We go to Manly for the wonderful ferry ride over and the fish and chip experience as the beach itself does not appeal (but is nice). The fish and chips without a doubt are the best I have found in Sydney - outside of fine dining. Take your pick from the many shop owners, but be sure to visit the ones with the biggest queues as it is worth it. The fish is sooo fresh.
The reason it gets a very good rating instead of 5 stars is Manly really is for those who like the water - there isn't much else around except for that and pubs where we went. The main thoroughfare has shops (mainly food places) but it is besieged with seagulls so isn't a comfortable spot to rest up and eat!
The ferry is the stock standard commuter ferry which we found cheap and a really nice trip. There is plenty of opportunity for great photos on the way to Manly and this is just as good as taking one of the cruise vessels.
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