Sydney – 12 easy ways to enjoy Manly on a budget, February 2023


Want to enjoy Manly on a budget? How about a picnic at The Office, walking The Wormhole and a visit to a Medieval Fair?

How To Enjoy Manly On A Budget Blog - Lead Image Of Valerie Garcia And Kelly Smith (Lexis Manly Staffers)
Valerie Garcia and Kelly Smith, Lexis English staff members


Lexis English staff members Valerie and Kelly originally came to Australia on working holiday visas – just like many of our students. Valerie is from Paris and Kelly is a Londoner.

Both have learned how to do a lot with just a little bit of cash and, together, compiled this list of suggestions to help our international students enjoy Manly on a budget.

Their recommendations will take you around Manly and to other destinations that you may not yet have visited.

1. Begin the day on Manly Beach

As Australians say – this suggestion is just too easy!

Grab a coffee (in your reusable coffee cup of course) and walk down to Manly Beach to watch the sunrise.

Kelly says it’s a great way to start the day all year round, but especially in winter when the sky is lit with a mix of bright reds, oranges and pinks. During May to October, you might even see a whale.

Sunrise Over The Sea From Manly Beach. The Sky Is Dotted With Clouds That Seem To Glow Orange, Pink And Mauve.
Photo by Kelly Smith

2. Thursday Night Ping Pong $$$

Need fast cash? How good is your ping pong? The Steyne Hotel in Manly Corso has a competition to win $200 at Thursday Night Ping Pong.

3. Walk The Wormhole

One of Manly’s hidden places – The Wormhole, as locals call it, is a rough 50m walking track that connects Freshwater with Queenscliff through a rock tunnel. There are rewarding views at either end. You can read about it here.

Enjoy Manly By Walking The Wormhole Between Queenscliffe And Freshwater.
Photo by Kelly Smith

4. Kayak to Store Beach

Did you know there’s a secluded beach in Manly that’s only accessible by water?

Rent a kayak from Manly Kayak Centre and ask the staff for directions. Single and double kayaks are available and rentals can be made for 1-8 hours. Kelly suggests a two hour rental. Find dates and prices here.

A Red Kayak Lying On Sunny And Secluded Store Beach.
Kayak at Store Beach – Photo Kelly Smith
Kelly Smith Kayaking At Store Beach
Kelly kayaking at Store Beach. Photo: Kelly Smith.
Enjoy Manly By Kayaking To Secluded Store Beach.
Store Beach. Photo by Kelly Smith

5. Play Trivia at The Ivanhoe Hotel

Tuesday evenings at the Ivanhoe Hotel on Manly Corso are Trivia nights. Practice your English by answering general knowledge questions, get to know some new people and don’t sweat it if you get the answers wrong – Kelly says there are prizes for losers too!

6. Snorkel at Shelly Beach

YouTube video

Another great way to enjoy Manly on a budget is to go snorkelling at Shelly Beach – part of Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve.

The reserve aims to protect marine life and is frequented by an array of underwater creatures like the beautiful Fiddler Ray. If you’re lucky, you might also see cuttlefish, cow nose rays, turtles or even a Port Jackson shark. Kelly describes Port Jackson sharks as the “puppy dogs” of the ocean and recommends buying or hiring snorkels from Manly Dive Centre. If you don’t want to snorkel alone, Manly Dive Centre offer guided snorkel tours – Adults $75. You can rent a Go-pro camera for an extra $50.

Port Jackson Shark At Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve
Port Jackson shark. Photo by Kelly Smith
Cuttlefish At Cabbage Tree Bay
Cuttle Fish: Photo by Kelly Smith

7. Enjoy Sunday sunsets at The Office

Affectionately called The Office by locals, is a grassy area at East Esplanade by Manly Wharf. Kelly and Val say it’s a popular destination on Sunday summer evenings – a place to watch the sunset with a drink or picnic.

You’ll find groups of people chatting and listening to music while the sun goes down. Just remember to tidy up your rubbish afterwards! There are general rubbish and recycling bins nearby.

8. Manly markets

Shop at Manly Markets on Saturdays and Sundays for arts and crafts. You’re bound to bump into someone from the college.

Beyond Manly

Travelling beyond Manly, Valerie suggests a visit to the exotic Chinese Garden of Friendship at Darling Harbour, where you can enjoy a matcha tea.

The Gardens are in the middle of the city, but once you’re in there you wouldn’t know it. For some Instagram fun, you can dress up in traditional Chinese costume and share photos. 

Adults $12 | Student Card holders $8

9. Visit the Grounds  and The Potting Shed in Alexandria, or Bella Vista cafe at North Head, Manly

Sydney has a reputation for its cafe culture and weekend brunches.

Both The Grounds and The Potting Shed in Alexandria are hugely popular with Sydneysiders and are worth a visit to find out why.

If you want somewhere closer to Manly with spectacular views, Valerie also recommends Bella Vista Cafe at North Head. Bella Vista is situated within the North Head National Park, which means you can enjoy an early morning walk and work up an appetite before you eat.

10. Tree top and Zipline tours

For some robust physical fun, Valerie recommends a zipline tour with Illawarra Fly in the Illawarra Rainforest, south of Sydney. She says it’s a good destination for both kids and adults.

Treetop walks start at $24.50 for adults and zipline tours start at $69 for adults.

11. Murder Mystery Game at Elizabeth Bay House

This is an event for our Upper intermediate, Advanced, IELTS, FCE and CAE English language students! Go alone or bring a group of friends for an evening of intrigue and mystery.

The Elizabeth Bay House Murder Mystery Game is an immersive activity and you are the detective! Search the rooms of this historic house, find clues, and interrogate suspects to unmask the true murderer!

Friday and Saturday evenings – 1.5 hours | Ages 18+

$60 / per person | Drinks can be purchased on site.

Read more.

12. St Ives Medieval Faire

Scenes From The St Ives Medieval Faire - An Event Featured In The &Quot;How To Enjoy Manly On A Budget&Quot; Blog.

Want to step back in time to the Medieval days? Every September, the St Ives Medieval Faire recreates authentic looking medieval villages where you will see performances and activities like;

  • jousting tournaments
  • a Viking battle
  • crusader tournament
  • trebuchet exhibitions
  • hawking and archery!

There are also market stalls, a grand parade and artisans selling authentic handmade crafts.

This is an inclusive event for young and old. Put it in the diary for Spring!


So there you have it – Valerie and Kelly’s 12 easy ways to enjoy Manly and beyond on a budget. We hope you enjoyed these tips and have fun in Sydney.


Not yet a student at Lexis Manly and want to know more?

Lexis English in Manly delivers academic excellence in General English, IELTS Preparation, Cambridge FCE and CAE. Download the 2023 Lexis English Brochure here or get in touch to enquire.

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