I took a ferry out to Manly Beach simply to get a wide angle shot of the Sydney Skyline. While that was a good idea in principle, it turned out that day would be the hottest day in Sydney’s history, some 30 degrees above normal, topping out at 106. Heat aside, it was also hazy and all of my distance shots were poor. However, on the hottest day of the year, Manly Beach was a good alternative to the always-busy and far more popular Bondi Beach.
From the ferry exit you can take a short walk (3 miles) around to North Head, which is the scenic outlook across to the Sydney Skyline. From North Head you can then wander around to Manly Beach proper. Inland from the beach there are loads of restaurants which, not too surprisingly, focus on seafood.
I liked Manly for its views back to Sydney, its pockets of quiet, isolated beauty and its wider swatches of beach mobbed with overheated Australians doing their best to cool down.