13 Reasons Why Port Macquarie Makes for a Great Family Holiday

7 July 2015

I love Port Macquarie as a family friendly destination. I grew up holidaying here with my own parents and have fond memories of fishing from the breakwall, dolphin spotting and playing on the beaches.

Coastal Walk Greater Port Macquarie Tourism

Coastal Walk. Image credit: Greater Port Macquarie Tourism

Port Macquarie is vibrant, but also relaxing enough to help you create that memorable family holiday you crave.

Things to see and do:

1. Billabong Wildlife Park

The Billabong and Koala Wildlife Park has a wide variety of Australian and exotic animals and birds featuring their world-renowned koala breeding centre where you can pat and photograph these cuddly marsupials after each of the shows held daily at 10:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm.

Other daily keeper shows include penguins, monkeys, dingos, snow leopards, crocs, meerkats and red pandas.

2. The Coastal Walk

The lovely 9 kilometre coastal walk begins at Town Green foreshore and winds its way along the coast to Tracking Point Lighthouse, taking in beaches, the rainforest, wildlife spotting and cafes.

This walk can also be divided into shorter 2 km sections each day rather than the whole walk at once. Try to at least incorporate Shelly Beach and a walk through the Sea Nature Reserve to the look out point where it’s possible to see pods of dolphins playing in the surf from here. Between May and November you can often view the whale migration.

3. Koala Hospital

Visit the only Koala Hospital in the state and learn about rehabilitating koalas so they have a good chance of recovering from injuries and being returned to the bush. The hospital runs entirely on donations and volunteers who keep the hospital running 365 days a year.

Visitors are welcome at all times during the day, however a “Feed, Walk and Talk” tour is conducted every afternoon at 3.00 p.m where you’ll learn why each koala patient has entered the hospital, the treatment and the outcome for the koala. Great education for the kids, great experience for those on a budget and the hospital will appreciate any donation.

4. Sea Acres Rainforest Centre

The Sea Acres Rainforest Centre is at Shelly Beach and has a 1.3 kilometre elevated boardwalk through the natural serenity of the rainforest with the sound of waves in the distance. The boardwalk is easy for all ages with various signs along the walk highlighting points of interest

The onsite Rainforest Cafe is also a good spot for lunch or coffee with the focus on healthy sandwiches, salads, and to die for cakes and pastries.

5. The Breakwall

One of my earliest childhood memories is of bike riding and fishing from Port’s famous breakwall, which has been transformed into a work of community art with a lot of the rocks now colourfully painted with beautiful memorials or to celebrate special events.

If you’re not into fishing, the 2 km walk is a leisurely way to start or end your day, and maybe grab some takeaway and enjoy the sunset views of an afternoon, and you can often see dolphins frolicking. Either park in town and walk from Town Green to Town Beach, or vice versa.

6. Strawberry Picking at Ricardoe’s Tomatoes

On the outskirts of Port lies Ricardoe’s Tomatoes, a fun destination for all the family where you can start by having a fresh and tasty lunch followed by the kids having a strawberry picking expedition in their hydroponic strawberry farms.

Don’t forget to buy some fresh tomatoes and lettuce for your evening salad. The tomatoes are fresh and good.

7. Hit the Beaches

Port Macquarie has no shortage of safe, family friendly beaches, 18 in total in the Greater Port area. So whether you enjoy a few hours of swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, fishing, or building sand castles, Port has a beach for you. Flynn’s Beach and Town Beach are patrolled in the summer and particularly good for surfing.

Besides those two beaches check out Lighthouse Beach, Grants Beach and Rainbow Beach, and many of the beaches also feature playgrounds, BBQs and picnic spots so you can relax and save by self catering!

8. Whale and Dolphin Watching

Whale-watching season runs from May to November and there are several cruise options to choose from for your chance to see these majestic creatures whilst relaxing out on the water.

Besides a cruise, you’re also a good chance of spotting a whale or dolphin while walking the 9 km Coastal Walk and enjoying their viewing platforms, or from the historic Tacking Point Lighthouse.

9. Camel Rides along Lighthouse Beach

Why not enjoy a fun filled experience by riding a camel along Port Macquarie’s Lighthouse Beach. Jump on board with Port Macquarie Camel Safaris for this unique activity on Ports most beautiful southerly beach.

From your elevated position you have a good chance of seeing dolphins riding the waves and if you time your visit right you may even spot whales breaching from the water. It has been known to happen between May and November.

10. Parks, Skateboard Ramps, and Playgrounds

Your kids, and you, will appreciate the many parks and playgrounds on offer. Right near the breakwall caravan park is a fun playground with climbing frames and elliptical swings that your kiddies will love. Your older kids can grab their skateboards and hit up the skate park right next door.

11. Adventure and Sport

Port Macquarie offers adventure for everyone, on land and water. Land based activities include horse riding, go-karting, rock-climbing, golf, putt putt or tennis.

Out on the water why not take a leisurely kayak tour of the Hastings River and Coolenbung Creek with possible encounters with dolphins, bats and water dragons, or for the real adventurous go paragliding or skydiving.

12. Pancake Place

You can tell by the line snaking outside the door in the morning that the award winning Pancake Place is an institution in town. Your children will love the boisterous and colourful Rio inspired decor and the selection of pancakes to choose from.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Forget about counting calories, you’re on holidays, and our pick was the raspberry with white chocolate pancakes.

13. And then there are the sunsets

Who would have thought sunsets on the east coast could be so magical? Sunsets in Port Macquarie set the sky alight as they dip below the mountain on the banks of the Hastings River.

Grab a picnic spot on the grass at the Town Green foreshore or a sunset drink in the outdoor section of the family friendly Beach House, there’s no better way to end your day in Port Macquarie.

Start planning your next adventure to Port Macquarie for sport, leisurely walks, fishing or visiting the Koala Hospital.

  • Hurlanator

    Then there is the hinterland with some of the best waterfalls in Australia.