Wondering what are the best things to do in Manly in 2020? Look no further because we’ve found some awesome Manly activities you need to know about!
This Sydney guide is more for locals, but if you’re visiting Sydney on holidays then keep on reading to find more to discover than the obvious touristy things to do!
It’s kinda funny to watch tourists make the effort to go to Manly in Sydney without really venturing far from the beach. It’s almost like a traffic congestion from the ferry wharf, down the corso and onto the beach. But, if you just step anywhere out of this area, there’s some hidden gems to discover.
So what are people missing out on? If you’re looking for things to do in Manly which actually involve more than just walking down a touristy street and a packed part of the beach, we’re here to let you know all of the awesome fun things to do in Manly.
Grab your friends and head over to Havana Beach right on the South Steyne to try your hand at a cocktail making class in Manly! If you’re feeling the Cuban vibes, then book a private class (must have 6 or more people) where you’ll get behind the bar and learn how to make and shake three cocktails. And of course you’ll get to drink them too!
This is actually one of the fun things to do in Sydney and also a great thing to do indoors in Manly as well. If you’re looking for birthday ideas or hens party ideas in Sydney, then this could be an awesome idea.
2. Find The Great Gatsby Filming Location In Manly
Directed by Australia’s favourite Director, Baz Luhrmann, Leonardo Di Caprio and Carrie Mulligan made their way to Manly International College to film scenes of The Gatsby Mansion! Obviously they had to photoshop the palm trees out!
If you’re wondering where the International College of Management is, it’s on the way up to North Head.
Well, well, well… we found a clip of the movie so you can see the Manly location in all its glory. The start of the scene was actually filmed in Centennial Park with camera photography tricks and all.
3. Take A Flower Arranging Class In Manly
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to arrange a bunch of flowers in the most beautiful way, then try your hand at a flower arranging class in Manly. *We’ve all bought a bunch of flowers at the local market to only get them home, put them in a vase and they look a bit crap.
*I’m basically just talking about my personal experience here…
Bring your mates or your family along to learn how to make a florist shop proud that you too can even make the most boring flowers look stunning!
Be warned, you’ll become addicted to buying flowers every week once you learn the tricks and tips to buying long lasting flowers from this class!
If you’re looking for things to do for kids in Manly then look no further. Get your kids a one hour skate boarding lesson with a skateboarding professional.
Learning to skateboard could be a brilliant kids birthday party idea in Sydney as they accept kids from 5-15 years old.
Thank us later for finding you this local gem 🙂
5. Make Friends By Joining A Beginners Volleyball Course
When we visited Manly, recently our friend was telling us how he’s built a big community of friends in Manly all because he joined a beginners volleyball course on Manly Beach. Even as someone who isn’t sporty, he said it’s completely transformed his life living in this Sydney suburb.
So I shared this story on our Instagram page and it turns out loads of expats have made friends by joining this course too! You’ll find a range of travellers, expats and Aussie’s sign up to this class. Plus, there’s even an Aussie Olympic volleyball player who’s seen at these courts most days too!
There’s nothing like going for a run up to North Head from Manly Beach and back again. It’s a rewarding run when you make it up to the lookout point at North Head, and best of all you’ll know the return run will be easy down hill!!
This run is around 3.6KM one way and it’s a great track if you’re training for any up and coming races.
9. Q Station Ghost Tours In Manly
I have to say we’ve been to Q Station and it freaked us ouuuuut!!
Whenever we pass the stone gate on the way into the North Head Park, the vibe just totally changes. It’s not the same as the touristy and lovely Manly Beach at all. I can’t put my finger on it, but this is how I feel every single time I head up there.
That being said we once went to check out what the fuss was all about with the Q Station in Manly also known as the Quarantine Station. Mind you we went in the day time and all I have to say is I’m glad it was the daytime!
Whilst we had a nosy around, the remains of the old living quarters for the plague victims are still intact and we just felt a bit spooked out.
When we wondered down to The Boiler Room restaurant (the name says it all!) we spoke to the dude behind the bar who pulled out his phone, turned to us, and said:
“I took a picture of a ghost here once. Do you want to see it?”.
Obviously we said yes. And yep, on one of the ghost tours was a faint image of someone standing in the background. Was it fake? Not a chance.
If you’re feeling like you want a bit of extra excitement for the evening, you can actually stay at the Q Station in accommodation. I can’t say it’s on the top of my list but as you can see, I’m a bit of a scaredy cat!
10. Hike Around North Head Instead
If the idea of ghost stories isn’t your thing either, then head up to North Head anyway and take on one of the many walking tracks!
We recommend taking the short Fairfax Track and find the various lookout points. There’s also a great cafe at the top which serves up a decent breakfast if you get a bit peckish!
11. Take On The Classic Manly to Shelly Beach Walk
Another classic walk you must do in Manly is to walk from Manly Beach to Shelly Beach. It’s a short walk and is perfect for families as it’s curves around the beach and over to beautiful Shelly.
Here you’ll be able to take some cracking photographs of both Manly Beach and Shelly Beach, not forgetting taking a dip at Fairy Bower Pool.
12. Or The Classic Spit to Manly Walk (or vice versa)
There’s a reason why the Spit to Manly walk always makes it onto the best walks in Sydney lists! Although it’s an amazing coastal walk which takes you to loads of hidden beaches, it’s a tough one at 10km. Expect a lot of steps to climb up!
You can the bus back to either Manly or to Spit from whichever starting point you take on.
This one hour class is super affordable and offers up a bit of fun for all levels of experience (including those of us with zero dance skills!).
14. Check Out Manly Distillery
Located in Brookvale is Manly Distillery, this pet friendly distillery is home to a unique selection of Manly made whiskies, vodkas and gin made from using some of the botanicals found right in the heart of Manly.
Let the scooter do all the work for you as you glide through the water to see all of the colour marine life! Everything is provided, you just need to show up in your swimmers!
20. Go Snorkelling at Shelly Beach
Shelly Beach is home to one of the best snorkelling in Sydney spots! In this two hour tour, you’ll discover all of the best snorkelling spots in Manly so you can come back time and time again.
21. Kids Surfing Lesson In Manly
If you’ve ever wanted to learn to surf, tick off a bucket list item and learn to surf on Manly Beach. The good news is they take kids from 7 years up so if you’re looking for things to do with kids in Sydney, check out this best selling surfing lesson.
22. Manly Surf N Slide For Kids
Manly Surf N Slide is an awesome little water slide park in Sydney for the kids. With just three slides to choose from, it actually makes for a fun afternoon Manly activity for the family.
There’s BBQ area and you if you’re looking for kids birthday ideas in Sydney, then definitely check out Manly Surf N Slide. Just make sure you check their website for opening times because it varies from month to month.
It’s located at the far end of Manly Cove near to Manly Wharf.
Discover a whole new world right in the middle of Sydney on the Eco Tour ran by Sydney Harbour Kayaks. Here in Middle Harbour you’ll learn all about the history of the area as well as discovering the bushland of the Garigal National Park.
This four hour tour runs every Saturday and Sunday morning from 8.30am till 12.30pm and includes morning tea.
If you feel like you’re not too keen on the idea of going on a single kayak, fear not – they have double kayaks available.
This makes an awesome Sydney activity perfect for anyone looking for date ideas or things to do.
Beaches to visit in Manly
There’s loads more beaches to visit in the Manly area other than Manly Beach. Here’s the best places to swim in Manly!
26. Manly Beach
Obviously Manly Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Sydney. With its rival Bondi, Manly Beach is one of the busiest. The further right you go to the beach, the more busier it will be.
27. Shelly Beach
We love Shelly Beach. It’s the most gorgeous beach in Sydney but it gets busy. It’s best to get here really early in the morning or mid-week before school holidays are on if you can.
28. Fairy Blower Pool
On the way in between Manly Beach and Shelly Beach sits Fairy Blower Pool. This is a lovely little pool for the kids to have a swim in if you can’t be bothered to continue the walk over to Shelly Beach.
29. Find the penguins At Collins Flat Beach
Collins Flat beach is one of the special gems in Manly. You can get here by walking along the path from Little Manly Beach or if you’re lucky you can park up in the National Park. Parking spots are limited so you might have to park a bit from the beach.
Turns out there’s some resident penguins at this beach – if you’re lucky enough to actually see them.
30. Visit Store Beach
Whilst Store Beach is around the corner from Collins Flat Beach, it’s a little bit more of a mission to get to.
You’ll need to drive further into the National Park and it’s a little hike down to this secluded gem. Most people get here by going on a kayaking tour in Sydney.
31. And Little Manly Beach
Whilst Little Manly is directly opposite Manly Beach, this small locals beach in Manly actually packs a punch as a quieter version to it’s rival. Here you’ll find toilet facilities, a kiosk to grab some food and flat waters from the Harbour.
32. Check Out Fairlight Ocean Pool
Manly Beach’s neighbour Fairlight might be a quieter suburb but it’s home to an awesome ocean pool. This is a much quieter part of the Manly surrounding areas and although you’ll see tourists walk past they head onto the Manly to Spit walk, you’ll mostly find locals at this pool.
33. And Forty Baskets Beach
Once you head onto the Manly to Spit trek, you’ll come across a few beautiful beaches. First up is Forty Baskets Beach which is about a 30 minute walk from Fairlight Beach. Stop here for a quick swim before you continue on with the walk.
34. Reef Beach
Continue on for 10 minutes into the Manly to Spit walk and you’ll come to Reef Beach which is a gorgeous little beach you’ll again want to stop and take some photos as well as go for a swim!
35. Washaway Beach
Continue on the Manly to Spit path for another 30 minutes and you’ll come to Washaway Beach. We literally found this whilst scoping out some more of the hidden beaches in Sydney a few years back.
Although it’s known as a nudist beach in Sydney, most people perch up on the cliffs and have plenty of room so if you’re a bit more on the reserved side (like me!) then it’s not like you’ll have it all in your face.
Just be careful with the tides as the beach disappears when the tide comes in which is why a lot of people sit up on the cliffs.
Don’t take young kids as there’s a little bit of rock climbing involved to get down. As always never put yourself at risk if you don’t feel safe.
36. The Family Favourite Clontarf Beach
Walk another 30 minutes along the Manly to Spit walking track and you’ll come to Clontarf Beach which sits opposite the Spit Bridge. This is only of the best family beaches in Sydney because of the flat beach, access to the car park and facilities on offer.
If you have kids, definitely go and check out Clontarf Beach!
If you didn’t know about the Manly wormhole, it was in fact made in 1908. The passage joins Queenscliff and Freshwater beaches.
38. Freshwater Beach
Freshwater Beach known as Freshie to the locals is one of the most iconic surfing beaches in Sydney. In fact, you’ll find a statue at this beach to commemorate the first ever demonstration of surfing in Australia. A Hawaiian legend taught the Aussie locals how to surf in 1915 at Freshie!
The Swedish menu comprises of dishes like “Toast Skagen – Our famous prawn, dill & lemon mayo mix stacked on sourdough” and “The Chic Chick Sous vide chicken breast with potatoes, chickpeas, capsicum & corn dressed in a curry mayo, topped with broccolini & kavring crumbs”.
Address: 5B Market Pl, Manly NSW 2095
41. Ruby Lane
If you’re looking for a healthy cafe in Manly, Ruby Lane is one of the best places to eat.
With an all day menu, it’s good to know you can still order brekkie at any time of the day! With options like Serious Eggs Benny, Superfood Banana Bread and Earth Bowl, I’m completely sold.
Address: Ruby Lane Wholefoods, 200 Pittwater Rd, Manly NSW 2095
42. The Boathouse Shelly Beach
The Boathouse in Shelly Beach has been a bit of an institution since it opened a few years back. Not only is it at the end of the Manly Beach to Shelly Beach walk, the location is so beautiful, it will make you feel like you’re a million miles away.
Address: The Boathouse Shelly Beach, 1 Marine Parade, Manly NSW 2095
The Pantry is one of those Manly restaurants which offers up excellent breakfast, lunch and dinner options. It’s also home to the best view of Manly beach.
Address: The Pantry, Ocean Promenade, N Steyne, Manly NSW 2095
47. Manly Greenhouse
Manly Greenhouse is relatively new and it’s brought a whole new perspective to dining out in Manly. With three different levels varying between a rooftop bar, a fine dining restaurant and a casual all day restaurant, you just need to take your pick with which floor to choose from.
Address: Manly Greenhouse, 36-38 S Steyne, Manly NSW 2095
48. 16ft Manly Skiff Sailing Club
Manly 16ft Skiff Sailing Club is a great little gem to eat in Manly. Located at the end of Manly Wharf, it’s the sort of place that only attracts locals.
With an excellent outdoor deck onto the water, you could literally spend the entire afternoon eating and drinking here. Bring your ID though as it is a club.
Address: Manly 16ft Skiff Sailing Club, Cnr East Esplanade &, Stuart St, Manly NSW 2095
49. Daniel San
Daniel San in Manly is a great restaurant and bar in Manly. It’s family friendly during the day time and it’s also a fab place for a night out in Manly on the weekends.
Food wise, order up the sushi boat or a poke bowl!
Address: Daniel San, 55 N Steyne, Manly NSW 2095
50. In Situ
In Situ is an awesome locals gem in Manly. As one of their oldest small bars, it serves up European tapas an cocktails – a perfect Friday night place to go in Manly!
Address: 1/18 Sydney Rd, Manly NSW 2095
Looking for Manly accommodation? Here’s some of the best places to stay in Manly NSW for all budgets.