Sydney Harbour Boating

Sydney Harbour offers a range of stunning destinations for boaters, from popular spots like Darling Harbour to hidden gems. However, not all wharves and marinas are open to recreational boaters, so it’s important to know the rules before heading out on your boating adventure. In this guest blog, Aaron O’Donoghue from BoatBuy will explain the different types of access points and highlight some personal favourites.

Public Wharves Sydney Harbour

There are three main types of access points for recreational boaters to be aware of:

Commuter Wharves

 If you need to drop off or pick up passengers, you’ll find commuter wharves scattered along Sydney Harbour that accommodate this. Recreational boaters can utilise these wharves, but it’s important to yield to ferries and charter vessel operators and refrain from tying up at the wharf. Below is a list of commuter or public wharves Sydney Harbour:

Destination Marinas

These marinas warmly welcome boaters, offering a range of facilities and amenities. However, each marina has its own set of rules and restrictions regarding the size of vessels they can accommodate. So, before heading to a destination marina, it is advisable to call in advance to ensure availability and make a booking.

Upon arrival, keep an eye out for the distinctive blue Destination berth banner, indicating the designated areas for tying up your boat. In some cases, smaller marinas may not have available berths, but they might offer destination moorings that can be reserved by contacting the marina operator. Below is a list of destination marinas in Sydney Harbour:

Other Public Access Points

Recreational boaters can take advantage of certain public moorings and ferry wharves that are no longer used for public transportation or are exclusively utilised by ferries during peak commuting hours. Please see below for ferry wharves (other public access points) available to recreational boaters

Understanding the distinctions between these access points will help you plan your boating trips and ensure compliance with any regulations or restrictions in place.

Boat Moorings Sydney Harbour

There are different types of moorings, but keep an eye out for the pink buoys. These are courtesy moorings available for free 24/7. Check the Mooring Locator Map. Note that some moorings marked with yacht club names require club membership.

Marinas In Sydney Harbour

Below is a list of Aaron O’Donoghue’s personal favourite marinas in Sydney Harbour:

This marina holds a special place in my heart since it’s where my journey as an apprentice Marine Mechanic began. It’s surrounded by gorgeous parklands and serves as a convenient gateway to Sydney Harbour. You’ll find a cosy café on-site, as well as a fancy seafood spot called Vela Dining and Bar. The parklands can get pretty lively on weekends, with families flocking to the shoreline to soak up the marina vibes. Don’t forget about the old fuel wharf—it’s a handy spot for pickups and drop-offs.

I can’t think of anything more thrilling than spending a night in the heart of the city on your own boat! Just book a casual berth at Darling Harbour Marina, Cockle Bay Wharf, and you’ll be docked mere steps away from top-notch attractions and restaurants. This marina sits right in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, and you can easily make your booking online or over the phone. Keep in mind that it may close for special events like New Year’s Eve and the Sydney International Boat Show, so it’s best to contact the marina for reservations. Always give them a call in advance, and the friendly marina staff will help you with docking. You’ll find shore power and water facilities available at the marina. One small suggestion: if you’re a light sleeper, pack some earplugs because the parties and nearby venues can keep the vibe going late into the night.

The Spit serves as the gateway to Sydney’s breathtaking Northern Beaches and is a bustling hub for water activities on Middle Harbour. Not only will you find numerous boat brokerages and used boats on-site, but it’s also a fantastic spot to search for your next boat. If you’re feeling peckish, make sure to book in advance for a table at the highly acclaimed Italian seafood restaurant, Ormeggio at the Spit, or explore the variety of other waterfront dining options nearby. In case you arrive during off-peak hours and find the coffee shop closed, don’t worry—there’s another one down the road at Grumpy’s Wharf worth checking out. Oh, and here’s a cool tip: you can even arrange with the Middle Harbour Yacht Club to get picked up from one of the nearby public moorings and enjoy a delightful meal there.

If you’re up for a peaceful boating getaway, head over to Roseville Bridge Marina on the Upper North Shore. It’s a tucked-away gem! You won’t want to miss Echo on the Marina, a fantastic spot for breakfast and lunch with jaw-dropping water views. The marina even has a special berth where you can grab your takeout orders without spending a dime. And guess what? They’ve got casual berths available for café guests too. Oh, and here’s the best part—the café’s outdoor area is totally dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your furry pals along. Trust me, if you happen to be in that part of the river, it’s absolutely worth checking out this place!

Located on the outskirts of the city center, Balmain is the perfect place to gather, pick up, or drop off passengers before heading into the city. While you can’t dock your boat at this commuter wharf, its strategic location makes it incredibly convenient. Simply let your passengers off here, and they can make their way up the hill to explore the wide selection of pubs and venues in Balmain.

Arriving at Taronga Zoo by harbour is an unbeatable experience. The wharf is just a quick walk away from Sydney’s one and only cable car, the Sky Safari, which conveniently takes you straight to the zoo entrance. While you can’t dock your boat at Athol Wharf, there are several courtesy moorings available nearby. Drop off the family at the wharf for an exciting day at the zoo while you kick back and relax on your boat, enjoying the stunning view of the iconic Harbour Bridge.

Private Marinas In Sydney Harbour

While the commuter and other public access points provide free options, there are numerous paid options available from private marinas throughout the harbour. Most marinas offer casual berthing, but they have strict rules regarding vessel insurance. Private marinas do not permit vessels without a current insurance policy to visit, so it is crucial to maintain up-to-date and easily accessible insurance coverage.

About the Author

Aaron O’Donoghue, the founder of BoatBuy, is an expert in marine consultancy with a focus on Pre-Purchase Boat Inspections. Having developed a deep connection to the water from a young age, Aaron discovered his passion for boating at just 12 years old, when he began exploring the Lane Cove River on a small De Havilland tinny. BoatBuy offers impartial guidance to assist buyers in making well-informed decisions when buying a boat, providing services such as pre-purchase marine surveys and insurance surveys.

New to boating? Here is a list of boating terminology as well as fuel stations, detailers, and pump-out facilities around Sydney Harbour to help with your boating needs. Happy boating!


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