Spit bridge to Manly Walk, Sydney

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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.

Gorgeous views along the Spit Manly Walk

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. 

Spit to Manly Walk

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 to Manly Walk – Click to expand map (Map data © 2021 Google)

Spit Manly Walk: Key information

Total distance

10 kilometers.

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.

time required

 ~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
The views along the walk will make you stop for pictures every few minutes!
Spit to Manly Walk

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. 

Spit to Manly Walk
End the walk at Manly and enjoy Manly Beach!

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.

Stairs leading to the starting point of the walk

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.

Spit to Manly Walk
Take the ferry back and enjoy the scenic views of Sydney Harbour!

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.

Spit to Manly Walk
The track takes you through several wooded areas

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.

Fairlight Beach with a tidal pool
Fairlight Beach with a tidal pool
It’ll be hard to pick your favourite beach along this track!

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.

Spit to Manly Walk

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

Spit Bridge

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.

Spit Bridge opening

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.

Spit to Manly Walk

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.

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.

Spit to Manly Walk
Clontarf Beach

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.

Spit to Manly Walk

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.

Spit to Manly Walk

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.

Castle Rock Beach
Castle Rock Beach

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.

Dobroyd Head

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.

At Dobroyd Head
At Dobroyd Head

Reef Beach

Spit to manly walk

The track starts descending now and you can see Manly Wharf in the distance as you walk down through shrubland coming onto Reef Beach.

At Reef Beach
At 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.

Forty Baskets Beach
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.

North Harbour Reserve
North Harbour Reserve

Fairlight Walk

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.

Fairlight Walk along the Spit Manly Walk
Fairlight Walk
Spit to Manly 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.

Manly Wharf

Manly wharf - the last point on the Spit Manly walk
Manly Wharf

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.

Manly Beach
Manly Beach

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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11 Comments

  1. Wow!! This looks like an absolutely delightful way to spend a day. Perfect for getting some exercise, but easy enough that the whole family can do it. I love how many beaches there are – Castle Rock Beach looks particularly beautiful. And it’s great that you can either walk the whole thing or drive or take public transportation – anyone can make it work.

    Reply
  2. I love that there’s such a beautiful nature walk so close to Sydney city. To be able to escape the hustle and bustle without having to do a full weekend away is amazing. I also like that you can do shorter sections of the walk and utilise the ferry or buses to get you back to your starting point.

    Reply
  3. Such stunning pictures as I scrolled down, was regretting why I didn’t make it to this place before the pandemic struck. The beaches, the lighthouse, I like the concise way you have shared points about each of the sights. Made an easy read.

    Reply
  4. I’ve never been to Sydney but will absolutely be making a note to explore The Spit and Manly when I do make it there! I LOVE long beach walks, and it’s just incredible that so many of these views look like they’re in unspoiled wilderness. The fact that you could do this walk one afternoon, take some amazing photos like you’ve done, and be back in the heart of Sydney for dinner is amazing!

    Reply
  5. We had a busy week on our last stay in Sydney. But it would be nice on a return trip to plan some time for a leisurely walk from the Spit Bridge to Manly. With those views we would indeed forget that a big city is close by. A 10km walk is the perfect walk for some exercise too! We would definitely walk to Manly since on our last visit we found many places to eat when we visited Manly. It might take us far longer than 3.5 hours with all the stops I know we would make.

    Reply
  6. Oh wow, your pictures are all so beautiful. This is a walk that I will definitely be adding to my bucket list. I could picture myself in all of your pictures, however, there was something in particular about Castle Rock Beach that just hit home. I NEED to sit on those rocks and look out over the water!!! Thank you for sharing all the tips. I wouldn’t have known to look into high tide and the fact that it would limit what we could see if I hadn’t read this first.

    Reply
  7. the place looks absolutely magical! I would very much enjoy my time there!

    Reply
  8. That walk is beyond amazing! I know it would take me all day because I would have to stop and take a ton of pictures. It is really wonderful how it is a nature walk, but so close to the city. This would be a perfect day trip to do with my husband.

    Reply
  9. Wow, the pictures are beautiful!! A trip to Spit Bridge to Manly Walk would be worth it just to see the water alone. The colour of the water in Sydney is so much more vibrant than what we see in our lakes and rivers in Ontario.

    Reply
  10. What a beautiful walk – hard to believe it’s right beside a major city! Those views are amazing.

    Reply
  11. There’s so much to see on this walk! It looks awesome. I also love how you can stop at the beaches in the middle of the walk. That’s so different to here in London or in Switzerland, where I grew up.

    Reply

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About me

Gruezi, Hi! My name is Smita, a part-time traveller and a travel writer. So far I’ve been what you might call a serendipitous traveller! I got a chance to visit several amazing places more by chance than by design. I would love to put all my extensive travel planning to good use by sharing it with you and hope that these inspire you to visit all those famous, and not-so-famous locations! Read More

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