Shelly Beach, Manly – Sydney’s Best Beaches for Kids

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So I’m a few weeks into my photography course now, and getting more and more appalled at some of the photos used in the early days of this blog.

Some with horrible watermarks – too big and ugly.  I don’t believe in watermarks any more at all.

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Looking towards the shady eastern side of Shelly Beach.

So here is a very spruced-up guide to one of our family favourites, Shelly Beach in Manly.  With new photos… which are not at all perfect, but much better!

The most southerly of the northern ocean beaches, Shelly Beach at Manly is a scrumptious little spot, easy to get to, with lots of things to do and some opportunities for adventure for the kids.  And some treats for the adults.

I love Shelly Beach when I swim in on early morning swims with Sydney’s biggest ocean swimming group the Bold And The Beautiful.  If not swimming in, we usually drive and park in the pay carpark above the beach.

You can certainly walk in from Manly, but we find it easiest to park as close as we can.

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Great place to gaze out to sea.
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This is Le Kiosk and the beach cafe and kiosk alongside.

Shelly Beach

Bower Street Manly 2095

Shelly Beach Manly is an excellent beach for families, being quite sheltered, small and at a safe distance from the road. There is even some shade on the beach itself and the rocky patches at each end of the beach are excellent for mini-explorers.

The  reserve has shady trees and is good for a picnic. There are BBQs there, plus picnic tables though these do get very busy.

Paths and steps lead through the bush to a lookout, but this is not a route for strollers.

There are marvellous views along the great crescent of the Queenscliff, North Steyne and Manly beaches.  The snorkelling is excellent around Shelly Beach, especially along the western side and towards lovely Fairy Bower Pool.

The hungry and thirsty have a couple of nice options as well.

Shelly is a great  beach to play and even splash at in the wintertime.

Cafes: The fabulous (but often very busy) Boathouse Shelly Beach is right on the beach.

Toilets: Toilet, shower and change block by the cafe

Shade: Some on the beach from cliffs on the eastern side, plus shade on the reserve from trees

Playground: No

Ocean pool: Beautiful Fairy Bower rock pool is a short walk away down Marine Parade

Shark net: No

Mum’s report: Absolutely gorgeous—we love it. The kids are always in sight and can’t wander too far. They can cycle their trikes down to the rockpool too. Shelly is much more child-friendly than its big brother surf beach at Manly.

Extra: It’s lovely to stroll from here to Manly or even right along the whole walkway all the way to Queenscliff Beach.

Map reference: Gregory’s 289 B11, Sydway 259 K7, UBD 198 G11

Parking: Pay carpark at the end of Bower Street

Nearest ferry: Manly Wharf is a 20–25 minute walk away

The carpark is at the very end of Bower Street, we drive up Darley Road, left into Addison, right into Montpelier and that leads to Bower Street. It’s wiggly.
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In the rear of this shot you can see the walkway to Manly itself.
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My family slip, slap and slopping before we have a swim.

So now, when were you last at Shelly Beach?

Do you agree that it’s one of the best for families on the Northern Beaches?

Happy paddling

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  1. says: Cathy

    Hi Seana, the last time I went to Shelley Beach was during December when I was at home for Christmas. It was great to go to the beach. My kids had a swim, the weather was perfect. Thanks for this post, I appreciated the reminder of a lovely day.

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Glad to let you see the old fave again… it is a fab spot with kids. I love snorkelling there with the kids now mine are older. Good to meet you and will pop over to see you on your blog.

  2. says: Kate

    Oh, I have not been for years and you have me all excited. We are relocating next year and will be able to do weekends away in Sydney again. We SO miss Manly and the Harbour. First stop, Shelley Beach!

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Oh where are you moving too… do you have a blog?? Will try to find you over the weekend. It IS a glorious spot.

        1. says: Seana Smith

          Hello there, I’ve been trying to comment over on your blog but nothing happens when I click ‘2 comments”… you have been through a lot!!

  3. says: jenny

    Shelley Beach looks great. I can’t say I ever went there when I lived in Sydney….GI for this Eastern Suburbs girl in her twenties!! I must remember to take the walkway when we next catch the ferry to Manly so I can see it. Great photos!

    1. says: Seana Smith

      I started off in the Eastern Suburns but moved north when I got a job at Channel 9 and have lived on the North Shore when in Sydney ever since… so we know the best family-friendly north shore beaches much better than the east. It is a lovely spot. I have a secret desire to live in Manly when I am an old lady – which is any minute now!!

  4. says: Morag Smith

    Oooo Soshi I am having beach envy and swim envy. Lucky, lucky you guys to live in such a beautiful city. I must get down to our beach (Nairn, Scotland) especially now that spring is here – though have to say it was sleating this morning!!!! xx

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Now your beach really is lovely… just a wee bit nippy… the next time the kids and I visit, we must be bold and have a dip though… and when you next come here we will definitely be visiting Shelly Beach.

  5. says: JodiGibson (

    We visited Shelly Beach when we were in Sydney last September. It’s a gorgeous spot, unfortunately though the day we were there was blowing a gale so we couldn’t sit on the beach. But we did have lunch at the beach kiosk which was lovely. Definitely a great spot.

  6. I believe we went to this beach when we were in Sydney years ago before we had kids. We loved Manly. It’s great to see that things are family-friendly too. I love beaches like this full of great conveniences and one the kids love. Love the name of the swimming group. The Bold & the Beautiful is a popular soap opera here in the US but is probably shown down there too. 🙂

  7. says: Sandie

    I fell in love with Shelley Beach a few years ago. I was visiting Sydney with my family and some local friends took us there … simply gorgeous!

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