Sydney Weekend Getaways by the Water

Today we are sharing our personal favourite Sydney weekend getaways we gravitate to when we are looking for a waterfront stay. These three locations are less than 90 mins from the centre of the city yet offer a complete escape from city life. Much loved by those in the know they often fly under the radar of the average traveller – we think you will soon be planning your next weekend escape!

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Three waterfront Getaways under 90 minutes from Sydney

Sydneysiders live surrounded by some of the most beautiful waterways in the country, so planning a quick break from the city is pretty easy. Whether you are looking for a night or two away from home or a base for a one week break, we hope these ideas inspire you.

Bundeena and Port Hacking Weekends away

A firm favourite since I first visited in my late teens, the little village of Bundeena, perched on the edge of the Royal National Park, combines natural beauty with artistic flair.

You can make the trip from Cronulla across Port Hacking on the Curranulla, a cute little green and yellow ferry or the drive into Bundeena through the National Park, either way, the journey helps you leave Sydney behind and embrace the relaxation that awaits.

Sydney Weekend Getaways to Bundeena
Clear water and almost empty beaches await at Bundeeena

Things to do in Bundeena

Energetic types will love the access to the Royal National Park for walks. You could do part or all of the Coast Walk, the 26km track from Bundeena to Otford, make the trip to Figure 8 Pools or swim in the lagoon at Wattamolla.

We recommend you don’t miss the Bundeena Loop walk. This relatively easy trail gives you a chance to see the Dharawal Engravings, which are said to be more than 1000 years old.

Bundeena Rock art site Sydney Bucket list
The Dharawal Engravings Site

You will find more walks in the printed Bundeena-Maianbar Heritage Walk brochure that you can pick up a copy from the newsagents on Brighton Street.

Port Hacking also offers plenty of water sport opportunities from Kayak and SUP hire to snorkelling and diving.

If you prefer less active pursuits, the Bundeena Maianbar Art Trail might be just the thing. Held on the first Sunday of the month, artists along the trail open their homes and show off their latest works.

Bundeena offers a bunch of beaches, Jibbon is one of the most popular, Hordern Beach next to the pier is dog friendly and great for kids. Locals and those in the know love the tiny Gunyah Beach.

Related: Easy Family Bushwalks

Where to stay in Bundeena

Bundeena was where I was introduced to camping and is a great place for your first camping experience. however the popular Bonnie Vale Campground has recently been upgraded and bookings are recommended.

Bundeena is home to a bunch of cute holiday shacks – I particularly like this little one.

Bundeena Getaway

I also like Bundeena Base Holiday Home – a self-contained, self-catering air-conditioned three-bedroom holiday house a street back from the beach.

How to get to Bundeena

Public Transport: Cronulla ferries operate from Tonkin Street Public Wharf behind Cronulla Railway Station. The trip over takes about 20 minutes and ferries run on the hour.

Drive: The M1 from the city to Loftus takes a little under an hour. Turn off at Farnell Ave and make your way through Royal National Park to Bundeena.

Pittwater Weekend Getaways

Pittwater first hit my radar after reading Salvation Creek by Susan Duncan, I became determined to spend a weekend at one of the key locations in the book, Lovett Bay or nearby Scotland Island. Her descriptions of these tiny communities bought them to life for me and I was hooked.

Essentially Pittwater marks the end of suburban Sydney, once you get into a boat and make your way to one of the little islands or bayside settlements you will feel like you are on another planet.

Sydney weekend getaways to Pittwater
Quiet bays and lots of boats are the order of the day at Pittwater

It had been decades since I ventured to this water wonderland, and my holidays have always been at the charming but decidedly rustic Pittwater Eco YHA (Church Point YHA.)

Things to do in Pittwater

Bushwalks and bays are at the top of the list here if you want to do more than relax and take in the view. You could attempt to find the Aboriginal carvings at Elvira Bay or explore Morning Bay by kayak. Many of the properties for rent here include a canoe or kayak.

View Tarrangaua at Salvation Creek, the home built in 1925 for the poet Dorothea Mackellar best known as the author of “A Sunburnt Country” quite possibly the best known Australian poem.

Where to stay in Pittwater

The main areas for accommodation in Pittwater are:

  • Church Point on the mainland and the jumping-off point for the many waterfront communities
  • Scotland Island sits in the middle of Pittwater – there are four wharves on the island.
  • Morning Bay – Home of Pittwater YHA – get off at Halls Wharf
  • Lovett Bay – Small community backed by the National Park

Scotland Island – A ten-minute ferry ride from Church Point, Scotland Island is a car-free island with no shops or restaurants. Just a friendly community and views to have you wishing you were a permanent resident.

Scotland Island Lodge is the island’s only bed and breakfast. There are single, queen and a king room with sea views.

Waterfront Scotland Island Holiday Home is a great choice for group holidays. This family and pet-friendly home has two bedrooms and a double sofa bed in the lounge room. There is direct waterfront access from the deck and jetty of the home. Perfect for dropping your kayak into for a paddle.

Pasadena Sydney at Church Point offers 13 rooms and one apartment overlooking Broken Bay. Built in the 1930s and restored to its former glory by a local couple, this waterfront property offers an onsite restaurant, a rarity in Pittwater.

Pasedena Hotel Church Point
Pasadena Hotel Church Point with its restaurant and beer garden

Coal and Candle at Church Point A four-bedroom, 2 bathroom holiday home with beds for 10. The outdoor dining area seats 12 and has lovely water views. This is a great family or group getaway on Pittwater.

Lovett Bay is terrific for a weekend of food, wine and the company of someone you love – or a great book! It is the perfect do-nothing location.

Located at Morning Bay inside the Ku-ring-gai National Park Pittwater YHA is proof that you don’t need to be flush with funds to enjoy this stunning location. Dorm rooms are very affordable and private rooms, with views over the bay, cost about $80 a night. If you have a big group, you can rent the entire 32 beds and have the hostel to yourselves!

Where to eat in Pittwater

A Pittwater getaway is best suited to self-catering with perhaps a meal or two at Church Point as a treat. You will need to work with the ferry timetable or take advantage of the water taxi service.

Getting to Pittwater

Public Transport: Church Point Ferries operate hourly from 8:30am-6:30pm. Parking at the wharf can be quite expensive, so you might like to get a rideshare or someone to drop you off and leave the car at home.

Drive: You will need to leave your car behind and travel to your final destination by boat – or a long hike through the National Park.

The Hawkesbury River Getaway

Just an hour north of Sydney, the Hawkesbury River is undoubtedly one of the most underrated waterways in Sydney. Unless you were born into the know or have boating in your blood, it’s unlikely you have spent much time in the Hawkesbury region, and that is something we think you should rectify.

Every school holidays we would cross the river on our way to a Central Coast caravan park at Umina Beach. The vast expanse of water and little shacks lining its edge always caught my attention even as a primary school aged child.

Things to do in the Hawkesbury

With gems like the Berowra Waters National Park, Dangar Island and of course the Riverboat Postman there is lots to see here and before you know it you will be booking a return visit.

Dangar Island View
View from Dangar Island

Choose your Hawkesbury River location by how comfortable you are being cut off from the world. These Sydney weekend getaways are best for boat lovers as they can only be reached by water. Perfect for holidays that feature sitting taking in the view, reading or exploring the inlets and bays of the river by boat. If you prefer to stay connected to mainland Brooklyn and Berowra are your best options.

Areas to consider for a Hawkesbury River escape are:

  • Brooklyn – the hub of the region. It has the most shops and easy access by train or car
  • Dangar Island and Little Wobbly – serviced by a public ferry with permanent communities
  • Bar Point – water access only and populated mainly by weekenders
  • Berowra – a mix of easy access and total seclusion with some car access
Matt Berowra Tour
Matt from Sydney Guided Tours does a fantastic walk in Berowra

Where to Stay on the Hawkesbury

The Villa Boathouse is stunning, both in its location and its styling. Located at Berowra Creek and only accessible by boat, or if the budget stretches by seaplane. The property offers state-of-the-art technology, a Mediterranean look and feel with water frontage and a lovely firepit perfect for cool sunsets.

The villa boathouse Berowra Creek Hawkesbury
The Villa Boathouse Berowra Creek Credit: VRBO

Dangar Island Beach House has direct access to Bradleys Beach and has three double bedrooms and three bathrooms. You have use of kayaks for exploring the waterways and when you fancy some time on dry land the house has a lovely verandah overlooking the water, which is perfect for an afternoon nap or a couple of hours escaping into the pages of your book.

Dangar Island Beach House airbnb
Dangar Island Beach House Credit: VRBO

Another favourite on Dangar is the Ferry Masters Cottage which sleeps 8 in 4 bedrooms making it perfect for a family escape.

Dangar has both a community club and a cafe by the wharf you can visit on foot when hunger strikes.

Where to eat on the Hawkesbury River

How to get to Brooklyn

Public Transport Trains arrive from the city at Hawkesbury River Station in Brooklyn. From here there are ferries or boat hire is available.

Drive: Take the M1 from Sydney to Brooklyn where you can arrange boat hire or take a ferry.

Happy to travel a little further? Check out these articles

Where to find these waterfront weekend getaways

Want more Getaway ideas? Check out these articles:

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8 thoughts on “Sydney Weekend Getaways by the Water”

  1. Three great options, all make we wonder why we never leave the city when we visit Sydney. Hawkesbury and a little secluded getaway is really calling to me right now, but I think Pittwater will be our first of the three.

  2. Sydneysiders really do have such choice for (long) weekend getaways. Having visited Hawkesbury many years ago. A truly beautiful location.

  3. Those look like some fantastic weekend getaways with lovely views. Such beautiful places around Sydney.

  4. Those AirBNBs, tho!!! These all look like fantastic weekend getaways. Certainly spoiled for choice, eh?

  5. Those cottages with their waterfront view look so perfect. When we get to Australia, this is on our list.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing on these wonderful places so close to Sydney….beautiful places to visit once all of this was off.

  7. Great post. I love Australia and can’t wait to get back and see more of it. Hopefully in the next year. Beautiful photos.

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