This picturesque bay walk of approx 1 hour* and 4 km return starts from the sleepy bayside village of Lota and takes you via the waterfront parks and paths to stunning Manly Marina and Manly Harbour Village.
1. Park in the vicinity of Queen Victoria Boat Ramp, where there's a kids playground and massive off-leash dog park, just off the Esplanade junction with Booran St and Bellevue Parade. It's worth having a quick drive around the surrounding streets, which are still home to many of the original fisherman's shacks from the 1950's. In fact walking from charming old world Lota to Manly is like crossing over from the 1960's to the twenty-first century.
2. From the park, turn right onto Bellevue Parade and opposite Coolana St is where the walking path starts. (It's worth noting that at the other (dead) end of Coolana St you can join up with the Lota Creek Boardwalk, which is worth adding on to the end of this walk when you return). Follow the path until you come to the giant outdoor sculpture of pelicans and incorporating the jetties that used to be in use along this stretch in the fisherman's days. If you take a look through the mangroves you can catch a glimpse of a couple that are still there with boats moored to them.
3. Before you arrive at Lota foreshore park there's a bench that has splendid views across to King Island and St Helena Island. The park beyond is a fantastic wide grassy space featuring a kids playground with fortresses, an impressive outdoor gym and some excellent picnic pavilions. Across the road is the quaint Lota Takeaway and, further along, local fish'n'chippery Barts Place. On most weekends there's a cute little vintage coffee van, Gypsy Girl, where you can grab a takeaway Bellissimo coffee, stick chai, organic soda or baked treat.
4. Once you pass Lota foreshore park (aka Fig Tree Point Park), you'll reach the waterfront path which is overlooked by some of Manly's million dollar mansions, before coming to Manly's stunning marina, which is the largest marina in the southern hemisphere. It's worth taking a detour out along the marina past the Royal Queensland Yacht Squad one one side and Marina Cove Motel on the other and continue along Devonport Drive to Inspiration Point where you can enjoy views across the bay and back towards Lota.
Just beyond the main marina is the East Point Marina and nestled in there is Cafe La Mer, a local secret. Here you can enjoy breakfast or lunch on overwater decks shaded by fig trees, with up close views of the yachts and boats. From there the path follows the bay until you reach Little Bay Park, the site of fantastic weekend markets - Jan Power Farmers Market on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month and the mammoth Manly Markets every Sunday.
Opposite Little Bay Park is Cambridge Parade, which runs up hill through charming Manly Harbour Village, which is well worth exploring for its seafood eateries, cafes, bars, Irish pub, boutiques and art gallery. From this part of Manly you can either continue along the seafront all the way to Wynnum Water Park and Depression-era wading pool and beyond to the Wynnum Mangrove Walk (this will add another hour and a half''s return to your walk. Or turn back and return to Lota and Coolana St and explore the other-worldly Lota Creek Boardwalk.
(*it will take less time if you're cycling)