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Manly area guide

Restaurants, bars, shops and events in Manly

Photograph: Justin Steinlauf

Once just a quick stop-off on a mandatory tourist trip for your visiting uncle, Manly has increasingly come into its own. The famous Manly Wharf has been getting a facelift for the last few years, with Hugo's the Bavarian Bier Café and Merivale's Papi Chulo providing a delightful nip and tuck. And nearby Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary (formerly Ocean World) still provides an old-world treat too.

The beach is just as pretty as ever - and those bronzed, buffed and well-plucked locals ain't bad looking either. But it's new life on the corso that has Time Out excited: refreshed eateries (hey,Manly Wine), new bars like Daniel San and the reborn Steyne Hotel. Yep, the place that was once a Today/Tonight staple for its very high biff rate is now an awesome, hip and huge pub with a great little rum bar upstairs. Grab that ferry – Manly version 2.0 awaits.

Manly highlights

Shopping

Shopping in Manly

There's more to Manly than the beach and the bars (although both of those things come highly recommended). When you wander off the Northern Beaches' suburbs well-trod mainstreet, you'll find a growing number of independent boutiques, antique stores and other knick knack sellers, as well as killer spots to pick out a sun hat or cossi to wear back out onto the Corso.  

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Museums

Manly Sea Life Sanctuary

For decades Oceanworld Manly has been overshadowed by its big brother in Darling Harbour. But after a $1 million makeover the aquarium is better and wetter than ever, and now called the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary. The ‘Sea Life’ aquarium brand is attached to some 34 aquaria in Europe and the US. The adoption of the new brand comes with an endearing new exhibit – Penguin Cove, home to a ten-strong Little Penguin colony – but also a renewed focus on rehabilitation. “Our ultimate goal is to successfully release rescued animals back into the wild,” says Brendan Kelly, the Sanctuary’s operations manager. “We see ourselves as protectors of the underwater world. We’ve been rehabilitating turtles and breeding Grey Nurse Sharks for years. But in adopting Sea Life’s ‘breed, rescue, protect’ ideology, it’s really coming to the fore.” It’s also coming out from behind the scenes. Visitors to the Sanctuary will get to witness the process of nursing ailing aquatic life back to health in the ‘Rehab Room’. “We’re now geared towards ensuring all guests leave us with a greater understanding of marine issues, what we are doing about them and how they as individuals can make an impact. “We will be advising the public about medical assessments of rescued animals, the treatment plan that has been formulated for those animals and the assessment of animals suitable for release.” But, yes, you can still go diving with the sharks. In fact, we sent our roving reporter Yana Novak to the aquarium to do

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Bars

Manly Wine

Small concrete cherubs and plastic flamingos sit amongst clusters of candles sitting atop waterfalls of melted wax while frondy plants, Art Nouveau lights and buckets of blooms decorate the ceiling. Add this to their weekend girls’ picnics and it goes a long way to explaining its popularity as a hen’s night venue – ladylike, with nary an inflatable phallus in sight. If you are here for dinner, even the sausage roll won’t leave you with much change from a twenty, but they have specials most nights of the week like Double Burger Thursdays complete with $20 beer jugs. This is primarily a wine bar, but there’s not much in the way of wine snobbery to be found here. They have more than a hundred bottles on the wine list, organised into helpful categories that suggest more about how the wine will actually taste than anything resembling a technical classification. The majority of the list is available by the glass and whether you choose a ‘big, bold red’ or a ‘fresh white’, you can expect to pay between $7 and $13.50. They have a small, crowd-pleasing selection of beers that tend towards the craftier end of the mega brews with the likes of Little Creatures, Pure Blonde and James Squire, while on the cocktail front they stick pretty firmly to the sweet and fruity end of the spectrum. Views of one of the city’s most popular beaches are uninterrupted; we’re all for finding a perch by the windows with jug of Pimm's and lemonade.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Sport and fitness

The top snorkelling spots in Sydney

You don't have to head north to the great, fading Barrier Reef to catch sight of some colourful underwater scenery – Sydney is home to several hotspots that veteran pipe-breathers reckon are among some of the best snorkelling sites in the country. (Or, at least, sites that will tide you over until you get your summer holidays). Where are these great snorkelling spots? To find out, we enlisted the help of the good people at Snorkel Safari, who run scuba-diving courses and snorkel trips from several locations across the city. They gave us their picks of the five best places to bury your face in the water in Sydney, from a strange little island in La Perouse to Shelly Beach at Manly.

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