Harbourside Little Manly is picturesque any time of day, and is exceptionally inviting on a hot summer’s night.
Flocks of people head to famous Manly Beach from the ferry each day. However, there are pockets along the harbour, such as Little Manly, that are less well known and are a perfect place to play.
Less known to those outside of the northern beaches, Little Manly is a popular haunt for locals.
Tucked away on the eastern side of the harbour, it offers a tranquil setting with beach, café and facilities, plus a park that provides gorgeous views over the harbour.
This harbour beach is popular with families. It offers calm waters and an enclosed area where you can swim without worrying about ending up as an aquatic meal. The sand slopes gently into the water, so it is perfect for small children with buckets and spades. While the enclosure makes for a great playground for older kids.
My kids love to walk the plank along the top of the enclosure. Others prefer to swim out to the ladder, climb up, jump in. climb up, jump in, climb up, jump in! This free entertainment makes for hours of fun for older kids and the young at heart, giving you time to relax on the beach.
I love swimming at the harbour beaches in the evening after a long, hot day. With strong winds predominantly blowing straight onto Manly Beach in the late afternoon, Little Manly offers a tranquil cove sheltered from the wind where you can relax and unwind after the heat of the day.
Popular place to paddle
With a boat ramp at the end of Little Manly cove, you can launch your motor boat or other water craft from here. While you need a licence to drive a motor boat in Sydney Harbour, there are no such rules for unmotored crafts.
Situated just around the corner from North Head (where Sydney Harbour meets the Pacific) Little Manly is a great location to explore the harbour with a kayak, canoe or SUP.
Depending on fitness and wind direction, it is a pretty easy paddle to other harbour beaches that are trickier to get to by road.
First stop Collins Beach. Located at the bottom of a steep hill, and with only half a dozen car parking spots, this beach is often fairly quiet.
With a pretty waterfall, idyllic views and a stunning forest at the rear, why wouldn’t you make a stop here? Unfortunately, due to its aspect, harbour rubbish is often washed up on this beach which can dampen the experience. Volunteers sweep the beach and water for garbage once a year on Clean Up Australia Day, usually in March, while other environmental groups do the same at other times of the year.
Second stop Store Beach. Without a link road, this beach is only accessible by boat, so if seclusion is your goal, you’ve found your spot!
Last stop Quarantine Station. Situated almost at the tip of North Head, this is where boat loads of immigrants to Australia disembarked in years gone by – and with fatal illnesses rife at the time, it was often the last place on earth they would see.
Today of course it is a different place altogether. A fancy restaurant and accommodation with sweeping views of the harbour have replaced the desolate site it once was. However, most of the old buildings still remain so if you’re interested in its history, you can take a self-guided tour through the site. Ghost tours are also available at night if you like to be scared and want to part with some cash.
Pack a picnic
If you don’t have water craft, you can still enjoy sweeping views of the harbour from Little Manly Point Park.
The site of an old gas works, it is situated just above the beach and provides shady trees, park benches, barbecues and a playground.
Little Manly Point is also a popular fishing spot, so bring a rod and see if you can catch dinner.
Otherwise, just enjoy a picnic while you watch the Manly Ferry sail by.
Manly Ferry: From the ferry it’s about a 1km walk. From the wharf, head east along East Esplanade. Turn left into Stuart St.
Car: Take the same directions as for walking. Drive past the beach (unless you see a parking spot) until you get to Little Manly Point Park. There is a small car park here. Otherwise, cruise the residential streets.