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Australia / New South Wales

Sydney From A Seaplane: Our Scenic Flight With Sydney Seaplanes

It’s a very strange sensation to board an aircraft that is bobbing around on water, trying to find your sea legs before taking flight.

Yesterday was my first ever experience of flying in seaplane – a C208 Cessna Caravan named Corsair, to be exact. A scenic flight with Sydney seaplanes was my 30th birthday present from the Husband-To-Be, and it was a great present for this girl who loves flying as much as the city we live in.

Sydney From A Seaplane: Our Scenic Flight With Sydney Seaplanes

Our ride was named Corsair, after a classic Empire Flying Boat from 1937

Departing from Rose Bay (the location of Sydney’s first international airport and where the Empire Flying Boat used to depart for Southampton UK – a journey that took 10 days!) our 30-minute aerial tour of Sydney would take us along the Northern Beaches to Palm Beach and back for a loop of the Harbour.

The Corsair seats 8 and has 4 rows with 1 central aisle, so everyone gets a window. (One lady flew in the cockpit with the pilot after she sweetly asked him.) Justin and I were the last to board so took up position in the back seats, after wobbling our way in.

Sydney From A Seaplane: Our Scenic Flight With Sydney Seaplanes

Floating into Sydney Harbour to prepare for take off

Take off is an exhilarating and surreal experience. Having sailed smoothly out into the harbour, the seaplane turns back to face Rose Bay and prepares for take off. With engines at full throttle we thrashed into the waves like a speedboat trying to thrill its passengers, until finally we stopped slapping back down to water and took off over it instead. Then the plane turned steeply to the left and off we flew, out past South Head.

Sydney From A Seaplane: Our Scenic Flight With Sydney Seaplanes

Farewell Rose Bay

The pilot points out the beaches and national parks you pass on the way but a combination of there being so much to look at and the sound not being so sharp at the back of the plane meant I could hardly keep up. Instead I stared cross-eyed out the window and tried to name the places I recognised instead.

Sydney From A Seaplane: Our Scenic Flight With Sydney Seaplanes

Passing South Head – you can just about see Hornby Lighthouse

The long white arch of Manly Beach was one of the most recognisable beaches we passed on our flight but it was by no means the most beautiful. From our altitude I could see surfers at Curl Curl, swimmers in the ocean pools at Avalon and Freshwater, and boats, so many boats, parked at every gorgeous cove throughout Pittwater.

Sydney From A Seaplane: Our Scenic Flight With Sydney Seaplanes

*waves to Manly*

Sydney From A Seaplane: Our Scenic Flight With Sydney Seaplanes

Just a few boats at Pittwater

Nearer Palm Beach (aka Home & Away’s Summer Bay) the plane dropped lower so we could admire the national park and varying shades of the water. Experiencing minor turbulence at this stage I made sure I knew where the sick bag was located. (Although luckily I didn’t need it in the end.)

Sydney From A Seaplane: Our Scenic Flight With Sydney Seaplanes

I was really surprised by the scale of national park in this part of Sydney

Sydney From A Seaplane: Our Scenic Flight With Sydney Seaplanes

Zipping down for a closer look

As we swung past Palm Beach it was on my partner’s side of the plane. I launched myself nearer to get a better look, just as we left the iconic strip of land behind. At least I’ve explored it a couple of times on foot.

Sydney From A Seaplane: Our Scenic Flight With Sydney Seaplanes

A last-minute pic of Palm Beach Justin managed to take for me

For the journey back to Sydney Harbour most of the scenery was on my side of the plane and I was able to take snaps of the sights I’d caught sight of through Justin’s window on the way there. Before long we were back in the harbour and heading straight for the Harbour Bridge. The seaplane doesn’t fly over it but circles the harbour from two different approaches, so both sides of the plane can get their share of bird’s eye views and photos.

Sydney From A Seaplane: Our Scenic Flight With Sydney Seaplanes

Gosh Sydney’s a pretty city

Sydney From A Seaplane: Our Scenic Flight With Sydney Seaplanes

Looping the Harbour

Before we knew it the plane was sweeping back down towards the water, landing gracefully on it, to the whoops of some men crewing a yacht nearby. From take-off prep to landing the whole experience took just under an hour. But what an incredible hour Sydney Seaplanes made it.

My elated face at landing

My elated face at landing

More Info

The 30-minute Sydney Secrets scenic flight Justin booked for us starts at $265 per person. For more information visit Sydney Seaplanes or find special offers here. 

Read next: What To Do In Sydney – 21 Best Tours & Fun Activities

About Author

Travel blogger and freelancer writer who loves boutique hotels and brunching. I've been blogging for 10 years, visited 60+ countries and called London, Sydney, Melbourne and (oh so briefly) New York home at various points during the last decade. Now travelling with a baby and trying to make it as stylish and stress-free as can be!

21 Comments

  • Taylor Hearts Travel
    January 19, 2015 at 8:37 am

    Beautiful pics – especially considering they’re moving shots. The slightest bit of turbulence scares me, as does the water, so I’m happy to live this experience through your photos! 😉 x

    Reply
    • Jayne Gorman
      January 19, 2015 at 11:05 pm

      Haha I have become a bit of a nervous flyer as I’ve got older and there were a few times I grabbed Justin’s leg in fright. Overall it was a very smooth ride though and the view was absolutely sensational throughout 🙂

      Reply
  • Janice Stringer
    January 19, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Hi Jayne,
    I first looked through your photographs – swallowing the sights as they connected me with happy moments I’ve spent, arriving in Sydney on an aeroplane and gazing at its notorious shoreline as we made our descent. These took me straight back to those lovely moments.Then I read about your experience. Closer to the front of the plane, from what you’ve said, seems to be the thing to do if I ever have the chance. What a lovely way to celebrate your birthday. A thoughtful gift!
    J

    Reply
    • Jayne Gorman
      January 19, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      It was a great gift – especially as (like you mention) it reminded me of the excitement of landing in Sydney and made us see what a beautiful place we currently call home.

      Reply
  • Elle Croft
    January 19, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    This looks like so much fun! I always wanted to try a seaplane ride, especially when I lived in Vancouver as they’re frequently seen circling the city. Do you think motion sickness tablets would have helped ease the effects of turbulence?

    Reply
    • Jayne Gorman
      January 19, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      Probably drinking less coffee and not wearing a million unnecessary layers (it was cold when we woke but soon hotted up) would have eased the effects of turbulence! To be honest it was only a brief section of bumpiness but if you are likely to suffer from sea or motion sickness it probably doesn’t hurt to be prepared with tablets!

      Reply
  • Laura
    January 19, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    I had no idea Sydney looked like that! What a breathtaking experience (also your eyelashes are AMAZING.)

    Reply
    • Jayne Gorman
      January 19, 2015 at 11:09 pm

      I had no idea Sydney looked like that either – the greens and blues went on for ages. Also thank you 🙂

      Reply
  • Amy Lynne Hayes
    January 19, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    This looks incredible!! I’m not a huge fan of tiny planes, but I think I could handle it (i.e. get passed my fear of flying) for 30 minutes for views like that. It’s so cool to see how the names of all the famous places fit together geographically. Sydney, and Australia for that matter, is so beautiful. 🙂

    Reply
    • Jayne Gorman
      January 19, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      I was a tiny bit nervous too but most of the ride was exceedingly smooth and you are so distracted by the views to worry about it. It’s gorgeous up there!

      Reply
  • Lucy
    January 19, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Beautiful views, it looks like an amazing way to see the city – though I’m not much of a fan of flying or boats so this is one I’ll be living through you!

    Reply
    • Jayne Gorman
      January 19, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      There is a 15 minute version if you fancied braving that?! 🙂

      Reply
  • Natasha
    January 19, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    Such beautiful pictures – you are so lucky – glad you enjoyed the sea plane – bet it was so much fun. http://www.traveladdictuk.com

    Reply
    • Jayne Gorman
      January 19, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      It was an incredible experience – a truly awesome gift 😉

      Reply
  • Lizzy
    January 20, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Sounds and looks amazing! You got to see some amazing views.

    Reply
    • Jayne Gorman
      January 20, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      We were lucky with the weather – it looked great up there!

      Reply
  • Jean | Holy Smithereens
    February 4, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    What an awesome view from the top! The best way to see all of Sydney 🙂 I’d only been on a seaplane in the Maldives, and yours looks much sturdier 😉

    Reply
    • Jayne Gorman
      February 4, 2015 at 11:01 pm

      I can imagine! Was quite pleased my first seaplane experience was in a sturdy vehicle 🙂

      Reply
  • Francesca
    February 9, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Argh, I lived in Sydney for a while a couple of years back and went for a visit last month, not I’m kicking myself for not doing this now!

    Reply
    • Jayne Gorman
      February 10, 2015 at 1:39 am

      Maybe next time 🙂

      Reply
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