The Palm Beach lighthouse walk, otherwise known as 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 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 – because it’s one of the best places in Sydney!
Here’s everything you need to know about the Palm Beach lighthouse walk including other things to see and do in the area.
Palm Beach Lighthouse Walk Overview
The short trail to Barrenjoey 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: 1.6km (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 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 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.
Starting point: Station Beach
After parking your car near Governor Phillip Park (preferable close to The Boat House Restaurant), 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 taking two routes to get to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse: The Access trail or Smugglers trail.
My advice would be to go up the one route, and down the other, making the Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk a circuit track.
Access Trail Ascent
The Access Trail is an 800m, grade 2 trail while the Smugglers Trail (more challenging and stepper) is grade 3, but only 400m.
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, and Palm Beach on the far right with Ku-ring-gai National Park behind you.
If you’re doing the Palm Beach lighthouse 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 headland, When you’re done, you can make your way back down to Station Beach, but this time taking 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.
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 countles stairs leading to and from the Barrenjoey Lighthouse, you’ll want to cool down!
Give Station Beach a miss as the water is murky and flat, and 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 saver 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!
The below restaurants are just a short walk from Barrenjoey Head so you don’t even need to get in your car to reach them.
The Boat House
The Boat House is one of the best spots to go after the Palm Beach lighthouse walk. Situated on the Pittwater side of Palm Beach, the beautiful outside deck overlooks the water with a jetty nearby.
The food here is delicious, although a bit on the expensive side. But for the beautiful setting, it’s totally worth the price.
Palm Beach Golf Club
We were lucky to get a table at the Palm Beach Golf Club as it’s often fully booked! Wearing my hiking gear, I felt slightly underdressed – so this might not be your scene if you’re looking for a relaxed atmosphere!
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. I’ll definitely be back.
READ MORE: The Coogee to Bondi Coastal Walk in Sydney
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
Palm Beach wharf is also home to several top restaurants, but you’ll need to drive to get here if you’re coming from Barrenjoey Lighthouse. It’s only 5 minutes away but if you’re using public transport, you may want to visit the restaurants I’ve mentioned above.
Barrenjoey House: This is one of the most highly rated restaurants in Palm Beach.
Palm Beach Fish and Chips: On the hunt for fresh fish? Palm Beach fish and chips is the local favorite for seafood on the go (and on a budget)
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, and 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 where 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.
How to Get to Palm Beach, Sydney
Bus: 1h 45min from Sydney CBD to Pam Beach
The B1 Bus is the quickest way to get from Sydney CBD (Wynyard Station) to the Northern Beaches. It operates frequently with minimal stops along the way. 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 40 minutes later at Collaroy. Here, you’ll need to change busses 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 1h15minutes, depending on traffic.
READ MORE: The Best Hike in the Blue Mountains
Driving your own car is the quickest way to get to Barrenjoey Lighthouse as it takes less than an hour from both the CBD and Manly. 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 Governor Phillip Park Park,