The 6 Best Ways to Explore Sydney by Boat

Sydney is wrapped around the deep waters and tributaries of Port Jackson Bay and home to some of the world’s best city beaches. Whether it’s by kayak, ferry or private yacht, here are our top six places to go boating in Sydney. All aboard!

Sydney was made for exploring on the water. From The Star Sydney’s waterfront position in Pyrmont, some of Sydney’s best boating experiences are right on our doorstep. Here are our six favourite ideas to try the next time you stay with us.

1. Sunset cruise on the Harbour

Think you need a passport to board a cruise? Think again. One of the world’s most scenic natural harbours is yours to explore from the comfort of a fully decked out cruise ship thanks to a bundle of local tours offering all-inclusive Sydney Harbour boat cruises. From the gourmet lunch or dinner cruises offered by luxury tour company Journey Beyond to Captain Cook Cruises’ hop-on, hop-off Harbour journeys, see Sydney’s glorious Harbour from its finest angle.

Where to get aboard: Many of the best cruise operators moor at Barangaroo, an easy walk from The Star.

2. Sydney’s secret beaches by yacht

Spend a day exploring Sydney like the rich and famous on a yacht. Thankfully you don’t need to be a sheik with a superyacht at your disposal, with many Sydney yacht companies offering affordable group trips or private yacht charters as short as two hours. Commandeer one to discover Sydney Harbour’s secret beaches. Float into the sheltered Chinaman’s Beach in leafy Mosman, sink anchor just offshore from Taronga Zoo or bob beside the tiny white-sand coves of Vaucluse such as Milk Beach. You’ll feel like a millionaire.

Where to get aboard: Private yacht charter companies are found across Sydney, with quite a number based in Pyrmont and Barangaroo.

People enjoying a chartered sailing tour on Sydney Harbour. Photo credit: Destination NSW

3. Whale watching past the Heads

Between May and November, gentle giants swim their way up the Humpback Highway close enough to shore that you can wave at them from the sea cliffs. Although it’s possible to spot whales along the eastern coastline, nothing comes close to getting out on the water with them. Sydney whale watching tours cruise through the harbour between Sydney heads into the open ocean, where up to 30,000 whales travel past every year. It’s best to go in the winter months, as migrating whales tend to hug the coast on their way north.

Where to get aboard: A number of whale-watching companies dock in Barangaroo and near Sydney Aquarium, as well as in Circular Quay.

Whales passing through Sydney during their migration up the NSW coastline. Photo credit: Destination NSW

4. Watsons Bay by ferry

The Harbour City’s ferries are one of Sydney’s most iconic features, criss-crossing the water all day long carrying commuters and tourists alike. While there is no such thing as a bad Sydney ferry ride, the ride to Watsons Bay has to be one of Sydney’s best ferry trips. Start at Pyrmont to trundle out through Darling Harbour, gliding under the Sydney Harbour Bridge for a quick change at Circular Quay before the largely uninterrupted transfer to Watsons Bay. En route, you’ll pass the waterfront mansions of Darling Point and Potts Point, pull in for a quick stop at pretty Rose Bay and end at Watsons Bay – one of Sydney’s best places for sunset fish and chips.

Where to get aboard: From Pyrmont ferry terminal, it’s an easy transfer to Barangaroo and Circular Quay (where the Watsons Bay F9 departs) to access Sydney’s entire ferry network.

View of Watsons Bay from the Watsons Bay ferry wharf. Photo credit: Destination NSW

5. Manly by SUP and kayak

On the harbour side of Manly, sheltered bays offer calm waters for aqua adventures. If you love a stand-up paddleboard, or SUP, Manly is your place. There are sunrise SUP tours, SUP board rentals, SUP yoga and even SUPball – a made-up game involving two teams, blow-up balls and paddles that double as lacrosse sticks. For something more traditional, Manly Cove and North Harbour are also ideal for exploring by kayak, with both kayak rentals and tours available. Head out from Manly toward North Head to discover more of Sydney’s best secret beaches.

Where to get aboard: There are a number of SUP and kayak rental places near Manly Wharf. The wharf itself is best accessed by the scenic public ferry from Circular Quay.

Kayakers enjoying a morning paddle at Manly Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches. Photo credit: Destination NSW

 6. Sydney fishing charter

With all that water surrounding the city, it’s no surprise that Sydney is an angler’s paradise. Set off for a spot of reef fishing to catch snapper and kingfish, try some fly fishing in one of Sydney’s estuaries for flathead or bream and get reeling with a deep sea fishing adventure on the trail of marlin and tuna. Sydney fishing charters can provide all the kit you need to sink a line and expert guides to lead you to the best fishing spots in Sydney.

Where to get aboard: From Botany Bay to Barangaroo, small fishing charter companies are based all over Sydney. The best bet is to find a specialist in your preferred fishing pursuit.

Enjoying an afternoon of fishing on the Hawkesbury River, Wisemans Ferry. Photo credit: Destination NSW

We thought you might also like…