17 Best Things to Do in Palm Beach, Sydney

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Palm Beach, or ‘Palmy’ as the locals call it, sits on a peninsula at the northern end of Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Surrounded by water on three sides, its location is unbeatable: Pittwater to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, and Broken Bay to the north.

Celebrities like Nicole Kidman, the Olsen twins and Chris Hemsworth have often been sighted here.

The beach stretches for 2.3 km and is home to the set of Home and Away and Barrenjoey Lighthouse.

The village was named after cabbage tree palms, Livistona australis, because they grew in large numbers in the area. You can see remnants at Hordern Park.

Whether you like great food, walking, enjoying spectacular views, swimming or surfing, Palm Beach is a great place to spend a day.

This town is easy to get to—a short ferry ride from Ettalong Beach or a direct bus trip from Sydney.

You can also get here on a scenic flight by seaplane from Sydney. 

17 Best Things to Do in Palm Beach

1. Northern Beaches and Ku-ring-gai National Park Tour

View of Palm Beach from West Head

If you have limited time in Australia, or if you'd like to join an organised tour, consider Northern Beaches and Ku-ring-gai National Park Tour.

You'll visit top beaches and lookouts and Aboriginal rock carvings, sites that you'd otherwise have missed.  

In Palm Beach, the tour will take you to Home and Away filming locations like Summer Bay Surf Club and Alf's Bait Shop. You'll also see the town's many mansions. 

The tour is captivating because the guide shares insider facts about the local area. 

They'll pick you up at your accommodation in Sydney and drop you off at Manly at the end of the day, where you'll take the scenic Manly Ferry back to Sydney. 

They organise everything for you so you can relax and enjoy the day. 

Click here to book a Northern Beaches and Ku-ring-gai National Park tour.

2. Home and Away - Summer Bay

Palm Beach is where they film the outdoors scenes at Summer Bay in Home and Away.

If you’re a fan of Home and Away, you can explore the locations where many of the episodes are filmed.

You can also join the official tour.

The chance of seeing the filming in action or meeting a star is very high, depending on the day of the week you go.

Tip: Filming is very likely on Mondays and Tuesdays!

They'll pick you up in Sydney by coach and will drop you off in Manly at the end of the day where you can take the scenic Manly Ferry back to Sydney. 

Click here to book the official Home and Away tour to Summer Bay.

3. Barrenjoey Lighthouse

Palm Beach Lighthouse

Barrenjoey lighthouse was built in 1881 and is an iconic attraction here. 

It sits on top of Barrenjoey Headland in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

The hike up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse takes about 30 minutes each way. The views from up there are amazing and are well worth the hike. 

You can see the Pacific Ocean to the east, Broken Bay to the north and Pittwater and Hawkesbury River to the west. And the views over Palm Beach are magnificent. 

The walk starts at the northern end of Station Beach.

There are two tracks. The Access Trail is 800 metres long and easier. The Smugglers Track is 400 metres long and steeper. 

You can also tour the lighthouse on Sundays between 11 am – 3 pm.

4. Scenic Flight by Seaplane

Aerial view of Sydney Harbour Bridge

If you’re looking for a special present, consider a scenic flight by seaplane over Sydney Harbour and the Northern Beaches. 

Flights depart from Palm Beach or Rose Bay, Sydney. You’ll do a double orbit over the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and fly over Palm Beach. 

It’s a memorable experience. 

5. Surfing Lessons

Swimming lessons in Palm Beach

The southern end of Palm Beach is one of the best spots around Sydney to learn to surf. This end of the beach is sheltered, calm and provides constant gentle waves.

That’s why it’s been named ‘Kiddies Corner’.  

If you’d like to take surfing lessons, check out Manly Surf School online, or look for the Manly Surf School van with the trailer at the beach. 

The instructors are very professional and qualified. 

6. Walking through beaches and parklands

Palm Beach view from Barrenjoey Headland

If you like walking, I recommend you walk from the west side of the village near the ferry wharf to Barrenjoey Lighthouse. Stop at the Boathouse Palm Beach for brunch mid-way. 

Then continue walking through Governor Phillip Park and along the beach toward the southern end. Visit Home and Away filming locations along the way. 

Once you arrive at the southern end, have a dip or a surfing lesson. 

Then take the bus back. Or if you have energy left, walk back to Pittwater side from Hordern Park through Stairway to Heaven. There are lots of stairs, but the views are fabulous.

7. Swimming and Surfing

Kiddies Corner

The southern end of the beach, Kiddies Corner, is the most popular and safest spot to surf and swim. The waves are gentle - perfect for learning to surf.

The beach is patrolled during the warmer months. 

You can also swim in the 50-metre ocean pool and enjoy views of Barrenjoey Lighthouse in the distance. Such a beautiful place. 

More experienced surfers will enjoy the centre and northern parts of the beach. 

You can hire boards at Beach Without Sand. 

Kiddies Corner is located at the southern end of Ocean Road. 

8. The Boathouse Palm Beach

The Boathouse

The Boathouse Palm Beach is a great place to have brunch.

Everything is delicious, from burgers to fish and chips to avocado and goat cheese on toast. 

There are seats inside, but the best place to sit is out on the timber deck overlooking Pittwater. The views of Pittwater from the deck are lovely. 

The restaurant is near the walk that leads to the lighthouse. Hike there after your brunch for spectacular views. 

No need to book ahead, just turn up. Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Tip: If you’re a fan of Home and Away, Alf’s Bait Shop is in the same building. 

Located in Governor Phillip Park.

9. The Boathouse Home

The Boathouse Home

If you like shopping, do not miss The Boathouse Home. It's a homeware store with aesthetically pleasing beach decor that makes Instagram-worthy photos. 

The place is brimming with beautiful furniture and decorative pieces.

Located 1 Beach Road.

10. Whale Watching

Humpback Whale

More than 30 thousand Humpback whales head north from May to August towards warmer waters to mate and give birth. Then they return south from September to November with their calves to feed in Antarctic waters. 

The absolute best time to spot them is from mid-June to mid-July. 

Walk up Barrenjoey Headland with your binoculars and find a comfortable spot near the lighthouse. It’s the best place to spot whales. 

If you prefer to go on a tour and get close to pods of whales, book a tour with Fantasea Cruising.

11. Ferry Ride to Ettalong

Palm Beach Ferry view from Barrenjoey Headland

Ettalong Beach is a quiet village on Brisbane Water on the Central Coast.

Enjoy the calm beach, the markets and grab a coffee and food at The Box on the Water. 

It’s a great place to go with kids because the water at the beach is shallow and there’s a little playground.

The ferry departs several times a day. The ferry ride lasts 30 minutes and scoots you across Pittwater, Broken Bay and Brisbane Water. 

Sit outside on the deck and enjoy looking at stunning beaches, rugged coastlines and lush bush as far as the eyes can see. Find out more...

12. Ferry Ride to Patonga Beach

Palm Beach and Hawkesbury River Cruises arriving at Patonga

Patonga Beach is an isolated village on the Hawkesbury River on the Central Coast.

The place is popular for its pub overlooking the ocean and the simple campground beside the creek. 

You could also keep on cruising further to Cottage Point Inn restaurant for fine dining or all the way to Bobbin Head. 

Enjoy the magnificent views along the Hawkesbury River. 

In Patonga, enjoy a beer and lunch at the pub. Or a walk over the headland to Pearl Beach past the spectacular Warrah Lookout.

The ferry departs from Palm Beach late morning and returns mid-afternoon. 

Check the timetable.

13. Ferry Ride to The Basin

The Basin is a very popular, secluded campground and picnic area in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. It’s a short ferry ride from Palm Beach.

You can camp overnight, swim at the beach, or bushwalk. 

If you’d like to camp, book here. There are great facilities like showers, toilets and barbecues. 

The place is safe for kids. The water is shallow in many parts and kids enjoy snorkelling. 

If you’d like to bushwalk, walk from The Basin to Mackerel Beach and take the ferry back to Palm Beach. Or follow The Basin Track to the Basin Dam and to the large rock surface scattered with Aboriginal engravings. 

The Basin makes for a great family day out. It’s a relaxing and picturesque place.

You may see wallabies hopping around and other wildlife.  

Check the ferry timetable

14. Walking from Palm Beach to Manly

Walking along Station Beach

The Palm Beach to Manly Walk is a 51-kilometre coastal walk that takes about 15 hours to complete.

You’ll get rewarding views along the way.

The walk begins from Barrenjoey Headland and ends at North Head in Manly for fabulous views of the harbour and Sydney's city skyline.

The walk is graded 3, suitable to most ages and fitness levels.

Do the whole walk in one day for the challenge or take your time and sleep overnight on the way.

You can come back by bus after the walk.

15. Whale Beach

If you're looking for a quieter beach away from the crowds, check out Whale Beach. It's a beautiful, clean 600-metre stretch of sand just south of Palm Beach. 

Lifeguards patrol the beach during the warmer months and there's a great surf break at the northern end. 

You can also swim in the awesome 25-metre rock pool at the southern end. 

Enjoy a great coffee and delicious food at Whale Beach Deli – an excellent little café. 

Getting there – better get there by car. There's plenty of parking (paid). Or take the city to Palm Beach bus and alight corner Barrenjoey Road and Surf Road. And walk along Surf Road for about 10 minutes (it's a narrow street without a sidewalk). Check the location on Google Map

16. Avalon Beach

Avalon Beach is another fabulous stretch of sand close by. 

The 500-metre beach is patrolled during the warmer months and there are great surfing breaks. You can also swim in the 25-metre rockpool at the southern end.

There’s a playground for children with some trees for shade.  

Plenty of boutiques, eateries and cafes are situated across the road. Avalon has a vibrant shopping precinct and a chilled vibe.

The village is fringed by the Pacific Ocean on one side and calm Pittwater on the other. 

Getting there - Easy to get to on the Palm Beach to city bus. There’s parking at the beach (paid). Check the location on Google Map

17. Pittwater Kayak Tours

Enjoy kayaking on Pittwater with a guide.

You'll paddle across Pittwater and bushwalk through Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park to a lookout. The views from the lookout are scenic. It overlooks Pittwater, Barrenjoey and Palm Beach.

You can also swim at a remote beach. 

The tour includes a light snack. 

It's a great experience and the scenery is spectacular. 

The tour departs from Iluka Park, 40 Iluka Rd. There are single and double kayaks, and it's suitable for children and beginners. 

Where to Stay in Palm Beach

Most visitors in Palm Beach stay in a holiday rental. You can search on a site like Stayz or Airbnb.

Haven’t used Airbnb before?

Use our unique Airbnb referral link and receive from $20 to $70 discount on your first stay.

The coupon amount depends on the total cost of your stay, which must be at least $400. (To get the max discount of $70, the total cost of your stay would have to be over $1,400.)

Click here to get your Airbnb coupon.

You just have to register with your name and email address, and your coupon will be automatically applied to your first booking.

These are fabulous places to stay in Palm Beach: 

(As an Airbnb Associate, I earn when you book through these links, at no cost to you.)

  • Palm Beach Central is an immaculate and beautifully presented guest house with comfortable beds. Enjoy staying in a perfect location at walking distance to cafes and shops and a short drive to the beach.
  • For an inexpensive but great place to stay, check out Luxury Home for Budget Price. It’s a relaxing guest suite and children will enjoy the games room with the pool table. 
  • Enjoy a stylish cottage for yourself overlooking Pittwater. Palma at Palm Beach is spotless and beautifully decorated. It's a great place to relax for a weekend.

Where to Eat in Palm Beach

There are great restaurants nearby. We love these ones below.

The Boathouse Palm Beach is a very popular place for breakfast and lunch. The outside deck overlooks Pittwater and the food is tasty. Love the burger and chips. Inside Governor Phillip Park. 

Dunes serve modern Australian food for breakfast and lunch in a casual coastal atmosphere. 1193 Barrenjoey Road - inside Governor Phillip Park. 

Barrenjoey House is a modern Australian restaurant that's been renovated and restored. The menu offers a lot of seafood choices and the flatbread is delicious. 1108 Barrenjoey Rd. 

The Greedy Goat is the place to go for a fabulous coffee. The small and cosy cafe serves excellent food at reasonable prices. 1031 Barrenjoey Rd. 

Palm Beach Fish and Chips is the place to go for tasty fish and chips. Take your meal to the beach and enjoy the beautiful Pittwater views. 1104 Barrenjoey Rd. 

How to Get to Palm Beach

Palm Beach is 45 kilometres north of Sydney, about one hour drive or less than two hours by bus from the city centre.

Buses frequently leave from Sydney via all of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Plan your trip with Trip Planner.

Parking here is expensive, so I recommend getting there by public transport. Or park for free along Barrenjoey Rd or Iluka Rd and walk from there or hop on a bus.

You can also get here on a scenic flight by seaplane from Rose Bay.

If you're coming from the Central Coast, the best way to get here is by ferry from Ettalong Beach.  

How to Get Around

Buses travel many times a day and they stop at multiple locations in the village. 

If you like exploring on foot, it's easy to walk around Palm Beach. 

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Hi! I'm Christine.

When we moved to the Central Coast from Sydney 15 years ago, we struggled to find thorough information about the beaches, bushwalks and hidden gems, so we set out to explore as best as we could. Now that we have visited every town, beach and secret spot, I'll help you discover this stunning region! 

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