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Neighbourhood Guide: Sydney’s Manly and Northern Beaches

Sure, Bondi may be blessed by sculpt-y surfer studs and an infinity dipper with more social cred than an insta-snapping starlet. But venture 30 mins north of the CBD and you’ll discover its Northern Beaches; a seemingly endless stretch of beautiful coastline that starts at quaint seaside town Manly and ends at oh-so hi-so Palm Beach.

Luckily, this sensational strip is easy accessible by private car, helicopter, or – if you really must – public transport (see the L90 bus), and while each of its nabes is spangled with unique charm, we’ve selected the very best for you to sample.

Start your morning by joining Manly’s yoga-mat-clad glamazons at Power Living. This boutique studio just 100m from the water has racked up a cult following with its heated Vinyasa and Yin yoga group classes led by expert instructors, plus meditation and zen-inducing massages.

Bendy Wendy activated, now power on to sate appetites with an exquisitely presented Bare Naked brekkie bowl. These energy-boosting helpings are packed with superfood and nutrient-rich ingreds that are equal parts pretty and palate-popping. Or, for something a little heartier – trot around Ferry Bower and flop at The Boathouse; a flower-festooned cafe-cum-kiosk that fires up trad portions and seafood-centric lunches smack bang on view-tiful Shelly Beach.

Ready to plunge head first into the depths of the retail pool? Hop on the spendy circuit at multi-label lovely Mr and Mrs Smith; chokka with men’s, women’s and kids’ contempo wear, dainty gold and silver jewellery, accessories and lifestyle kit from Oz and international names such as Zimmerman, Jac + Jack and Tutu Du Monde. Lil sis’ McClean and Page is nearby with more homegrown fash by Camilla and Marc, Dion Lee and Lover; Bow and Arrow is just a short amble away with youthful, bohemian gal n’ guy threads, artisan beauty prods,  fragrances, footwear and more.  

Wanting more? You’re insatiable. On you go, north to Pittwater Rd for one more shopping hit at Assembly Label’s airy, white-washed boutique for M/W hipster threads and a handy little on-site java station, before cruising ahead to Avalon; a slightly-more-sleepy burb a 50 minute drive away and offering more atmossy ambles and beach-chic appeal.

If a quick refuel is in order; begin by treating yourself to a buttery, diet-derailing cronut from La Banette Patisserie Boulangerie before flitting to mamapapa; your one-stop shop for all things tot. Amp up your parental A-game with creamy French linen frocks for your budding fashionista, designer strollers et al; then skip over to Aussie design house Bassike; beloved for its locally-made, minimalist cotton basics.

Spruiked your appetite for the Northern Beaches? Then make a weekend of it. A ten minute drive up the peninsula is Palm Beach aka ‘Palmie’, a stretch of sand with top-end beach houses and shore-fied shopping opps that make it the chic weekend escape for Sydney’s sophisti-cats. Check yourself into the pant-dropping, Mackerel-Beach fronting Palm Beach Pool House and take sips by your private plunge pool and jetty, or ditch your bags and set out again to explore the area’s plentiful offerings. But a stillie’s toss away and not to be missed are earthy homeware, art and beachwear boutique Bow Wow, and neighbouring Palm Beach Home showcasing a fab collection of design decor. Superstar shopper!

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