|Time:||3hrs taking in the distractions on the way|
|Getting there:|| |
|Pit stops:||Seaforth, Spit Bridge, Castle Rock Beach, Reef Beach, North Harbour Reserve, Fairlight Pool, Manly cafes/kiosks at Seaforth, Fairlight, Manly|
Spitting distance from Spit Bridge
Okay, we know it’s the weekend, but wrench yourself from bed early and a scenic stroll is your reward (Pro tip: walking is great for hangovers and a great opportunity to gossip about the night before).
Before we dive into the walk itself, let’s figure out your starting place, aka breaky spot. Grab some mates or go Han Solo (with that fire Spotify playlist pre-synced), get on a bus to Seaforth and swing by Seaforth’s Locals Corner café on Sydney Road for a pre-fuelling paw paw salad or B&E roll (trust us, you’ll burn it off later).
Now it’s time to cruise down the northern end of Spit Bridge: you’ll find the start of the track off Manly Road and Battle Boulevard. This first stretch will have you in wonder as it weaves under lush rooftop canopies and over wooden stairs that propel you toward the azure views of Pearl and Sandy Bays. This is photo op one – of many. Keep an eye on your battery levels, you’ll want to save it for the epic shots to come.
King of my castle: Castle Rock
After weaving through Clontarf Reserve (about 15mins in), you stumble upon one of the promised secret beaches. This rarely visited spot boasts crystal clear water and zero crowds, with the added bonus of being smack-bang in the middle of Sydney Harbour. Just a short walk from Clontarf beach down from Ogilvy Road, Castle Rock has a view of Balmoral and a tranquil little waterfall that flows onto the sand. Zen af.
Head back onto the track and find yourself lost in an aura of flora. In spring this place is in full bloom, with native flowers abuzz with adorable-but-still-kinda-terrifying bees. (Don’t mess with them and they won’t mess with you.)
Continue straight to reach Grotto Point Lighthouse (about 900m or 15mins) and be careful not to miss the sign.
Did you know: Grotto Point Lighthouse – sometimes referred to as the ‘Disney Castle’ because of its fairy tale features – was designed by Maurice Festu in 1910 to help navigate ships through Sydney Harbour. The tower itself is now closed but from its perch you can take in the panoramic views of the Tasman Sea.
Surrounded by a lush tunnel of green, the trail transports you out to a world-class view of Manly Harbour. You’ve made it halfway now but the blistering sun has you craving a refreshing dip. Cut through one of the exit points between Grotto Point Lighthouse and Reef Beach and make your way down to the sand. You’ve earned a swim, just always check that it’s safe before you dive in. Otherwise, continue down the path and soak it all in as you inch closer to the hustle and bustle of Manly.
You’ll walk through a natural waterfall before you reach North Harbour Reserve. Keep an eye out for the water dragons sunbaking in the hot spots. These guys aren’t shy (but fear not, they won’t go all Jurassic Park on you).
You’re on the home stretch when you slide into Fairlight Pool, one of the best ocean baths in Sydney. Protected from the sea by Manly and Dobroyd Head – home to Sydney Harbour National Park – this calm rock pool is the ultimate place to chill. (You’ll also find amenities here if you’re seeking relief.)
The finish line
The Manly finish line is just around the corner, so no giving up now! Continue on to pass through Delwood Beach, a shady cove to escape the afternoon sun. And finally, the just reward: head down into Manly and indulge in an ice-cream: Movenpick? Froyo? Or grab a coldie or two at Wharfies, Four Pines or Hemingway’s (beachside). You’ve earned it.