Port Jackson, more commonly known as Sydney Harbour, may be the jewel in the crown but there are other fine bays on the doorstep of the city. Most visitors to Sydney fly over Botany Bay as they descend towards Kingsford Smith Airport.
Captain Cook originally landed here in 1770, just inside its southern headland, now a part of Botany Bay National Park. Close by is the Towra Point Nature Reserve, a significant wetland conservation area, while at Brighton-le-Sands you can mingle with Sydney’s European community, picnicking in the sunshine on the Mediterranean-style beaches.
Port Hacking is situated between Sydney’s outer suburbs to the north, and the Royal National Park to the south. Explore Cronulla Beach and take a ferry along Gunnamatta Bay and across the waterway to Bundeena, gateway to the park itself.
Spend a day exploring to find Aboriginal rock carvings and lovely coastal walks, as well as a lively arts scene and buzzy cafés. To the north of the city are Pittwater Harbour and Broken Bay. Surrounded by beautiful national parks and dotted with islands, these waters have all the beauty of Sydney Harbour but without the crowds or the urban landscape.
On Pittwater’s southerly headland is the popular and exclusive Palm Beach, with its chic restaurants and millionaires’ mansions. From here you can rent a boat for the day and explore the bay’s isolated beaches, islands, and long inlets, landing occasionally to bushwalk to ancient Aboriginal carvings.
Botany Bay Sydney; bus 309 from Wynyard Station;
Beach Upper North Shore; bus 190 from Wynyard Station;
Royal National Park Bundeena; train from Central Station to Karingbah then 978 bus to Port Hacking;