Things to do in Chowder Bay
The historical maritime village of Chowder Bay is bursting with hundreds of species of native flora and fauna, just 5kms from Sydney’s CBD. The bay is lined with dusty gold sand and calm, turquoise waters that are surrounded by native bushland. Look across the water and you’ll see the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but at Chowder Bay – surrounded by temperate rainforest foliage and the gentle laughter of kookaburras – you’ll feel a million miles away.
Our Sydney Harbour Accommodation stands at the heart of this beautiful setting, within walking distance of some of the city’s best sites. See below for a selection of things to do while you’re staying with us – and join us in person to try them for yourself…
1. Swim and snorkel in the beautiful waters
Chowder Bay is blessed with translucent waters, rich in marine life like goatfish, cuttlefish and blennies, as well as two varieties of seahorse – their curling tails usually clinging to the rope of the nets. Just footsteps from the accommodation, you can snorkel in this underwater world: either inside the safety of the net, offering a large space that’s sheltered and calm, or you can venture further out in the open water, on the hunt for octopi, shy moray eels and angelfish. We’re happy to provide you with snorkelling gear while you’re staying with us, or you can book one of our Coastal Explorer sessions to be accompanied by a marine biologist who knows all the best underwater spots.
2. Hike to Bradleys Head
The views surrounding Chowder Bay are spectacular – and none more so than on the 4km walk to Bradleys Head, which loops up from the beach to the clifftops. The gentle bush track meanders around the headline, affording sweeping views across to the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Watch the boats glide by far below, or picnic beneath the ancient trees.
3. Kayak and paddleboard with seals in the bay
The waters around Chowder Bay are excellent for kayaking and paddleboarding – smooth and not too choppy, with beautiful views in all directions. You can rent gear from us, or we can take you out on a guided group tour towards Bradleys Head, paddling to remote inlets, hidden coves and secret beaches on the way as we regale you with stories of the sea. If you’re lucky, you might even find yourself paddling alongside a group of seals that are regularly found in the bay.
4. Visit the Sydney Institute of Marine Science
Directly across the road from our Sydney Harbour Accommodation is the Sydney Institute of Marine Science – a world-leading marine research institute, and NSW’s principal authority on marine conservation. They run a number of programs for visitors to the area (we can help you organise), or you can drop in and see their display rooms, with fascinating exhibitions on the research they’re carrying out in NSW.
5. Get active with one of our outdoor programs
For the past 15 years, Land’s Edge Foundation (LEF) has been developing and delivering high-quality outdoor education programs for groups around Chowder Bay. Activities include everything from raft-building and fishing to sailing and cultural tours. If you want to get active in or out of the water, just let us know what you’re interested in and we’ll happily tailor a program to your group’s needs. See more >
6. Spend a day at Australia’s largest zoo
Taronga Zoo, a 20-minute walk from Chowder Bay, is the largest zoo in the country and home to over 4,000 animals from all over the globe. Many of the animals are threatened species, including their Sumatran tigers, of which there are as few as 400 left on the planet. They also have Asian elephants alongside giraffes, zebras, gorillas, hippos and more. As well as the normal zoo facilities, you can also visit their education centre to learn more about the conservation work they’re carrying out.
7. Relax on Balmoral Beach
If you want a change from Chowder Bay’s golden sands, Balmoral Beach makes for a great day trip – around a 30-minute walk from the accommodation, or an hour if you want to detour via Middle Head. Balmoral is a large beach but its harbourside position means its sheltered from the wind and big waves, so it’s a nice spot for a swim and a picnic. You could pop in and visit Jono and his team at Balmoral Water Sports Centre for tours of the bay, paddleboarding, kayaking or sailing. There’s also a handful of cafés back from the sand where you can grab takeaway coffees or lazy weekend breakfasts.
8. Discover the clifftop history
Mosman has a fascinating history, dating back to the 1700s when the area was home to the Borogegal tribe. Their leader, Bungaree, was given Georges Head and watched over the harbour, welcoming in ships from Europe. A battery was later built at George’s Head, then a whaling station at Chowder Bay. In the late 1800s, when Australia had to create its own defence strategy after the British Government withdrew its troops in the 1870s, a number of forts and barracks were built on the clifftops – many of which remain today. Read more about the area’s history, and see it for yourself with a walk around the headlands. We can also offer guided cultural tours if you’re interested in learning more about the area.
9. Discover the Artists Precinct at Georges Heights
Enjoy a 15-minute walk through temperate rainforest up to Georges Heights where you will discover a small village of old army buildings that have been converted into artist studios. The precinct is made up of 20 studios, displaying a range of works from painters, potters, sculptures and photographers. The facility also boasts three art schools which use this incredible backdrop to inspire creativity, where the forest meets the sea. Historic fortifications can be discovered throughout the area hidden within the surrounding bushland pockets.
10. Food and Drink
The area offers an assortment of delightful and tasty establishments that cater for all. One can indulge in fine dining, experiencing the seafood delights of Ripples, situated on the water at Chowder Bay. The Sydney Chocolate School at Middle Head offers classes and high tea for group bookings. Frenchy’s Café as the name suggests offer French cuisine for breakfast and lunch. Enjoy upscale dining at Burnt Orange Café, a historic and beautiful building with a wraparound veranda and ocean views.