If you’re visiting Sydney and watching the sunset while standing out on the sand, then you must be standing on Shelly Beach—the only westward facing beach on Australia’s eastern coast.
Located south of popular Manly, Shelly Beach is a smaller and quieter place to soak up some sun. The waters here in Cabbage Tree Bay are part of a protected reserve, where a small reef creates calm conditions for snorkeling, swimming, and diving. Over 150 species of marine life inhabit Cabbage Tree Bay—and the shallow waters of 30 feet or less means there’s actually a good chance of finding them.
On Shelley’s western end, out towards the reef, watch as surfers rip apart waves at the surf spot known as “Bower’s,” and even when the waves are overhead, Shelley Beach is still protected when compared to east-facing Manly. On the short stroll from Manly to Shelly, stop to admire the Fairy Bower pool that juts out into the sea, or grab a bite at Le Kiosk restaurant across the street from the sand. Above the beach, on the rocky headland, a small bush trail leads to a viewpoint gazing back towards Manly, where the pine-lined shore and golden sands combine to form one of Sydney’s most classic coastal scenes.
From Manly Beach, a coastal walking path leads 15-minutes south to Shelly Beach. There are showers, restrooms, electric grills, and parking, and the beach can often be popular on weekends with throngs of local families.