1. Athol Bay
Situated out the front of Taronga Zoo, this may be the most popular spot on Sydney harbour to anchor and swim. A great spot to avoid the wind, there are a few public moorings and plenty of spots to lower your anchor. Facing the harbour bridge, it is, not surprisingly, a really popular spot on New Years’ Eve. You will need to get here a day or more before New Years’ Eve to reserve your spot. Any other day that’s blisteringly hot – Athol bay is waiting!
2. Balmoral Beach
This spot is popular by car, but it also makes a great spot to visit via boat. Quite busy any time of the week, Balmoral has a shark net set up for swimming. You can also visit nearby restaurants and local cafés.
3. Sirus Cove
What’s different about Sirus Cove? It doubles as a dog beach! Expect to see plenty of dogs around when visiting, so it’s a good opportunity to take your furry friends along. Also a nicely sheltered spot from the wind, it makes for a perfect spot to anchor and soak up the scenery.
4. Clifton Gardens
This spot will have you wondering if you’re still in Sydney! As you approach via boat, you’ll see glassy waters, a leafy green landscape, and a sandy beach with just a few buildings amongst it. Come down on the weekend and you will find other boats on anchor, or come during the week and you may be the only one. There is also a small coffee shop tucked away to one corner of the beach – to get all you coffee lovers through!
5. Manly Cove
This has to be our all-time favorite spot. Pull up to the right of the ferry wharf – drop an anchor and swim in. The vibe here is amazing, with a mix of families, couples, tourists and kids all sharing the amazing waterfront together. You can hire a paddleboard, or if you’re hungry there are plenty of options ashore for restaurants, fast food, convenience stores and bars. You’ll be the envy of on-lookers from the wharf bar as you soak up the atmosphere from your own boat, or float around on inflatable toys. Always be mindful to give way to the ferry, which comes regularly during the summer season.
6. Jump Rock
Another great spot, only minutes from Manly Cove and Quarantine Bay. There is a popular rock-face 10-15m high that, for safety’s sake, despite the name, you should NOT jump from. With a deep-water anchorage, a lot of bigger boats tend to linger here – whether it be having parties or just driving past.
7. Watsons Bay
Who doesn’t love fish & chips on the beach? Watson’s bay is home to the famous “Doyle’s” restaurant, which also serves take-away. Pull up to the public wharf to drop-off or pick-up passengers, but never tie up to it. Be mindful of the ferry, as you must always give way. There is also the Watson’s fishing club, which has over 100 years of history. There are plenty of old photos of sharks and large game fish shackled up to the weighbridge in the 1950’s to 1970’s at Watsons Bay. The fishing club wharf can only be used by members, so keep this in mind when in the area. Depending on the time of day you arrive, it’s possible you may see them weighing a fish after a competition.
8. The Spit
Middle Harbour Yacht Club is a great place to stop for lunch or dinner, if you’re in the area. The bistro overlooks the marina, so it provides for quite a spectacular view of the boats and golden sand. There are a couple of public moorings available, and you can ring the MHYC tender service to pick you up if you’re dining. Occasionally if you ring they can provide a temporary berth while you eat. Call the club, on (02) 9969 1244 to arrange it with them directly.
9. Quarantine Bay
The Quarantine Station may have been a sinister place in Sydney’s early days, but now it is quite magnificent to visit. Ghost tours through the station are offered at night time, but during the day it’s all golden beaches and gleaming water. It’s protected in the bay, so another great spot to anchor and swim.