Offering stunning views of Sydney Harbour, the Pacific Ocean and across to North Head and Manly, it’s a lovely short and easy walk to do to escape the crowds. The Watsons Bay Lighthouse Walk starts in the heart of Watsons Bay, at Robertson Park next to Watsons Bay Jetty.
It follows a path along the coastline, passing Watsons Bay Beach, Green Point Reserve and the First Landing Obelisk, Camp Cove Beach, and the secluded Lady Bay Beach until you reach the picturesque Hornby Lighthouse on South Head.
The walk from Watsons Bay to Hornby Lighthouse and South Head is about a 20 minute walk (1.5km) one way.
It’s 3km in total (return) as you walk back the same way you came. You can’t continue round the other side of the headland as that is occupied by HMAS Watson.
There are many beautiful places to see and stop off at along the way during the walk, especially if you want to relax on one of the beaches along the way for a little bit.
The trail is well-marked and fairly easy although there are some stairs and steep sections along the way.
Despite being a short walk, the views along the Watsons Bay Lighthouse Walk are nothing short of spectacular. You’ll see fabulous views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and Sydney skyline for the most part of the walk.
As you reach South Head, you’ll see stunning views of Middle Head, North Head, Manly and Sydney’s affluent lower north shore suburbs.
Watsons Bay Lighthouse Walk
The starting point of the Watsons Bay Lighthouse Walk, the village of Watsons Bay is such a charming area of Sydney – in fact it is actually Australia’s oldest fishing village, established in 1788!
Watsons Bay is also the point where Governor Philip first landed in Australia, so it’s a fairly significant spot in Sydney.
Watsons Bay has a lovely atmosphere, especially if you go into the iconic Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel – a popular place for afternoon and sunset drinks.
Before or after your walk to South Head and Hornby Lighthouse you’ll probably want to stop off for some food in Watsons Bay as there are several great places here for food.
The outdoor area at Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel is always full when the weather is good, and the selection of food and drinks is very good.
However if you’d prefer to go somewhere else for food, head to Doyles opposite for some fish and chips! Dunbar Cafe also is great for brunch and coffee if you fancy something lighter.
Watsons Bay Lighthouse Walk
To start the Watsons Bay Lighthouse Walk, walk along Watsons Bay Beach for a couple of hundred metres until the end of the beach where you will see a turning on your right-hand side.
Go up the steps and then turn left onto Cove Street. Take the first left on Pacific Street and walk up to Green Point Reserve and see the First Landing Obelisk – where Governor Phillip landed in 1788. You can then take te steps down Camp Cove – an incredibly picturesque beach.
Camp Cove Beach
Even though Camp Cove Beach seems tucked away it gets pretty busy on weekends with locals as it is a great place for swimming, the water is calm and it has lovely harbour views.
The Camp Cove Kiosk at the end of the beach is a cute Instagrammable place and you can stop off for some freshly squeezed orange juice or snacks here if you need!
South Head Heritage Trail
You’ll see a stairway near the kiosk at the end of Camp Cove Beach where you can continue the rest of the walk along the South Head Heritage Trail.
On your left you’ll see the Camp Cove Jetty which is also a picturesque spot, perfect for getting some Instagrammable photos.
The South Head Heritage Trail path is easy to follow and well maintained, plus the harbour views are sensational along this part of the walk. Shortly into the walk you’ll see a Historical Cannon.
Like in many parts around the entrance to the harbour, a cannon was used here back in the day to protect against military invasion. Further along the walk you’ll find some public toilets should you need them.
Lady Bay Beach
Lady Bay Beach is half a kilometre walk from Camp Cove Beach. Lady Bay Beach is actually a nudist beach (just so you are prepared!) so please don’t take photos if there are people here! You can of course go for a swim in your swimmers here – it is not obligatory to be naked here.
Lady Bay Beach is really stunning and feels so private and rugged yet you get great views of the city and the harbour in the background! The water is calm here as it is a sheltered beach so it is a really good place to swim.
South Head & Hornby Lighthouse
Continue along the South Head Heritage Trail and you’ll reach a rocky area that also has stunning views across to the city.
Following the path round you’ll then come to the charming red and white Hornby Lighthouse – the third oldest lighthouse in NSW and one of the best photo spots in Sydney.
Hornby Lighthouse is a heritage-listed iconic red and white lighthouse that was built in 1858. It looks so cute and vintage and offers fantastic views across to North Head and Manly.
It’s a popular place for people to sit and relax and enjoy the views, especially during the cooler months of May until November when it is the perfect vantage spot to see humpback whales on their annual migration.
You’ll often see the whales breaching out of the water and splashing their tails!
Whilst it is a popular spot with locals, you’ll always find a quiet spot for yourself here. There are lots of rocky ledges to sit on, relax, watch the sunset and enjoy.
To walk back to Watsons Bay take the same route back.
Continuing The Walk From Watsons Bay Lighthouse
How To Get To Watsons Bay
You can get to Watsons Bay either by ferry or bus from Sydney CBD.
If you want to take the bus, get the 325 bus from Town Hall to Watsons Bay. Here is the timetable and route map.
The most scenic way to get to Watsons Bay however (and to beat the awful rush hour traffic on New South Head Road!) is to take the ferry from Circular Quay to Watsons Bay – or even the ferry from Manly to Watsons Bay if that is more convenient for you.
The Circular Quay – Watsons Bay ferry takes just under 20 minutes, which certainly beats the hour or longer it can take on the bus if you get stuck in rush hour traffic.
If you will be getting the ferry to and from Watsons Bay from Circular Quay ferries are roughly every half an hour, but sometimes it can be an hour in between services so it’s definitely wise to check the timetable and plan which ferry you want to get.
The Manly – Watsons Bay ferries are roughly every hour, starting around 11am and finishing at 6pm usually, so definitely look at the timetable if you plan to use this service.
I definitely recommend to take the ferry when heading to Watsons Bay – this is one of the most scenic ferry rides in Sydney! The ferries do stop around sunset though, so if you want to stay later or you miss the last ferry back you will need to get the bus back.
If you prefer to come by car the best thing to do is park at Watsons Bay in one of the free spaces – just remember to check the signs very well!