At the northern tip of Watsons Bay is the Hornby Lighthouse, a heritage-listed but active lighthouse that’s been guiding boats into the eastern entrance to Sydney Harbour since 1858. Watsons Bay is a historic area of Sydney, with cannons and military installations along the coast. There are hiking trails along the same coast, as well as attractive beaches to spend a summer’s day, and seafood restaurants with sweeping harbor views.
Independent travelers can access Watsons Bay via ferry from central Sydney. Guided tours that include a stop at Watsons Bay are also available. These are typically sailing-focused tours and include time at other coastal neighborhoods that can be reached by yacht or ferry.
Things to know before you go
- Lady Bay Beach in the north-western part of Watsons Bay permits nude bathing, which is not the case on all of Sydney’s beaches.
- If you’re hiking at Watsons Bay, don’t miss the southern coastal walk, which passes the Dunbar, a ship wrecked in 1857.
- History enthusiasts will enjoy Watsons Bay’s 19th-century churches: St. Peter’s Anglican Church and the Catholic Parish of Our Lady Star of the Sea.
How to get there
Sydney has an extensive network of ferries, and if you’re staying in central Sydney or a suburb on the harbor, taking a ferry to Watsons Bay is the best option. These take about 20-30 minutes from Circular Quay, and are regular and cheap. Buses are also available, but you’re likely to be slowed down by city traffic.
When to get there
There’s no bad time to visit Watsons Bay, as there are activities and attractions to suit various times of day and weather conditions. To enjoy coastal hikes, avoid the middle of the day in the summer, when temperatures can be very high. To spend time on the beach, the warmer months (November-March) are preferable. Watsons Bay has restaurants and bars, so the evening is also a good time to visit.