Along the Pacific coastline, the natural harbour of Port Stephens boasts a larger harbour then Sydney and is located in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, a boat lovers paradise just a 2.5 hour drive north-east of Sydney.
There are plenty of things to do in Port Stephens; however the area is recognised for being the ‘dolphin watching capital of Australia’ and each year between May and November it proudly welcomes a host of migrating humpback whales. To get close to these wonderful mammals, you can take a cruise from Nelson Bay. If you love your wildlife then visit the Australian Shark and Ray Centre, to meet fascinating marine life and hand-feed the sharks. Another great place to visit is Tilligerry Habitat State Reserve, which is one of the best places to see cuddly koalas in their natural habitat.
On a Port Stephens holiday, you have a choice of 26 beaches with clear water, gourmet restaurants, boutique shopping, whale and dolphin watching and a bay twice the size of Sydney Harbour. There's something to suit all tastes, and thrill seekers can have a go at sand tobogganing on the vast sand dunes or go scuba diving and explore the caves and wrecks at Fly Point Marine Park. For some fun in the surf, head to the more wind-swept beaches of Zenith, Wreck, Box and Samurai.
Things to do in Port Stephens
There are three main areas to explore surrounding the spectacular bay of Port Stephens. They consist of the Tomaree Peninsula, Tilligerry Peninsula and the Golden Bight all. Go four-wheel driving in the sand dunes, swim with dolphins, surf and snorkel, or explore the world-class national parks.
Families will love sheltered Hawkes Bay, where there are calm, safe beaches and lakes ideal for kayaking and sailing or just swimming, and kids of all ages will love to see the penguins at Dutchman’s Bay. Stockton Bight Sand Dunes (Worimi Conservation Lands) near Anna Bay offers an abundance of fun things to do, with 4WD tours, quad biking, sand-boarding and even horse and camel riding.
The movie ‘Mad Max’ was filmed in Tin City, so take a trip there to explore the area or visit the historic buildings of Raymond Terrace. Hawks Nest, gateway to Myall Lakes National Park is a popular place for houseboat holidays or you can catch the ferry to Tea Gardens and explore the other side of Port Stephens. Expect ocean beaches and some great fishing at Myall River, visit the seal colony at Cabbage Tree Island or book a day trip to Broughton Island to explore more of the region.
Throughout Australia you can expect gastronomic delights wherever and whenever you go and Port Stephens is no exception, with numerous festivals and events offering culture and the opportunity to indulge in delicious oysters, fresh seafood, olives, wines and some tasty boutique brewed beers. Some festivals worth taking note of when planning your holiday to Port Stephens, are The Festival of the Sea and Nelson Bay Foreshore Festival which take place in February; the Myall Prawn Festival in March; the Karuah Oyster Festival in April; the Blue Water Country Music Festival which is held in June; and Tastes of the Bay Food and Wine Festival which is in November.
Photo credit: Destination NSW