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Top Tips for Kayaking Sydney

Sydney Harbour is often synonymous with the stunning sights of Circular Quay. While the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge are well worth a visit, did you know that Sydney Harbour extends beyond these monuments?

Sydney Opera House

There's more to Sydney than the iconic Opera House!

As one of the world's most beautiful natural harbours, Sydney Harbour itself extends far beyond the famous bridge. One of the best ways to explore the stunning waterways, hidden beaches and iconic national parks of Sydney is directly from the water.

Read the ultimate guide to exploring Sydney by kayak

We have put together the ultimate guide to exploring Sydney by kayak. From our top places to visit, to how much you can expect to pay if you choose to hire and what will need to take with you on the day!

Get inspired to hit the water, have a mini adventure and explore some hidden gems.

How Much is Kayaking in Sydney?

Hiring is a great cost effective way to try kayaking. You can expect to pay around $25 to hire a single kayak for an hour, and anything from $45 for double kayaks.

If you are not confident hitting the water solo, there are plenty of companies offering kayak tours of the best places to visit. Look for a kayak tour that runs for around four hours in order to get a full experience of Sydney Harbour.

Most hire companies use sit-on-top kayaks 

You may well fall in love with kayaking once you hit the waters of Sydney Harbour, that's certainly how many Bay Sports customers first get into the sport! Most hire companies around Sydney use sit-on-top kayaks as their hire vessels as these are the best boats for first timers.

Sit op top kayak
Sit on top kayaks are great for exploring Sydney by kayak

They are stable, comfortable and easy to care for. If you are looking to invest in a yak of your own, why not explore our range of sit-on-top single and double kayaks.

Where to Kayak in Sydney

Sydney is blessed with waterways aplenty, which means there's no shortage of sweet spots to get onto the water. As local kayakers, the Bay Sports crew think these are the best places to paddle from Sydney!

Kayak Manly

Best For: A bit of everything

Top Tip: Parking in Manly can be tough in summer, head over in the quieter months with your kayak (March-September) or check out kayak hire at Manly Kayak Centre

Hop on the iconic Manly Ferry from Circular Quay and you will find yourself in one of the top spots to kayak in Sydney in under half an hour. A short walk from the ferry terminal and you will find Manly Kayak Centre, one of Australia's longest running kayak hire and watersports activity centres.

Kayak Manly Wharf

Jump on the Manly Ferry and explore local gems 

If you're looking for a mix of recreational kayaking and stunning scenary, the cruisey paddle from Manly Wharf into North Harbour National Park is perfect.

Explore local favourites

Kayak through the moored boats (and not across the Manly Ferry path!) and follow course around to Little Manly Beach, a local favourite. Enjoy a coffee at the friendly Little Manly Kiosk before bouncing around to Collins Beach for some maxin' relaxin' in the sun.

Taking the Air Glide Double Kayak for a spin at launching from Little Manly 

Cruise in your kayaks along the Store Beach foreshore to neighbouring Q-Station. Q Station (short for Quarantine Station) is a historic station used back in the 1800's to isolate people suspected to be carrying diseases such as Spanish Influenza from entering Australia.

Top off a beautiful and informative morning paddle by heading back to Manly Wharf, and indulging in a top notch pizza from Hugo's Restaurant. (Hot tip: Try to snag an outdoor table overhanging the water for the ultimate setting to top off your day).

Explore Pittwater

Best For: Cruisey longer distance paddling

Top Tip: Great water access means you can load up your gear. Pack for a multi-day trip and camp out at The Basin

Yes, it may feel like the end of the earth to get to from the centre of Sydney, but by golly gosh it's well worth it. You feel as though you've truly left the hustle and bustle of the city and entered a slice of paradise. With palm trees, sandy beaches and a plethora of boats, kayaks and jet skis, there are many spots to launch a kayak.

Kayak to a secluded paradise

Our favourite spot is to drive up Snapperman Lane (just off Barrenjoey Rd). You can drive right onto the beach to unload your gear, then find an all-day park nearby (here is link to the boat ramp launch point).

Once you hit the water, paddle across to Great Mackerel Beach, a secluded paradise only accessible by foot or sea. If you're after an overnight adventure, paddle across to The Basin camping ground where you can see native wildlife.

                     Pittwater Palm Beach Mackeral Beach Kayaking  View from West Head Beach looking across to Palm Beach headland 

Visit Nepean River

Best For: Stunning scenary

Top Tip: Plan, plan, plan! Great spot for novice touring kayakers to get their feet wet experiencing planning a longer trip

In the foothills of the Blue Mountain National Park, and about a 1-hour drive from Sydney's CBD, runs the Nepean River. This 100 kilometre river is a kayaker's dream. From rugged sandstone cliffs of the Blue Mountains and into the flood plain at Penrith.

Great spot for touring kayakers

The mesmerising colours of the Hawkesbury sandstone cliffs at sunrise and sunset are a real beauty, as is the variety and abundance of birdlife. This spot is perfect for novices and touring kayaks, with plenty of distance to cover you can work up a real sweat! And hunger... head over to Cafe at Lewers for a delicious lunch right on the banks of the river. We think it's a beautiful place and well worth the drive. 

Nepean River Kayaking PenrithNepean River at sunset is well worth the drive

Middle Harbour

Best For: Hidden beaches

Top Tip: Pack plenty of sunscreen and water! So much to see you could find yourself on the water for hours

Sydneysiders might be familiar with the ancient rocky coastline of Middle Harbour by foot on the iconic Spit to Manly walk but seeing this part of the inner harbour from the water is another experience entirely. If you have your own boat, Balmoral is an easy launch with free parking so you can get from your car to the water with ease. If you are loading up your kayak for a day of exploring, why not invest in a kayak trolley to save yourself multiple trips from the car to the water.

Check out our guide on How to use a Kayak Trolley for top tips before you buy

If you are yet to take the plunge and invest in an adventure-mobile of your very own, Sydney Harbour Kayaks are the local hire company. We recommend checking out SHK's Eco Tour. Don't let the early start put you off! The 8.30am launch means you’ll glide over glassy blue waters as you paddle under Spit Bridge and towards the beaches of Garigal National Park.

If early mornings aren't your thing, Sydney Harbour Kayaks have general hire vessels you can hire throughout the day to explore these stunning waterways at your own pace.

What you need on the day

As with any outdoor activities preparation is key. It is well worth spending the time to plan your gear for a day on the water.

Sydney Kayak Essentials

Wherever you choose to paddle, here is a quick essential packing list of the little things we can easily forget when prepping for a day on the water:

  1. Paddle Leash
  2. Dry bags
  3. Sharp knife
  4. Water
  5. Hat
  6. Sunscreen
  7. Sunglasses - preferably polarised
  8. First Aid Kit

While this list may appear obvious, it is often these things that are overlooked. Pack your essentials into a dry-bag and hit the water with confidence!

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