When you’re traveling, you can find yourself staying in the same place for long periods of time.
But being a backpacker isn’t always about drinking and partying, follow your sense of adventure and enjoy a day trip. Manly NSW, is the perfect location for exploring Sydney and the wider area of New South Wales.
This weekend I jumped in the car and headed to the Blue Mountains. It’s the perfect getaway when you need a break from the beach, and the beautiful fresh air is the best solution to city life.
A 2.5 hour drive from Manly, or 3 hours on public transport, the Blue Mountains are easily accessible and well worth the effort of leaving Manly for the day.
Named after the way they look when the light hits the mountains, the area is full of great walks, spectacular views and quiet villages.
By far the biggest draw for most tourists is the 3 Sisters, located just outside Katoomba, this rock formation can be enjoyed from an easy to reach visitor center, but is also the start of some of Australias most famous walks.
Click here or on the image below to find out more about what you’ll find in the Blue Mountains.
But be warned, the weather can be unpredictable and it’s hard to enjoy the view when all you can see is fog!
Traveling isn’t about finding yourself – we all know you can do that anywhere.
It is, however, about challenging yourself, experiencing new things, broadening your horizons and growing in confidence.
With that in mind, there is one sure way to fast track all those experiences.
That is to travel alone.
Traveling alone, can be a daunting thought. But believe us, the things you’ll gain, will out way the fear in no time. And, don’t fear, with the wonders of modern technology, being alone rarely means you are actually alone (if you don’t want to).
Check out below 5 reasons why solo travel will be one of the best things you ever do!
1) Alone Time – In our crazy, hectic, social media lives having a moment to yourself can often be hard to come by. But when you take a trip by yourself, you’ll have plenty. Time to read, time to think, time to write and most importantly, time to be. Learning to enjoying your own company can be one of the greatest things of all.
2) Make your own plans and change your own plans – Whether you’re easy going or the leader of the pack, backpacking with others means compromise. However, if you’re alone, the planning and un-planning is totally up to you. Where you go, how long you stay, what you explore and the adventures you have, are all up to you.
3) Meet great new people – The people you meet, and the friends you make along the way will play a massive part of your experience. If you’re on your own, making an effort to meet new people is more of a priority than if you’re with friends. After all, traveling is awesome, but making new friends along the way can be even better.
4) Challenge yourself – Travelling is all about challenging yourself, putting yourself in new positions and experiencing things you’ve never felt before. Putting yourself out there on your own, is a far greater challenge than having someone there to hold your hand along the way. And you will experience greater growth.
5) Boost your confidence – Completing a solo trip, whether it’s a weekend away or gap year, is an instant confidence booster. Learning to be happy in your own company, managing your own itinerary, making new friends and challenging yourself every step of the way.
Not all backpackers travel with backpacks.
Now you can get those bags with the four wheels that glide effortlessly through airports – but, let’s face it, you can’t beat the satisfaction of traveling light.
Imagine picking up your bag and flinging it carefreely over your shoulder. No more needing a lift to get it on your back, bumping into innocent passers by, or needing a whole row of seats on the bus.
Traveling light doesn’t just make backpacking easier, it also saves you money – no more paying for checked luggage.
But then, the question is, when you are traveling around the world, how on earth do you pack light?
Towel – Be smart and grab one of the travel towels, they’re light weight and dry super fast, so no more damp smell in your bag. And, forget about a beach towel, you can always use a sarong. They’re half the size and can be used for a skirt or scarf when you get board of your regular clothes.
Shoes – One of the best things about Australian beach towns, like Manly NSW, is you really can get away with not wearing any shoes at all. As one of your bulkiest items you need to be ruthless here, ask yourself, do you really need all those pairs? You should be able to get it down to flip flops, night out and trainers/walking shoes.
Clothes – They take up the majority of your space, so you need to be smart here. You’d be amazed at what you can get away with and how little you need. And, don’t forget most Hostels have washing machines.
Toiletries – These items take up a lot of space, but if you want to be traveling with hand luggage only, you need to keep things under 100ml. It’s easy enough to grab the empty bottles from any pharmacy and streamline your wash bag.
Come rain or shine, our love for Sydney is unwavering!
However, even we have to admit, there’s been a lot more rain than shine recently. But, regardless of the whether Sydney really is a place like no other, so grab your raincoat and get out and about – there’s so much to see and after all that’s what backpacking is all about.
If you need a little inspiration on great things to do on a rainy day in Sydney, check out our guide below.
MCA – The Museum of Contemporary Art is right in the heart of Circular Quay, just a 2 minute walk from where the Manly Ferry gets in. Entrance is free, with the option of paid exhibitions as well, it’s totally worth exploring. And, if art really isn’t your thing, head straight to the top floor, where you’ll find an awesome roof top spot for a coffee or a glass of wine with an amazing view.
Opera House Tour – If you’re traveling through Sydney, Sydney Opera House is a must, and why not take the tour and learn a lot more about the history and purpose of this iconic Opera House. And afterwards, you can enjoy a smug drink in the Opera Bar, safe in the knowledge you know a lot more about it than the locals. Tours run daily and cost approximately $37.
Flip Out – Channel your inner kid and burn some energy. Flip Out is basically a warehouse full of trampolines and it’s flipping AWESOME! There’s one in Brookvale about a 10 minute drive from Manly and we love it.
Grab a coffee – Manly is full of awesome coffee shops which will all happily offer you refuge from the rain. Check out our blog post about hidden coffee shops in Manly and find your favorite.
Go for a swim – Why not? You’re already wet and let’s face it, it’s not exactly cold at the moment. Embrace the rain and jump on in. And, if you don’t fancy the sea the Andrew Boy Charlton swimming pool is in Manly and has loads to offer from an outdoor pool for laps to an indoor shallow play area.
There’s so much more to Manly than hitting the beach.
Yes, yes, Manly Beach is pretty great, but did you know there’s some awesome coffee shops hidden just off the obvious route – all you have to do is explore.
However, with the recent opening of Starbucks on the corner of the main pedestrian walkway, the Corso and the beach, the need to explore, for some, is getting less.
But, if like me, you want more from your experience in a new town than a chain coffee shop and mediocre coffee, this article might just be up your street.
5 off the beaten track coffee shops that are totally worth seeking out in Manly
- Fika Swedish Kitchen – 5b Market Lane – This place is loved by the locals and you’ll most likely have to wait for a table, but I promise you, the wait will be worth it. Keep an eye on their name day celebration, if your name comes up you get a free coffee.
- Ruby Lane, Shops 1&2, 200 Pittwater Road – It’s a good 20 minute walk from the heart of Manly, or you can catch any of the busses traveling north up Pittwater Road. With a beautiful covered deck, organic coffee and fresh food, it’s a great place to kill a few hours as you watch the world go by.
- Ora – 17B Whistler Street – With a strong ethical theme running through everything they have on offer, Ora is a great place to eat clean and feel good while you do it.
- Market Lane Cafe, 37 – 39 The Corso – Considering this cafe is in the center of Manly, it’s surprisingly easy to miss. Hidden down a small lane, they offer great coffee and a vibrant atmosphere.
- Showbox, 19 Whistler Street – This trendy little cafe has contributed not only great coffee to the Manly community but also generated a vibrant music scene.
With the Australian Open of Surfing well under way on the Beach, there’s no doubt the vibe in Manly is sizzling.
Manly is now fuller than ever, overflowing with beautiful people. There’s no denying it was pretty full before the Surf Open, but now it looks like we’re hanging out in an Abercrombie and Fitch store.
And, let’s take a moment to be thankful for the quick change in weather from rain to sunshine, because now they’re all wearing a lot less. Oh yes, and it’s made watching the outdoor action a lot more enjoyable.
If like me, you don’t know your rad move, from your gnarly wave, this post might just be for you. Check out our guide below of who’s who at the Australian Open of Surfing.
The One You Hope to Bump Into
Julian Wilson – This 28 year old Aussie, like everyone in this competition is pretty good at surfing. But, what makes him stand out from the crowd is that he’s also a really great guy.
In June 2015 he was in the media for paddling straight towards fellow surfer, and competitor, Mick Fanning while he was being attacked by a great white shark in the final round of a competition in South Africa. Let’s hope he’s around next time we take a dip in the deep blue sea!
Tyler Wright – The 22 year old, Australian was the 2016 World Surfing Champion and is the official face of this years Australian Open of Surfing. If you want to look like you know your stuff, drop her name and you’ll be laughing.
Felicity Palmateer – There’s no denying it, The Australian Open of Surfing is ‘cool’ and hanging out on Manly Beach is the best way to experience this awesome Australian lifestyle festival.
So, if you want to absorb some of this ‘cool’ and take it with you, there’s only one lady to look towards. Big wave surfer Felicity is not only an incredible surfer, a beautiful model, she is also an inspirational artist.
The Australian Open of Surfing isn’t just a celebration of surfing, it’s a celebration of Manly and all the things that make it great. The beautiful beach, the awesome surf and don’t forget the night life.
Oh, and did we mention – some very attractive people in swimwear!
From 25 February to 5 March, Manly swells with the world legends of surfing and skating, and it’s not to be missed.
Even if you’re more of a spectator when it comes to the outdoor activity, the Australian Open of Surfing is for you – we promise you won’t have to lift a finger.
Check out our guide below for getting the most out of this awesome event, and the best part is the whole event is entirely free.
- The Beach – Let’s start with the most obvious place, this is where the action’s at.
And, if you were ever waiting for the perfect time to flaunt your body on the beach, this is most definitely it. Get down to Manly beach you will be in great company. Sit back on the soft white sand, relax and enjoy the view, there will be plenty to watch even between heats. The vibe will be awesome and with the action starting from 7.30am on Saturday 25 and running every day until 4pm, there’s no excuse not to get down there.
- The skate Bowl – The queue speaks for it’s self.
Regardless of your interest in this sport, it’s well worth a peek. There is some incredible talent here and you won’t get many chances in your life to get this close to the action – imagine the Instigram opportunities – #rad #sick.
The Skate Bowl kicks off on Monday 27 and runs every day from 1pm – 7pm – I challenge you not to be impressed.
- The Food
So the food stalls here are pretty good. Just take a stroll down to the beach and you’ll find an awesome selection of tasty treats lining the pavement, all provided by Manlys finest.
- The Music
If watching world class surfers and skaters, on one of the most stunning beaches for free, while surrounded by beautiful people, isn’t quite enough for you – there’s more.
On Friday 4 and Saturday 5 March there’s a free concert on the beach too. Join the likes of Hermitude and The Jezabels and celebrate as the Surf Open comes to a close.
- The After Party
Now, there’s no one official after party for the Australian Open of Surfing, but get yourself down to the Steyne on any of the evenings during this awesome couple of weeks and you won’t be disappointed. Nights out in Manly never looked so good!
To find out more, check out the official Australian Open of Surfing website here.
There’s no denying it, backpacking is one of the best things you’ll ever do. But, like all good things in life there can be challenges along the way. Whether it’s sleeping in the same room as a snoring stranger or missing your family, backpacking isn’t always easy – but it is definitely worth it!
To help you through the occasional tough time, check out our short guide to dealing with the challenges:
- Get your shit together
From the dude snoring in the bunk above you, to the girl who turns the light on at 6am to go to work, sharing a dorm isn’t always smooth sailing. But, by remembering to pack these simple extra items, dorm life will become a breeze:
- Earplugs – you’ll never feel like you’re sharing again
- Eye mask – the darker the room the better you sleep, it’s science
- Flip-flops for the shower
- Padlock for your bag
- Ziplock bags for your food
- Get sociable
Even if you’re traveling with friends, the one thing that will lift your spirits add to your experience, is meeting new people who are on the same buzz as you, new friends who are doing the same thing as you. Any good hostel will put on social events and we have some of the best (if we do say so ourselves). We even have our very own Events Coordinator on site. We know that even the most confident person can find a room full of strangers intimidating, that’s why we’re sharing with you our best opening lines below:
- Introduce yourself – it’s simple, but it works
- Ask for tips on where to go – people love giving advice
- Tell a dirty joke – make someone smile and you’re on your way to a beautiful friendship
- Keep in touch
Being away from home can be tough, even the most seasoned traveler misses their mum. But, before you reach for the tissues don’t forget it’s 2017 and the Internet is there for you. Whether you use Facebook/What’s app/Skype or the power of mind control, keeping in touch with your friends and family back home will keep you grounded and see you through.
Whatever challenges you face alone your backpacking experience, keep our favorite saying in mind and enjoy the ride;
You can’t have a rainbow without the rain
You’ve got to admit it, Manly is one of the greatest places on earth!
But, with so much to do, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to making the most of your time here. Don’t worry, as always, we’ve got your back.
Check out our Top 5 Things to do for FREE in this awesome place we call home.
There’s no question, the top pick has to go to Manly Beach
The Northern Beaches are second to none when it comes to world-class beaches and Manly has got to be at the top of the list. Less than a 2 minute walk from Manly Backpackers, life doesn’t get much better than this. Obviously there are loads of fun free things you can do at any beach, from digging yourself an impressive hole, to sand wrestling with your mates. But there really is only one thing to do at Manly Beach – sit back, relax in the sun and check out the locals – they really are a beautiful bunch! Oh, and the surf’s pretty good too!
Walking is exploring – You can’t beat walking when it comes to exploring somewhere new and the walks around Manly will not disappoint. Check out the incredible view of the city skyline from North Head or enjoy the hidden charms of Manly Dam. But the favorite has to be Spit Bridge to Manly. A 10k walk, that takes you to beautiful secluded beaches and dazzles you with breathtaking views winding down into Manly. The only way to end this walk is with a few celebratory cold ones at Wharf Bar – it’s the perfect way to spend a summers day.
Get yourself down to The office
The Office AKA East Esplanade is an absolute must on a lazy Sunday afternoon. All you’ll need is a blanket and a few beers, as you watch the sun set on another hazy summer Manly weekend.
Take advantage of the FREE BBQ’s at Shelly Beach.
Free BBQ’ing facilities are one of Australia’s most wonderful offerings. You’ll find them dotted around the country and they are 100% free – just bring your own meat! Whether it’s for a cheeky morning bacon sandwich or an elaborate lunch with friends, you can’t beat cooking up a storm on Shelly Beach.
Meet the local penguins
That’s right Manly is home to a colony of Fairy penguins. Every year the little penguins come back to Manly to breed between the months of May and February. They usually return to their burrows under the wharf at sunset. Although the population is small and it’s not guaranteed you’ll see them, it’s totally worth a try, these guys are seriously cute.
So your budget’s looking a little sad – but you’re in Manly, and you’ve got to eat right?
That’s why we’ve put together this awesome list of weekly deals on eating out. Pretty much everywhere in Manly will have a deal one night of the week and we’ve tried them all (it was tough) and put together the ultimate list of eating out on the cheap in Manly.
Hotel Steyne: Two for One meals – We’re there all weekend, why not carry on into Monday?
Papi Chulo: $10 Burger – Let’s face it, this is the only time you’ll eat there, this place is pricey!
Wharf Bar: $16 Pizza and a drink all day – The Wharfy and pizza, this is the perfect combo for summer
Daniel San: Two for One meals – Just make sure you’ve got a mate to have the second meal or you’ll be eating 2 dinners alone.
Donnys Bar: $5 Steak when you buy any alcoholic drink – This has got to be the cheapest steak in town, just don’t go ordering an expensive cocktail and the budget should stay intact.
New Brighton Hotel: 50c Chicken Wings – Yes, this is a good deal, but remember you’re gonna want more than 1 chicken wing!
The Hold: $10 Burger – It’s good to try somewhere different right? Does anyone actually go here?
Wharf Bar: $10 Steak all day – This has got to be our top pick for the week, it’s a pretty decent steak and you get chips and salad. Good on ya Wharfy!!
New Brighton Hotel: $3 Tacos – There’s nothing more to say. Cheap food + Cheap booze = Happiness!
Friday, Saturday & Sunday
Who cares, it’s the weekend!!!!!!!!