Our Stoke-approved list of the best bars in Manly so that when you find yourself craving a beer after a long day on the water, you know exactly where to go.
Where the Hidden Gems Are
What not to miss on the Northern Beaches
You’ve gotta know this. The Northern Beaches locals LOVE their home. ‘North of the Bridge’ (any of the major Sydney bridges, to be fair) marks the start of the promised land. So what’s all the fuss about?
Airbnb caused one helluva disruption when it arrived on the travel scene. Why? Because EVERYONE knows that there are secrets about every area that locals guard with their life… K, maybe not their life but with a couple of rounds at the bar from you before they decide you’re worthy of the Inner Circle intel or not. Aaand you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s all hype.
But what if we told you that Manly showed up 3 times on UrbanList’s best secret beaches in Sydney? And how about the Northern Beaches Council themselves talking up the Queenscliff Tunnel (a favourite of mine, got to admit).
Well then, mine’s a Four Pines Pale Ale, because we’re just getting started.
So before you get all waxy about not catching the best bits, let’s surf up the top facts before you get board (#sorrynotsorry).
- 21 beaches between the 29kms between Manly and Palm Beach. No maths genius is needed for this one.
- 4 of those 21 are listed as part of the Top 10 beaches to learn to surf on. 20%, people. 20%.
- Palm Beach is the beach where Home And Away is filmed. (We’re still deciding on if you can be in the Inner Circle if that matters to you. Australians don’t really drink Fosters and we don’t really watch Home and Away – just remember that).
Manly is the hub, much too manic for some of the more chill locals, and favourite amongst the brainiac backpackers (the others are in Bondi 😉 ), the daytrippers (who’s pulling a sickie??) and the corporates who’ve worked out their employees might just be a little happier with a beachfront convention than sticking around the CBD concrete corridors.
Head to the beach early and you’ll see the daily pilgrimage of the Bold and the Beautiful. It’s less American soap opera royalty and more the spirit of Man-town gathering at 7 am, every day without fail, to swim 1.5k just because they can. Turn up early if you’re going to join. You’ve gotta sign your life away before you earn one of the shocking-flamingo-pink swim caps and get into the water.
Halfway point is Shelly Beach – some of the best snorkelling there is. The water is as clean as our glass at the end of Happy Hour but with happiness still in it. Look out for sharks, yes for reals, as well as colourful smaller fish you can learn the names of. Find your own way around, or book an eco-tour, but head into the water either way.
If you’re looking for something more solid, take a hike. A short one. From the Spit Bridge to Manly, we mean. It’s 10kms with stairs, so leave the prams and shopping trolleys at home. This one’s for feet only – and parts of it forbid the four-legged kind of feet too. And don’t be fooled, it’s a coastal walk, so wear swimmers to take advantage of the beaches and rock pools on the way, a camera for the lookout points and aboriginal rock carving you can stop at along the way, and don’t forget the sunscreen. It’s a great vantage point for occasions such as the Sydney to Hobart Race that sets off on Boxing Day, or during whale migration.
Speaking of whales, jump on any of the boats available in season, and your chances of seeing whales and/or dolphins are pretty high.
We got distracted. Let’s loop back onto walking trails that, well, loop. So you start back where you finish. See what we did there? Check out the Narrabeen Lagoon Trail, for example. It takes you around a (you’ve guessed it) lake/lagoon but under bushland canopy and perhaps even past a little waterfall or cafe to sweeten the deal. If you’ve headed all the way up to Palm Beach, the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk is also a seriously good option.
Whilst you’re up that way, it’d be kinda foolish to not make it onto the Pittwater ferries, just to see even more beaches worth diving off the boat to get to, and new places to explore on your next trip.
And we can’t finish a section on looped trail walks to reveal one of the most beautiful well-kept-secrets of the lot. Resolute Beach. You’re welcome. You’ll need to make friends with someone with a car and with lots of stairs down and up, but it’s worth it.
Finally, don’t think we were gonna let you go without taking care of the tucker. Everyone fancies themselves as a bit of a foodie these days, so let’s cut to the chase. You can buy over-priced touristy greasy grub or actually get something of substance into your well-honed temple of a body. Our suggested offerings are for the #locallove:
The Cook Room, Manly for hearty evening food cooked with love and sold for reasonable monies.
Dolce Terra, Manly, if chewing on the very best of raw plants and hanging with elite Aussie sports competitors without realising floats your boat. AND if you need more carbs, slide into Showbox (Showie to you and me) just a couple of doors down for some Macadamia toast or into the Manly Farmers Markets on the weekend.
Ruby Lane, Manly. The pancakes. That is all.
Staple Bread, Seaforth hides on a little strip of shops that you’d miss if you blinked and then you’d never get to try one of their croissants (which made it onto the Best in Sydney list, thank you very much). Friday to Sunday only, folks!
The Collaroy, Collaroy for Merivale meals right by a pretty empty and epic beach which dolphins frequent. We don’t need to say much more, right?
Mexicano, Narrabeen & Mona Vale for when you need a l’il spice in your life. Taco Tuesdays. ‘Nuff said.
Stowaway Bar, Freshwater for when cocktails lead you astray.
And when you need to lay your head down for the night, we’ll see you here at Stoke. Well, we weren’t going to write a whole article and not fly our own flag?! Surf’s up, the beers are in the fridge, so what’re you waiting for?