The Manly Weekend Guide
Manly has evolved dramatically since my days as a Nipper at the Surf Life Saving club. Historically visited because of its picturesque beaches and laid back attitude, today Manly boasts an array of cultural drawcards that attract a crowd above and beyond beachgoers. These days it gathers lovers of great food, coffee and a good night out.
Start the day right
For most, a typical day in Manly will kick off with an ocean based activity followed by a coffee. Those inclined to skip the ocean grab their dogs and/or strollers and cruise over to one of a handful of excellent local coffee shops for their morning fix. Assembly Label serves a great takeaway coffee from their immaculate store front on Pittwater Rd, whilst surfers flock to The Shop Next door to drool over Donald Takayama surfboards and sip delicious Will & Co. brews from the integrated coffee shop. For a sit down breakfast, superfood fans head to Bare Naked Bowls or to Whistler street’s Ora Organic where you’ll also find Showbox Coffee Brewers curing a few hangovers. Across the road is Manly institution Barefoot Coffee Traders – after nine years in the street, they’ve moved to a larger location just three doors down.
Following breakfast, there’s plenty on offer in the way of activities. Those looking to get the adrenaline pumping can head to the wharf to book a thrill ride with Manly Ocean Adventures. The 900hp, purpose built rib (inflatable boat) makes short work of huge swells as it rockets out beyond the heads to Bondi, before making the trip back to Manly in a mere 11 or so minutes, at speeds of up to 90km/h. For a more relaxing itinerary, EcoTreasures run a Snorkel Walk and Talk tour in the clear waters off Shelly Beach, educating participants about Cabbage Tree Bay’s native marine life.
Enjoy the view
Come lunch, deciding where to deal with your hunger is the hardest decision of the day. The most logical choice after finishing a snorkel tour at Shelly Beach is The Boathouse. The most recent addition to The Boathouse brand’s portfolio, the restaurant is packed all day everyday. Guests dine on sophisticated Aussie dishes within the thoughtfully decorated bungalow. On the Harbour side, the Manly Skiff Club has an impressive menu and even more impressive view, with guests dining on the expansive deck with sweeping views of Manly Bay. Burrito connoisseurs returning to Manly won’t want to miss the offering from Chica Bonita, while those looking to grab a quick cheap bite head to the bakery on Sydney St Corso for $4.50 Ham and Salad rolls. For a posh lunch, head to the Herring Room on Pittwater Rd.
When the temperature drops and the sun begins to retreat, there’s an abundance of great places to share an afternoon drink, or to kick off a big night. The most obvious choice is the famous Manly Wharf Bar, or for great cocktails, Donny’s Bar. Hidden in the lane over from Donny’s is Cured, a small wine and cheese bar with a fantastic selection of Australian and imported fromage, cured meats and wine.
A short walk from Cured, the team from Chica Bonita have opened up their second venue, Sunset Sabi. I’ve had the pleasure of eating here twice and on both occasions I’ve been wowed by innovative Japanese creations and super fresh sushi rolls – the scallop roll is sensational! In the opposite direction, the logical dinner destination for those migrating from Wharf Bar is Hugo’s for dinner and people watching. Other notable dining destinations include DeVita on Darley St for Neapolitan style pizza or Merivale’s Papi Chulo for a great mix of fresh dishes and slow cooked meats.
If you’re keen to make a weekend of your visit, check into the Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific. The beachfront hotel has brilliant views, a rooftop pool and is located in a prime spot just 10 minutes walk from all the action.
I’ll be back for the Australia Open of Surfing in February – it marks the beginning of the surfing calendar for the new year. From February 27 to March 6, the sport’s top professional, and junior athletes, (and a handful of surfing legends) showcase their skills alongside displays from surfing’s top brands, with the men’s and women’s professional finals hitting the water March 5 and 6. The nine day festival isn’t just about the swell – there’ll be live music, skateboarding showcases, I suggest you look into accommodation before it’s too late!
Make sure you visit
With direct links to the city via Sydney’s beautiful harbour, incredible beaches, and a cosmopolitan community living healthy lifestyles, and sampling some of Sydney’s best food and coffee, I find it fascinating that it’s not an area more people want to live in. Obviously I can’t speak for the tourists, but I’d be surprised if Manly wasn’t the go to destination for anyone travelling to NSW or Australia. The Manly we knew of 10 years ago has progressed in leaps and bounds, and it only takes a weekend to immerse yourself in its intoxicating lifestyle offering.
James was the guest of Destination NSW. Expedia compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site, such compensation may include travel and other costs.