Port Stephens in the Central Coast of New South Wales Australia is a perfect seaside escape from Sydney! A weekend getaway full of beautiful beaches, blue water and amazing cuisine! An ideal itinerary for a weekend trip.
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This post is for all my friends here in Sydney that want a quick weekend away! This post could also be for you if you are planning a future trip to Australia and are looking for good additions to your itinerary. Either way, you are going to find out everything you need to know for a quick getaway to beautiful Port Stephens!
Getting To Port Stephens
Port Stephens is located just a short 2.5 hour drive northeast from Sydney. If you have already hired a car (or own a car!), you can just hop on the expressway and make your way. There are trains to Newcastle and buses from there if you want to take public transportation from Sydney! You could easily make a day out of this and grab lunch in town and even hit a beach before checking into your accommodations.
Checking - In:
We opted to drive up early afternoon and head straight to our place to get checked in. We stayed in one of the beach cabins at the Halifax Holiday Park. I loved it! Spacious and had access to Shoal Bay AND Nelson beach!
There are numerous options for all budgets and group sizes. You can find private apartments with ocean views, fully serviced resorts, and small bed and breakfasts dotting the coastline. Check out all the options below!
Hike Mount Tomaree
We dropped off our stuff and headed out as soon as we could to enjoy the rest of the day. We made our way over to Mount Tomaree. There were a lot more stairs and ladders than I expected but definitely a pretty easy hike overall! There were lots of kids on this trail, too, so very family friendly. The view from the top is AMAZING! The beaches and mountains in this area are breathtaking. That is one thing I have learned since moving to Australia! Every new place I see is just as scenic as the last! I love it!
We spotted dolphins swimming as we looked out at the overlook! Dolphins are very common in this area. We opted not to do a dolphin watching tour but were lucky to see some from up here right away! You could easily enjoy the sunset from up here or head to another beach along the bay!
Saturday/ Day 2
Breakfast in Shoal Bay
There are many cute cafes dotting along the main beach in Shoal Bay. We ate at the Shoal Bay Country Club, an adorable seaside restaurant with colorful parasols lining the balcony. Grab some pancakes and coffee to get your day started!
Catch a wave at Zenith Beach
After breakfast make a stop at Zenith Beach. This is the beach you can see from the top of Mount Tomaree and a beautiful sight at ground-level too! This is a popular beach for surfers so bring a board if you brought one along!
Hop over to Fingal Bay for lunch and to see Fingal Spit
You can walk from Box Beach or take the drive around. We walked around through the huge rocks! Would definitely be easier with some water shoes because some of the rocks are sharp! Once we got to the Fingal Bay side, the sand is super soft and nice. During low tide you can see a land spit form between Fingal Bay and Shark Island. We crossed to the other side before the tide went all the way down and there is a very strong current. Wouldn't recommend it unless you are a strong swimmer or all the water is gone! I loved this beach and could have spent the whole day here!
Discover the sand dunes for sunset
During my research for our trip, I saw so many photos of these sand dunes. I really didn't know what to think but insisted we go see them. W O W! I was blown away! I had never seen anything like this before and you probably haven't either unless you frequent the Sahara desert! The dunes run along a very long strip of coast between Anna Bay and Stockton. There are a few different entrance points to the dunes and your activity of choice (sand boarding, dune driving, even camel rides!) will depend on your entrance point. We entered at Birubi Beach in Anna Bay. Birubi means southern cross or view of the southern cross. This is a significant aboriginal cultural site of the Worimi people of Australia. The Worimi people still use the area today and it has been a significant cultural site for thousands of years!
If you have a 4x4 vehicle you can drive onto the beach here as well. We decided to just adventure on foot and were really the only people around! We stayed here and enjoyed the sunset which was spectacular against the white sand!
Dine by the water in Nelson Bay
For dinner there is a wide selection of fresh seafood and many other cuisines in the Nelson Bay area. Make sure to call ahead to make a booking before dinner time. We struggled with a few restaurants being fully booked or closed due to Covid. You could also easily grab a pizza and call it a night after a full day of exploring!
Sunday/ Day 3
Pack up and head to Boat Harbor to explore rock pools
Once you have everything back in the car, take a drive south to Boat Harbor. Follow Blanch St. out to the whale watching platform and you will find a few hidden rock pools out beyond the lookout. This was probably my favorite part of our trip! I love the rock formations here in Australia along the beaches! We don't have much but limestone in Florida and pretty much zero topography! Seeing the unique rock formations is so fascinating to me! The water was so clear in these rock pools! I did see urchins and I'm sure there are some other little critters in here too so be careful!
Hit One-Mile Beach for a final swim
Just around the corner from the rock pools is One-Mile Beach. I found this the most interesting name since Aussies use the metric system.. There were lots of surfers out at this beach but we decided to do a little snorkeling along the rocks. The water here was also SO CLEAR! We hung out here til the afternoon to head back to Sydney!
I really enjoyed the Port Stephens area! It wasn't too far away from the city but felt like we were on a tropical vacation! I feel like three days was just enough time to see everything we wanted. This was perfect for a romantic weekend but would be great for groups or families too!
Whether a weekend getaway or addition to your Australian Itinerary, here are 3 perfect days in Port Stephens ready for you!
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