Discovering Sydney Harbour with Captain Cook Cruises
You’ve just arrived in Sydney and you’re now standing at Circular Quay. You’re feeling dazed and little bit confused, overwhelmed by it all. Maybe you’re a bit jetlagged, but you know for damn sure that you have no idea even where to begin. There’s so much to see and do!
As you navigate the Harbor aboard a rocket ferry, enjoy the spectacular Harbor views from a bird’s eye perspective. The Hop On Hop Off tour pass allows free reboarding in a 24-hour period and a choice of up to 9 stopovers along the way. An informative guide offers a glimpse into the history and geography of the Sydney Harbor. You’ll see all of the Harbor highlights as well as discover some hidden gems.
You can start at lunch time and when you’re wiped out when the jet lag hits, simply present your ticket the following morning and cruise again until the time expires. Add an attraction or two around the Harbor and you can take advantage of some great discounts on entry fees.
For the price, it’s a fantastic opportunity to get your bearings and experience some of the most amazing aspects of the harbor.
Let’s take a tour shall we:
From Circular Quay:
The towering Harbor Bridge to the left and the shining majesty of the Sydney Opera House to the right first welcome you into the Harbour as you get underway.
Traveling about a kilometre East from the Opera House over the sparkling bright water, arrive at Fort Denison. It was once known as ‘Pinchgut’ for the bread and water diet served to convicts sentenced there. Later, it became a defence station for the military that became obsolete almost as soon as construction was completed. Today, it’s a highly coveted seat for the New Year’s Eve fireworks display and a trendy restaurant. You can walk around the Fort, and visit the small museum, but if you want to explore the Martello Tower, you will need to purchase the tour.
Garden island is an active military base so stops here are limited. You can see the initials of three First Fleeters who carved their initials into a sandstone rock. It also includes fortifications from the colonial period, and Australia’s first grass tennis court.
The Zoo is a world class facility (and available at a considerable discount with the tour). From the wharf you can also take a fabulous walk to Bradley’s Head along the foreshore. It takes about 1 hour each way. See Kookaburras in the wild, as well as some gobsmacking views of the City.
A perfect spot for a picnic and to take in the beautiful surroundings of the Harbour. Watch ships, ferries, seaplanes navigate the harbor. Hear the angry blast of a tanker’s horn, as a moron in a 20-foot motor boat cuts in front of the massive vessel. If you are lucky, perhaps a pod of dolphins will saunter by. Picnic tables, a toilet block, and lots of grass with shady trees are available amenities on the island. (Out of the entire cruise, this was my favourite spot. I didn’t even know this Island existed before, thanks for sharing Captain Cook Cruises.)
A great spot for lunch at the iconic Doyle’s on the Beach. If you’re on a budget, they offer a convenient and rather inexpensive option with Doyle’s on the Wharf. Pick up some fish and chips, grab a spot in the park and enjoy the ambiance.
When you’re ready for a walk, head up the hill for views of South Head at Gaps Bluff. From here, you have the choice of walking South past the Gap to see the tribute to the wreck of the Dunbar, Australia’s deadliest maritime disaster, and onto the Signal Station and the Macquarie Lighthouse. Alternatively, head North towards South Head and the Hornsby lighthouse. Make the loop back down and pass by Lady Bay (a nude beach) on return to the wharf. Each walk takes about an hour.
Swim at the famous Manly beach (between the flags, of course!). Walk the esplanade along the beach. Stroll the shops along the Corso. Walk to Shelley Beach. Just riding the ferry between the North and South Heads is wonderful experience all by itself.
Stroll around Sydney’s amusement park. Favourites amongst the locals (which take us all back to our childhood), are the Rotor and the giant slides. There are great views of the Opera House and the Sydney CBD skyline.
Darling Harbour has a vast offering of restaurants for every budget and it is set around a beautiful marina. The Sydney Aquarium (which is perfect for seeing Australia’s sea life up close), Madam Tussauds or WILDLIFE Sydney are all nearby and part of the special pricing for taking the Hop On Hop Off Cruise. It’s a relaxing place to be and the perfect place to end your day.
Captain Cook Cruises give you a great introduction to Sydney Harbour. The crew is welcoming, courteous, and clearly love showing off the best of the Harbor City. (At least the majority of them do.) Truly, there is no better way to experience Sydney than on her waterways.