Discover the Best Things to Do at Shelly Beach
Bower Street, Manly
Area: Northern Beaches
Situated in the popular Manly area, Shelly Beach is a favourite destination for not only tourists but also Sydney locals.
Shelly Beach is located 17 kilometres north-east of the Sydney central business district. It is a beautiful, secluded beach located just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Manly’s busy streets. The sand is white and the water is clean and clear, making it a perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. Shelly Beach is also home to a variety of marine life, including colourful fish, turtles, and stingrays. Visitors can often see these creatures up close by snorkeling or diving in the shallow waters. With its idyllic setting and abundant marine life, Shelly Beach is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the wonders of nature.
The beach and reserve sit in a steep-sided cove, inaccessible to passing traffic, with a well regarded Boathouse Café right by the sand.
All this, plus a little patch of bush on the headland make it a favourite of locals and tourists.
When my son was growing up we spent many summer days swimming and playing on the beach and catching up with family and friends. It was (and still is) one of our favourite beaches.
Most tourists tend to visit Manly Ocean beach, so that can get really busy, but we have found that Shelly is mainly frequented by locals and as such is not as full.
Having said that, the best time to go to Shelly Beach is during the week and preferably not during school holidays.
There is no shade on the beach so make sure you bring a beach tent or umbrella and don’t forget your sunscreen and plenty of fluids!
Shelly Beach at a Glance
|Park / Reserve:
|Yes – Some trees in reserve
|Yes – At the beach, no waves
|No, although there is an Emergency Response Beacon (ERB)
|Cafes / Restaurants:
|Yes – The Boathouse and The Bower
|Toilets / Showers:
|Paid and free parking
Stand-up paddle boarding
Things To Do at Shelly Beach Manly
If you have young children, they will enjoy:
- swimming at the beach or in the pool near the Bower cafe
- building sandcastles
- collecting shells
- fish and sea creature spotting
- make sand angels
Older kids can:
- throw a frisbee
- ride a scooter or bike along the promenade
- kick the ball
- write messages in the sand
- build sculptures by the sea
- make rivers in the sand
Teenagers will have a lot of fun:
- stand-up paddle boarding
- taking photos and sharing them on social media
- have watergun fights
Adults / parents / couples will enjoy:
- coffee with a view
- reading a book or magazine
- floating in the water
- strolling along the beach
- a picnic or a BBQ
- views from the headland
Is Shelly Beach Safe?
Shelly Beach is a very safe place to swim and sunbathe. The beach is sheltered, so the sea tends to be very calm.
Having said that, there is no netted area, which means you are swimming in the open sea.
Strong swimmers often make the journey from Manly to Shelly or vice versa.
Is Shelly Beach Patrolled?
The beach is not patrolled and you will need to closely supervise young children.
However, Surf Life Saving NSW has recently installed an Emergency Response Beacon, which allows members of public to press a button and be immediately connected to the Surf Life Saving State Operations Centre (SOC) for assistance. The ERB uses the latest mobile technology and has a camera fitted, which can be remotely monitored by SOC.
For more information, check out the Surf Lifesaving NSW website.
Is Shelly Beach Nice?
Shelly Beach is one of the most stunning beaches in Sydney. The sand is white and the beach is framed by a nature reserve with beautiful palm trees and picnic tables.
Walk up the stairs on side of the reserve and follow a short track through the bush for a wonderful view of Manly beach and surrounds.
Shelly Beach is definitely insta worthy.
Can You Swim at Shelly Beach Manly?
If you are looking for a quiet beach with no surf, then Shelly Beach is the perfect spot. You will also find some rock baths halfway along the path from Manly to Shelly Beach.
Manly Ocean beach (opposite Shelly Beach), tends to have waves and is patrolled, so make sure you swim between the flags either at North Steyne, South Steyne or Queenscliff.
Other places to swim in Manly are Little Manly Beach, Collin’s Flat Beach, Manly Cove Beach as well as The Quarantine Beach.
Where Can You Snorkel at Shelly Beach?
Shelly Beach is part of the Cabbage Tree Aquatic Reserve and is one of the best snorkelling destinations in Sydney.
Shelly’s extensive rocky shore and shallow rocky reefs exist along the southern side of the Aquatic Reserve, providing great habitat for a range of marine plants and animals.
Where Can You Go Scuba Diving at Shelly Beach?
The beach is not only a popular spot for snorkelling, but also for scuba diving, so if you are looking to attend a pro dive openwater course, check out ProDive https://www.prodive.com.au/ who promise you an extraordinary adventure beneath the waves.
The Open Water Course consists of three main stages:
- Knowledge (online, independent study) to understand basic principles of scuba diving
- Confined water training to learn new scuba skills
- Open water training to use your skills and explore!
According to PADI, the aquatic reserve boasts over 160 species of fish, rays, wobbegongs, flatheads, octopus, leatherjackets and even port Jackson sharks. Find out more details about Shelly Beach underwater life.
Can You Take Dogs to Shelly Beach Manly?
Dogs are not allowed to run freely on Shelly Beach, however there are several dog friendly parks in the Manly area including:
Hinkler Dog Park
Lagoon Park West
Manly Lagoon Park
If you are doing the Spit to Manly walk with your furry friends, you can bring them with you, however, they must be on a leash. You will find a great dog beach at the beginning of your walk at Clontarf.
Shelly Beach Manly Cafe
Once known as Sandbar Café and Le Kiosk Restaurant, Shelly Beach café has been renovated and is now known as The Boathouse Café.
Open from 7am to 3pm daily and longer during summer, the café has a great menu of breakfast and lunch foods including banana bread, scones, avocado toast, fruit plate, granola and more.
If you are after a hot meal, then you can’t go wrong with their fish and chips or burgers. For the health conscious you will find many delicious salads and kids will love the Boathouse kids cheeseburger or crumbed fish and chips.
If you are a fan of the Boathouse Café franchise, check out their other locations at:
- Palm Beach
- Rose Bay
The Boathouse Café staff not only look after you, but they also provide water bowls for your animals. If you bring them along, you will need to dine outside and your dogs will need to be on a leash.
Weddings at Shelly Beach Manly
Shelly Beach is not only a great family beach, it is also a popular wedding destination.
Many couples choose to have their ceremony either on the beach or in the reserve, followed by a reception at the Boathouse.
The Boathouse Café can accommodate 60 guests for sit down meals or 120 guests for canape style reception.
According to the Northern Beaches council, weddings at Shelly Beach are permitted between the months of May and October.
Manly to Shelly Beach Walk
Enjoy a short stroll along the water on Marine Parade from Manly to Shelly beach and take in stunning views of both beaches as well as many mini statues that line the shore.
Half way between the two beaches, you can stop for coffee or lunch at The Bower, which is open for breakfast and lunch from 8am – 3pm.
There is no playground at Shelly Beach, but you can be sure your children won’t be bored. Bring a ball, frisbee and a bucket and spade for all day entertainment.
Toilets and Showers
Shelly Beach has a toilet / shower / change room block just behind the Boathouse Café. An outdoor shower can also be found near the beach. And as a bonus, you will also find bubblers in the area.
Another toilet block is available half way between Manly and Shelly.
Is There Parking at Shelly Beach?
Restricted and costly parking is located above the beach and also some limited parking can be found on Bower Street.
Instead you may want to consider walking to Shelly Beach from Manly, which takes approximately 15 minutes along the waterfront.
There are a number of council carparks which offer free parking for up to 2 hours, but beware that after the free period, parking can be expensive.
The following car parks are available in Manly
Whistler Street Car Park
5A Market Lane
25 Wentworth Street
Getting to Shelly Beach Manly
If you wish to catch public transport, you can either get a bus from different parts of Sydney or catch a regular or fast ferry from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf. Walk from the Wharf to Shelly Beach takes approximately 25 minutes.
To plan your trip go to Transport NSW website.
Accommodation near Shelly Beach
Ivana Katz is a Sydney based website designer and travel blogger. Having her own business has given her the freedom to explore the world. She believes travel is the best teacher and her passion for adventure, writing and photography has taken her and her son to some amazing places, including Hawaii, Canada, Fiji, Greece and Czech Republic. Ivana’s favourite thing about travelling is learning, discovering hidden gems and creating memories. She loves nothing more than inspiring other women to chase their dreams and explore the world with their families and friends.