Newcastle beaches and surfing
With world-class waves, Australia’s largest surfing festival and towering sand dunes, Newcastle and surrounds are perfect for a beach holiday. Unwind on the beautiful sandy beaches and families with young children will enjoy protected ocean pools, such as the art deco Newcastle Ocean Baths.
Picnic tables and barbecue facilities are in parks and reserves at a number of beaches, including Dixon Park Beach, Nobbys Beach and Stockton Beach, which is the longest beach in NSW and just north of the Hunter River. The giant dunes are along Stockton, a popular beach for 4WD and fishing.
Both Newcastle Beach and Merewether Beach attract surfers chasing the perfect wave. Merewether is one of Australia’s National Surfing Reserves, a register of iconic surfing spots. The waves helped shape the stellar career of Mark Richards, who won the world surfing championship four times.
According to the National Surfing Reserves, ‘Merewether's unique combination of rock shelves and reefs deemed it could be surfed at any time, on any tide, in any swell, wind or size.’ At the southern end of the beach is the Merewether Ocean Baths, home of the Mackerels winter swimming club.
NSW’s second-biggest city celebrates its beach lifestyle and surfing culture with Surfest, an annual festival in February where hundreds of surfers of compete in various surfing events. You can also learn to surf, and experienced surfers can hone their skills, at the year-round Surfest Surf School.
Another great way to experience the spectacular coast is the Bathers Way, a scenic 5km walk from the 1858-built Nobbys Head Lighthouse via Merewether to Glenrock State Conservation Area. In the Glenrock sanctuary are mountain bike trails, walking tracks in rare littoral rainforest and waterfalls.
Spot humpback whales from vantage points between May and November in the sparkling blue ocean off Newcastle, which is about two hours’ drive north of Sydney. For an even closer look at these majestic sea creatures, enjoy whale-watching cruises with either CoastXP or Nova Cruises.
You’ll find more exciting adventures along Stockton Beach in the Worimi Conservation Lands, home to the largest moving coastal dunes system in the Southern Hemisphere. You can explore the dunes and shipwrecks in the area with Sand Dunes Adventures, Quad Bike King and Port Stephens 4WD.