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 the author

I’m Jayne, a travel blogger, content creator and mum to a 4-year-old son. I’ve been blogging since 2010, travelled to 65 countries and share travel guides and tips to help you plan stylish, stress-free trips.

21 thoughts on “Sydney From A Seaplane: Our Scenic Flight With Sydney Seaplanes”

    • 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
  1. 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
    • 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
  2. 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
    • 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
  3. 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
    • 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
  4. 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

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