Marina is about to undergo a great renovation which will only improve the already wonderful appeal of Clontarf Reserve.
Where to find Clontarf Reserve: Sandy Bay Road, Clontarf

Freshwater Beach

Last but definitely not least, is Freshwater beach…or ‘Freshie’ as us locals fondly call it. Known as the birthplace of Australian surfing, Freshwater is wedged between two headlands and is a little over 300m’s in length. Freshwater is relatively protected by the north headland which makes it one of the most family-friendly beaches in Sydney. Other great features are: a 50-metre saltwater ocean pool at the north end which is perfect for a morning swim; the world class restaurant ‘Pilu’; two kids playgrounds; plus the Harbord Hilton pub and Freshwater shops within a very short walk.
Where to find Freshwater Beach: Ocean View Road, Freshwater or Moore Road, Freshwater

It is hard to stop there as there are so many places to talk about. For more ideas don’t hesitate to contact me. I know the Northern Beaches better than the back of my hand. I am passionate and would love to share my knowledge with you. Phone or email me today!

Contact Us To Find A Place On The Northern Beaches That You Can Call Home:

Tim Cullen on   0424 006 855

Bernadette Cullen on   0414 618 908

About Tim Cullen

Since joining McGrath Estate Agents 15 years ago, Tim Cullen has defined himself as a first class industry leader with an outstanding track record and rapidly growing and loyal client base. He ranked 1st on the Northern Beaches in this year’s Real Estate Business’ Top 100 Agents List and ranked 21st nationwide.