Harbour Cruising: Sydney explored by sea
SYDNEY’S ICONIC HARBOUR has pretty much seen it all since then Lieutenant James Cook arrived aboard the Endeavour in 1770 and named it Port Jackson. It was here that the first settlers set up camp in 1788 and the harbour has been an important part of city life ever since, used for transportation and recreation.
Little wonder it is widely regarded as the greatest leisure harbour in the world. On any given day, the harbour is alive with boats of all shapes and sizes, be it passenger ferries, state-of-the-art yachts or kayakers. This is particularly true during the traditional Boxing Day launch of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race, when hundreds of craft follow the racers out of the harbour. And on New Year’s Eve, there’s no better spot to be than on a boat beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge as the breathtaking fireworks display takes place in the skies above.
While the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House are its two most famous landmarks, the harbour has plenty more sights up its sleeve. Circular Quay, Luna Park and Anzac Bridge are all accessible and visible from the water along with hundreds of bays, coves, beaches and waterways. Several islands can also be found in the harbour, the most notable being Fort Denison, Shark Island and Cockatoo Island.
Historians will no doubt want to head round to Green Point in Watsons Bay where the remains of fortifications designed to protect the harbour from a submarine attack in World War II can still be seen. The net anchor points are still in place and one of the midget submarines caught up in those defences in 1942 is now on display at the Australian War Memorial.
With so much to see and do, it pays to plan ahead and the good news is that there are plenty of ways to get out on the water, designed to suit all budgets, time frames and interests.
Multi-award winning Captain Cook Cruises offers premium dining, sightseeing, ferry and whale watching cruises. The Harbour Story cruise combines premium sightseeing with the stories of Sydney’s
most fascinating characters every day at 10am and 2.15pm from Circular Quay. Upgrade to the premium package including a glass of sparkling wine, morning afternoon tea selection and coffee to order.
Sydney’s official Hop On Hop Off Harbour Explorer pass now includes 11 stops and up to two days to visit them. These red rocket ferries zoom between Circular Quay, Taronga Zoo, Watson’s Bay, Fort Denison, Shark Island, Garden Island, Luna Park, Manly, Barangaroo, ICC Sydney and Darling Harbour with commentary. Start your journey from Circular Quay, Darling Harbour or Manly and save up to 95% on attraction entry with a Captain Cook cruise and attraction combo ticket including entry to Sydney’s most popular waterfront attractions. The company’s flagships Sydney 2000 and
John Cadman 2 take Sydney Harbour dining to an impressive level. A comprehensive range of breakfast, lunch, high tea and dinner options operate daily with a choice of contemporary Australian buffet, à la carte, and six-course degustation menus.
For the more adventurous, book a Whale Watching cruise online and save up to 35% aboard Captain Cook Cruises’ spacious ocean catamaran. Cruises operate daily with a whale guarantee and expert commentary. For a great value, full-day adventure, try the Taronga Zoo and Whale Watching combo priced at only $99.
Barangaroo Fast Ferry is the new direct service between Manly and Sydney’s newest and most exciting city precinct— Barangaroo. From the calm headland reserve to the urban energy of the retail centre, Barangaroo is a place to meet, work, dine or relax. Ferry transport specialists, Sealink,
operate two fast vessels daily, seating up to 400-passengers.
Experience the best of Sydney Harbour with the Ecohopper 24-hour hop-on hopoff sightseeing pass. Visit popular harbour locations; Manly, Darling Harbour, Watsons Bay, Taronga Zoo, Fort Denison, Quarantine Station, Circular Quay, Rose Bay, Pyrmont Bay and North Sydney.
Offering great value, Ecohopper 24-hour hop-on hop-off pass provides travel on five different ferry services, including the new Ecohopper City Loop ferry introduced last summer. This versatile ticket has the most inclusions, highest service frequency and longest operating hours and is the only ticket which includes unlimited travel on Manly Fast Ferry, so there’s no need to rush back from Manly in the evening. Commentary and alcoholic refreshments are available on-board. Why not also include a visit to Taronga Zoo or Sydney SEA LIFE Aquarium with the popular Combo Pass. This is the only Zoo Combo ticket that provides travel on five separate services with direct connections from Manly to Circular Quay and Darling Harbour, no vessel change required, allowing you to get the most value out of your stay in Sydney by giving you greater freedom to stay longer at your chosen location.
If you don’t have time to do it all, but still want to experience Sydney from the water, one-hour and two-hour cruise options are also available. With commentary and licensed bar onboard this is a great, relaxing way to see iconic Sydney. There are regular departures from Wharf 6 Circular Quay and Darling Harbour each day.
Also on offer is a Weekend Harbour Beaches service which provides a quick and affordable cross harbour connection between Manly and Watsons Bay. A ferry is the perfect way to explore Sydney, and with so many options available there is sure to be something for everyone.
It’s that time of year again! Whale watching season is here. The three-hour discovery cruise on Ocean Dreaming II
will take you on Sydney’s largest and best purpose built whale watching boat, ensuring a smooth and comfortable ride over three levels with 360-degree wrap around spacious decks, perfect for spotting whales from all angles. The two-hour Adventure Cruise on Totally Wild takes you on a purpose built, 27-seat high speed craft, perfect for thrill seekers wanting an adrenalin rush. The vessel is low to the water for an up close whale watching experience ensuring wind in your hair and salt spray on your face. Both cruises reach the whales in lightning speed, promising even more time to spend spotting them amongst the waves, and with a 99% success rate or your next cruise free, what are you waiting for!
Travel with the best for less with the brand new Whale Watching Sydney Discovery Cruise Combo. Including the three-hour Discovery Whale Watching Sydney Cruise, a 24-hour Ecohopper Pass, the Manly Fast Ferry, three additional harbour ferry services plus professional photos taken onboard your whale watching cruise, there’s no better deal for the full harbour and ocean experience.
Fantasea Cruising offers a wide variety of harbour cruise experiences, from hop-on hop-off cruises, to morning tea cruises to water taxis. Enjoy Sydney like a true Aussie with an Aussie BBQ and beer on a family friendly, fun cruise. The Classic Aussie Cruise has four daily departures from Darling Harbour and Circular Quay, with a 24-hour hop on hop off pass also available.
Photo: Hamilton Lund/destination NSW.
Barangaroo Fast Ferry.
Whale Watching Sydney.