It may be the middle of autumn here in Sydney but with crisp blue skies overhead and the ocean a very respectable 23 degrees, there’s no better time for a fun family afternoon at the beach. Even as temperatures drop over the coming weeks and months, our city’s beaches remain wonderful places to explore with your little folk. Don’t let the changing seasons put you off!
In this post we’re going to Mona Vale beach on Sydney’s northern beaches. It’s a fantastic beach for babes, kids and adults alike and can easily be enjoyed all year round, summer or winter. Mona Vale is my childhood beach so I’ve got loads of happy memories playing in the rock pools, building elaborate sand castle cities and learning to swim in the surf. Now, having a daughter of my own, I often find myself journeying back to Mona Vale with her to play and explore.
Mona Vale Beach: the perks
Situated about 30 kilometres north of the city on Sydney’s heavenly northern beaches, Mona Vale beach is a perfect beach for babies, toddlers and young kids.
Here are five reasons why you and your babes will LOVE Mona Vale beach!
- Perfect for all ages: Mona Vale is perfect for every age and every level of swimmer. The main beach is manned by lifeguards and has a number of beaut swimming spots. For the babies and little kids, it’s possible to swim and play in the shallows and rock pools. However there’s also another smaller bay to the north – Bongin Bongin Bay – which is generally protected from the swell and therefore usually calm and perfect for a gentle dip. Bongin Bongin Bay is accessible from the main beach car park or you can try nabbing a park at the end of Surfview Road. It’s great having so many swimming options – as Coco isn’t great in the waves yet, we tend to swim in the bay or the rockpools (see below) but my husband and I can also take turns swimming in the surf or jumping off the rock shelf and bodysurfing into shore.
- Ocean pools: Mona Vale has a brilliant ocean pool as well as a baby and toddler pool, perfect for the littlies. It’s at the junction of the main beach and Bongin Bongin Bay, a short stroll from the car park and shower block.
- Rockpools: The ocean pools are perched on top of a rock shelf riddled with shallow pools and trenches, providing endless opportunities for inquisitive, little people to fossick around for shells, seaweed and snails. Along the edges of the rock shelf are larger pools that are protected from the swell but deep enough to swim in (when the tide is in). This is by far our favourite spot here, Coco absolutely loves it.
- Park play: right across the road from the beach is Apex Park, a gorgeous open space with heaps of play equipment, BBQs and shade – perfect for lunch and if you want to take a break from the sand for a bit. There’s also a small bike track, so pack the bikes and/or scooters too!
- Cafe: There’s a good little cafe right on the beach next to the surf club called Bronze Kiosk – perfect for takeaway coffee and drinks or a sit down snack on their outdoor terrace. Otherwise there are a couple more cafes on Darley Street (Armchair Collective is my pick of the bunch, full of drool-worthy homewares, fresh flowers and goooood food and coffee. There are outdoor tables tucked amongst lush potted plants so the babes can play and roll around while you enjoy your flat white and the sweet view!).
A couple of disclaimers…
- Paid parking: Parking fees apply unless you’re lucky enough to somehow have a Pittwater Council sticker on your car. It’s about $4 an hour or $20 for the day. If you’re feeling lucky you can try to nab a free spot on one of the surrounding street.
- Seaweed: Depending on the swell and ocean currents, sometimes Bongin Bongin Bay can be assaulted by an influx of kelp, making it a slightly less appealing swimming spot. If that’s the case, head to the rockpools or baby pool instead.
- There are toilets and showers at the surf club and also at the main beach entrance leading to the ocean pools.
- Ocean pools, including a baby / toddler pool.
- There are also a few shaded picnic cabanas at the northern end of the beach, ideal for brekkie or lunch picnics.
Mona Vale is approximately 30 kilometres north of Sydney, sitting pretty on the city’s beautiful “northern beaches” – a stretch of peninsula encompassing beaches from Manly to Palm Beach.
By car: If you’re driving, follow Military Road from the city through Neutral Bay and across the Spit Bridge, heading north. Keep driving on Pittwater Road until you reach Mona Vale, then take Barrennoey Road until you see the sign at the lights for the beach. Turn right onto Darley Street and head down the hill to the beach.
By bus: Jump on any of the L90, 188, 187 route buses from the city. If coming from Manly, take bus 155 or 156 to the main stop in Mona Vale and then walk up and over to the beach.