Airbnb'ing around the World!

We have been fortunate enough to take 3 months off travelling. Our trip so far has taken us to some amazing countries. From Japan, through Korea, onto Nepal, and at the moment travelling through India then Sri Lanka.
In many of the places we have travelled, we have used Airbnb for our place to stay. Its been a great experience for us as hosts, to see how other Airbnb hosts from Tokyo to Calcutta manage their places and strive to provide great local experiences. One thing is for sure, without fail everyone is trying to raise the bar. All hosts, when they find out we are also hosts, want to see pictures of our places, and want to find out what things they can do to improve. It's felt a bit like being part of a user group, with everyone learning off each other.
Certainly though if you want to experience a city or region in a more genuine way, almost as a local, Airbnb is the way to go. With local insights, feeling part of the community and the personal touch from the hosts, it increases the richness of the travel experience.
So far we have been hosted in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Seoul, Kathmandu and Calcutta. Our next host is in Sri Lanka, and I'm sure that stay will be as memorable as our other Airbnb experiences. 
If you are interested in pictures of some of the places we have stayed, we are posting images on our Mango Jam Manly Facebook page.

SUP'ing in Manly

Our Christmas presents to ourselves this year were Stand Up paddleboards or SUP’s. The idea was to give us access to the harbour around Manly, and a good core workout, and so far so good!

We decided to buy inflatable boards from Red Paddle Co through their local Manly agent Stand Up Paddle Gear Manly for the convenience of storage, and because they are indestructible.


It’s been fantastic, launching from Manly Cove just meters away from our new East Esplanade apartment and heading out to local beaches like Forty Baskets, Collins Beach and Reef beach. These being only accessible from the water or by foot, means they are often empty, yet so close to the hustle of Manly.


The great thing about SUP’ing is it gives you time to take it all in, and being stood up the ideal viewpoint. From taking in the beautiful houses and apartments that surround the shoreline on the way to little Manly, to peering down through the really clear water to see the marine life. We were even lucky enough to see a small fairy penguin recently darting around under the water near little Manly.


For our guests visiting Manly you can also enjoy the experience as SUP’s are available for hire from Manly Kayak Centre which is only 300m from each of the apartments, close to the Wharf.


So when you are visiting, take the time out to enjoy the harbour and get a good workout at the same time, and for those more experienced or more enthusiastic, there is regular SUP Ball played next to the wharf.


Shopping In Manly

Gone are the days of trashy seaside one dollar shops that were in abundance several years ago in central Manly, now we are spoilt with designer boutiques, cool surf shops, creative markets and vintage/recycled shops.

My particular favourites are TigerLily on the Corso with their trade mark designer prints and fabulous swimsuits and beachwear, Edna and Albert in Rialto Square showcasing local designers, Assembly Label in Pittwater Road for your classic basics and This and That in Sydney Road for inexpensive style. Cool and trendy independent boutiques such as McLean & Page, Mr & Mrs Smith and The Darley Collective are just a few from a multitude of choice.

You can delight in finding a vintage treasure from Sammy & Sid on Pittwater Road and there’s nothing you can’t find that is surf related in the numerous surf shops on the Corso.

Shopping in Manly is not all about clothes though, there are many wonderful Homewares Stores to browse through, secondhand bookstores that can lose you for hours, and of course the weekend craft markets held in Sydney Road, selling locally designed and crafted  items such as jewellery, clothes, homewares and numerous other market stalls.

Yes, Manly has come a long way in the space of fashion and style and all of this is on your doorstep in Central Manly!



Whale Watching Season is here!

If you have never had the opportunity to get up close and personal to these magnificent creatures, now is the time. Between the months of May through to October with July/Aug being the prime time, you can not only view these giants from the many Whale Watching Cruisers available, but you can often get great glimpses of them right from the shoreline in Manly and the surrounding Northern Beaches. Particularly great viewing points are the many headlands along the coast such as that at Shelly Beach which is just a 10 min stroll along the beachfront from the Waterside Apartments.

A highly recommended activity at this time of year is to take a whale watching trip that runs out of Circular Quay or Darling Harbour. The 17 minute ferry trip from Manly Wharf to Circular Quay is included in the ticket price through and you are pretty much guaranteed to see whales up close and it is AMAZING! These guys often come right into the harbour and cross the path of the Manly Ferry, which always slows down or stops to check them out, much to the delight of the commuters and travellers on board. Imagine that, seeing whales up close on your way to work!! Even on a bus trip back from the city last season, we happened to look out the window and saw a whale that was frolicking around in Middle Harbour …. viewing from a bus commute, that’s crazy!

If you love swimming, you may like to take a chilly dip with the Bold and Beautiful swim club They swim from Manly Surf Club every day of the year without fail, they too have encountered a whale or two. At this time of the year around Shelly Beach there are also juvenile dusky bronze whaler sharks flying around like torpedoes. They can be seen whilst you're swimming or snorkelling.

Also around in plentiful numbers at this time of year are pods of dolphins surfing the waves at Manly Beach along with the lucky surfers that happen to come across them and the occasional seal sunning themselves on the rocks.

Get out and around Manly and enjoy the amazing marine life in the neighbourhood.


Manly’s bar scene is growing up

When we first moved to the Manly area 17 years ago, there was little variety in the bar and restaurant scene. Aside from the large pub hotels there were no small intimate quirky bars, and restaurants. Very different from the European environment we were used to.

However over the last few years the licensing laws changed, encouraging new young bar owners to offer a different eating and drinking experience. Bars restaurants like Hemmingways and ChicaBonita started a trend of cool interesting bars that provided an interesting twist to Manly’s nightlife.

Even the large pubs responded with major makeovers of the Ivanhoe and The Steyne creating smaller bars within itself like Moonshine that not only has great views across the beach but is a regular music venue for some top class bands.  

It seems like every month a new place pops up and they all seem to be roaring successes, showing that people love variety. The Little Love Inn just opened in one of the more conventional buildings on the beachfront, but has captured a cool retro, beach feel.

So when you are in Manly next be sure to explore the alley and lane ways to uncover it's hidden bar gems.


Manly the cycling central

Whilst Manly’s is well known for the sports of surfing and rugby, both union and league. It’s also rapidly growing a reputation as a cycling hub both mountain and road.

Whilst Manly Dam is 4km’s from the centre of Manly, and is probably one of Sydney’s best known and rideable mountain bike tracks. The State Government and National Parks have recently invested over $800,000 into tracks on the western side of Wakehurst Parkway, creating more challenging and technical tracks for the experienced riders. Not only do the tracks give amazing glimpses of Bantry Bay but are also full of wildlife. Most early morning rides, there are encounters with wallabies, and on warmer days goannas.

The Northern Beaches also have a large community of road riders, with Manly often being used for post ride coffees. Cafes like Cridas providing great coffee and wholesome breakfasts. North of Manly towards Pittwater the roads become less busy in the Kuringai National park with Akuna Bay and and West Head Rd providing great road surface and good climbing away from traffic.

Groups like Tour de Cure and The Fixed Wheel regularly use the area for training and welcome riders that are in Manly for holiday or business.

So if you are a road rider or mountain biker Manly has something for everyone on two wheels.