It’s the home of Summer Bay, and where Sydney’s rich and famous come to play. Here’s how to spend the day in Palm Beach.
Perched at the tip of a peninsula, with the twinkling Pittwater on one side, and golden sand and Pacific Ocean on the other, the exclusive and idyllic suburb of Palm Beach is the ultimate coastal escape.
Getting to Palm Beach
Palm Beach is Sydney’s most northern suburb, located 46 kilometres from the city centre. You have three real options to get here:
Drive – Palm Beach is just over an hour drive through Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Some bits are scenic, like going over Spit Bridge and winding through Bilgola Bends. But the majority is your classic stop-start Sydney driving. Also be warned that parking doesn’t come cheap, with Northern Beaches Council charging $10 an hour. Scandalous.
Public transport – the L90 bus will chauffeur you directly from Wynyard Station to Palm Beach, taking around one hour and 40 minutes to do so.
Seaplane – but if you want to play like the rich and famous, there’s only one real option. You take a Sydney Seaplane from Rose Bay to Palm Beach.
However, you choose to get here, here’s five things you absolutely must do when visiting Palm Beach:
1. Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
This popular walking track is #1 priority for a Palm Beach outing, offering killer views of Pittwater, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, the mouth of the Hawkesbury River and across to Broken Bay on the Central Coast.
At the northern end of Palm Beach, the towering Barrenjoey Headland bookends the peninsula, with the historic Barrenjoey Lighthouse and lightkeeper’s cottages the crown jewel. The walk is a 2.2-kilometre loop, with two options to get to the top. One a gentle hill climb (follow signs for the Access Trail), the other via stairs carved out of the cliff face (the Smuggler’s Track). Do both: one on the way up, the other on the way day.
Get here early, watch the sunrise and you’ll have the place pretty much to yourself – except for the noisy birds. It’s bloody magical.
2. Lunch at Palm Beach
If you want a step up from fish and chips on the beach, lunch options include:
The Boathouse Palm Beach – this waterfront café with its white picnic tables and market umbrellas is equal parts casual and chic. If you’re a Home and Away fan, you’ll also recognise it as the Pier Diner, and behind it the wharf where Angel boarded her ill-fated seaplane back in 1995.
Barrenjoey House – enjoy a seafood lunch, with a side of water views and understated coastal luxury at this restaurant and bar found in a heritage building. There’s also some pretty sweet boutique accommodation on level two.
Jonah’s – if you’re after something exceedingly special, splash out at this acclaimed dining spot, and enjoy sensational food, wine and views. You might even see Chris Hemsworth or Keith Urban.
Dunes Restaurant Palm Beach – keep things casual at this beachside kiosk where shoes aren’t essential. The lunch menu includes things like burgers, salads and seafood, while the breakfast menu comes with high recommendation.
But if fish and chips will suffice, your best bet is Palm Beach Fish and Chips. Alternatively, you can pick up treats for a picnic from Palm Beach Wine Co.
3. Take a ferry ride from Palm Beach
There’s a number of super cute ferry trips you can take departing from Palm Beach. These are some of my favourites:
Palm Beach to Ettalong and Wagstaffe – this 30-minute ferry ride to the Central Coast takes you across Pittwater, Broken Bay and Brisbane Water. The laundry list of views include Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Central Coast beaches, Lion Island and not one but three national parks.
Palm Beach to Patonga – a short scoot across the Hawkesbury River and you’ll find the cute fishing village of Patonga, the most isolated beach town on the Central Coast, surrounded by Brisbane Water National Park. Have a long lunch at The Boathouse Hotel Patonga, then head back.
Palm Beach to The Basin – a 40-minute ferry ride across Pittwater will get you to The Basin in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. Spend the day frolicking in the sheltered beach and inland lagoon. There’s also BBQ facilities if you want to throw a full-blown picnic.
4. A Home and Away tour
If you’re a hard-core Home and Away fan, there’s an official Summer Bay tour you can do – its $105pp. But just a casual mooch around Palm Beach reveals so many iconic locations from the TV show. Take a selfie outside of Alf’s Bait Shop, run up and down the iconic yellow sand dunes, have lunch at the Pier Diner, and pretend to be a lifeguard out the front of Summer Bay Surf Club. If you’re lucky, you might even stumble upon the show being filmed.
And all going well, you’ll leave Palm Beach without your car exploding, being caught in an earthquake, shot at or diagnosed with cancer.
5. Water activities
Of course, this is Palm BEACH, meaning getting wet is part of the drill. Surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming – they’re all on the menu.