Shoal Bay

From lovely beaches to dolphins, whales and koalas, Shoal Bay is a charming destination in beautiful Port Stephens. Relaxing on a white sandy beach, kayaking with bottlenose dolphins, spotting koalas in the wild and walking to Tomaree Head for whale watching are just a few of the great experiences.

The majestic Shoal Bay Beach curves 2.5km from Nelson Head to Tomaree Head. The sweeping views of the pristine inlet are mesmerising. The calm bay waters are perfect for swimming, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, and picnic tables and barbecue facilities are in the beachside reserve.

Shoal Bay beach in Port Stephens, with views towards Tomaree Head

Getting to Shoal Bay is easy. The drive north from Sydney is 2h 30min and from Newcastle Airport about 30 minutes. Nelson Bay, the main town in Port Stephens, is only minutes away. Places to stay suit various budgets, from camping and caravanning in a holiday park to apartments and resorts.

You’ll find a delicious selection of places to eat and tasty takeaway fish and chips on the waterfront. At the Shoal Bay Country Club, enjoy breakfast at Mermaids Cafe, lunch or dinner in the rooftop bistro, and tasty cocktails all day long. The club is directly across from the beach, and hosts live music on the weekends and kids activities on Sunday afternoon.

Stand-up paddleboarding in Shoal Bay, Port Stephens

At the eastern end of the bay is magnificent Tomaree National Park. On the paved Fort Tomaree walk around the headland are reminders of Australia’s World War II coastal defence. From here, take the Tomaree Head summit walk for a breathtaking panorama of Port Stephens and beyond.

The Wreck Beach walk in the park is to a little sandy cove perfect for a picnic. In and around the national park you can spot koalas munching on swamp mahogany, a species of eucalypt. There are also gorgeous ocean-facing beaches and cycling trails, including south to pretty Fingal Bay Beach.

Shoal Bay is a delightful base for exploring Port Stephens’ top attractions and natural beauty, such as the towering Stockton Bight sand dunes in the Worimi Conservation Lands. There are plenty of adventure tours to the dunes. The dolphin, whale and scuba diving tours depart from Nelson Bay

Newcastle Airport

Fly into Newcastle Airport 

Newcastle Airport is 34km from Nelson Bay, the main town in Port Stephens. Choose from various transport options on arrival, including car rental, limousine and door-to-door shuttle bus, to make the short trip northeast to Port Stephens. Public buses are available to Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay.

Newcastle Airport offers direct flights to and from eight destinations throughout southeastern Australia. Jetstar flies to Brisbane, Melbourne and the Gold Coast; Virgin Australia flies to Melbourne; QantasLink flies to Brisbane; and Regional Express flies to Sydney. FlyPelican flies to Ballina/Byron, Canberra, Dubbo and Taree. Virgin Australia also operates seasonal direct flights to Auckland, New Zealand, between November and February.

Things to Do and Places to Stay