When it comes to cities, it is not often when you can find one that is a mixture of natural bushland and cityscape in one. Because of it’s topography, Sydney has great vistas, waterways, bushland, natural parks, beautiful beaches- both oceanside and protected harbour beaches, and National Parks, which can be explored if you have some extra time to spend in the city.
There are 4 large waterways in greater Sydney, which have as much natural appeal to them as Sydney Harbour itself. They are the Broken Bay-Hawkesbury River to the north which includes the Pittwater, Sydney Harbour north side and south side, Botany Bay and Port Hacking to the south. All these large natural harbours are great for any type of watersport you like to practice especially on a warm summers day.
To start a good tour from the Sydney CBD on foot, you can walk on the harbour’s edge past the Opera House through to the Royal Botanical Gardens, go past Lady Macquaries chair on the hill and walk dockside into Woolloomooloo Bay. On the other side you can walk along the park at The Rocks and stop at the park directly under the Harbour Bridge. All of these have excellent views of the north side of the harbour.
Next trip from the CBD, you can also get a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly and get your first feel of an ocean beach and then go back to the ferry terminal where you a protected harbour beach.
The south side of Sydney Harbour can hide some beautiful secluded bays which you can swim with a view. From the CBD you can drive toward South Head and go past beautiful suburbs like Double Bay and Rose Bay, and maybe stop for a swim at Parsley Bay which is surrounded by parkland (you might wonder if you are still in the city) or Nielsen Park which is also a nice place to swim. At the end of the trip you can stop at Watson’s Bay. There you can swim while watching views of the CBD skyline, the harbour bridge and Opera House in one, go for lunch at Watson’s Bay Hotel or walk up to lookout and have views of the ocean and the harbour.
North side of the harbour also has some great spots, like Hunters Hill, the Spit Bridge, Mosman, Cremorne etc where you can find bushland, beaches and the typical amazing views. The north shore differs from the south where there are many deep bays, which hide smaller deep bays, which hide even smaller bays, which are all amazing to visit and too numerous to name.
The northernmost part of Sydney Broken Bay also has some great waterways, but none better than the Pittwater. On a nice day you can sit at the Newport Arms Hotel, have a bite to eat and look across the Pittwater to see bushland and all the sailing vessels harboured there. Closer to the oceanside Palm Beach probably Sydney’s most beautiful ocean beach you can walk between the ocean and the Pittwater. There are also many other waterways along Broken Bay, but many of them can only be discovered by boat, given that both sides of the bay are National Parks. Here you can find a beach to yourself for the day. One easy point to get a view of the Hawkesbury river is when crossing the bridge on the freeway to Newcastle there is a lookout and viewing area at Brooklyn bay area.
Botany Bay just south of the CBD, also has many bays which are too many to name. Some of the easier to access are La Perouse, and popular Brighton-le Sands with it’s many restaurants and bars.
To the far south of Sydney lies Cronulla and Port Hacking Bay. On the south of the bay is Bundeena, which can be accessed by ferry from Cronulla. It is a good place to relax for the day. In Cronulla there are walks you can do from the oceanside beaches past Cronulla Point, and then harbourside to the bushland and parks that surround Gunnamatta Bay and then back to the centre of Cronulla.