Sydney’s Water Activities in 2024: Sailing, Surfing, and Kayaking

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15 min Jun 28th, 2024
Water Sports Sydney

Sydney truly is the Emerald City by the Sea, where the waves are as iconic as the Opera House, and the aquatic adventures are endless. When the sun is shining, the water activities Sydney offers are many; we’re talking about sailing, surfing, kayaking, and much more. 

The stunning waters of Sydney Harbour are perfect for the modern-day explorer. Sydney’s beaches are a true surfer’s playground, and there are plenty of waterways, hidden coves, secluded beaches, and beautiful coastlines to investigate.

The best Kayak spots in Sydney

Ready to paddle through some of Sydney’s most stunning natural landscapes? We have serene, National Park-flanked rivers to hidden sections of the bustling harbour. Sydney has an abundance of kayaking spots that cater to all levels of experience.

Hawkesbury River, Brooklyn

Hawkesbury River Kayak

Inspired by Kate Grenville’s “The Secret River” and celebrated in John Williamson’s songs, the mighty Hawkesbury River offers 120 kilometres of pure paddling pleasure. Starting at the confluence of the Nepean and Grose Rivers and flowing out near Broken Bay, this river is perfect for both short and long kayaking trips. For a quick adventure, try circumnavigating Dangar Island. Hawkesbury River Kayaks, located in Brooklyn, is your go-to for gear rental—just make sure to book in advance!

Pittwater Estuary, Bayview

Pittwater Kayaking

Pittwater boasts all the beauty of Sydney Harbour but with a fraction of the crowd. Found between the Northern Beaches peninsula and the untouched Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, this spot offers some of the most pristine and secretive beaches accessible only by water. Don’t be surprised if you spot dolphins and some other sea life Sydney offers frolicking nearby! Paddlecraft in Bayview’s south provides pre-booked kayak rentals.

Nepean River, Penrith

Nepean River Kayaking

Flowing from Robertson in the Southern Highlands and merging with the Grose River to form the Hawkesbury, the Nepean River is a vital water source for millions of Sydneysiders. The best kayaking stretch is between Penrith and Junction Reserve. This tide-free section lets you paddle in any direction and features the stunning Nepean Gorge, with cliffs reaching up to 150 meters. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife, including wombats, wallabies, pelicans, kingfishers, and eagles. Horizon Line offers kayak rentals that are very cost-effective.

Sailing on Sydney Harbour

Sailing Sydney Harbour

There’s nothing quite like sailing on the stunning Sydney Harbour, where the iconic skyline meets the vast, sparkling waters. Sydney offers a range of sailing experiences that let you soak in the city’s beauty from a whole new perspective. With knowledgeable instructors guiding you every step of the way, you’ll learn the basics of sailing while enjoying the breathtaking views of this world-famous harbour. No experience is necessary, just a sense of adventure!

If you’re looking for a more luxurious sailing experience, a 3-hour session on the 40ft yacht is the way to go. This allows you to sail a larger yacht while learning the basics from an experienced instructor. With a capacity of up to 11 guests, it’s perfect for small groups who want to BYO drinks and snacks for a memorable day on the water.

“We went sailing in Sydney Harbour today, and it was definitely an experience to remember. I trimmed the sails while my husband skippered the boat! It is a great experience for visiting sailors of all levels, including first-timers, who want to do a bit of sailing without renting an entire boat. I highly recommend this experience to anyone!” – Jessica G via Google

Dive With Sharks: Sydney Sea Life

Sydney Sea Life

Diving with sharks in Sydney’s waters offers an exhilarating encounter with some of the ocean’s most majestic creatures. The Apartments is renowned as the premier dive site in Sydney for spotting Grey Nurse sharks. This dive site has been a mating ground for these endangered creatures for over half a century! Divers are often treated to these magnificent sharks mingling with thousands of resident schooling Pomfret fish. 

Magic Point is another of Sydney’s top shark diving locations, famous for its significant concentrations of Grey Nurse sharks, particularly during summer. Divers can witness up to 30 to 40 sharks at the entrance of a cave situated at the bottom of a wall that drops from 7 to 16 metres. 

Surf Beaches in Sydney

Sydney isn’t just a major metropolis; it’s a surfer’s paradise (no, not that one). Some of the best beaches in Sydney have swells hitting from different directions throughout the year.

Northern Beaches

Sydney’s Northern Beaches are legendary. Stretching from Manly in the south to Palm Beach in the north, these beaches offer a variety of waves for surfers of all skill levels.

Manly BeachManly Beach Sydney

Often the first port of call for visiting surfers, Manly Beach is known for its consistent waves and vibrant surf culture. It hosts pro surf competitions and offers quality rights, especially when the SW pulses are good. It’s a great place to start your surfing journey in Sydney.

Palm Beach and Barrenjoey BeachPalm Beach

Palm Beach and its neighbour, Barrenjoey Beach, offer a mix of peaky sandbar breaks at the northern end of the Northern Beaches. Palm Beach is particularly famous for “Kiddies Corner,” a fantastic spot for groms and learners. Barrenjoey Beach, often less crowded, provides clean summer bowls ideal for loggers and more relaxed surfers.

Avalon BeachAvalon Beach

Known for its powerful waves and a tight-knit local surfing community, Avalon Beach is a challenging spot best left to experienced surfers. The Matterhorn, a heavy left off the rocks, offers thrilling rides for those up to the challenge.

Southern Beaches

South of the Hornby Lighthouse, the surf spots offer diverse breaks, from beginner-friendly waves to challenging reefs.

Bondi BeachBondi Beach

Perhaps the most famous beach in Sydney, Bondi is a must-visit for any surfer. It’s ideal for beginners and backpackers looking to catch their first waves, but it also offers solid breaks for more experienced surfers.

Maroubra BeachMaroubra Beach

A less-crowded alternative to Bondi, Maroubra Beach has something for all levels of surfers. It’s known for its powerful waves and is a great spot for those looking to avoid the crowds while still enjoying quality surf.

Cronulla BeachesCronulla Beach

Further south, the Cronulla area boasts multiple surf spots, each with unique charm. Cronulla has everything from the beginner-friendly waves at Wanda Beach to the more challenging breaks at Shark Island.

Stay at Punthill Sydney

So the last question is, where to stay in Sydney to make your water-themed trip even better? The answer is Punthill Parramatta in Sydney’s second-largest CBD. Rooms feature a great view of the famous Commbank Stadium and easy access to the Sydney CBD. These self-contained, spacious apartments are the perfect place to wind down after a big day on the water, and with loads of dining options located just a stone’s throw away, you’ll have everything you need for this little aqua trip!