Sydney ranks very high on our list of beautiful places to explore with a yacht or catamaran. It’s no surprise really given its incredible year-round temperatures and epic scenery, paired with access to services and conveniences seldomly available to cruisers.
And while Sydney itself is an expensive city to live in, that isn’t so much of an issue for those who own a vessel. You can legally stay on most Sydney anchorages for up to 4 days and enjoy multi-million dollar views without the associated price tag. Also, you must not stay more than 30-days in any 12-month period in any single location.
Legalities aside, in this guide, I wanted to show you 17 absolutely stunning anchorages you need to drop into.
1. Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
You can anchor in Bobbin Head and Appletree Bay which is absolutely stunning year-round! You’ll feel like a million miles away on a sunny day…unless of course, it’s a weekend when the anchorages become absolutely packed out! Still, it’s worth the visit even just for the Instagram likes.
2. Athol Bay
Fancy a visit to Taronga Zoo minus the traffic and parking fees? Well, then you’ll want to anchor in Athol Bay which happens to be one of the most popular Sydney anchorages for cruising yachts, catamarans and powerboats. The wind is minimal here and while you’ll struggle to pick up a mooring ball, you’ll find numerous areas to safely drop an anchor without colliding with another boat, providing you give out enough line.
3. The Spit
If you’re wanting to dock instead of anchor, then drop into The Spit. This is where you’ll find the Middle Harbour Yacht Club whose bistro has some gorgeous views over its small marina and torquise waterways. While berths and mooring balls are hard to secure, you can always anchor out and bring your tender right up on to the sand.
4. Quarantine Bay
There is something eerie about Quarantine Bay as it has a not-so-colourful history as the landing place for many ships in Sydney’s collonial history. Today, however, it’s where you’ll find some great places to anchor your boat without the crowds. You’ll find plenty of sand and swimming potential, paired with some rocky outcrops and if you’re up for it, book yourself in for a ghost tour.
5. Manly Cove
Oh boy! Simply writing this warrants me to get there right now! The vibe of Manly Cove is incredible with so many services such as coffee shops (that’s a necessary service these days, right?) oh so close by. But that’s not all – cafes, grocery stores and even some boutique shopping is only a short stroll from the sand so bring the tender right on up! Just keep an eye out for the Manly ferry which can create quite a bit of a wake during its regular schedule to and from the CBD.
6. Clifton Gardens
If you aren’t so keen to get your boat up into Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, then Clifton Gardens is the next best option. It’s perfect if you’re looking to beach your vessel on the sand or simply anchor a little out and swim in. On weekends this area gets a little busy so opt for a weekday if you can. Fancy some fish and chips or a shot of coffee? That’s all available just a short stroll from the water’s edge.
7. Sirus Cove
Sirus Cove is the place to go for those who are cruising with pets. It’s one of Sydney’s most popular off-leash dog beaches and it’s quite sheltered for those windy days while also being one heck of a convenient location! Grab the SUP and have a paddle around while you’re here too, because…well, why not?!
8. Chinamans Beach
If you’re up for some upmarket seclusion then you’ll love anchoring at Chinaman’s Beach. Some of the water here is quite deep and worse still, there is a 50-metre exclusion zone from the water’s edge which applies on weekends. After all, it’s a popular swimming spot for families but you’ll still feel a sense of exclusivity right here.
9. Chowder Bay
Definitely one of the most scenic places to anchor and marvel at one of Australia’s greaterest wonders – the giant coat hanger, also known as the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This place is epic for sunrise and sunset photos or, if you’re up for it, snapping some photos of one of the approaching storms. Chowder Bay encompasses Hermit Bay, Athol Bay (mentioned above) as well as Shark Island. For the keen anglers amongst us, you’re in with some luck here!
10. Taylors Bay
Not too many people know about Taylors Bay and its numerous anchorages which are sheltered against the wind. What does that mean for you? A chance to actually score a spot on weekends without rubbing up against other boats who ‘forgot’ their buoys. The beach is small and this place is mostly unremarkable yet a great back-up plan if you can’t get yourself into anywhere else.
11. Watsons Bay
Wouldn’t you just love to experience lunch right there on the beach? If so, then Watson’s Bay is perfect for casual dining or even for take-away. There is a wharf if you’re picking up passengers but you can’t dock here so it’s really ideal if you can either anchor out or bring your boat right up on to the sand. Swimming isn’t as popular (given the risk of shark attacks) but still, it’s a very picture-perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
12. Vaucluse Bay
Fancy spotting some of Sydney’s rich and famous? No doubt you’ll see them basking in the sun at Vaucluse Bay in their mansions right on the water’s edge. This place is not just exclusive but a haven for boaters to congregate from all over Sydney. There is one public mooring but space to anchor too if needed.
13. Balmoral Beach
If you want to swim without the fear of bull sharks taking a nibble, then Balmoral is the place to visit because of its swimming enclosure. Even on weekdays it can get a little busy here given its calm water and large carpark. Fortunately, that’s made up with the numerous shops and eateries dotted along the esplanade.
14. Nielson Park
Almost no one knows that you can anchor a boat in front of Nielson Park and enjoy the beach and walking tracks. If you’re needing some shade then you’ll appreciate the beautiful 100+-year-old trees that line the well-maintained and popular walking tracks here. This is the ultimate spot for a Sunday stroll or just to soak up the sunshine on the beach or on the front sunbaking deck of your boat.
15. Hermit Bay
If you’re looking for a spot to pull up for dinner, then you can’t miss Hermit Bay! There are a couple of courtesy moorings which you can tie up to and admire the beauty of this area, or the gorgeous food being whipped up at one of the various upmarket restaurants. There really is no better place than here!
16. Rose Bay
Rose Bay is one of our favourites here at Cruising Freedom. There are free public moorings available for up to 24 hours paired with numerous safe places to anchor. Better yet, there are some free short-stay berths at the Marina if you’re not able to snap up one of those exlusive mooring balls.
17. Jump Rock
We have left the best Sydney anchorage until last here! You can get to Jump Rock with a quick motor over from either Quanrantine Bay or Manly Cove so it’s perfect if you want to hook into multiple anchorages in one day. Jump Rock isn’t designed for jumping per se but plenty of local teenagers ignore these warnings. Keep an eye out for the larger motor vessels who anchor here due to the deeper anchoarage, as they let out 200ft+ of anchor chain and so they have a wider swing radius.
There you have it! Some of Sydney’s best anchorages for boats of any size. Either you want to live on the anchor or take your tender right up on to the beach, you’ll have numerous options to look after your inner craving to be out there instead of the office.