Weeks before I flew over to Sydney for the weekend, I scoured all the websites I can read up on about Sydney and pored over every guidebook I can get my hands on at the library. Almost all of my resources recommends going to Manly.
On my second day in Sydney, I decided to spend my morning over at Manly and see what they’re raving about.
The best way to get to Manly is by taking the ferry from Circular Quay. On weekends, the first ferry out of Circular Quay leaves at 8:00 am, while during the workweek, they leave as early as 6:00am. The ferry takes 30 minutes to travel to Manly, however, if you take the Manly Jetcat, the ride is only 15 minutes. Tickets for the regular ferry costs AU$6.40 each one-way, while the Manly Jetcat costs AU$8.20 one-way.
I bought a green travel pass from the Airport station, with return airport link express tickets. The green travel pass gives me unlimited rides in Sydney buses, trains and ferry within the green travel zone. The best thing about the green travel pass is that it can be used for the Manly ferry. However, if you want to take the Manly Jetcat, you’d have to buy a seperate ticket.
I took the Manly Jetcat going to Manly and the Manly ferry back to Circular Quay. Both are really good service. Unless you’re really in a rush to get to Manly (or Circular Quay), there’s really no need to shell out extra money for the Jetcat. The view along the harbour is spectacular, so you wouldn’t really notice the travel time. Unless of course if you’re prone to terrible bouts of sea-sickness.
The Corso is a paved pedestrian area lined with shops that connects the Manly wharf to Manly beach. At the Corso, you can find almost everything you need for a day in the beach or souvenirs of your trip. For those on a budget, there’s an Aldi and a Cole’s supermarket at the wharf and at the Corso. Aldi have great prices for groceries, but they carry limited brands. Cole’s on the other hand, carries more brand (though with a slightly higher markup), and usually have a deli (great for instant picnics!).
If you have more money to spend, there are several cafe’s and restaurants along the corso serving different cuisines and catering to all budgets.
Forgot your bathers? No worries, there are lots of stores selling bikinis and board shorts, including Quicksilver, Rip Curl and Billabong. Visiting Manly on a weekend? You’re in luck, there’s the weekend market! Sydney/Manly souvenirs, gorgeous accessories, baby stuff… it’s hard not to buy anything!
Once you’ve pried yourself from the markets, the stores and the restaurants, head on now to the beach. There’s only one small road seperating the beach area from the Corso and once you’ve crossed it, it’s like you’ve already transported to a different place.
There’s a wide paved area, where there numerous benches and picnic tables, public toilets and change rooms, mobile surfboard, body board and locker rentals, and pine-y looking trees (I suck at identifying trees).
Manly Beach is great for different watersports: swimming, surfing, diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, fishing, boating and parasailing. The waves and undertows can get pretty rough in the beaches of Australia, so swimmers are always advices to swim only between the yellow and red flags. Those who prefer to stay dry can sunbathe on the beach (topless sunbathing allowed, apparently), walk, bike, hike or jog on the scenic path that winds along the water.
I love love LOVE Manly! All those recommendations are spot on. Though Manly is only 7 miles from Sydney, it’s like your a million miles away from the city when you’re in Manly. The ferry ride over certainly adds novelty to the whole Manly experience.
Though I have a long list of places I haven’t been to in Sydney, I will certainly schedule time for another visit to Manly.