My happy place – floating on the Sydney Harbor

Our sunrise paddle customers always ask, do you get used to this view, seeing it every morning?

Not at all. It’s my happy place. Not gonna lie – it is difficult to get out of bed sometimes, to put on a cheery face and face the world. But without fail, as soon as I hit the water, I find my inner peace. And when we get excited and happy customers, I draw energy from them. By the time I pack up the kayaks and head off to work, I’m ready to take on the day.

Also, the harbor is different every morning. Sometimes the water is flat and glassy, sometimes choppy with white caps. Some days, we are lucky and the high clouds are painted vibrant hues of magenta and orange; other days the gloomy skies help our colorful kayaks pop out more in photos.

So everyday on the water, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to be out there. Happily and thankfully, no, I won’t ever get used to this view.

Surprise birthday paddles with Sydney by Kayak

I love paddling around Sydney Harbor Bridge and in front of the Opera House at sunrise. Before the ferries start, the water is flat, sometimes glossy and glassy. It is quiet, except for the sounds of our paddles slicing through the water, and the occasional peals of laughter and excitement as our groups of paddlers push their kayaks beyond Luna Park and drink in the view of the iconic Opera House glinting in the golden pink hues of the early morning rays.

What makes it even more special, is when paddlers arrange for surprise paddles for their friends / significant others. Sometimes, it takes a bit of coaxing to get them out of bed before 5am in the morning, especially when they have no idea what’s in store, but always, their faces light up when they come to the boat ramp and see the colourful row of kayaks at the water’s edge.

And that’s only part one of the surprise! Part two is when we pass under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and float peacefully in front of the Opera House. That’s when Laura sneakily lights candles on cupcakes and then skillfully maneuvers one-handed to the surprised paddler. 😀

Totally worth those early morning calls!

Sunrise Paddling in Spring

It’s been a fun past week of morning sunrises! The weather has been all over the place. Just earlier this week, we were shivering in 10 degrees; this morning, it was hot and humid at a very unseasonable 29 degrees. Not complaining though, it still felt glorious to be out on the harbor, enjoying the view.

Sydney by Kayak’s sunrise paddle tour was recently featured in Time Out too – very exciting stuff! It’ll also be in the print October issue, though I have no idea where to buy print copies. :/

Here are a couple recent sunrises where we popped underneath the Harbor Bridge to get closer to the Opera House. 🙂


Sunday Sunrise Paddle

Sunday morning – no clouds on the horizon, but the water was nice and glassy. Another beautiful and leisurely morning out on the water. It also marked the first day of our partnership with Sydney by Kayak!

Over the next few months, through the end of summer, ptanPhoto will be on hand on SBK’s Sunrise Kayak & Coffee tours, taking photos that paddlers can purchase as keepsake. Super pumped: more chances to be out on enjoying the early morning light and the peaceful gorgeous Sydney Harbor before the ferry boats churn up the water!

Sunrise paddle with Sydney by Kayak

Sunrise paddling with Sydney by Kayak

Last week, I went out for a sunrise and coffee paddle with Sydney by Kayak, in part to enjoy the sunrise over the Sydney Opera House and Bridge, and in part to take photographs for their marketing efforts.

The last time I went out with Sydney by Kayak to take photographs for them, we didn’t see any sun at all thanks to complete cloud cover. This time, we had ZERO clouds. Oh well. You can never win.

Sunrise paddle with Sydney by Kayak

But the company and coffee was good, and we got to compare boat sizes with the P&O cruise ship that came into the harbor.

Twilight over Sydney Opera House

This past week, I’ve been trying to fight off this cold to no avail. Argh, my constant hacking cough keeps me up awake at night – and disturbs the entire open-plan office during the day.

Anyway, since I still wasn’t up for joining the group for our weekly Friday evening kayak netball sessions, I decided wait for them to finish at Lavender Bay by catching the sunset at Milsons Point, just a bay over. I had high hopes for a color explosion at sunset, but alas, the cloud cover wasn’t in the right position. I could see the gorgeous hues of pink and orange south of Barangaroo, but not where I had my lens focused over the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge.

No matter. It’s still a breathtaking view, one that never fails to remind me of how lucky we are to live in Sydney.

Sydney Harbor Bridge at Dusk

Dolphin sightings in Sydney Harbor

We have been super lucky – two weekends in a row while kayaking along the Sydney Harbor, we have spotted dolphins leisurely swimming along.

The first instance was when we stuffed our kayaks into the back of a cab and took it to Balmoral. We then rounded the peninsula at Balmoral, and paddled home to Waverton. It was a calm morning, with flat glassy waters. Paddling was a dream. The day was still young, so traffic on the water was light. As we neared Bradley Head, Jeff spotted a lone dolphin cruising about.  

The second instance was this past Saturday, when we joined Laura from Sydney by Kayak on a sunrise paddle and breakfast by the Harbor Bridge. As we sipped on our coffee and munched on granola and yogurt and other snacks thoughtfully packed by Laura, Ben spotted a pair of dolphins right in front of the opera house. We hastily snatched up our paddles and raced forward to have a closer look. 

So awesome. 😃


Vivid in Sydney



I joined the crowds by Circular Quay tonight to check out the Vivid light displays over the Opera House. The quay was packed. There were dozens of photography groups clustered at the front of the cruise terminal, alongside casual onlookers armed with their iPad screens. I was lazy, and so didn’t bother setting up my tripod, relying instead on a higher ISO. Should have though; most of my images aren’t as crisp as they should be. :/

Decided to walk home across the bridge after too, and happily the low wall of the pylon proved stable enough to balance my camera for a couple of longer exposure photos.

Hoping to check out more displays again this weekend. This time, I’ll dig out my tripod. Heh.

Sunset at McMahon Point

Fickle weather in Sydney this weekend. Bah. We’d all these grand plans to go kayaking. I had even set my alarm clock for 530 this morning, only to see flashes of lightning when I awoke. Had half a mind to lug the camera and head out to catch the sunrise, but sleep won over instead.

Oh well. It felt good to catch up on much needed rest. And in the end, we had a lovely evening stroll to McMahon Point where we were treated to a beautiful sunset… although most of the dramatic clouds were above North Sydney…


North Sydney Sunset-1



Sunrise over Sydney Harbor Bridge

We dragged ourselves out of bed this morning. Originally, our plan had been to kayak over the weekend, but we foolishly heeded the weather forecast, which warned of certain thunderstorms. As it turned out, it was decent kayaking weather, albeit somewhat gusty.

No matter. We launched our kayaks right about dawn, and paddled for the Harbor Bridge. It was a somewhat overcast morning, but the breeze was slight, so we shrugged off the last vestiges of sleep and reveled in the calm.

First a cruise ship materialized in the horizon, blocking our view of the opera house. Then out of nowhere, the second one appeared, this one bound for Darling Harbor. But it was gliding ever so slowly, such that it didn’t leave any wake.




Totally worth the early morning rise! Haha, but to be honest, I think the next time we get back to this side of the harbor would be New Year’s Eve. Hard to believe we’re just a day shy from December already. Goodness.