Sydney Day Trips | Manly Beach and Shelly Beach

Sydney is a beautiful city. You realize it the moment you step foot here. In fact, if you’re seated correctly on the flight in, you’ll notice it even before you land. It’s that stunning. Little did I know, it could get even more gorgeous via a short ferry ride to the Northern Beaches. On Saturday, I set off on a little journey to go explore Manly Beach and Shelly Beach and, wow, they did not disappoint. Here are the highlights:

Getting there: it’s fool-proof and remarkably simple. Don’t hop in a taxi, don’t ping an Uber, don’t hop on a bus. You simply get your bootie up to Circular Quay in the northern part of the central business district (CBD), buy your ticket (or get your Opal card out – it’s about $7 AUD each way), head over to wharf 3 and board the next Manly Ferry (also called the F1). That’s it.

Waiting to board Manly Ferry in Sydney
Visual stimulation abounds while you wait to board Sydney’s Manly Ferry. Doesn’t suck.
View of Sydney Opera House from Manly Ferry
Make sure you’re on the right-hand side of the ferry (or with a clear shot in the bow or stern!) so you don’t miss this view.
Sydney Opera House from Manly Ferry
Or this one.
Map of Sydney Harbour on Manly Ferry
The ferry ride is about 30 minutes long with non-stop beautiful views of Sydney Harbour. Do NOT take a nap. You don’t want to miss this.
Sydney Harbour National Park view from Manly Ferry
Sydney Harbour National Park is also off to your right on the way to Manly. It’s basically Jurassic Park.

Once you’re there: So you’ve made it over the harbour and have arrived at Manly Wharf. Now what? Lots of wonderful options. Walk the Corso, layout on Manly Beach or journey over to Shelly Beach. Here was my little walkabout (as I’m not super big on setting out a towel and baking in the sun):

Manly Beach Corso
I walked along the Manly Beach corso and looked around at the various vendors and shops. Some cute looking cafes and much of the beachwares you would expect.
A busy day at Manly Beach in Sydney
Summer has left us here in AU, and we’re in autumn so people were taking full advantage of this warm day. Lots of people. Like, a whole lot.
Manly Beach Sydney looking north
At my command, the clouds did that pretty, swirly thing. Mandatory for big sky photos.
Marine Parade in between Manly Beach and Shelly Beach
After taking in the Manly Beach views, I started the walk along the Marine Parade which was super ugly and boring. Um, sike.
Marine Parade in Manly Beach
Yup. Nothing to see here. Yawn.
Cabbage Tree Bay near Manly
Along the walk, you go through Cabbage Tree Bay which is a lovely – almost surreal – area. The people here all live in extremely comfortable zillion dollar houses but choose to lounge around on rocks. Weird.
Shelly Beach Sydney Australia
Then you arrive at Shelly Beach. I’ve got to say, this beach is special. It’s tucked in and away, with (apparently) fabulous snorkeling and good scuba diving. It’s been flagged as a must-revisit.
The Bower Restaurant Cabbage Tree Bay
I had a really nice lunch at The Bower restaurant during the walk back to Manly Beach. Although, I was smart and chose to sit along the bar section as “table for one” is just too shockingly embarrassing for me to survive.

After this, I was lucky enough to meet up with a mutual friend of mine and Daniel’s, Kristina, who happened to be in Manly as well! We had a fab little chat about real estate and digital marketing (as one does!) over coffee. I swore to Kristina I would not post the one selfie I took of us she had just had a facial and was make-up less. So there you go, Internet. I’m a man of my word!

Returning to Sydney on Manly Ferry
For the return trip to Sydney, I would suggest going to the bow (front) of the ferry for an additional round of harbour magical views.
Circular Quay Sydney Australia
You really cannot beat the back-drop looking out from Circular Quay in to the harbour. After safely returning from my Manly and Shelly Beach excursion, I was already thinking about the next visit.

So there you have it, kittens. If you’re in Sydney and have a day to spare, you simply must put Manly and Shelly beaches on your agenda. All told, I did the round-trip from Circular Quay in less than 5 hours and did not feel short-changed by the visit one bit. If you were to decide to add in some beach time and dinner, easily you could still be under the 10 hour mark. And for views like the above, that’s time VERY well spent. XOXO -JW





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