The Northern Beaches coastline includes some of Sydney’s most stunning seascapes and swimming spots. The culture here is more relaxed than other suburbs, with an emphasis on surfing and beach life. I used to take the beaches here for granted but after travelling around I can safely say that these are the best in Sydney. The geography here is different – there’s more elevation on the headlands which makes for some dramatic views! I also think that the beaches here are cleaner than the likes of Coogee and Bondi.

In this post I’ll be introducing all my favourite spots in the Northern Beaches. They’re all pretty close together so you can visit a few in a day. The Northern Beaches are perfect for surfing, swimming, diving, photography, hanggliding, hiking, whalewatching and fishing. I hope you have a relaxing and enjoyable time here!

Curl Curl 

This is my go-to beach for swimming and exploring on a summer day. On the northern end is a headland to get a view of the beautiful beach. This is where we filmed the Epson video with my friend Babi Bertoldi.

Secret Cave

This is a secret of the Northern Beaches, at Manly. The cave is shaped like Australia! I made a post about it here.

North Head, Manly

I’m always surprised when Sydneysiders tell me they haven’t been to North Head. How can you not visit this place? When I have friends over from overseas I always show them North Head. There’s a few public lookouts here, which look best at sunset. You can see the city skyline too.

West Head

This is one of the best lookouts in the state. The drive through Ku-Ring-Gai National Park is twisty and fun. You’ll be able to see Palm Beach, Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Lion Island and the Hawkesberry River.

Upper Glendhill Falls

This is my local waterfall. It’s pretty dramatic in the rain! It’s not exactly on the Northern Beaches but it’s on the way to West Head. Make sure to park safely on the side of the road because there’s it’s not an official attraction. The track is unmarked and requires some rockclimbing. My advice is to use the sound of the waterfall to find the way.

Newport Beach

This one is popular with surfers and swimmers. There are some nice Norfolk pines along the beach walkway. It’s said that Australian photographer Max Dupain came to the ocean pools to take photos in the 30s to 50s.

Secret Cabins at Crater Cove

Ever thought about leaving civilisation and living in a cabin in the woods? That was the dream of a little community that lived in Crater Cove, Balgowlah. Getting here is little tricky because the location is kept secret by NSW parks.

Avalon Beach

Up on the southern headland is a carpark and lookout that embodies a coastal town. It’s more relaxed than most beaches in Sydney. I often come here with friends in the afternoon to watch the sunset. I’ve made a post about Avalon here.

Grotto Point Lighthouse

This is a charming little Lighthouse in Balgowlah. I’ve made a blogpost about it here!

Whale Beach and Dolphin Bay

A small neighbourhood with a nice beach, tucked away from the main road. I took these photos from Careel Headland Reserve.

Long Reef

Long Reef is one of the most important ecological areas on the Sydney coast. There are cliffs, beaches, a lagoon and rockpools to explore here. You should come here for sunrise or sunset. I even found some ‘bunnytail’ grass which is lovely for portraiture. I’ve made a separate post about it here.

Palm Beach and Barrenjoey Lighthouse

This iconic beach is popular for its golden sands and being the star of TV show Home and Away. On the other side of the peninsula is Pittwater beach. The short hike to Barrenjoey Lighthouse is one of the best in the Australia. It’s the northernmost point of the city, which makes a fantastic stargazing spot. Come for the panoramic sunset, stay for the stars!

AJ Small Lookout

I always visit this when I’m in the area. It doesn’t have the best visibility but it’s quiet and a nice place to stop on the way to Palm Beach. The road here is fittingly called ‘the Serpentine’.

Collins Flat Beach

This is a lesser known beach tucked away in Sydney Harbour National Park. It’s got a small waterfall that looks impressive in the rain, and is the home of a small colony of little penguins (or fairy penguins). The specific breeding ground of the penguins is a secret and it’s extremely rare to see them.

Shelly Beach

A sheltered little cove, this makes for a nice walk from Manly. It’s great for diving – bring some goggles! Photographer Michaela Skovranova does phenomenal underwater wildlife photography around here. At the end of Bower Street are some cliff lookouts.

Narabeen Beach and Lagoon

One of my top sunset spots. The beach and swimming pools are lovely. There’s a track that takes you up the headland in the north. I love how the Narabeen lagoon streams out into the ocean here.

Mona Vale and Basin Beach

These two beaches are joined together with an unusual ocean pool in the middle. There’s a nice walk to do along Turimetta Head.

Mona Vale Headland Reserve

This is a great place for sunrise. We found some leftover fireworks and beer – I wish I was there for the party!

Manly Beach

Probably one of the most famous beaches in Australia! The ferry ride from Circular Quay to Manly is enjoyable. Honestly I’m not the biggest fan of this beach as it gets crowded and it’s not the best looking. However at night it becomes more interesting because there are heaps of shops and good restaurants.

Turimetta Head – Warriewood Blow Hole

Turimetta has a few short walks along the cliffs. The infamous Warriewood Blow Hole is a sea cave that is only accessible by jumping into the water (for thrill seekers only!).

Getting Around

Having a car is ideal on the Northern Beaches. In terms of public transport there are busses but no trains. If you really want to fit in with the beach atmosphere get a campervan for the #vanlife!

Thanks for reading – I hope I was able to introduce some new places to you.

Let me know how your adventures go!