The Spit Bridge to Manly Walk in Sydney is one of the best walks in the city – and that’s saying something because of the multitude of excellent walks in and around the city! This Spit to Manly walk is a 10 km coastal walk that gives you a fantastically varied experience taking you through native bushland, secluded beaches, and scenic bays, all along the gorgeous coastline. You’ll forget you are in the city soon as you get on to the track, the noise of traffic fades away leaving you only with the sound of the surf and the rustling of the forest.
The Spit to Manly walk is perfect to get you out of the city and into nature within minutes!
Read on for all the details you’ll need to walk the Spit Bridge to Manly track.
Spit to Manly Walk
The Spit to Manly walk runs along the Manly Scenic Walkway between the Spit Bridge and Manly Wharf. It is a 10 km, grade 3 walk and is fairly easy to do for most ages and fitness levels.
There are a few gentle climbs and descents and a comfortable pair of shoes will see you through it. However the walk is not suitable for prams or wheelchairs.
Spit to Manly Walk: Map
Spit Manly Walk: Key information
If you do not want to walk the entire way, you can shorten the distance by exiting at one of the many available exit roads along the way and grabbing an uber.
~3.5 hours, longer if you’re stopping to take pictures which of course you’ll do given how stunning the landscapes are! Plan for a whole day out really for this walk so you can take a dip in one of the beaches along the way and also have time to enjoy Manly.
Spit to Manly walk track
The track stretches from Spit Bridge to Manly Wharf, along the Spit to Manly Walkway. This grade 3 track is mostly flat with a boardwalk for the most part. There are some sections over rocks and wet & muddy areas. The track gently goes up and down but the ascent is never so much that you run out of breath and the descent never so much that your knees start to hurt – perfect, isn’t it!
There are 2 sections of the Spit to Manly walk track that are not accessible during high tide – one is at Clontarf Beach and the other is at Forty Baskets Beach. Both of these sections have (well marked) alternate routes that need a slight detour from the main track. Check the tide information here before starting the walk.
Which direction to choose for the Spit Manly walk
This walk can be done in both directions however I’d recommend doing it from Spit to Manly. This will allow you to finish your walk in Manly where there are a large number of cafes & restaurants to grab a meal and rest your aching legs! You will also have a large number of public transportation options to get back from Manly – both buses and the ferry.
Starting point for Spit Bridge to Manly walk
The Spit Manly walk starts at (you guessed it!) The Spit Bridge! You can drive or take the bus to get here though I’d recommend taking the bus since that will allow you to take the ferry back from Manly to the city.
Spit Manly Walk using public transportation
From the city take a bus to either the bus stop called ‘Spit West Reserve, Spit Rd’ or the one called ‘Battle Bvd at Manly Rd’ – these are the bus stops on either end of the Spit Bridge. Nearly all buses on this route will stop at the first bus stop so that is a safe bet. The second bus stop ensures a shorter walk to the starting point so if your bus takes that route you can choose this stop.
From the bus stop ‘Spit West Reserve, Spit Rd’, walk over the Spit Bridge and look for the stairs down towards the water at the end of the bridge. Walking from this bus stop these stairs will be on your left.
From the bus stop ‘Battle Bvd at Manly Rd’, walk back towards the Spit Bridge and find the same stairs. It will be much closer to get to the stairs from this bus stop.
Walking down these stairs will immediately bring you down to the Fisher bay Walk taking you to Ellery’s Punt Reserve.
Spit Manly Walk using a car
There is metered parking available at the Spit Junction called the ‘Spit West Car Park’, however as with any other popular spot in the city, the parking can get filled up quickly.
There is limited parking also available at the north end of the Spit Bridge at Battle Boulevard.
Getting back from Spit Bridge to Manly walk
Using public transportation
Once you finish your walk at Manly Wharf, spend some time in Manly and enjoy its beaches. You can then take the ferry back from Manly Wharf to Circular Quay bringing you right back to the city on a supremely scenic route in just 20 minutes. Ferries run very frequently on this route and you will never have to wait too long.
You can also take one of the several buses back if that brings you closer to your home/ hotel. It’s what we usually do since it’s much faster for us to get back home from Manly this way.
Using a car
If you’re using a car and have parked at the Spit Junction, head back from Manly by either taking an Uber or bus 144 that will drop you at the bus stop ‘Spit East Reserve, Spit Rd’ from where the Spit West Car Park is a short walk away.
Best time to walk the Spit Manly route
Anytime, really. Unlike some of the other coastal walks in Sydney, the Spit to Manly walk takes you through a lot of shaded areas so it’s easy to walk the track even during the blistering summer.
Pick a clear day so you can enjoy the intensity of colours looking over the ocean. Start in the morning and plan for a whole day out.
Beaches along the Spit to Manly walk
You can take a dip at several beaches along this walk such as: Clontarf, Castle Rock, Reef Beach, Forty Baskets, Fairlight, and Manly Cove. Fairlight Beach has a tidal pool too. However none of these beaches have lifeguards so be cautious. Most of the harbour beaches also have netted swimming enclosures since Sydney Harbour is home to Bull Sharks. Another thing to keep in mind when swimming.
Facilities along the Spit Manly Walk
Water: There are a number of water refill spots along the walk located at Clontarf Reserve, along the Fairlight Walk and at Forty Baskets Beach.
Food: Before starting you can grab some food/ coffee at the Spit Bridge. Along the walk, there are cafes located at Clontarf Reserve and North Harbour Reserve. Once you get to Manly there are plenty of cafes & restaurants to explore. Our favourite is the restaurant ‘Fratelli Fresh’ located just opposite the Manly wharf and perfect for delicious pizzas!
Toilets: There are toilets available all along the walk. Some of the locations are at The Spit, Clontarf Reserve, Reef Beach, Forty Baskets Beach, North Harbour Reserve, Fairlight Beach, and Manly Wharf.
Key stops along the Spit Manly Walk
Below are the key stops along the Manly Scenic Walkway. See details for them in the next section.
- Spit Bridge
- Ellery’s Punt Reserve
- Clontarf Reserve
- Castle Rock Beach
- Grotto Point Lighthouse
- Aboriginal Rock Engravings
- Dobroyd Head
- Reef Beach
- Forty Baskets Beach
- North Harbour Reserve
- Fairlight Walk
- Manly Wharf
Spit Manly Walk: Details
The bane of existence for folks living in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney, this bridge connects the suburbs in the Lower North Shore with those in the Northern Beaches. Infamous for its traffic jams, this is a low-level draw bridge and consequently opens several times a day to let boats pass below it leading to traffic congestion along the bridge. Check here for the opening times of the bridge.
Regardless, the bridge does present a beautiful sight with multiple yachts lining the marina and the crystal clear waters of the bay.
Ellery’s Punt Reserve
As you walk under the Bridge onto the Fisher Bay Walk, you enter Ellery’s Punt Reserve, a beautiful area with a park, benches along the water and lots of space to picnic or relax.
A dirt track leads from Ellery’s Punt Reserve into a forest around the cove into Fisher Bay. Follow the signposts to Manly and enjoy the gorgeous views over the water.
Along the way you will come across several Indigenous sites often marked detailing the Aboriginal history.
The Fisher Bay Walk ends at the Sandy Bay Road which you should now follow towards Clontarf Reserve.
A beach, a large park, lots of picnic benches and food/ water/ toilet facilities are available here at Clontarf reserve. A great spot to stop for a quick break.
Walking on the park along the water will bring you to the sandy section of Clontarf Beach. This may be inaccessible during high tide and otherwise too you may want to avoid getting sand into your shoes, so head up a bit and walk on Monash Cres. At the end of this road there is a path on the right to bring you back down to the beach and rejoin the Spit to Manly walkway.
The track winds up and down some stairs as you follow the Clontarf Track towards Manly. A small rocky area near the water is accessible through some stairs. This is one of our favourite spots along the entire walk. The water lapping onto the huge rocks and the utter calm of the area are so inviting that we often spend quite some time here.
Castle Rock Beach
The small secluded beach of Castle Rock can be seen from the track and can be reached through some stairs down to it. It’s another great spot to stop and relax. Though if you’re not in the mood to take a dip, you can save your energy and continue along the track towards Manly.
Grotto Point Lighthouse
Another intersection along the Manly Scenic Walkway will give you the option to head down to the Grotto Point Lighthouse and Washaway Beach. This detour will add about a kilometre (return) and will take about 20-25 minutes extra. We usually skip this section and continue onwards towards Manly.
Aboriginal Rock Engravings
On the main track, a sign will point you right towards Aboriginal Rock Engravings. Take the short walk to see the thousands of years old engravings of fish, boomerangs and a kangaroo along the rocks.
Head back on the main track and continue to follow the signs towards Manly. You now enter Dobroyd Head and the walk takes you through scenic bushland with great views over the ocean. There are several lookouts along the track here from where you see Crater Cove and the remains of old fishing shacks along the coast.
The track starts descending now and you can see Manly Wharf in the distance as you walk down through shrubland coming onto Reef Beach.
Forty Baskets Beach
From Reef Beach continue the trail towards Manly till you reach an intersection offering s detour for high tide times. In that case you will need to head up away from the water and head down Beatty Street. You can rejoin the main track by taking a right towards the Forty Baskets Beach.
During low tide you can simply continue along the Forty Baskets Track till you reach the Forty Baskets Beach. A beach, a large park, lots of picnic benches and water/ toilet facilities are available here.
North Harbour Reserve
From the Forty Baskets Beach, head along the main track as it moves uphill on Gourlay Ave. Continue following the signs towards Manly which will bring you to the North Harbour Reserve, a large park area overlooking the water. There are lots of benches here to take a break.
From North Harbour Reserve, take the stairs upto King Ave onto Lauderdale Ave and then down towards N Harbour Walk as it again brings you back closer to the water. From Lauderdale Ave you will be able to see a paved path winding through a grassy area that will become the Fairlight Walk.
There are signposts at every intersection to guide you towards Manly.
The Fairlight Walk stretches all the way to Manly wharf. It’s a beautiful section lined with gorgeous houses on one side and the ocean on the other.
You will come across the Fairlight Beach along the way. The tidal swimming pool here is a great spot to stop for a dip.
The walk crosses the Manly Cove Beach and ends at Manly wharf. The Manly Corso, a pedestrian mall stretches out opposite Manly wharf and leads you to Manly Beach. This whole area is delightful and worth exploring especially on weekends when there are pop up markets to enjoy.
Have you walked the Spit Manly track in Sydney? What was your favourite part about the track? Let me know in the comments below.
Are you planning to visit Sydney and thinking of walking this track? Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions.
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