Central Coast, NSW

Weekender's guide to Ettalong Beach NSW

By Shelley Ann Morgan

September 9, 2020 | 4 minute read

Ettalong Beach is located on the Central Coast peninsular and is a scenic 30-minute ferry trip from Palm Beach or a 75-minute drive from North Sydney. Ettalong is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘place for drinking’. The early Europeans who first visited the area were in search of reliable food and drinking supplies, and boat crews would stop to retrieve water from a hole submerged in the sand close to shore. 

During 1788, Governor Arthur Phillip and his party arrived at Ettalong Beach while exploring the coast to the north of Sydney Harbour, and briefly explored both sides of Broken Bay. In 1823, James Webb became the first European settler of Brisbane Water. By 1830, the town of Ettalong was established. Today, with its quaint village and views to the mountainous landscape, is a landscape that is left unspoilt, Ettalong Beach has become one of the most visited places on the peninsula.

* 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.

Whether you’re looking for a sophisticated beach holiday or something a little more laid-back and relaxing, Ettalong Beach provides the best of both worlds where even the kids can be entertained for hours! Wander the village, with its variety of shops and cafes, especially during the weekends, and enjoy the quirky, bright Mediterranean style atmosphere. 

Ettalong provides a myriad of things to do including swimming, kayaking, fishing, boating, kiteboarding, tracks for walking and cycling. Held annually in April is the ever-popular Italian Festival and in November Brisbane Water Oyster Festival so make sure you add them to your calendar.

Where to eat

A deciding factor when organising a holiday, is where to eat. The Box on the Water Restaurant, with its prime waterfront location, has become synonymous with style and sophistication largely due to its exquisite modern Australian cuisine and excellent service. 

Children can also be a part of the experience, as the restaurant includes a kid’s menu! The Box is situated overlooking the peaceful bay, where Brisbane Water and Broken Bay meet. The backdrop is a mountainous view towards Box Head and in the foreground sailing boats drift in the distance. These calm waters are ideal for little ones learning to swim. There are many other eateries in Ettalong including Oz Napoli Pizza And Pasta Restaurant for the best pizza, Coast 175 for that trendy café vibe, and Safran - an upmarket Turkish Restaurant.

What to do 

For the best outdoor family spot, this of course is on the waterfront – kids will love the large playground and picnic area, nestled between walking and cycle pathways. During the summer months, the peaceful BBQ and picnic areas that are shaded by large trees come alive, the lush grassy area becomes dotted by a tapestry of picnic blankets, families and their picnic treats. This is the perfect location for children, as the playground - to the picnic area, beach and kiosk, are all within a 1-minute walk!

While the beach and bayside provide summer fun, the renowned Ettalong Beach Markets are also worth a visit, offering a variety of interesting places to eat, drink, and shop. Or you might like to watch a family movie in the independently run Cinema Paradiso, all within the Galleria complex. Conveniently located next door to the cinema is Bar Toto, where you can enjoy pizza meals and drinks in their family-friendly lounge. With its quirky bright Mediterranean decor, sometimes you have to stop and wonder where you actually are? In a Mediterranean city with neon lights, or in a Borelli painting! 

This is Ettalong Beach. This village is different, fun and interesting, a family adventure and a feast for the senses!

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