Seven Idyllic Spots for a Picnic on the Northern Beaches Where You Can BYO Booze
With sprawling beachside parks, sandy coves and a commanding headland overlooking the Hawkesbury, the beaches are the ideal summer spot.
in partnership with
Sure, picnics are a common enough pastime for Sydneysiders. But now that double-vaxxed residents of NSW can get together in groups of five outdoors, it's high time to champion the return of the humble BYO picnic.
In partnership with Rosie Spritz, we're helping you jump on the picnic fever that's taking over the city this spring. Whether you want to simply lay in the sun and read Sally Rooney's latest novel or to plan a full-blown al fresco feast with four mates, we've got you. And for northern beaches folk, that means uncovering the most idyllic parks, bays and beaches where you can throw down a rug — and BYO booze. So, grab your wicker basket and head to these top spots to fill your gob with cold cuts and sip an ice-cold spritz in the afternoon sun.
CLONTARF RESERVE, CLONTARF
Despite beaches reigning supreme on this side of town, there's no shortage of beautiful bays and parklands either — and Clontarf Reserve, on the fringes of Balgowlah, ticks all of the worthy park boxes. Beach? Check. Leafy tree-filled space? Yep. Netted swimming zone to keep any purported finned friends at bay? Yessir. It also overlooks the Spit Bridge (in case engineering marvels are your thing) and features a play area for fully vaxxed picnickers with young kids in tow. Physical attributes aside, the reserve is also BYO booze-friendly from 8am–8pm, making it perfect spot for a spritz.
CLAREVILLE BEACH RESERVE, CLAREVILLE
If sun and sand is more your speed, get on down to Clareville Beach for your next picnic. This lesser-known (but equally impressive) stretch of beach tucked away near Avalon is the kind of sandy serenity you no doubt seek. Expect calm waters, lightly bobbing sailboats, shady pines and a soft seabreeze to keep you cool long into the afternoon. Add four vaxxed mates, a picnic spread of prawns rolls and freshly shucked oysters, and a cooler full of rosé spritzes and, congrats, you've mastered the casual beachside picnic. You'll just have to quit any boozing from 8pm–8am.
WINNERERREMY BAY, MONA VALE
If you're looking for the most family-friendly picnic spot on the northern beaches, feast your activity-hunting eyes on Winnererremy Bay. It's got an epic flying fox ride for one, plus a skate park, playground, picnic shelters and barbeque facilities, so you can throw a shrimp on the barbie and sip a spritz (from 8am–8pm). There's also a swimming area and trails featuring stone carvings if you want a quick dip or walk before you tuck in. Then, roll out a blanket under one of the many shady trees at this relaxed spot and you'll feel a world away from the bustle of the more publicised picnic spots in the area.
DES CREAGH RESERVE, AVALON
The northern beaches lays claim to quiet, sandy coves by the dozen. But if you're looking for somewhere a bit livelier to lay down a picnic spread, head to Des Creagh Reserve in Avalon. This stretch of tree-lined park is right opposite Avalon Beach, meaning there's plenty of action to be witnessed, as well as uninterrupted ocean views. Plus, it's just a short stroll to some of the sweetest Avalon eateries on offer for all your takeaway picnic needs. So, live out your Puberty Blues dreams with a Chiko Roll and watch the surfers duck and glide along the waves as the sun starts to set. Like much of the northern beaches BYO-friendly spots, alcohol is banned at Des Creagh Reserve from 8pm–8am.
THOMAS STEVENS RESERVE, CHURCH POINT
As far as remote-yet-accessible picnic zones go, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better pick than Thomas Stevens Reserve. Located on the shores of Pittwater and overlooking the alluring Scotland Island, Thomas Stevens Reserve is laden with shady spaces and secluded coves to meander until you find the perfect picnic possie. Booze is usually off-limits, but you can imbibe on Fridays, weekends and public holidays between 3pm-9pm, so plan accordingly if you're looking to BYO booze. Thankfully, snacks are allowed any day, any time.
BARRENJOEY HEAD, KU-RING-GAI CHASE NATIONAL PARK
Everyone's favourite natural backdrop from Home and Away, Barenjoey Head and its famed lighthouse are also home to an unbelievable picnic spot with views for days. It's a bit of a trek — around 30 minutes from the car park — but once you're there, you're gifted with 360-degree views of pristine coastline stretching from the Central Coast and long sandy beaches to the south. Across the water, there's the winding bushlands of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the dazzling bays of the Hawkesbury. If that's not the backdrop for a picnic cheers, we don't know what is.
EAST ESPLANADE RESERVE, MANLY
Located on the harbour side of Manly, East Esplanade Park is one of the most-loved parks on the northern beaches. While the majority of the park is an alcohol-free zone, there is one small pocket where you can sip a cold one (responsibly, of course). Locally known as 'The Office', this section of grass is in East Esplanade Reserve and it's one of the very few outdoor areas where you can BYO booze in Manly; however alcohol consumption is banned between the hours 8pm–8am. So, we recommend coming here to watch the ferries to and fro across the harbour and sip a spritz at sunset, then get dinner from one of the local restaurants, like Queen Chow or Chica Bonita (which are both currently serving up takeaway options, too).
Rosie Spritz is an ideal springtime sip and is available at BWS, Dan Murphy's and First Choice Liquor stores across Sydney. For more picnic inspiration, check out our guides to idyllic picnic spots where you can BYO booze in Sydney's inner west, inner city, lower north shore and eastern suburbs.
Top image: Clareville Beach, Elliott Kramer
Remember to Drinkwise.
Published on September 28, 2021 by John Agnew