Our favourite nearby hikes feature was so popular, we asked expert hiker and creator of hikingtheworld.blog, Oliver Descoeudres to follow it up with his most recommended coastal and harbour walks in the area – knowing he’d be spoilt for choice! Here’s his top 10, all showcasing the incredible natural beauty of the area to keep everyone fit, healthy, and sane during restrictions…


“As well having 30km of coastline between Manly and Palm Beach, the Northern Beaches encompasses Pittwater and Narrabeen Lakes. It also has Cowan Creek and Middle Harbour Creek as part of its borders. The coastal and harbour walks listed below explore some of the many tracks along the coast and Middle Harbour. They include some popular trails that are hard to ignore (but can get busy), and some more challenging routes to avoid the crowds.

  • All bushwalks below start within 10km of the Northern Beaches LGA, but you need to confirm the distance from your residence to ensure compliance to NSW Health orders.
  • For more bushwalking suggestions once restrictions have ended have a look at the 80+ bushwalks in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Garigal National Park guides

Bantry Bay Loop (Garigal NP)

Distance: 7.4km

Duration: 2-3 hours

Grade: Easy/Moderate

A varied loop, which passes the Bantry Bay Aboriginal engravings next to the Engravings Track, descends to Bantry Bay along the Timber Getters Track and returns via the scenic Bluff Track.

Walk popularity?

Fairly busy. One of the best bushwalks in Garigal National Park – do this one late afternoon for a nice sunset from the top of the Bluff Track.

Features: Aboriginal heritage, Rock formations, Views

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Barrenjoey Lighthouse loop (Kuringgai Chase NP)

Distance: 3km

Duration: 1-2 hours

Grade: Easy

A short, easy and popular loop walk that offers sweeping views over the Barrenjoey peninsula, Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River.

Walk popularity?

Very busy. A great walk with some of the best views – but go early morning, late afternoon or during the week as this is also a popular walk (for good reason).

Features: Aboriginal heritage, Rock formations, Trig Station, Views

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Discovering the Resolute Loop Trail (Ku-ring-gai Chase NP, West Head)

Distance: 4.3km

Duration: 1-2 hours

Grade: Easy

The Resolute Loop is a great little walk that passes an Aboriginal engraving site, offers great views over Pittwater and provides access to two secluded beaches

Walk popularity?

Busy. Being one of the best West Head bushwalks, this loop gets busy on weekends.  Go early or late if you can, which also gives you a better chance of seeing some wildlife.

Features: Aboriginal heritage, Beaches, Views

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Duffys Wharf Track and Slades Trail (Ku-ring-gai Chase NP)

Distance: 2.8km

Duration: 1-2 hours

Grade: Easy/Moderate

Duffys Wharf Track and the Slades Trail can be combined into a loop; a fantastic little hike that descends to Duffys Wharf on Cowan Creek and back up to Slades Lookout.

Walk popularity?

Fairly busy. Both trails are fairly well-known to locals; if you’re prepared to do some off-track walking you’ll lose the crowds (map/GPS essential).

Alternatives: If you prefer to stick to trails, an out-and-back walk to Duffys Wharf is the pick, but try and go early or late to avoid the crowds.

Features: Coastal, Views

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Flat Rock Beach circuit (Garigal NP)

Distance: 8.2km

Duration: 3-4 hours

Grade: Easy/Moderate

Flat Rock Beach circuit is a very pleasant loop walk through Garigal National Park around Killarney Heights. It combines the Flat Rock Beach Track, Magazine Track and Bates Creek Track.

Walk popularity?

Busy. Most of these walking tracks are popular and will get busy on weekends. It’s a great walk though, so go early or late to avoid the crowds.

Features: Beaches, Coastal, Rock formations, Views, Waterfall

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Flint and Steel Loop (West Head, Ku-ring-gai Chase NP)

Distance: 2.8km

Duration: 1-2 hours

Grade: Moderate

This short and partly off-track Flint and Steel Loop bushwalk connects Flint and Steel Bay and Flint and Steel Beach at West Head via a rough track around the headland. Low tide best.

Walk popularity?

Mixed. The track to Flint and Steel Beach will be busy on a weekend, but you’ll see very few people as you make your way around the coastline and back up the Flint and Steel Bay track.

Alternatives: The out-and-back walk to Flint and Steel Beach is nice, but go very late afternoon or during the week to avoid the crowds.

Features: Beaches, Coastal, Rock formations, Swimming, Views

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Middle Harbour Creek circuit (Garigal NP)

Distance: 19km

Duration: 4-6 hours

Grade: Moderate/Hard

The Middle Harbour Creek circuit is a relatively long bushwalk around Middle Harbour Creek. The route goes down one side of the creek from St Ives to Roseville Bridge, returning on the opposite side. This loop combines the Governor Phillip Walk. Lyre Bird Track, Two Creeks Track and Lockley Track.

Walk popularity?

Varies. Some part of the walk are busier than others. The Lyrebird Track from Davidson Park gets very busy on weekends; conversely the more challenging section between Gordon Creek and the Stepping Stones gets far less people.

Features: Rock formations, Views

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The Spit to Manly (Sydney Harbour National Park)

Distance: 10.4km

Duration: 3-4 hours

Grade: Easy

The Spit to Manly is a popular coastal walk in northern Sydney, which follows the coast from The Spit in Mosman to the Manly wharf terminal. It traverses pockets of rainforest and secluded bays and beaches

Walk popularity?

Features: Aboriginal heritage, Beaches, Coastal, Swimming, Urban walk

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Towlers Bay Circuit via Birnie Lookout (West Head)

Distance: 6.5km

Duration: 2-3 hours

Grade: Easy/Moderate

A varied walk that takes you to the spectacular Birnie Lookout (Flagstaff Hill) overlooking Pittwater, before descending to Lovett Bay and returning via the Towlers Bay Trail.

Walk popularity?

Mostly quiet. Despite being one of the best lookouts in West Head, few people know about Birnie Lookout. You will see a few people along the more popular Towlers Bay Track.

Features: Coastal, Rock formations, Views

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West Head Army Track (Ku-ring-gai Chase NP, West Head)

Distance: 1.3km

Duration: <1 hour

Grade: Easy

The West Head Army Track is a steep but short walk down from West Head in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park to historic World War II gun embankments on the coast.

Walk popularity?

Features: Views

View Walk Details

With huge thanks to Oliver Descoeudres for allowing us to share his favourite coastal and harbour walks. Click here for Oliver’s list of best National Park hikes on or near the Northern Beaches.
You can also head to hikingtheworld.blog for many more hiking options in Sydney and surrounds (after restrictions have lifted of of course).
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