Palm Beach in Sydney’s Northern suburbs is an absolutely beautiful part of Australia. Located a short drive north of Sydney, Palm Beach makes a wonderful change from the busy beach towns closer to the centre of Sydney such as Bondi and Manly. There are lots of things to do at Palm Beach, from climbing Barrenjoey Head to get a stunning view over Palm Beach, to seeing all the outdoor filming locations of Home and Away or going for a swim in the beautiful water. Read on to find out the best things to do in Palm Beach Australia!
Where is Palm Beach located?
Palm Beach is a suburb located on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, 41 km north of the Sydney CBD. The whole area is known as Palm Beach, as well as the actual beach. Palm Beach is Sydney’s most northern beach and is located on the top right hand corner of the map below left. You will see on the map on the right a zoomed in version of Palm Beach.
The actual beach called Palm Beach is the beach on the right hand side of the zoomed in map. It faces the Pacific Ocean and so of course there are waves here. The beach on the other side however, has very still water. This body of water is known as Pittwater and the water is very calm here as it is not facing the open ocean. For this reason a lot of people do paddlebording or kayaking here.
How to get to Palm Beach from Sydney:
The most convenient way to get to Palm Beach is to drive here.
If you don’t have a car you can take a bus from Sydney CBD. The L90 bus takes about 1.5 hours and departs from Wynyard Station (Stand C Carrington Street), Town Hall or Central Station.
You can always take the ferry and train back to Sydney if you wish to come back a different route, although it does take slightly longer. You can take the ferry from Palm Beach to Ettalong. Then from Ettalong get the bus to Woy Woy, where you can take the train back to Sydney Central Station. Both the train and the ferry are extremely scenic. The ferry takes 30 minutes – click here to see the timetable.
How to get to Palm Beach from the Central Coast:
If you are coming from the Central Coast you can either drive or you can get the ferry from Wagstaffe or Ettalong across to Palm Beach. Taking the ferry is a lot quicker (30 minutes) as opposed to driving (at least 1 hour). The ferry ride is very scenic and you will pass through Brisbane Water, Broken Bay and Pittwater. You’ll get stunning views of beaches, National Parks, Lion Island and the Barrenjoey Lighthouse.
Where to park at Palm Beach
Most people choose to park in the pay and display car park by Pittwater Park and Palm Beach Wharf. It is opposite Barrenjoey House restaurant and hotel and Palm Beach Fish & Chips. This car park is VERY expensive though and gets full quickly, so I advise to park elsewhere. There are lots of parking spots just off the road as you carry on into Palm Beach more.
A lot of the parking in Palm Beach is payable and in some places it can be quite expensive, especially if you are here all day. There are some areas on the side of the road where you can park for free, just always obey the signs as they usually have a limit to the amount of time you are allowed to park there. Note the state of New South Wales (where Sydney is located) is particularly strict on parking and handing out parking fines and even towing vehicles if you disobey the signs. Read the signs carefully. Sometimes they ask you to park facing a certain way or at a certain angle so please follow it to avoid getting a fine!
I arrived to Palm Beach just after 2pm and managed to find street parking right next to Governor Phillip Park and Palm Beach, on the corner of Ocean Road and Beach Road. The sign said 2P parking (which means 2 hours free parking) up until 4pm only, so as I had arrived just after 2pm it meant I could park there all night for free if I wished.
THINGS TO DO AT PALM BEACH
An absolute must do when at Palm Beach is to climb up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse – Sydney’s northernmost point. From here you get an incredible view of the two beaches on the spit of land making up Palm Beach. It is a short but steep 15 minute climb but the 360 degree views are absolutely breathtaking and it is well worth the climb.
To get to the walking track up to the viewpoint go onto Station Beach (located on the opposite of the spit of land to Palm Beach). Walk to the end of the beach, in the direction of the lighthouse (away from The Boathouse) and you’ll find the start of the walking route on your right hand side.
There are two routes you can take to get to the top: the quicker but steeper route that involves stairs (15 minute walk) or the slightly longer route (20 minutes) that is a paved uphill path. This was the route I took and found it challenging enough. Click here to see the fast route and how to access the path from the beach. You can also see the slower paved route on the map as well.
The best spots to take photos are before you get to the lighthouse if you’re coming from the paved path. There are a few big boulders just off the main path that you can stand on. The view is just incredible. So if you do plan to take the stairs, it won’t take you by this part so definitely make sure to come down this way!
When you reach the lighthouse you can see stunning views out onto the Pacific Ocean and the Central Coast. There is a water fountain and toilets up here if you need.
The Observation Point offers stunning view out over Pittwater and Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, especially at sunset. If you park at Pittwater Park you’ll walk past Observation Point on your way to Palm Beach.
Home and Away
Most tourists will come to visit Palm Beach because it is the home of the popular Australian soap opera Home & Away.
Viewers of Home and Away however will be familiar with the name Summer Bay, not Palm Beach. Summer Bay is the name of the fictional beach town in which the soap opera is filmed. Palm Beach is the real name of the suburb Home & Away is filmed in in Australia.
Home and Away Filming Schedule
I spoke to several locals when I was at Palm Beach to ask about the filming schedule and days for Home and Away. They all said filming usually happens on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It is never guaranteed you will see filming when you are here as schedules can often change, but these are the days where filming is most likely to occur.
I arrived on a Thursday and so didn’t see any filming. This didn’t really bother me though because there is so much to see and do here. Seeing filming would just be the cherry on the top. The fact that you are able to walk around the outdoor filming set as you wish is just brilliant.
Home and Away Tour
You can visit all the outdoor filming locations independently for free or you can pay to visit as part of a tour, which includes transport to Palm Beach. On a Home and Away tour you have the chance to possibly meet cast members. You’ll never know which Home and Away cast members you will meet until you get there as the filming schedule is not available to the tour company beforehand.
If you can’t/ don’t want to do a tour it is perfectly easy to visit Palm Beach independently, just you won’t have the opportunity to meet cast members. Whilst Palm Beach is a popular and well-known Sydney beach, it is a lot quieter than many of Sydney’s other beaches so if you visit on non filming days there won’t usually be tours so it will be a lot quieter.
Home and Away Filming Locations
The general public are able to access all outdoor filming areas of Summer Bay (Palm Beach). If you head to Governor Phillip Park just behind Palm Beach you’ll see the iconic wooden fence that seems to appear in every single Home and Away episode. Carry on walking along here and you will come to the infamous Surf Club.
Summer Bay Surf Club
If there’s only one Home and Away filming location you have to see, it’s the Surf Club. It is the most instantly recognisable and the most famous of all the Home and Away filming locations. Summer Bay Surf Club is located at the North Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) building. Click here to see the location on Google maps.
You’ll see Alf Stewart’s name above the door of the Surf Club. Next door at the Surf Club Kiosk you can buy food and drinks and there are tables outside where you can eat and enjoy the sea view. At the kiosk you can also buy Summer Bay memorabilia such as towels, water bottles, hats, keyrings and more.
The Boat House
Note there are two The Boat House’s in Palm Beach. They are about a 10 minute walk apart. You’ll most likely see the one on the corner of Beach Road and Barrenjoey Road first as it is on the main road as you are driving through Palm Beach. This is not the one used in Home and Away filming – it is a bakery and home store.
The Boathouse restaurant often shown on Home and Away is located on Station beach – the beach on the opposite side to Palm Beach. They offer really nice breakfasts and there is a lovely jetty out the front.
Click here to see the location of both of The Boat Houses. There are also a few other locations in Sydney of the same restaurant chain.
Alf’s Bait Shop
Alf’s Bait Shop is located on the side of The Boat House on the beach and you can hire paddle boards and kayaks here.
Water Sports at Station Beach
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) and kayaking is really popular at Station Beach as the water is so calm. Station Beach is next to The Boat House on the other side of the spit of land from Palm Beach. You can rent kayaks and paddle boards for an hour from Alf’s Bait Shop.
Just the other side of The Boat House from Station Beach is Barrenjoey Beach. This is another nice beach and after 5.30pm you can take dogs here. Barrenjoey Beach is particularly beautiful at sunset.
Where to eat in Palm Beach
Dunes is located right behind the Summer Bay Surf Club. It has really nice interior design and the prices for meals are very reasonable.
The Boathouse Palm Beach
Very popular place, sometimes used during filming for Home and Away.
Opposite Palm Beach Wharf, next to Palm Beach Fish and Chips shop.
Palm Beach Fish and Chips
Apparently the best fish and chips in Sydney!
Places near Palm Beach to visit
There are lots of lovely areas near Palm Beach to visit that you can really make a weekend out of exploring Sydney’s northern beaches and surrounds!
Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park
Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park is a really nice place to visit for a few hours and offers beautiful views over Palm Beach. It is located just on the other side of Pittwater and you can take a 15 minute ferry from Palm Beach Wharf to either Currawong Beach or Mackerel Beach. The beaches are really nice and secluded and there are also a few really nice hiking trails you can take, as well as some interesting historic Aboriginal land engravings. Click here for the ferry timetables to Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park.
You can also drive to Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park but it takes over an hour to reach here by car, so the ferry is a much quicker and more direct route.
Sydney’s most beautiful beach – Resolute Beach!
At Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park you’ll also find Resolute Beach – Sydney’s most beautiful beach! It is so picturesque and quiet here and you look out across to Palm Beach. To reach Resolute Beach just get off the ferry at Mackerel Beach and hike to Resolute Beach. The hike isn’t too difficult (there are some boulders to climb over though) and it takes about half an hour to hike there. I do recommend to wear trainers when you are walking through the bush.
If you want to continue hiking a little further, carry on walking to West Head Lookout. The lookout is located quite high up and offers incredible and unique views of Palm Beach.
Nearby Scotland Island is a beautiful area located nearby that you should also explore. It is located in Pittwater, the body of water separating Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park and Palm Beach. The island is very small there are no cars here, and the ferry from Church Point (30 minutes drive from Palm Beach) takes less than 10 minutes.
Where to stay near Palm Beach
If you are looking to stay overnight near Palm Beach there are some really nice options nearby.
Jonah’s Boutique Hotel & Restaurant:
Jonah’s Boutique Hotel & Restaurant is a great high-end place to stay. Located at nearby Whale Beach on the top of a cliff, Jonah’s offers spectacular views and is the perfect place to stay. Jonah’s is a 3 minute drive from Palm Beach or just under 20 minutes to walk.
Whale Beach is the next beach down from Palm Beach and is one of the 23 beaches that is located on the Palm Beach to Manly walk – a 35km long continuous footpath that goes from Palm Beach all the way down to Manly Beach! It takes around 15 hours to complete this walk and many people walk it for charity. Click here to learn more about The Bloody Long Walk, as the charity walk is called!
Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park
For the adventurous type or those on a budget, you can get the ferry to Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park and camp overnight! You can take a 10 minute ferry from Palm Beach Wharf to The Basin and camp there. It can get quite busy, especially on the weekends. Camping is $34 per tent plus National Park fees of $4.40 per person. Click here for the ferry timetables.
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