Already known worldwide as one of the best harbours to visit, Sydney Harbour offers so much more than just climbing the bridge, swimming its beaches or catching a show and a drink at the Opera House.
Whether you own your own boat or wish to charter, taking a yacht out onto Sydney Harbour can take you far away from the crowd or deep into its cosmopolitan heart for truly iconic Sydney experiences. We partnered with Expedia.com.au to showcase our top seven spots to go sailing on Sydney Harbour.
1. Want to be in the hub of it all? Lets start with Darling Harbour.
There are two wharves you can tie up to here: the Maritime Museum or the Aquarium. Both destinations provide access to those fantastic tourist spots or you can walk through the food and shopping hubs that are King Street and Darling Harbour precinct. For a great leg-stretching stroll , head back to the harbour and walk around the new gardens of Barangaroo.
My tip: visit the Australian National Maritime Museum and take a deep dive into Australia's rich maritime history.
2. Love your ocean racing? Check out the starting point of the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
One excellent initiative implemented by Roads and Maritime Services New South Wales is to set up marinas with free berths for yachts. What better way to have a short stopover than at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia? Take a wander up and down the marinas and drool over some of the latest and fastest ocean-racing yachts in the world as they get primed for the annual Boxing Day epic to the Tasmanian capital. Check out the memorabilia all along its walls and enjoy excellent food and drink from the bar.
My tip: be there when one of the twilight races are on and either join a crew or just join in the celebrations afterwards. Contact the CYC Sailing Office here.
3. Time to chill. Take a break at the zoo.
Head out north across to the other side of the harbour and grab one of the moorings available in Athol Bay. There are five that can be used for four hours. This is the spot to relax, lie back in the peace and quiet surrounded by bush, while you look back down the harbour to one of the best views of Sydney's CBD. On quiet days you will even hear all the animal noises drifting down from the Taronga Zoo up the hill.
My tip: get there an hour before sunset and have your camera ready.
4. You want seafood? Time to go to Watto.
Further east towards the Sydney Heads on the south side is Watson's Bay. There is a mooring available or tie up quickly to the wharf and send some runners off to buy fish and chips from the famed Doyle's Restaurant and some liquid refreshment from the iconic Watson's Bay Hotel.
My tip: once on the mooring it is a very rejuvenating swim to shore.
5. The world knows Bondi Beach, the locals go to Manly.
We move into an Aquatic Reserve here so there are speed restrictions to help protect wildlife, especially a struggling Fairy Penguin colony. But still plenty to do. Head up into the northern reaches of Manly Harbour and the Boatshed has one of those free berths for yachts with all the facilities. There are four moorings available over on the eastern side of the harbour. Manly has plenty of eating and drinking establishments but mostly it is a great spot to walk along the Corso to the surf beach on the ocean side of the city.
My tip: after your body surf head back south towards North Head where you can anchor in peaceful Quarantine Bay on three available moorings, sometimes you can hear the penguins calling and see their heads pop out of the water. Magic.
6. Less than 10 miles from worry
Middle Harbour is definitely one of Sydney's lesser known cruising destinations, which is a good thing. Check out the Spit Bridge opening times and head on through to Bantry Bay. This is where you will find all the canny locals. During both wars it was the explosives storing site so the bay is totally surrounded by expansive bush. There are eight mooring buoys, which highlights how popular it can be! A little jetty is good to tie up to and use its toilet facilities.
My tip: take a fishing line and fire up the barbie, guaranteed.
7. Indulge yourself: BnB on sea
If sailing around Sydney Harbour was not enough indulgence in itself then how about this for an idea? Some of the charter companies offer a night alone all catered for. Sydney by Sail, for example, has a package whereby they sail one of their yachts to a quiet, safe anchorage past all the Sydney icons. The crew then disembark on a runabout and leave you all alone with your seafood dinner to spend the night under the stars and above the lapping waters. In the morning (at a reasonable hour!) the crew return with a sumptuous Euro-style breakfast and sail the boat back to the marina for you. Leave at 4pm, back by 10am.
My tip: go for the Platinum package and get an upgraded larger yacht.
... and we haven't even talked about Pittwater!
- First thing to do is obtain relevant harbour maps from NSW Roads and Maritime Services.
- RMS also has a boating destinations map online where you can find out all the services available from marinas around the harbour. Click on the Maritime tab.
- There are plenty of charter yacht companies dotted around Sydney Harbour. Here are some at locations mentioned in the story: Sydney by Sail, Eastsail and Flying Fish.