The Palm Beach lighthouse walk, otherwise known as the Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk, is a bucket list activity for anyone visiting Sydney.
Standing tall on Barrenjoey Head, the short walk from Palm Beach to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse offers spectacular views no matter which direction you look.
And for those who haven’t visited Palm Beach, this is also a good excuse to pack a day bag and head to the Northern Beaches for the day.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Palm Beach lighthouse walk, including other things to see and do in the area.
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Palm Beach Lighthouse walk overview
The short trail to Barrenjoey Head Lighthouse offers incredible viewpoints throughout the route.
While it’s less than 2km, the path is steep, and I found myself out of breath a few times.
- Starting Point: Station Beach in Palm Beach, Sydney
- Distance: 2 km (return)
- Difficulty: Easy (steep in areas)
- Time needed: 90 minutes
- Conditions: Well-marked and paved the entire way
Where Is the Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk in Palm Beach
Located on the far tip of the northern beaches of Sydney lies the picturesque suburb of Palm Beach.
The relaxing atmosphere, lush surroundings, and peaceful streets are a far cry from the bustling streets of Bondi and Manly.
If you’re coming from the CBD to Palm Beach, it’s quite a drive to get there.
So, make a day out of it and combine your lighthouse walk with a few other attractions in the area. You’ll have no regrets.
Barrenjoey Lighthouse Starting point: Station Beach
The starting point of the Palm Beach walk is Station Beach, located here.
After parking your car near Governor Phillip Park, you’ll make your way to Station Beach and walk along the sand for 200 m.
As you exit the beach to your right, you’ll have the option of two routes to get to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse: The Access Trail or Smugglers Trail.
My advice would be to go up one route (Access Trail) and down the other (Smugglers Track), making the Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk a circuit track.
Access Trail Ascent
The Access Trail is an 800 m grade 2 trail. The alternative route, Smugglers Trail, is more challenging and steep and is grade 3, but only 400 m.
On you’re way up, take the Access trail. While it’s slightly longer, the ascend is gradual, and there are several photo spots along the way.
After 20 minutes, you’ll reach the top of Barrenjoey Head, with the lighthouse marking the end of your uphill climb.
From here, you’ll have unspoiled views of barren outcrops in the distance as you look onto the central coast on the far left. Palm Beach is on the far right, and Ku-ring-gai National Park will be behind you.
If you’re doing the Barrenjoey Headland walk between May and October, keep an eye out for the humpback whales, and this is one of the best places to see them.
Palm beach Lighthouse viewpoints
But there’s more!
After admiring the panoramic views from the lighthouse, you’ll find a rugged trail leading toward the far end of the headland.
It passes the burial site of George Mulhall, the first principal keeper of Barrenjoey Lighthouse.
This path has several small trails going off it, most of which lead to hidden rocky outcrops that make for incredible photo spots with Palm Beach in the background.
If you continue with the track to the far end of the headland, you’ll find the site of the original lighthouse.
Smugglers Track Descend
You won’t need more than 30 minutes to explore the Barrenjoey Headland.
When you’re done, make your way back down to Station Beach. This time take the Smugglers Track.
You’ll soon be relieved you opted for the Access Trail on the way up, as the stairs on the Smuggler Track are steep!
This trail is mostly surrounded by bushland, but there is one lookout point that offers unspoiled views of Palm Beach.
After 15 minutes, you’ll be back on Station Beach where you started.
Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk FAQs
How long is the lighthouse walk to Palm Beach?
The walk to Palm Beach lighthouse is a 2 km loop trail that takes 90 minutes to complete.
Is there free parking at Barrenjoey Lighthouse?
There is street parking available near the trailhead, but it’s charged by the hour.
READ MORE: GUIDE TO COOGEE TO BONDI WALK
Where does the Palm Beach Lighthouse walk start?
The Palm Beach walking trail to Barrenjoey Head starts near Station Beach, on the Pittwater side of the peninsula.
Where to stay in Sydney
If this is your first time visiting Sydney, you should stay in the CBD, near the harbor.
Even though the Barrenjoey Headland is a far drive from here, I don’t recommend staying in Palm Beach as it’s isolated from the rest of the city.
Luxury: The Four Seasons Sydney has the most impressive views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s in the heart of Sydney and is the best place to stay in the city (if you have the budget for it). Check availability here.
Mid-range: The Little National Hotel is a boutique hotel that boasts a gorgeous rooftop bar, a swimming pool, and more. The location couldn’t be better, and it’s just a short walk from Wynyard Train Station in the city. Check availability here.
Budget: The Sydney Harbour YHA is the best place to stay on a budget. Here you’ll find a range of rooms, from large dorms to private doubles with ensuites. The YHA also has an epic rooftop area that features some of the best views of the Sydney Harbour. Check prices and availability here.
How to get to Barrenjoey Lighthouse
It takes 2 hours to get from Sydney CBD (Wynyard Station) to Palm Beach.
The B1 Bus is the quickest option, but unfortunately, it doesn’t go as far as Palm Peach.
So, if you’re coming from Wynyard station, hop on the B1 and get off at the last stop, Mona Vale.
Here, you’ll need to change buses and get on the 199, which goes directly to Palm Beach.
Get off at the stop near Palm Beach Golf Club.
If you’re coming from Manly, there’s a direct bus (199) from Manly Wharf to Palm Beach, Sydney.
This trip will take 1h 15 minutes, depending on traffic.
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Driving your own car is the quickest way to get to Barrenjoey Lighthouse.
It takes less than an hour to drive from the CBD or Manly to Palm Beach. But, you may struggle to find parking after arriving in Palm Beach.
The best place to look is near “The Boat House” restaurant or anywhere near Governor Phillip Park Park. Parking fees will apply.
Other things to do in Palm Beach
While the Palm Beach lighthouse walk is the main attraction, here are a few other things to add to your itinerary for the day.
Go beaching at Palm Beach
After conquering the countless stairs leading to and from the Barrenjoey Lighthouse, you’ll want to cool down!
For some beach time, give Station Beach a miss, as the water is murky and flat. Head to Palm Beach instead, where you can enjoy a fresh ocean swim!
Palm Beach is one of the best beaches in Sydney, and it stretches over 2km.
To the one side, you’ll find a rock pool, while the opposite end is far more rugged and wild.
This beach is also the iconic filming location of the show “Home and Away”. If you’re a fan, this is even more reason to visit!
To get to Palm Beach after your lighthouse walk, you’ll take a short detour from Station Beach as you’re walking back towards the parking area.
Take the first exit along the sand, and this route will take you directly to Palm Beach.
There are public toilets and showers near the life-saving club, so after your swim, rinse off and freshen up because it’s time for cocktails and food!
Dining out in Palm Beach
After a strenuous hike and well-deserved swim, you’ll have worked up quite the appetite and will be eager to get some food in your belly!
Palm Beach Golf Club
I highly recommend the Palm Beach Golf Club restaurant, which is near Barrenjoey Head.
I was lucky to get a table here, as it’s often fully booked.
The cocktails went down far too well, but the food here was the highlight! The Pork Belly, with its Asian-inspired flavors, was absolutely incredible. The Barramundi was also to die for.
Wearing my hiking gear, I felt slightly underdressed. So this might not be your scene if you’re looking for a relaxed atmosphere.
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This picturesque spot is found between the Palm Beach Life Savers Club and Governor Phillip Park.
Their policy is – “shoes not essential” – so if that’s the vibe you’re looking for, you’ll love it here.
It’s also a popular wedding venue, so you might not be able to visit on the weekend.
Other places to eat in Palm Beach
Barrenjoey House: This is one of the most highly-rated restaurants in Palm Beach.
The Boathouse Bakery: Great atmosphere and even better fish and chips.
Picnic at Governor Phillip Park
There’s just something about the parks in Australia. They are so inviting!
And Governor Phillip Park is no exception.
With scores of trees lining the well-manicured lawns, there’s enough shade to whip out a picnic blanket and zen out in nature while the kids play on the playground.
If you come prepared with food, you can also enjoy the barbecue facilities, picnic benches, and tables.
Take the Ferry to Patonga
If you’re spending a night in Palm Beach, you can easily add a trip to Patonga to your itinerary.
Situated on the central coast and just a short 45-minute ferry trip from Palm Beach wharf, it makes for a great day trip. You can spend time on the beach or head to The Boathouse Hotel for delicious food, ocean views, and Aperol Spritz!
You can find the Palm Beach ferry schedule here.
Have you been to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse in Palm Beach? Or are you planning your trip? If you have any questions, let me know in the comments section below!
Looking for more adventures in Australia? Check out my other posts.