The Manly to Spit Walk is one of the best Sydney coastal walks for a quick escape from the city. The trail from Manly Beach to Spit Bridge follows the coastline through rugged bush, into deep bays and onto high cliffs – offering several stunning viewpoints along the way. Traversing through dense forest and past ancient Aboriginal carvings, the Manly coastal walk is not only scenic, but historic, too. Well-connected by public transport, it’s one of the easiest bush walks in Sydney to access – making the Manly to Spit Bridge Walk highly favorable to both locals and tourists.
Ranking as one of our favorite walks around Sydney, we are sharing our first-hand knowledge to help other adventurers enjoy the scenic walkway. Below, we include specifics of the Manly to Spit Coastal Walk and explain each section in detail. You will also find answers to the most common questions – like how to get to Manly Beach, the Manly to Spit Walk Distance and the Spit Bridge opening times. Additionally, we have included a helpful (and handy!) Manly to Spit Walk Map.
Manly to Spit Walk Details
Before you set off on the Manly walk to Spit Bridge, you probably have a few questions. Don’t worry – we include all the pertinent details below!
How long is the Manly to Spit Walk
The entire length of the Manly Beach walk to Spit Bridge is about 10km (6.2 miles) one way. Therefore, the roundtrip Manly-to-Spit-to-Manly walk distance is 20km (12.4 miles). Because it is possible to access the Manly walking tracks at several points (even with public transport), it is possible to shorten the length of the walk to whatever you desire. However, if possible, we recommend completing the entire walk one way.
Manly to Spit Walk Time
The Manly to Spit Bridge scenic walk can be completed in about 3 to 5 hours one way. Of course, how long it takes depends on your pace, how many detours you take and how often you stop. Although we took a few side trails, stopped for a picnic lunch and paused for several photo ops, we finished the trek in a little over 4 hours.
Manly to Spit Difficulty Level
The Manly to Spit Bridge trail is easy-to-moderate and suitable for most walkers. The scenic walkway does have stairs, incline/decline and varied path types (paved, dirt, wooden path and sand beach).
How to get to the Manly to Spit Bridge Coastal Walk
Both Spit Bridge and Manly are easily accessible by public transportation. If starting the trek in Manly, the best transportation option from Sydney is the ferry, although there is a bus to Manly as well. To get from Central Station to Manly, the route includes a train and a bus or a train and a ferry. If beginning the walk at Spit Bridge, it is best accessed by public bus. There is a bus from both Sydney and Manly to Spit Bridge.
Self-Drive to the Spit to Manly Walk
Although it is possible to drive to the Spit to Manly coastal walk, we don’t recommend it unless you plan on walking roundtrip. In Manly, there are multiple parking lots. There is a Spit Bridge to Manly Walk parking lot that can be found south of Spit Bridge on the west side of the street.
Manly to Spit Bridge Walk Map
Use this Google Maps link for an online Manly to Spit Bridge Coastal Walk map.
Manly Walk to Spit Bridge
The Spit Bridge walk from Manly is one of the top walks to do in Sydney, Australia. Although close to the city, the trek winds through lush nature, secluded coves and scenic viewpoints. Outlined below are the details of the different sections of the Manly Beach to Spit Bridge trek.
Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia
Manly Beach is often touted as the best beach in Sydney, Australia. The long stretch of beach is popular with surfers, beach walkers and sunbathers. In addition to being the starting point of the coastal walk in Manly, the beach town attracts numerous visitors with a plethora of restaurants, pubs and shops. Spend a little time in the town before heading out on your Manly hike to Spit. Find out more about the top things to do and what to see in Manly on TripAdvisor. Use this link to Google Maps for a Manly Beach Map.
Getting to Manly Beach
You can reach Manly from Sydney by car, bus or ferry boat. Our preferred method of traveling between the two destinations is taking the ferry, as it is a wonderful way to see the Sydney Harbor.
- Directions to Manly via Public Transport: You can find info on how to get to Manly from Sydney using Google Maps or the New South Wales Transport website. For Manly Beach directions, use this Google Maps link to a Manly map to find the best route from your location. For public transportation options, use this Trip Planner link (which includes the Manly ferry map and information).
- How to get to Manly Beach by Ferry? There are two types of ferries that transport passengers between Sydney and Manly: Commuter Ferries and Fast Ferries. You can find timetables and fare information for the Commuter Ferries on the NSW Transport website. For Fast Ferry information, visit the Manly Fast Ferry website.
- How long does the Manly Ferry take? Commuter ferries between Circular Quay and Manly Wharf take about 30 minutes, while the Fast Ferries between the two destinations takes about 18 minutes.
- How far is Manly from Sydney? Manly Beach is about 15km (9.3 miles) from the Sydney CBD.
Manly to Spit Walk Start
Begin the walk from Manly to Spit Bridge at the Manly Wharf. (Use this link for the starting point on a Manly Sydney Map.) From the wharf, Manly Beach walking tracks, called Fairlight Walk, lead west past Manly Cove on a paved sidewalk to the heritage-listed Manly Pavilion.
Manly to North Harbour Reserve
Just past Manly Pavilion is a rocky outcrop called Federation Point – and a great spot to take in the harbor views. Continue on Fairlight Walk – keeping an eye out for the penguins that frequent the area – past Delwood Beach to Fairlight Beach. There is a tidal pool, bathrooms and a water fountain at Fairlight Beach.
Keep following the path of the Manly Beach coastal walk along the rugged shoreline and past the residential houses toward the Manly Boathouse. The trail leaves the coastline, crosses a street (at a dead end) and picks up on North Harbour Walk. The path veers away from the coastline and joins a road, Lauderdale Avenue. To continue on the route, walkers need to take a short jaunt through a neighborhood following these simple directions: Walk west on Lauderdale to King Avenue. Turn left (south) and follow the street as it hooks right (west) until it ends. At the end of King, turn right (south) and look for the path and blue sign pointing in the direction of Spit Bridge. Follow the sidewalk into North Harbour Reserve. Or use this link for a map of the route.
North Harbour Reserve to Dobroyd Head
At the south end of North Harbour Reserve, the trail again deviates from the coastline and into a neighborhood. Use these directions: Take the stairs up to North Harbour Street and walk south toward Clarence Street. The street hooks right, but on the left, there is a footpath between two houses. Take the footpath on the left (leading east) and emerge on Gourlay Avenue. Turn left (north) on Gourlay and walk toward the marina. Find the path just south of the marina and follow it to Forty Baskets Beach. Or use this link for a map of the route.
As long as there is coastline (and not an extremely high tide), stick to the coastline on what is now called Forty Baskets Track. This section is not a path, as much as it is a walk along the sandy beach and rocky shoreline. Walk along the coast until you find the path that enters the bush and walk to Reef Beach. From Reef Beach, the trail navigates through bush to the Dobroyd Head Lookout.
Dobroyd Head Lookout to Grotto Point Lighthouse
From the Dobroyd Head Lookout, jump back on the trail and continue on the Manly-Spit walk route through the bush. Although the area was recently burned (a controlled burn), you will likely see animals here; we have spotted brush turkeys, blue-tongue lizards and ring-tail possums. Bypass the detours to Crater Cove and Arabanoo Lookout. Soon after the trail changes from dirt to boardwalk, you will arrive at Crater Cove Lookout.
From Crater Cove, the path switches between boardwalk, dirt and stone. Look for a narrow path that leads to large rocks just off the main path; detour onto the rocks then navigate to lower rocks where there are outstanding views of the Sydney skyline. Return to the path that eventually leads into a shaded forest with inclines/declines and stairs.
After entering the forest, you will eventually see a small signpost and trail leading to your left (south, toward the water). Turn onto it to find historic Aboriginal stone carvings. Retrace your steps to the main trail and continue just a short distance to a second detour on your left – this one leads to Grotto Point Lighthouse and Cliff View. While this track is more rugged and less-visited, we only recommend taking the detour if you are interested in seeing the lighthouse and have both the time and energy.
Grotto Point Lighthouse to Spit Bridge
From Grotto Point Lighthouse (or Grotto Point Lighthouse junction), continue on the Manly to Spit Walk route through the forest toward Castle Rock. Unless you are eager to see Castle Rock Beach (and willing to hike the stairs down – and up – to see it), we recommend skipping the detour to the beach. Instead, stay on the path and follow it around Clontarf Point, where you will likely need to detour into a neighborhood to avoid getting wet. (However, if the tide is low, just keep walking!). For the detour, use these directions: Take the path between houses onto Monash Cres; turn left and walk to Clontarf Reserve where you can get back on the coast. Or use this link for a map of the route.
On the north side of Clontarf Reserve is a sea pool and toilets. Follow the sidewalk from the reserve to Sandy Bay, passing Clontarf Marina on the way. The track continues along the shoreline, past a beach and around a point. Walk along the trail as it enters a forested area. Pass the moored sailboats (and one ancient houseboat) as you walk into Shell Cove. From the cove, it’s a short walk along the shore to the bridge where the manly Beach to Spit Bridge walk ends. If catching a bus back to the city, cross the bridge and find the bus stop just to the south – check bus times on NSW Trip Planner website.
Although the Spit Bridge in Sydney isn’t particularly picturesque, it has considerable historical significance. Built in 1958 to connect Sydney to the Northern Beaches suburbs, it is the only bridge of its kind (Lift Bridge) left in the region. Being on a major thoroughfare, the opening of the bridge for water vessels causes havoc for vehicular traffic. Therefore, there are few – and precise – times when the bridge opens. Spit Bridge Sydney map via Google Maps.
Spit Bridge Opening Times
During the work week, Spit Bridge opening times are limited to the following: 10:15am, 11:15am, 1:15pm, 2:15pm, 8:15pm – and 9:15pm during daylight savings. On weekends, the bridge is open at 8:30am, 10:00am, 11:30am, 2:30pm, 6:30pm, 8:30pm an 9:30pm. For more information, go to the official NSW transport website.
Spit to Manly: Walking the Reverse Direction
Use this Google Maps link for a Spit to Manly Walk map.
We have outlined the walking route from Manly to Spit Bridge, which is ideal for Manly residents and visitors staying in Manly Beach. However, making the trek in the reverse direction – from Spit Bridge to Manly – might work better for people who are based in central Sydney. What we like about making the Spit Bridge to Manly coastal walk is that we end in Manly Beach, where we can celebrate our 10km walk with something to eat, a cold drink (4 Pines Brewery for a pint is highly recommended!) or with a dip in the sea. Additionally, the ferry ride from Manly Beach back to Sydney is spectacular in the afternoon light – especially at sunset. To complete the Spit to Manly route, start at the Spit Bridge and simply reverse our above instructions.
How to get to Spit Bridge
From Sydney, take the bus to Spit Bridge (#180 or #188 are convenient to the Sydney CBD, but check NSW Trip Planner for the best route from your location). From Manly (so you can walk the route and end at the beach), take bus #144.
How to get from Manly to Sydney
As mentioned before, the best way to get between Manly and Sydney is via ferry. There are two types of ferries that transport passengers between Sydney and Manly: Commuter Ferries and Fast Ferries. You can find timetables and fare information for the Commuter Ferries on the NSW Transport website. For Fast Ferry information, visit the Manly Fast Ferry website.
Other Sydney Coastal Walks
Looking for other scenic walks in Sydney? There are multiple options for nice walks in Sydney – from Sydney beach walks to coastline trails to day trips to the Blue Mountains. Below are a few of our top picks for Best Scenic Walks Sydney.
Bondi to Coogee
The Bondi to Coogee Walk is one of the great walks in Sydney that every visitor should do at least once! Find out everything you need to know about this walk in our Bondi to Coogee Walk post.
It’s a short walk around Watsons Bay to the iconic Hornby Lighthouse and scenic viewpoints on Gap Bluff.
Shelly Beach to Manly Headland Walk
One of the other popular walks from Manly is the Shelly Beach track to North Head. The Manly walking trails on the headland lead to several scenic viewpoints.
Sydney Harbour Walks
A walk along the Sydney Harbour includes numerous iconic sights – like the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Use this link to a map of our Sydney Harbour Walk.
Sydney Walking Tour
Want to see more of Sydney? Use our detailed guide for an at-your-own-pace Sydney Walking Tour.
Blue Mountains Day Trips
Head out of the city for a day of nature in the Blue Mountains. Read our guide on planning a perfect Blue Mountains Day Trip.
Sydney National Park Walks
Find info on the top 5 National Parks treks around Sydney on the official National Parks website.
Essentials for the Manly to Spit Walk
- Don’t forget the basics! You will need comfortable walking shoes, a refillable water bottle, high SPF sunscreen and/or a wide-brimmed hat.
- If you are anything like us, you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your walk! For high-quality photos, bring an actual camera (rather than just your mobile phone). We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- If you are visiting Sydney, it’s a good idea to have a guidebook for your trip.
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
We want to know: Have you completed the Manly to Spit Bridge Walk? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
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