It's common knowledge that Manly locals are reluctant to leave the 'insular peninsula’ on which they live. One day spent there – swimming in the clear blue waters, kayaking to nearby coves, strolling over to Shelly Beach and surfing the waves – and you’ll see why. But it’s not just the beautiful beaches that Manly has going for it. Over the last decade, the seaside suburb has welcomed excellent restaurants – from kitsch Italian joints to luxe Cantonese restaurants and fresh salad bars – a boon for Manly locals and visitors. Catch the ferry over to check them out for yourself. Here’s our guide to the best places to eat in Manly.
Not everything described as iconic deserves the title, but the double-ended ferries that shuttle between Circular Quay, past the heads and into Manly Cove are truly icons of the beachside suburb. The most visited Northern Beaches suburb is known for its surfing history, rows of Norfolk Island pine trees and busy thoroughfare of shops, cafés and sprawling pubs, but look beyond the well-trodden Corso and you’ll find tiny dive bars, indie boutiques and never-ending ways to make the most of the relaxed, outdoor lifestyle. Before Manly became a popular escape from Sydney’s CBD, it was home to the Gamaragal people, who were custodians of the land on the North Shore of Sydney Harbour.
Jump to a section
What’s Manly known for?
Just how many beaches are too manly for one suburb to have? Well, Manly has eight, which explains why water defines pretty much every aspect of life in this desirable suburb on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. People come here for surfing, sunshine, skateboarding, swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, hiking and beach volleyball.
What's so good about Manly?
“You live in Manly for the lifestyle. It’s the kind of place where your mum always had beach towels in the boot so you could meet her for a swim after school during summer, and your weekends consisted of nippers in the morning followed by a pink iced doughnut from the local bakery” says Alice Donaldson, who grew up in Manly. Once she got older it was all about waterfront drinks at “the office” where locals gather on a Sunday to sink beers on the grassy verge overlooking the harbour.
How do I get to Manly?
What’s near Manly?
The next beach up from Manly’s huge expanse of golden sand (so large it’s technically three beaches, Queenscliff, North Steyne and South Steyne) is Freshwater Beach, which is famous in surfing history as the very first location Duke Kahanamoku demonstrated surf board riding to Australian audiences in 1914. This beautiful beach is also home to famed Sardinian fine diner, Pilu at Freshwater. On its inland border is Brookvale, a semi-industrial suburb that has a growing reputation as a hub for craft breweries on the Northern Beaches.
Map of Manly
If you only do one thing in Manly
The ten-kilometre Spit to Manly trek is best approached from the Spit if you want to reward yourself with snacks at the finish line. The route takes you from sandy coves to beautiful vantage points of Sydney Harbour, up and down rocky staircases, and to at least four secret beaches. Castle Rock beach is postcard perfect, so bring your swimmers and a towel for this otherwise hard-to-reach beach in Middle Harbour. Also pack water and proper sun protection, as there are very few water fountains and limited shade.