North Coast, NSW

Plan a weekend in Port Stephens NSW

By Nicole West

October 22, 2020 | 4 minute read

Tomaree Head Summit Walk
Tomaree Head Summit Walk

What’s on your bucket list for the ideal two-day getaway with family, friends or your special someone? How about charming cafes and fun adventures all set to a backdrop of natural beauty and a chilled-out beach vibe? Well, jump in the car 'cause we have you sorted.  Here’s a two-day itinerary for Port Stephens that will deliver all of that and more.  

* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.

Day 1: Breakfast 

Join the locals at The Little Nel for a coffee to kick off your weekend the right way. The menu is a revolving treat of seasonal goodies, so look forward to filling up on dishes like the chilli breakfast burrito or a passionfruit and mango acai bowl. Or, start your day with the gorgeous views from Inner Light Tea Rooms, along with an eggs bennie or Belgian waffles.   

Hit the beaches 

The region boasts no less than 26 stretches of golden sand, so get set to kick off your shoes for the day. The surf’s usually up at One Mile Beach and Fingal Bay Beach, with the Port Stephens Surf School there to help you catch your first wave. 

Get off the beaten path at Samurai Beach and try stand-up paddleboarding at Shoal Bay.  For snorkelling or diving with pineapple fish, wobbegong sharks and maybe even seahorses, take your gear to the Fly Point Aquatic Reserve and launch straight from the beach. 

When you’re hungry, stock up with goodies from the markets and pick a shady picnic spot at Bagnalls or Dutchman’s Bay. Nelson’s Bay is a hub for cafes and boutiques, to blend shopping and snacking.  

Little Beach Boathouse
Little Beach Boathouse

Take a hike

Finish your day with an afternoon walk through stunning coastal bushland. Check out World War II Gun emplacements on the Tomaree Head walk. 

Further up, the easy Tomaree Head Summit walk rewards you with sweeping views of Port Stephens and lush nature reserves. The Wreck Beach trail leads to a picturesque cove that’s great for whale watching in season.  

Sunset cruising 

Head back to your beachy accommodation to freshen up for a sunset cruise on the bay. Blue Water Sailing offers a two-hour trip on a luxury yacht, complete with champagne, gourmet cheeses and seafood to nibble on a backdrop of golden rays.

After dark entertainment 

Set in a venue that’s been around since the 1930s, Shoal Bay Country Club received a multi-million dollar facelift in 2017. Dinner and an extensive cocktail list join nightly events like Poker and Pool, trivia and games nights, and live music.  

Dolphin Swim Australia
Dolphin Swim Australia

Day 2: Sunrise dolphin swim 

What better way to start the day, then swimming with wild dolphins? Departing from d’Albora Marina in Nelson Bay, Dolphin Swim Australia tours take six guests at a time out to meet the friendly residents. You’ll swim while safely attached to a rope between the bows of a catamaran, while dolphins frolic in and out. 

Check the website for tour dates, which usually run from 5.00 am - 10.00 am. You’ll also find a number of dolphin and whale watching tours to get you out on the water for the day.  

Worimi Conservation Dunes

Hop off the boat for brunch at Bluey’s Nelsons Bay as you fuel up for more adventure on some of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest coastal sand dunes. The Worimi Conservation Lands feature dunes that soar as high as 30 metres above sea level and the constantly shifting sands reveal ancient Aboriginal cultural sites. 

Stockton Beach rests in front of them and stretches all the way to Newcastle. Take a tour to try sand-boarding, explore by 4WD or trot around the sand on a horse ... or even a camel.  

Sundowners 

Time to relax as the sun goes down! Little Beach Boathouse sits smack bang on the water at the old Little Beach Marina. Perch outside on the deck, though the beachy interior offers the ocean views too. After a glass of sparkles or an Aussie craft beer, settle in for a fresh seafood feast.  

Alternatively, make like Moby Dick and get to Moby’s Bar at the Anchorage Hotel for Happy Hour cocktails. Sink into leather lounges as the sun sets, sip on fine whiskey and order freshly shucked Sydney Rock Oysters or house cured salumi.  Chances are, you’ll have plenty to say ‘cheers’ about! 

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