Discover the stunning beauty, native animals, excellent fishing and surfing heritage that make the North Coast of NSW one of the world’s top holiday destinations. Spend endless days on uncrowded beaches, swim with dolphins, indulge in incredible food and wine, explore pristine volcanic hinterland and hike through ancient rainforest.
Start in Newcastle, NSW’s second-largest city. Absorb its buzzing cultural scene, dine at trendy cafes and restaurants, and surf Merewether Beach, one of several National Surfing Reserves on the North Coast. A little further up the coast is Port Stephens, where you can relax on 26 beaches and swim with wild dolphins.
Get close to nature in Port Macquarie at the world’s first Koala Hospital then snap a selfie in front of the iconic Big Banana in Coffs Harbour. Catch a wave and dine on fresh prawns in the sleepy town of Yamba. In Byron Bay, you can be the first person to see the sunrise from Australia’s most easterly point.
The North Coast offers some of the best places in the world for whale watching, between May and November. Perfectly situated raised viewing look-outs are dotted along the entire coastline, or get up close on a boat cruise. You’ll see whales breaching just off the beaches during humpback whales’ annual migration.
Things to do
There’s much to do along the North Coast with hundreds of beaches, World Heritage-listed national parks, lush rainforest and tranquil beachside lagoons. The Coffs Coast is an adventure epicentre. Go snorkelling or diving in the Solitary Islands Marine Park or head inland and take the Skywalkabove the rainforest canopy in Dorrigo National Park.
Stroll along the coastal walk from Ballina to Lennox Head and admire the surfers riding the world famous left hand break at The Point. Kayak to sea caves at Caves Beach in Lake Macquarie, follow Australia’s longest whitewater trail in the Clarence Valley and dive with grey nurse sharks off South West Rocks.
In Byron Bay enjoy the thrill of kayaking near whales, dolphins and turtles or leap off a headland on a tandem hang-glider. Cruise through the rainforest in the Tweed region and even catch your own mud crab in the mangroves. When planning your holiday, check out the events calendar for festivals, markets and shows.
Getting there and where to stay
Getting to the North Coast is easy by road, rail or air. The Legendary Pacific Drive is an iconic touring route between Sydney and Tweed Heads, which winds its way past national parks and state forests as well as famous towns, surf hamlets and stunning beaches. Below you’ll find an interactive map for the drive.
You’ll find airports in many major centres, like Newcastle, Coffs Harbour and Ballina (close to Byron Bay), as well as in Coolangatta, just over the QLD border. The train line also runs right along the coast between Sydney and Brisbane. Accommodation options suit all budgets, from camping and caravanning in beachside holiday parks and national parks to beach houses, hotels, luxury resorts and hinterland retreats.