Perfect Palm Beach & the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
If impossibly picturesque views over Sydney’s Northern Beaches are your thing (and they should absolutely be everyone’s thing), there is no better spot than the Barrenjoey Lighthouse in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, accessible via a short but sweet walk near the town of Palm Beach (which you may recognise as Home & Away‘s iconic Summer Bay). Instantly obsessed with photos overlooking the narrow Barrenjoey Peninsula, I have been dying to check out the scenic spot for myself— and I finally had the opportunity on an impossibly warm winter morning this weekend! With Cal and a few friends from Canberra (who were pretty excited to thaw out in the Sydney sun) in tow, I made the short trip up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse and fell totally in love with the unrivalled aerial view over Palm Beach. It’s fair to say that this spot has shot straight to the top of every list I could ever make!
All the details: Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
Navigate to the Boathouse Palm Beach and park your car in one of the paid spots ($8/hr) at the base of the track
STARTING & ENDING POINT
About 2km return (varying only slightly depending on which route you take)
1hr, including frequent photo stops and time to wander around at the lighthouse
Easy, as this is an incredibly quick walk, only moderately steep and even then offers a less steep alternative
Mobile reception throughout, plenty of people in the carpark and up at the lighthouse
FOOD & WATER
Eateries near the carpark
After a walk along the beach, you’ll be able to choose between the longer but more gradual Access Trail or the quicker but steeper Smugglers Track
9/10 for the incredible views over Palm Beach and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, I only wish it was a longer walk!
Following signs pointing to “Lighthouse”, the walk begins on the sunny beach immediately in front of the parking area, where you’ll spend a few minutes walking across the sand (and fighting the urge to jump into the crystal clear water) as you make your way towards the lush Barrenjoey Headland. Towards the end of the beach, another sign indicates a 35min return trip via either Grade 2 (Access Trail) or Grade 3 (Smugglers Track). From here, it’s a short distance off the sand to the final fork in the walk, where you can either choose the 800m Access Trail for a longer and more gradual ascent to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse or the 400m Smugglers Track, which is a series of moderately steep stairs that will get you there slightly quicker, but with a higher heart rate. As always, we opted for the challenge (although it was seriously short and not that difficult in the end).
Having gone right at the fork towards the Smugglers Track, it’s less than 10 minutes up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse via a series of stone steps. Most of the earlier shade of the trail is gone, and there are some seriously spectacular views over the sunny coastline as you make your way upwards. Even before you reach the actual viewpoint, you’re likely to be hyperventilating from excitement (I know I was).
In summer, the top of the walk is likely to get pretty busy, so capitalise on the many rocky outcrops and stone ledges just before the lighthouse to snap some uncrowded photos over beautiful Palm Beach. And even if it’s not crowded, I always love a good rock perch! Once at the top, you’ll also enjoy panoramic views over Sydney’s Northern Beaches, with ocean and distant headlands in every direction. It will immediately become apparent why this short walk is so popular.
Overall impressions: Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
I can’t say enough good things about this scenic walk in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park! The entire journey upwards will take little more than 15min (this is truly a walk for people who like beaches and viewpoints more than they actually like walking), but it’s the frequent photo stops that will add time onto your trip (I was basically going crazy with the camera, but who can blame me). The view over Palm Beach from the Barrenjoey Headland is inarguably one of the best views in the entire Sydney region, and something you absolutely have to see for yourself! While you’re in the area, be sure to also check out Palm Beach from below and maybe even add in an overnight stay at Ku-ring-gai Chase’s only campground, The Basin, which can be accessed via a quick ferry from the wharf in town.
Read more about what to do in Sydney
FROM HUNTER VALLEY TO MANLY BEACH: 10 ITINERARIES FOR EXPLORING THE VERY BEST OF SYDNEY
THE LEGENDARY PACIFIC COAST TOURING ROUTE: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO ROAD TRIPPING FROM SYDNEY TO BRISBANE
A COMPLETE GUIDE TO VIVID SYDNEY: WHERE TO GO & WHAT TO SEE
TOP ILLAWARRA VIEWPOINTS AND LOOKOUTS: BALD HILL, SEA CLIFF BRIDGE & MORE
A COMPLETE GUIDE TO EXPLORING SYDNEY’S BLUE MOUNTAINS
SPIT BRIDGE TO MANLY: STROLLING THROUGH SYDNEY’S NORTHERN BEACHES