Our favourite Harbour anchorages for the ultimate Sydney boat cruise

You’ve just boarded your luxury boat cruise, and the stewardess has handed you a refreshing beverage. Often, at this point, you start to wonder where you’ll spend most of your precious charter time. 

We’ve got you.

From city views to serene bush bays and quiet beaches, Sydney Harbour really does have it all, and our Lifestyle Charters crew knows every nook and cranny. Whether you’re a regular or heading out for the first time, we’ve put together our top spots designed to surprise and delight you on your next Sydney Harbour boat cruise.

1. Athol Bay, Mosman

Athol Bay is popular for a very good reason. Tucked in between Taronga Zoo and Bradley’s Head, Athol Bay embodies everything we know and love about Sydney Harbour. Picture a perfect combination of bush and the iconic Sydney cityscape. Athol Bay is a popular anchorage with other boats making the positive, energetic atmosphere a ready-made vibe.

If you’re lucky enough to nab an anchorage close to the beach, swimming to shore and looking back at the stunning city backdrop will take your breath away.

Athol Bay is a great spot on those hot summer days with a set-in sea breeze, but be prepared to share this stunning spot with others.

2. Queens Beach, Rose Bay

This charming little beach is a favourite among locals all year round for its privacy and relaxing nature, but let’s be honest; you come to Rose Bay for those incredible 180-degree views of the Harbour! On a bright sunny day, Sydney sparkles, and it’s from right here that you can sit back after a dip in the water and soak it all in. 

Rose Bay is good in most weather conditions, especially an easterly or nor’ easterly wind.

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3. Chowder Bay, Mosman

In Chowder Bay, we mix history with seclusion. Overlooked by heritage buildings in Sydney’s fancy suburb of Mosman, Chowder Bay is one of those beautiful little bays tucked around the corner as you’re heading out towards Manly. There are no city views from here, but you will get peace and serenity like no other. 

Being so close to the heads, the water is often clear, and snorkelling is a must. In fact, in 2023, the Sydney Institute of Marine Science Aquarium reintroduced local seahorses into Chowder Bay, selected for its crystal waters and ideal conditions. You can read more about that here. We love sharing stories of Harbour revitalisation.

Known also as Clifton’s Gardens when accessing this spot by land, Chowder Bay should not be overlooked, even if it does lack city views.

4. Chinamans Beach, Middle Harbour

As boat cruise enthusiasts ourselves, there is something very special about Middle Harbour; you only have to look around on a sunny Sydney day to see that many locals are as attracted to it as we are.

The boat ride to Middle Harbour is about 40 minutes from the city, so it is quite a commitment of precious charter time, but once there, you’ll be rewarded with crystal clear, protected waters. 

While there are many perfect little beaches and bays here to choose from, our pick is Chinamans Beach on the southern side of the harbour. It’s also just on the other side of the wash restrictions, so you can be sure the waters stay calm while you relax. Plus, you can tuck up close to the beach so you can swim to shore and explore. This is a great option when you have kids on board so we highly recommend this one for families.

5. Castle Rock, Middle Harbour

Castle Rock is one of Middle Harbour’s other hidden gems. Located on the northern side, it is protected in most wind conditions and offers warm shallow waters for swimming. On busy Harbour days like Boxing Day or New Year’s Day, this little spot is busy with local boaters, but it’s still fun and relaxing. 

Castle Rock would be worth a visit on longer charters of five or six hours. It’s the kind of place you want to set yourself up and stay a while, so you’ll be grateful for the extra time.

6. Collins Beach, Manly

Collins Beach is heaven on earth and is last in this list purely by distance! Tucked in over near Manly, this not-very-accessible beach is one of our favourites for swimming, sunning, and relaxing all day long. 

Being on the north side of the heads in Manly, not all charter boats can get there with more than 12 guests on board (one of those compliance rules, we’re afraid), but it is always worth asking the question, particularly if you have a longer charter time of five or six hours. 

However, if you are being picked up in Manly, you can quite happily take your boat to capacity there (note: extra Manly wharf fees apply). 

This place is next to the old Quarantine Station and has it all; history, bush, and unique marine life. You’ll spot some cute little Fairy Penguins playing around here if you’re lucky!

Collins Beach is a 45-minute boat cruise from the Sydney CBD. 

Ready to set sail? We’re here to help!

So here are a handful of our favourite spots on Sydney Harbour for your next boat cruise. Of course your captain will find the perfect anchorage based on the weather conditions of the day, but where you have the freedom to pick, you’ll now have some prime locations to decide from. 

If you’re ready to embark on a glorious day on the Harbour, contact us, and we’ll put together an itinerary that will make your experience unforgettable.