On Sydney Harbour – 10 things the locals wont tell you

Are you about to go on holiday to Sydney? Or have you only just moved to Sydney after using a Sydney removalist company? Either way, you’re going to want to know where all the best places to go are. But this can often lead to over-crowded tourist areas that leave you in a queue for most of the day. This is why you’ll want to look for things to do that the locals won’t tell you about.

1. Discover secret harbour beaches accessible only by boat

Hire a skippered yacht and discover the hidden jewels of Sydney Harbour. There are a large number of sandy beaches draped by lush bushland around the harbour. Many of these beaches are only accessible by boat, or bush walking tracks. Hence, many of these special beaches & bays are unknown to tourists, and to many of the locals. On the north side near the old Quarantine Station on North Head, are several excellent beaches nested close to one other, called Collins, Quarantine and Store beach. Around Middle Harbour is Castle Rock (a favourite for boaties), and Obelisk Bay, Athol / Taronga Zoo beach on Middle Head. And in the East is Neilson Park and Hermitage Reserve. Spend a day on a yacht eating, drinking and lounging, then swim in crystal clear water into the beach.

2. Catch the Manly Ferry

One the best and cheapest (!) thing to do on Sydney Harbour is to catch the Ferry from Circular Quay to Manly. You get a great view of the harbour passing iconic landmarks such as Fort Denison, Farm Cove, Taronga Park Zoo, Shark Island, Middle Head, passing the Sydney Heads, and over to Manly. Many tourists don’t realise the duality of Manly, it is both a beautiful harbour beach on one side, and a fabulous ocean beach on the other. Spend a day shopping around Manly, and enjoy the contrast of the surf beach and the inner harbour beaches.

3. Cruise the Harbour, Islands, Bays & Beaches

There are the usual large ferry operators carrying tourists by the hundreds, BUT a much more personal and fun way is to charter a yacht or catamaran. Your skipper will take you around many of the Harbour Islands and explain some interesting history. There are Shark and Clark Islands in the East, and Goat and Cockatoo Islands just west of the Harbour Bridge. On the North Shore are some lovely bays, including Kirribilli, Cremorne, and Mosman. And lastly, from the history file, there is Fort Denison and Garden Island near circular Quay, and the swathe of military ‘bunkers’ scattered around Middle Head.

4. Lunch on the Marina at Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour is a very exciting place for both tourists and locals. It is even more spectacular when you tie up to the marina, and order some great restaurant food and wine that many of the nearby establishments gladly deliver to your boat. You get a very different view of the excitement from your relative serenity of your boat watching the people stroll past and the amazing Sydney skyline. A cocktail at sunset on your boat on the marina is memorable.

5. Learn to Sail a Yacht

A fun way to see Sydney harbour is to sail it yourself !! A professional Skipper will teach you to Sail a Yacht, take the tiller and pull some lines as you learn. This is great fun for 2 to 8 people.

6. Overnight stay on a yacht

Imagine waking up to a sunrise with uninterrupted waterviews through to Sydney Heads – because you are on your own yacht ! The skipper quietly exits the yacht in the evening when the yacht is secured – the boat is all yours. This is great for a very romantic evening, or a special time with family & friends. Dinner and breakfast is organised. There are range of bays to drop anchor, but Balmoral Beach, Flat Rock Beach and Bantry Bay are a couple of favourites. This is better than a 6 star hotel !

7. Relax and Swim at Sydney’s finest harbour beaches

There a lots of beautiful beaches on Sydney harbour all offering there own magic. Some of our favourite beaches are Chinaman’s and Clontarf . If good food and coffee from the shore is a must, Balmoral, Manly and Neilson Park are the picks. But a tip for the other beaches, watch out for the coffee & ice-cream boats that come around in summer!

8. Tour of the wealthy Sydney waterfront mansions

Cruise around the gorgeous houses and mansions on the bays, beaches and cliffs. There are many sections of the harbour where you will appreciate the style and grandeur of some of Sydney finest homes. Three favourite cruising sections are (a) Watson Bay all the way to Garden Island, (b) Kirribilli (from Kirribilli House – the Prime Minister’s Sydney house) to Mosman through Neutral Bay and Cremorne, and (c) from Spit Bridge around through Seaforth through Beauty Point, Cremorne, and Castlecrag.

9. Sydney Fish Markets Marina

After cruising East Balmain, Pyrmont, and around the Big Boats marina at Roselle, tie up to the marina at Sydney Fish Markets. Check out the amazing selection of seafood at the Sydney Seafood Markets, and then order a fabulous lunch and wine from the markets.

10. Inner harbour and rivers

Done the Sydney Harbour cruise before? Then cruise away from the usual tourist areas, and explore the beautiful waterways around Lane Cove / Parramatta rivers, like Woolwich and Drummoyne. Around Middle Cove are some lovely serene bays including Bantry Bay and Sugarloaf Bay. The lush vegetation dispersed with lovely homes, beaches, cliffs and bays is truly memorable. You won’t believe you are still in Sydney.

copyright Eastcoast Sailing, October 2011

About Eastcoast Sailing :

Eastcoast Sailing provides skippered Yacht Charters and Sailing School on Sydney Harbour. Kylie Noble is the principle of Eastcoast Sailing, and regularly enjoys the delights of Sydney Harbour with her family and friends. Let Eastcoast Sailing help you enjoy Sydney Harbour from one of our luxury yachts.


+61 459 060 011 (outside Australia), 1300 883 023 (within Australia).