Winter is well and truly behind us now - with temperatures set to sizzle over the weekend. And this can only mean one thing, it's time to hit the beach. We love the bronzed bodies, surf and café culture of Sydney's Bondi Beach, but for a slightly slower pace and an entirely different vista, it's worth taking the trip out of the city to discover one of Sydney's spectacular northern beaches. Take a ferry over to Manly, or drive to Long Reef Beach, Narrabeen, Avalon, or Palm Beach, which is otherwise known as Summer Bay.
Here is our pick of Sydney's best northern beaches.
Manly and Queenscliff Beach
Sydney's family-friendly Manly Beach, named by Captain Arthur Phillip for the "manly behaviour" displayed by the local Aboriginals, offers open ocean beaches perfect for water sports on one side, and quiet sandy coves, ideal for walking, fishing and relaxing on the harbour side, right by the wharf. Head to the northernmost end of Manly and you'll discover Queenscliff Beach, which boasts an offshore bombora and reliable beach breaks for the avid surfers, and fabulous café culture for the rest of us.
Long Reef Beach
Long Reef Beach, one of Sydney's most picturesque, is located in Dee Why, easily accessible via Pittwater Road, and offers convenient nearby parking. Favoured by surfers, the offshore Long Reef bombora, known locally as the “butter box”, offers longer rides and safer wipeouts, and 1.6 kilometres of beach breaks mean there's every chance you'll catch the elusive "perfect wave." Non-surfers will enjoy rock hopping at Long Reef Aquatic Reserve or perhaps a game of golf on the headland.
Sydney's Narrabeen Beach is a top swimming and surfing spot, with great surf breaks along three kilometres of beach. The whole family can swim in safety, with Narrabeen's four surf lifesaving clubs between Long Reef in the south, to the Narrabeen Lagoon entrance in the north, including Narrabeen Surf Club, a popular venue for weddings and functions. Make use of the barbeque facilities and relax while the kids enjoy the shaded playground equipment in the park.
Avalon Beach, located in Pittwater between Whale Beach and Bilgoa, offers great surfing conditions due to a well-formed right break. Avalon lays claim to a number of current and former surfing world champions. Not just for surfers, Avalon features a family friendly saltwater rock pool, situated at the southern end of the beach; it's the perfect seaside swimming pool for the kids. Pack a barbeque picnic and enjoy a day with the whole family at Avalon Beach.
Sydney's Palm Beach, named after its Cabbage Palms, is known as "the jewel of the Northern Beaches", though perhaps it is better known by some as Summer Bay, due to the long-running television series, Home and Away. An isolated peninsula at the northern end of Pittwater, Palm Beach, with its burnt orange sands, retains a relaxed, affluent ambience that makes it an idyllic day trip north of the city.