Manly Beach is an absolutely amazing suburb in Sydney's northern beaches. Even though this is the area I live in and I may be biased, many of Sydney's twenty somethings would agree with me that this is one of the best suburbs to hang out in. With amazing restaurants, cool bars, tons of beaches within walking distance, surfers galore, and an amazing little beach community, you MUST spend some time in Manly whether you're just visiting Sydney, or you live on a different side of Sydney. PS: Manly has the best commute - a 20 minute fast ferry ride (or 30 minute regular ferry) from CBD is a pretty ideal way to get around, with stunning views of the Opera House and Bridge on your way. This Manly Beach guide shares 11 ways to spend a sunny day in paradise:
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1. DO THE MANLY TO SHELLY SWIM
A group of locals who call their group the Bold and Beautiful meet daily at 7:30 to swim from Manly to Shelly and back (1.5 km in total). It's a great way to meet people, and get your workout in at the same time. Look for the pink caps, or opt to do it on your own!
2. GRAB BREKKY AT FIKA
Fika is a cute little Swedish kitchen that serves up some great breakfast dishes and has some amazing coffee. This little place can get a bit crowded, but you can leave your phone number with them and watch the waves roll in while you wait. It's always worth the queue!
3. GET SOME SUN AT THE BEACH
It’s pretty damn obvious that Manly is known for its gorgeous beach, lined with pine trees. But, you might not have known that Manly has a lot more beaches to offer, some of which are nearly empty compared to the popular ones! Manly Beach can’t be beat, and Shelly Beach is a must see, but on a more crowded summer day, I opt to checkout quieter ones to avoid the tourist crowd. If you're looking for one of those, try Little Manly, Colin’s Beach or Fairlight Beach.
4. EAT AT CHICA BONITA
Chica Bonita is my favorite Mexican food in Sydney, and possibly the closest to California Mexican. (Does anyone else find it odd that Australian Mexican restaurants all put cole slaw in everything!?) Chica Bonita was opened by one Aussie AND one American (from Santa Barbara, nonetheless!!) Thank god SB brought the good good to Oz!
5. TAKE A DIP IN THE FAIRY BOWER POOL
One of my favorite ocean pools with it's cool statues, and clear blue water that contrasts with the blue hues of the ocean behind it. This pool is pretty picture perfect, and a great place to get your tan on.
6. DO THE SPIT TO MANLY COASTAL WALK
This walk takes about 3-4 hours, and has some pretty spectacular views. It's much less crowded and touristy than the Bondi to Coogee walk. It's a lot more of a workout, so it'd be a great way to spend an outdoorsy Saturday or Sunday!
7. WALK TO THE QUEENSCLIFF CAVE
This local tip is off the tourist map, and remains one of my favorite views in Manly. To get there, walk over to the Queenscliff pool and continue walking about 2 more minutes on the rocks and you'll find this little secret cave that pops through to Freshwater beach (it's not a difficult walk, I promise!)
8. GRAB DRINKS AT WHARF BAR
Wharf Bar goes off on a Sunday day drinking sesh, but it's amazing anytime. This dock bar is the perfect spot to grab a rosé on tap and watch the sunset!
9. DO A BUSH WALK IN NORTH HEAD NATIONAL PARK
The North Head Walking Track is a 30 minute - 1 hour bush walk through a coastal rainforest to the Brunswick River. This national park is a great spot for picnics, views, and whale watching!
10. GET DINNER AT PAPI CHULO
Papi Chulo is definitely one of my favorite restaurants in the city, and one of the best in Manly. Owned by the amazing Merivale Group whose establishments never disappoint, this restaurant is the perfect breezy beach house with amazing views of the water and the coolest decor.
11. LISTEN TO LIVE MUSIC AT DONNY’S BAR
This cool bar, with bare-brick exposed walls, has 2 stories and a hidden back room that you won't want to miss. They have live music Thursday-Sunday, and it's divey meets trendy, laid back style attracts an awesome crowd.
Next, check out my Byron Bay getaway guide! This is one of my favorite vacation spots in Australia so far.