Get out and play: Six superb Sydney outdoor adventures

By Jay Chabon

We don’t call it “the great outdoors” here in Oz for nothing.

With the best of the weather – in Sydney in particular – on our side just about year round, there’s no better place to have fun in the sun … or in water, or on sand or soil!

From cruising the harbour, to looking out over it on-high, trotting along or pedalling past perfect picnic places, swimming at leisure by the sea, or marvelling at the abundant life below the surface, here’s a few things to keep you occupied outside of your room at Y Hotels.

Above: Exploring Sydney Harbour on kayaks hired from OzPaddle.

Cruising the harbour

Whether you prefer to power the water craft yourself, or rely on a motor to do the work for you, there’s options to put you in control of the places to explore around Sydney Harbour.

Manly Kayak Centre will help you explore the northern waters, or kit you out with hire kayaks or tinnies (that’s a motor boat for those who don’t speak Australian!).

Or set out from Sydney city or Rose Bay with seasoned paddler Sophie Morgan from OzPaddle.

As well as views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Sophie says it’s all about a personable, small group paddle, with great photos, good instruction and plenty of kayaking tips.

Sounds ideal to us!

Above: Pylon viewing on Harbour Bridge.
Above: Pylon viewing on Harbour Bridge.

Harbour Bridge lookout

If you’re not so keen to scale over the top of the famous “Coat-hanger” or you’re looking for a less expensive option than our much-loved BridgeClimb (see our Seven awesome things to do in Sydney and Five places the capture Sydney’s essence articles for more info), stroll across the bridge at the lower level, then head up to the Pylon Lookout.

For the effort of  200 stairs you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views of the city, the harbour and the world famous icon itself.

Exhibitions about the bridge’s history are strategically located across three levels, so there’s plenty of rest stops!

Above: Family having a picnic after cycling in Sydney Olympic Park.
Above: Family having a picnic after cycling in Bicentennial Park.

Pedal power

Bicentennial Park.

Now this place is the real deal.

Not only was around in the days of ’88, it was, in our memory at least, one of the first large scale parks to offer a family-friendly cycling environment.

These days it’s part of the 35-kilometre network of cycling paths through Sydney Olympic Park.

Centennial Parklands in the city’s east is another fab place for a pedal.

It goes way, way back to 1900 in fact, when a “Cyclists’ Carriage” was opened in the park.

Shared and dedicated pathways here also link to other Sydney cycle networks.

Over in Manly, even novices like us are at ease on two wheels, with mobs including Manly Bike Tours offering directions to secluded coves, deserted beaches and breathtaking coastal views.

With over 20 kilometres of dedicated bike paths and off-road trails, Manly caters for all levels of riders.

Hire your wheels – and not just any old wheels, but everything from the flash and fast to pedal cars – at the sites.

Above: North Sydney Olympic pool.

Swim by the harbour

So did you take note of the by?

Not only does this city boast spectacular ocean pools, our public pools preside over superb shorelines too.

Our favourites, and legendary outdoor pools Sydney loves to love, include the Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool, an aquatic centre set on Woolloomooloo Bay near the Royal Botanic Gardens, with views of Sydney Harbour so good it’s like swimming in an infinity pool!

We also adore North Sydney Olympic Pool, having plenty of fond childhood memories of the place (being made to swim laps here didn’t seem so bad with that view).

It’s so close to the Harbour Bridge you feel as if you’re swimming under it.

Plus there’s neighbouring Luna Park and the pool’s gorgeous art deco features to admire too.

Above: Snorkeling tours with Eco Treasures.

Underwater world

Sydney’s beaches are spectacular from the shore and in the shallow reaches of the beach.

But go beyond and a whole world awaits under the surface.

Grab a snorkel and goggles and immerse yourself below the water line.

Cabbage Tree Bay, a 20-hectare aquatic reserve, takes in Manly and Shelly beaches. (See our You beaut beaches article for more on these top spots).

Not only can you snorkel here (go yourself or let experts such as Eco Treasures lead you on a snorkeling Sydney adventure), but scuba diving is another spectacular experience on offer too (Dive Centre Manly can help out there).

Or head east and take the Gordons Bay Underwater Nature Trail.

As Randwick City Council puts it, it’s like “a bush walking track in the wilderness, only it’s underwater”.

Scuba or snorkel on a clear day.

Above: Horse riding in Centennial Park.
Above: Horse riding in Centennial Park.

On the trot

Play out a romantic outdoor adventure on horseback, right in the middle of the city.

Centennial Park offers rides to all, from novices to experienced equestrians.

As one of the few parks in the world to offer inner-city horse riding, it’s bound to be special.

You can even take your someone special on a dusk or dawn ride.

Or make yourself a hit with the kids and get them along to the park on a weekend or public holiday for a pony ride. Adorbs!


Got a great outdoor Sydney experience? Tell us in the comments section below.

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