Holidays on The Water

With its endless surf breaks, vast lakes and plenty opportunities for aquatic activities such as kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and sailing, a family holiday on the water in NSW offers up a wide range of options. Start by exploring its many picturesque marine parks, where you can see everything from dolphins and whales to turtles, seals and colourful fish.

Humpback whale migrating off the south coast of NSW near Jervis Bay, South Coast

Animal encounters

You will want to be near the coastline from May to November, which is when whales migrate along the NSW coast. The best way to see the giant mammals skirting along the coastline is on a whale-watching cruise; step onboard a boat at Jervis Bay, Narooma and Eden on the South Coast and Port Stephens, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay on the North Coast.

A family enjoys whale and dolphin cruise at Nelson Bay in Port Stephens, North Coast

You can also spot pods of dolphins on a cruise in Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park or go swimming with dolphins in crystal-clear waters with Dolphin Swim Australia. Jervis Bay Marine Park is a great spot to see pods of playful dolphins while on a tour with Dolphin Watch Cruises or Jervis Bay Wild on the NSW South Coast.

Couple preparing for a tour with Go Sea Kayak, Byron Bay

Water sports

To see dolphins and turtles up close, head to Cape Byron Marine Park, a dreamy destination to go kayaking with Cape Byron Kayaks and Go Sea Kayak Byron Bay. If you want to see seals, Montague Island, off the coast of Narooma in Batemans Marine Park on the NSW South Coast is the best spot to go snorkelling with these majestic marine creatures.

The whole family can don a snorkel and mask and older kids can sign up for scuba diving at the Solitary Islands Marine Park, near Coffs Harbour, which is great for both snorkelling and diving. The Jetty Dive Centre has scuba courses for kids aged eight to 12 with half a day in the pool and classroom and half a day diving in the pristine marine park environment.

Father and son heading out for a morning surf at Glasshouse Rocks, Narooma

Beaches & surfing

You'll find plenty of things to do at stunning beaches along the coast, from swimming to surfing and stand-up paddle boarding to quiet moments building sandcastles or leaving footprints in the sand. The South Coast is perfect for beginners to learn to surf, with surf schools at beaches in the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Eurobodalla.

Family enjoying a day out at the Canoe Pool in Newcastle, North Coast

The Central Coast is a great spot for families, just 90min from Sydney and with beachside holiday parks in Budgewoi, Canton Beach, Norah Head and Toowoon Bay. Further north, families will love the quiet beaches of the Macleay Valley Coast, Coffs Coast and Tweed regions. Don’t want to get sand in your swimmers? Then try one of NSW’s beautiful ocean pools.

Friends enjoying a day of stand up paddleboarding on Lake Macquarie off Naru Beach

Rivers & lakes

The rivers and lakes in NSW are also worth exploring: hire a houseboat and cruise along the Murray River for a memorable adventure through the countryside. Visit the Great Lakes region near Forster to explore three coastal lakes or paddle across the largest saltwater lake in the Southern Hemisphere at Lake Macquarie. The waterways around the Snowy Mountains also make an excellent spot for fishing in spring and summer.

Holidays on the Water Highlights


Enjoy These Aquatic Adventures in NSW