17 July 2015
There’s no shortage of activities and attractions on offer in the seaside paradise of Port Stephens. With its gorgeous beaches, expansive national parks and great restaurants, you’re bound to find something to suit you, whether your stay lasts a couple of days or a couple of weeks.
Port Stephens is blessed with over 20 fantastic beaches. Family-friendly One Mile Beach is a great place for the kids to have a paddle, while Anna Bay and Birubi Beaches are part of the striking Stockton Sand Dunes, the largest coastal sand dune system in Australia. The beaches of Port Stephens are a great place for whale watching, so keep an eye out for humpbacks and southern right whales from mid-May to mid-October.
Enjoy the stunning bird’s-eye-view of Port Stephens, Nelson Bay and the surrounding coastline from Tomaree Lookout. It’s a short walk to the summit but once there, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views spanning almost as far as Newcastle. Be sure you have your phone or camera with you, as you won’t want to miss the photo opportunity from the summit’s peak.
Go kayaking or stand up paddleboarding in the calm emerald waters of Port Stephens Bay and explore this gorgeous marine environment. You have the option of hiring kayaks or paddleboards, or joining a local tour. No experience is necessary, although you do need to be able to swim. With hundreds of bottlenose dolphins inhabiting the Port Stephens beaches, there’s a very good chance you’ll spot one.
Take full advantage of the region’s proximity to the ocean with lunch at one of the many quality seafood restaurants that line the bay, such as the popular Sandpipers in Nelson Bay and The Point, a waterside venue which also overlooks Port Stephen’s hinterland. There are also cheery fish and chip shops if you feel like lunch on the golden sands. You can purchase fresh fish and shellfish from the Fishermans Wharf, where you can also dine on freshly caught and cooked produce. Or cast a fishing line into the ocean and see what you can lure.
Nelson Bay is a great spot for parasailing. A colourful parachute is winched 150 metres into the air as you fly like a kite, either dropping into the water or being hiked back into the air. Fly solo, as a pair or as a trio above clear waters for a different view of the bay. There’s also some great surf beaches such as One Mile, Birubi, Anna Bay and Fingal Bay, where you can learn to surf from accredited Surfing Australia coaches.
Mountain biking as a great way to explore the area’s national parks. What better way to discover the beautiful local surroundings than on a mountain bike exploring miles of beautiful beaches, coastal pathways and national parks. You can either hire a bike or join a tour catering to your level of cycling experience with all groups led by a professional and experienced local tour guide
Immerse yourself in the underwater worlds with snorkelling or diving. Explore the sea caves, sponge gardens and shipwrecks at Fly Point Marine Park, or take a tour and spend the day discovering the waters of beautiful Broughton Island. Swim with the dolphins and enjoy the more than 20 gorgeous diving and snorkelling spots in the area.
There are plenty of spots scattered throughout Port Stephens and surrounds, and more than 15 of them include BBQ facilities. The beaches of Tomaree National Park are excellent for a family barbecue, and there are picnic facilities around Fisherman’s Bay and Anna Bay.
Pick up some fresh local produce from one of the many farms around Nelson Bay, Port Stephens and nearby Medowie, where you can see how produce is grown and taste the final product. Check out Tailor Made Fish Farm, a barramundi and vegetable farm that welcomes visitors for tours and to dine at their restaurant, Cookabarra. At Medowie Macadamias you can buy fresh macadamias and other macadamia products from sweets to oils to cosmetics, and there’s also a cafe serving breakfast, lunch and macadamia-infused desserts.
The best way to explore the national parks and coastline of Nelson Bay is on foot, so be sure to plan a bushwalk or two while you’re in the area. Head to Tomaree National Park and follow the short Wreck Beach walk through lush coastal forest, hike to the Tomaree Head Summit for stunning panoramic views. As you walk, make sure you look up; you may see a koala or white-bellied sea eagle.