Dog-Friendly Beaches on the Northern Beaches of Sydney

The Northern Beaches of Sydney are home to a beautiful string of beaches, from Palm Beach south to Manly Beach, plus harbour beaches such as Clontarf. Unfortunately though, the majority of these beaches on the Northern Beaches are not dog-friendly beaches.

For starters, currently there are no dog-friendly ocean-facing beaches on the Northern Beaches. Although this may change soon, with plans for a trial of dog beaches at Mona Vale Beach and Palm Beach.

But if you know where to look, there are quite a few dog beaches on the Northern Beaches, whether on the calm waters of Middle Harbour and Pittwater, or at lagoons behind the ocean-facing beaches. Check out these dog-friendly beaches on the Northern Beaches of Sydney…

Dog-Friendly Beaches Northern Beaches

Proposed Dog Beach at Mona Vale South

An exciting development for dog owners on the Northern Beaches is the proposal for an off-leash dog beach at the southern end of Mona Vale Beach. This beach would be the first ocean-facing beach on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, and the only one in all of Sydney other than Greenhills Beach at Cronulla.

This proposed dog beach would operate between 5:30am and 10am then 5pm to 9pm during daylight saving hours. Over the winter months the hours would be modified to 6am to 10am during the morning, then 4pm to 7pm during the evening.

An extensive consultative period has taken place since 2020, however, as of late 2023 a decision still hasn’t been made – it’s a very slow process! Note that initially it would just be a 12 month trial of a dog beach – hopefully in 2024?

Proposed Mona Vale Dog Beach
There is a proposal for an off-leash dog beach at the southern end of Mona Vale Beach

Proposed Dog Beach at Palm Beach

In addition to the proposed off-leash dog beach at Mona Vale, there is also a proposal for an off-leash dog beach at the northern end of Palm Beach. This off-leash dog beach would operate with the same hours, and a decision is expected to be made at the same time.

Proposed Palm Beach Dog Beach
There is also a proposal for an off-leash dog beach at Palm Beach North

This off-leash dog beach would replace the earlier on-leash dog beach that briefly operated at Station Beach at Palm Beach during 2020, until it was ruled that the council’s resolution to allow on-leash dogs was invalid as the proper processes were not followed.

Meanwhile, consider visiting one of the six existing dog beaches on the Northern Beaches, that you can visit with your dog for a paddle in the water or a romp on the sand, in order of popularity…

#1 Rowland Reserve, Bayview

Probably the most popular off-leash dog beach on the Northern Beaches of Sydney is at the suburb of Bayview, on the calm waters of Pittwater. The beach is located at the Rowland Reserve Dog Park, or just search for “Bayview Dog Park” on Google Maps.

As well as a large grassy reserve, dogs are welcome to paddle off-leash in the adjacent waters of Pittwater. There are no time restrictions, with dogs permitted off-leash all day long. And thanks to being located at the southern reaches of Pittwater, the waters are very calm, although more confident doggie swimmers can swim further out to deeper waters.

Try to park in one of the designated one-hour parking spots next to the off-leash area, as long as you’re not planning on staying longer, otherwise parking can be expensive. Often a dog washing van is parked up nearby. 

Dog beaches Northern Beaches
The Bayview Dog Beach is a popular dog beach on the Northern Beaches

#2 Sandy Bay, Clontarf

Another popular dog beach at the far end of the Northern Beaches is Sandy Bay, or Clontarf Dog Beach. This dog beach is located on the equally calm waters of Middle Harbour, just north of the Spit Bridge where the Northern Beaches start.

The off-leash dog beach is located close to Clontarf Reserve, at the far end of Sandy Bay Road. Its official name is “Sandy Bay dog area” (or simply “Sandy Bay” on Google Maps). Both the sand flat plus the adjacent grassy verge are included in the designated off-leash area, with no time restrictions.

It’s best to visit this beach at low tide, when the sand flat becomes a large expanse and dozens of dogs charge around and paddle in the shallow waters. If you visit closer to high tide, there is often only a narrow strip of sand. The water is usually sparklingly clean and calm.

Try to nab one of the few unticketed parking spots right next to the beach, otherwise there’s plenty of expensive parking spots back along Sandy Bay Road and next to Clontarf Reserve (where dogs are not permitted on the sand).

Read more about visiting Sandy Bay Dog Beach

Clontarf dog beach
The shallow waters of Sandy Bay at the southern end of the Northern Beaches

#3 Manly Lagoon, Queenscliff

Not surprisingly, dogs are not permitted on popular Manly Beach. However, there is a spot nearby where dogs can enjoy a paddle and a run on the sand. At the northern end of Manly Beach head to Manly Lagoon, in the suburb of Queenscliff.

Manly Lagoon Park, also referred to as “Lagoon Reserve” on Google Maps, has been designated as an off-leash dog exercise area. While the off-leash area is mainly a grassy park, there’s nothing stopping the many off-leash dogs enjoying the adjacent lagoon waters.

Just like the above off-leash dog beaches, there are no time restrictions for dogs at Manly Lagoon. However, as a lagoon, the water quality can be variable. Try to keep your dog out of the water (leashing them if you need to) after heavy rainfall.

Manly dog beach
Manly Lagoon is a popular dog beach near Manly Beach

#4 Curl Curl Lagoon, Curl Curl

Heading further north, another lagoon on the Northern Beaches is also home to a great off-leash dog beach. This second lagoon is Curl Curl Lagoon, located just behind North Curl Curl Beach, a short drive north of Manly.

To access the dog-friendly beach, head to Flora and Ritchie Roberts Reserve on the southern side of Curl Curl Lagoon. Dogs are permitted off-leash in this reserve, with no time restrictions. A sandy beach runs alongside the lagoon, with many dogs enjoying a swim in the lagoon’s waters.

Just like at Manly Lagoon, note that the lagoon can become polluted, particularly after heavy rain. Use caution and perhaps leash your dog, particularly if your dog likes to swim in the deeper waters.

A ticketed carpark next to the reserve is the easiest spot to park, but free parking is also available close by, at least on days that are not too busy. Note that dogs are prohibited from going onto the sand of the adjacent North Curl Curl Beach – a sign marks the boundary.

Find out more about visiting Curl Curl Lagoon

Curl Curl dog beach
The dog-friendly beach at Curl Curl Lagoon

#5 Progress Park, North Narrabeen

In North Narrabeen, dogs are allowed off-leash at Progress Park. Located adjacent to Garden Street, close to the Warriewood Square shopping centre, dogs are allowed off-leash throughout the length of the park all day long.

While this park isn’t next to the wonderful ocean beach in Narrabeen, or even Narrabeen Lagoon, Mullet Creek flows along one side of the park. On warm days it’s a popular spot for water-loving dogs to enjoy a paddle.

There’s bags and a water fountain for dogs, but be aware that it’s not fenced, even along the road, so perhaps skip this spot if your dog doesn’t always come when called.

#6 Mackerel Beach, Great Mackerel Beach

The last proper off-leash beach on the Northern Beaches is Mackerel Beach, at Great Mackerel Beach. This beach is far more difficult to get to, due to its location on the western shores of Pittwater, surrounded by national park, with no road access.

Instead, the only way to get to this small waterside enclave is by boat – whether your own, or the ferries from Palm Beach. Luckily the Palm Beach Ferries allow dogs onboard, on the outside deck on a leash.

Palm Beach Ferry Wharf
Catch Palm Beach Ferries to Mackerel Beach

The Mackerel Beach Dog Area extends between the jetty where the ferry stops and the northernmost houses. Strangely, the council website used to state that dogs are not permitted below the hide water mark or in the water, although I’m not sure if this rule is followed.

Note also that there are time restrictions at this beach. Dogs are only permitted off-leash between sunrise and 9:30am and then again between 5pm and sunset. Outside of these hours, they need to take the shortest direct route through the area while on a leash.

Other Dog-Friendly Ideas for the Northern Beaches

The Northern Beaches is a very dog-friendly part of Sydney. In addition to visiting one of the above dog-friendly beaches, consider doing one of the following:

  • Walking along the Narrabeen Lagoon Trail or the Dee Why to Curl Curl Cliff Walk – see my guide to dog-friendly walks in Sydney for more information
  • Spending a relaxing afternoon at The Newport over looking Pittwater, where dogs are allowed throughout most of the outdoor dining area
The Newport Waterfront Views
Enjoy a drink with your pup by your side at the Newport
  • Visiting one of the many breweries around Brookvale, most that are dog-friendly
  • Taking one of the dog-friendly ferries operated by the Boathouse Ferry Co to Patonga or one of the Palm Beach Ferries to Ettalong on the Central Coast
Palm Beach Ferry
Take a ride on a dog-friendly ferry from Palm Beach

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

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