The best waterfront accommodation in NSW for families

Unplug from daily routines and schedule a family escape at these incredible waterfront stays. From beaches and rivers to lakes and a coastal lagoon, these nature-based retreats for all budgets will make many happy memories.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

Mar 2023 -
min read

On a budget 

Grabine Lakeside Holiday Park, Grabine 

Not all waterside retreats require a coastline. The serene beauty of Wyangala Dam, just four-and-a-half hours from Sydney, offers a nature-hemmed holiday by the grassy banks of this ‘lake’. Teach the kids camping skills via a tent assembly lesson at a shoreside campsite or bunk into one of the cabins. As the sun rises, throw a line into the water, enjoy a swim, try waterskiing, or take a gentle canoe across the expansive dam. Families with a furry addition will be happy to learn pups are welcome year-round. 

Pretty Beach cabins, Pretty Beach 

Set amid the captivating beauty of Murramarang National Park near Batemans Bay, these humble but homey cabins are an idyllic place to reboot the family with a refreshed appreciation for nature. Tucked into the bush with the soothing rhythm of the ocean beckoning you to the beach, you’ll spend plenty of time fishing, reading and dipping in the water. There are also hiking trails to explore and lookouts for whale watching if you visit during their migration.  

Kangaroos roaming on Pretty Beach, South Coast

Kangaroos on Pretty Beach, South Coast

Edgewater Gardens, Batehaven 

Fill the kids’ memory banks with days of oceanside play on a family retreat to the south coast hamlet of Batehaven. Here at Edgewater Gardens Holiday Apartments, settle in for a seemingly endless summer, bouncing from beach to pool, with side excursions to Mogo Wildlife Park and the Birdland Animal Park.  

Ring-Tail Lemur at Mogo Zoo, Mogo

Mogo Wildlife Park, Mogo - Credit: Mogo Wildlife Park


Seaside Holiday Resort, Fingal Bay 

Prep the kids for action at this beachside escape set right by Tomaree National Park in Port Stephens. Edged by bush and bay, this resort is perfectly positioned to provide a roll-call of outdoor entertainment: from beach sessions to paddleboarding in Fingal Bay, and resort-pool plunging. On cooler days, set trainers or bike tyres on one of the many tracks in the national park, or head to the nearby Worimi Conservation Lands for a sand-boarding adventure. 

Coastal aerial of Fingal Beach in Fingal Bay, Port Stephens

Fingal Beach, Port Stephens

Moama on Murray Houseboats, Echuca Moama  

You can’t get more waterfront than sleeping on the water. Slip down the mighty Murray River on a luxed-up vessel for a nature-filled tour of the breathtaking Echuca Moama region. Wave to the iconic Emmy Lou paddlesteamer from your heated spa as you glide by on your houseboat, complete with all the mod cons. Drop anchor on a sandy beach for a sunset dinner, spot birdlife as you pass wetlands, go fishing or up the adrenaline with a waterskiing adventure. While perhaps suited to older, more water-confident people, this is a family holiday everyone will boast about.  

Room overlooking the river on a Moama on Murray Houseboat, Moama

Moama on Murray Houseboats, Moama - Credit: Moama on Murray Houseboats

NRMA South West Rocks Holiday Resort, South West Rocks 

Strap in for an adventurous seaside experience the kids will want to repeat every year. This holiday resort is designed for good times with an incredible array of entertainment on offer from the Shipwreck Island Waterpark complete with giant rock skull, to the Bear Grylls Survival Academy that teaches kids skills for the wild. There’s also mini golf, go-karts and a tennis court. The Kids Club can occupy little ones while parents recover from the high-energy excitement.  

Skull Cave at NRMA South West Rocks Holiday Resort, South West Rocks

NRMA South West Rocks Holiday Resort, South West Rocks - Credit: NRMA South West Rocks Holiday Resort

Riverside Holiday Resort, Urunga 

Positioned on the banks of the Kalang River in Urunga, this award-winning holiday park is angled for days of non-stop waterplay. Whether you explore nearby Hungry Head Beach, jump from the floating pontoons at the Urunga Lido, follow Urunga’s accessible boardwalk across the tidal lagoon or get involved in a game of Marco Polo at the resort pool, your holiday schedule will be delightfully water-filled. With Coffs Harbour just 20 minutes north, you can also take a mini excursion to the Big Banana or to swing through the canopy at Treetops Adventure

Kayak and paddle boards near Riverside Holiday Resort, Urunga

 Riverside Holiday Resort, Urunga - Credit: Gethin Cole Photography 

Trilby Station, Louth  

Rough up the kids’ sneakers with some red dust at this working outback station on the Darling River Run, 125-kilometres south-west of Bourke. With 320,000 acres populated by sheep and goats, this vast operation run by the Murray family welcomes visitors to the property to camp or stay in the cottages and shearer’s quarters. Revel in a rustic adventure driving self-guided mud map routes, reeling in a Murray cod, kayaking down the river to spot wildlife or by joining a ‘morning smoko’ tour of the nearby historic Dunlop Station.  

Aerial view of Trilby Station outback NSW campsite, Darling River

Trilby Station, Darling River - Credit: Trilby Station

Luxury Stays 

Calabash Bay Lodge, Berowra Waters 

If you seek a secluded, serene retreat to bunker down with your family, where observing nature is the primary agenda, this elegant Hawkesbury lodge may suit. Exclusively accessed by water, this is an uninterrupted sanctuary, where you can watch the day ebb and flow on the deck, slip into the water from the private jetty or take a rooftop yoga practice. The four-bedroom abode welcomes children of all ages and offers use of a boat, as well as options to book a private chef, spa experience or yoga teacher. 

Dining room view at Calabash Bay Lodge, Berowra Waters

Calabash Bay Lodge, Berowra Waters - Credit: Calabash Bay Lodge

Paperbark Camp, Jervis Bay 

Find a home among the gum trees at this bush-enclosed glamping experience in Jervis Bay, just two-and-a-half hours from Sydney. The beautifully styled King Deluxe eco tents fit families of up to four (minimum age is 10 year’s old) and each have a deck to watch passing wildlife and allow a safari-style experience for eager naturalists. Take one of the many bush trails at the camp at dusk to spot nocturnal fauna, bike to stunning white-sand beaches and the township of Huskisson and enjoy a family dinner at the excellent onsite restaurant, The Gunyah.  

A Paperback Camp safari tent in tranquil bushland, Jervis Bay

Paperbark Camp, Jervis Bay

Q Station, Manly 

Dazzle the kids with a stay at Manly’s Q Station in North Head. With its hidden-away vibe and fascinating heritage to discover, you’ll feel a world away from the city at this former quarantine station. Settle into one of the historic three-bedroom officers’ cottages and let the kids roam the national park, take a kayak to water and enjoy a history tour then, come nightfall, book in for a spooky ghost tour of the historic property.  

Aerial overlooking Q Station surrounded by North Harbour, Manly

Aerial overlooking Q Station surrounded by North Harbour, Manly

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