New South Wales has some amazing coastal areas and national parks, so we thought we would narrow them down to our top 10 coastal experiences which include mountain climbing, boating, bird watching and more!
1. Port Stephens Beaches
Good for – long sandy beaches, dunes, whale & dolphin watching, easy to reach from Sydney
Locals call it the ‘awesome coast' and why not. It’s a 2½ hour drive from Sydney, so easy to combine for a city and beach break. There are 26 bays and beaches, excellent hotels and plenty of restaurants, and it’s a great place to head off for some whale and dolphin watching. Go dune bashing on quad bikes in the Stockton Beach sand dunes.
2. Byron Bay Dolphin Kayak Tour
Good for - seeing local marine life, kayaking, whale and dolphin watching, surfing
A fantastic way to see lots of local sea creatures is a sea kayak tour around Byron Bay. You may be lucky enough to see dolphins, turtles, whales and some other marine life along the way. With a team of local surf lifesavers, you will kayak to the most easterly part of the country. The Cape Bay Marine Park is home to humpback whales, three types of turtles and wild bottlenose dolphins, so watch out for these along the journey. The guides will also share their knowledge of the local history, culture and marine biology of the area and at the end, the guides will teach you how to surf on your kayak!
3. Cockatoo Island
Good for – harbour views, great spot for New Year’s Eve and the convict history
Named after sulphur-crested cockatoos which used to inhabit the island, it was one of the original prisons of New South Wales and later was a shipbuilding centre and base for the Australian Navy. You can now take a ferry across the harbour and visit yourself, eat at the excellent café or take a picnic, and even stay overnight glamping. There’s plenty of quirky things to do on the island including night time ghost tours and some of the old convict history.
4. Bondi Beach Surf Lessons
Good for - Scenery, photography, surfing
Let’s go surfing offer surfing lessons on Bondi Beach with instructors who have lots of experience teaching newbies to ride the waves. Bondi beach itself is a fantastic location to learn to surf and the area has surf shops, cafes and restaurants. You can choose from one lesson to a six-week course at all levels depending on how long you are there and how much you want to learn.
5. The Wild Coast of Jervis Bay
Good for – wild coastline a short drive south of Sydney and luxury glamping
Head south from Sydney and soon you’re among an unspoilt coastline with beautiful nature and wildlife, and pristine white beaches. The long and quiet Hyams beach reputedly has the world’s whitest sand, with Paperbark Camp in the style of an African safari lodge. Down the coast at Narooma, Island charters do tours to Montague Island to see Australian fur seals and little penguins, and there’s the whale migration from June to November.
6. Port Macquarie Ocean
Good for – town and coast combination, whale watching and see koalas
Four hours’ drive north of Sydney, with some great oceanside hotels it’s an ideal city and beach stay combo in one of New South Wales’ holiday centres. Taste fresh local oysters, visit the Hastings River wineries, walk the rugged coastal path and go dolphin and whale watching close to shore. And for something completely enchanting, visit the Koala Hospital, with daily tours to see rescued koalas.
7. Lord Howe Island
Good for – a South Sea Island experience close to the mainland
An undiscovered oasis 2 hours off the New South Wales coast; a south sea paradise, with soaring sea cliffs, the clearest seas, a protected marine park. It’s ideal for adventure in safe surroundings with family resorts and for those looking for somewhere completely different.
8. Manly Beach Walk & Snorkel
Good for – easily accessible marine life, great beach and lively atmosphere
Just a short and enjoyable ferry ride from Circular Quay and the city centre, the suburb of Manly is a buzzing community with a great beach ringed with cafes and restaurants. Go on a small group tour with a naturalist guide who will tell you all about Australia’s marine life as you explore Manly beach and then get you snorkelling in the calm waters of Cabbage Tree Nature Reserve. Very accessible and suitable for beginners.
9. Bondi to Coogee Walk
Good for – seeing Sydneysiders at play, and an Aussie barbie
A short journey out of the city centre gets you to Bondi and from there you can walk through Sydney’s attractive neighbourhoods on the 6km clifftop coastal walk to Coogee. Including Tamarama, Bronte and Clovelly beaches, you can stop and swim, rest and eat and see a different side of this city fringed by blue Pacific waters. There are even free electric barbecues along the way, so pick up some shrimps and stubbies for a proper Aussie Barbie.
10. Coastal Outback at the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Good for – Untouched nature, Aboriginal culture and amazing experiences
A three-day adventure from Sydney into an untouched wilderness with Sydney Outback tours, into a landscape of coastal rainforest, great biodiversity and an area of strong Aboriginal Heritage. The two night guided tours depart manly each full moon for atmospheric moonlight cruises and other incredible experiences include kangaroo walks, solar-powered catamaran lunch cruise, a seaplane flight, bush walks to Aboriginal rock art, beach picnics and gourmet BBQs whilst staying in lovely boutique guesthouses.