Port Stephens

Fun Things to Do in Port Stephens in 2022

Are you planning a staycation in Port Stephens NSW? There are so many fun things to do in Port Stephens you will need at least a week to enjoy them all. From walks through National Parks, dolphin and whale watching, 4WD tours, surfing, sandboarding, golfing, enjoying local craft beers, camel rides, beaches, get friendly with sharks and rays and enjoy the best of local cuisine.

Port Stephens
Port Stephens – view from Tomaree National Park

Did you know that Port Stephens Bay is twice the size of Sydney Harbour?

Location:

You can reach Port Stephens from Sydney on the M1 in around 2 hours and 35 minutes (207 km).

If you are travelling from the New England region Port Stephens lies at the end of the New England Highway and the Pacific Highway from Brisbane, and it lies at the junction of the Golden Highway from Dubbo and Thunderbolts Way from Inverell.

Newcastle to Port Stephens is 33 km with an average driving time of 36 minutes

Port Stephens encompasses the towns of:

  • Nelson Bay – the heart of Port Stephens, cruises depart from d’Albora Marina – plus shopping, restaurants and cafes
  • Salamander Bay – major shopping centre and Toboggan Hill
  • Anna Bay – the start of the Sand Dunes of Stockton Beach
  • Fingal Bay – a coastal village
  • Corlette – bay with walks, parks and reserves. Take the bridal path and spot the koalas along the way.
  • Soldiers Point – a marina, boat ramp, jetty, pack a picnic and head to Sunset Beach
  • Williamtown and Medowie – Fighter World Museum at Williamtown, golf at Medowie
  • Raymond Terrace – historic rural town stroll down King Street, picnic on the riverbank
  • Karuah – houseboats, oysters and great fishing
  • Shoal Bay – just 5 minutes from Nelson Bay – for 360-degree views head to Tomaree Head Summit
  • Tilligerry Peninsula – take the Tanilba Bay Boardwalk and look out for the koalas
  • Salt Ash and Bobs Farm – the food bowl of Port Stephens with vineyards and working farms

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Top Things to do in Port Stephens

Visit the Beaches of Port Stephens

Little Beach Port Stephens
Little Beach – family friendly Little Beach near the Nelson Bay Lighthouse

Little Beach has a grass area as well as the beach and is popular with families. You can feed the pelicans from the jetty and boat ramp. There is also a disabled play area with wheelchair access to the jetty and water.

Boat Harbour is great for little kids and whale watching.

Stockton Beach (Birubi Beach) which is patrolled at the end of Birubi Beach is suitable for kids.

The best surfing beach is One Mile Beach with its SE/NE swell. Birubi Beach is also good for surfers with an S-NE swell and Zenith Beach (NE swell) – is not suitable for kids.

Box Beach (E/NE swell) and not suitable for kids.

Fingal Beach – great for kids at the southern end and the best surfing is during the S-E/SE swell. The beach is patrolled from 9 am to 5 pm in Spring and Autumn and in Summer from 9 am to 6 pm.

Samurai Beach has 4WD access and good surfing with a S/NE swell – not suitable for kids.

Take a Ride on the Tea Gardens Ferry

Tea Gardens Ferry
Tea Gardens Ferry

Departs daily from the Public Wharf at 40 Victoria Parade Nelson Bay at: 0830, 1000, 1115, 1230, 1430, 1530 and 1630 (sunset) with return times at 0900, 1000, 1115, 1330, 1430 and 1530, 1630 (sunset).

The locals enjoy taking a bottle of wine and some nibbles on the last cruise of the day.

Dolphins can be seen at times. Tea Gardens is perfect for the day trip where you can enjoy good local restaurants, galleries and boutique shops.

Bookings are essential.

Go tobogganing at Toboggan Hill Park at 16 Aquatic Close off Salamander Way Nelson Bay.

Between June and November, you can see the humpback whales on their annual migration. You can take a cruise or on a clear day head to Tomaree Head summit.

Best Whale Watching Spots

Watch the migration of humpback whales between May and November from:

  • Barry Park, Fingal Bay
  • Boat Harbour Headlands
  • Birubi Point Anna Bay
  • Fishermans Bay Headland
  • Tomaree Head Summit Shoal Bay

Dolphins in the Port Stephens Region

Snorkelling with dolphins
Snorkelling with Dolphins – image credit Get Your Guide

You can take a dolphin-watching cruise to see the common bottlenose dolphins in Port Stephens, the only place in NSW where you can experience this.

This is the only permitted wild dolphin swim opportunity in New South Wales and the only one of its kind in the world! Includes a 4-hour cruise, all gear, educational commentary, a video of the underwater action, plus all above-water photos.

Dolphin Watching Port Stephens Bookings

Sandboarding and 4WD Sand Dune Tour

A 4WD tour of Stockton Beach and 1.5 hours of fun sandboarding. Suitable for all the family. Sandboarding in Port Stephens is a popular attraction.

Stockton Sand Dunes are the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere.

Worimi Sand Dune Quad Bike Adventures – Quad Biking Port Stephens

Enjoy a 1-hour quad bike ride on the stunning Worimi Sand Dunes, located a short drive to Port Stephens. Receive instruction on quad biking from your guide, then zip around beautiful sand dunes whilst learning about local Aboriginal history.

Camel Riding Port Stephens

 Join Oakfield Camel Rides on beautiful Birubi Beach (end of James Paterson St, Anna Bay) for a relaxing camel ride. Walk-in for a ride any time between 10 am and 3.30 pm.

Head to Tomaree National Park

Tomaree National Park covers 2318 hectares of coastal bushland from Tomaree Head to Anna Bay.

There are over 350 species of plants and is the natural habitat for koalas, quolls, owls, osprey just to name a few.

There are several walks available:

Tomaree Head Summit Walk – (Class 3 suitable for inexperienced walkers) 1.5-hour return starting from Zenith Beach

For Tomaree Walk – (Class 2 – graded path suitable for inexperienced walkers) 1-hour return starting from Zenith Beach lower carpark.

Zenith, Wreck & Box Beaches – (Class 2 and Class 3)

Big Rocky Walk -(Class 3) 1-hour return with 2WD vehicle or Class 3 – 20 minute return with 4WD vehicles

Morna Point Walk (suitable for moderately experienced walkers Class 4) 2 hours return

Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary

This is a fun day out for all. There is a 250-metre long Sanctuary Story Walk that tells the story of a locally rescued Koala called Kasey through larger than life sculptures.

Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary
Koala Sanctuary entry and one of the Glamping Tents

Visit the Koala Hospital and you may even see veterinarians performing services on the sick and injured koalas through the purpose-built viewing window.

The Newcastle Airport Skywalk is 225 m in length and 9 meters high where you wander through a treetop canopy experience where you can see koalas in their natural habitat.

Koala Sanctuary
Visit the Koala Sanctuary Story Walk

Enjoy a snack or a drink from the Fat Possum Cafe.

You can even “Wake Up With The Koalas” where you can stay in a deluxe four-star glamping tent or cabins that comes with king-size beds, ensuite, bushland views, welcome hamper on arrival, breakfast, Sanctuary Tour and an early morning Koala Feeding encounter.

Address: 562 Gan Gan Road One Mile

Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters

This tour includes:

  • Entry to Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters
  • Interactive tour of the aquarium
  • Entry into the shallow water of the lagoon to feed and pet the animals
  • Food for the sharks and rays

Address: 2 Jessie Road Anna Bay

Nelson Bay Lighthouse

The 1st light was installed in 1872 on Nelson Head and it was originally a kerosene lamp mounted on a wooden tower. The cottage was built in 1875 and was occupied by the Maritime Services Board till 1985.

Nelson Bay Lighthouse
Nelson Bay Lighthouse

The cafe is very popular with locals and tourists. You may have to wait for a table!

Toboggan Hill Park

Address: 16 Aquatic Close Nelson Bay

Fun for all the family down the 1 km toboggan run. There is also:

  • Tractor train ride
  • Giant maze
  • Mini golf
  • Roller skating
  • Indoor rock climbing
  • Jumping castles
  • Merry go round
  • Splashdown water game
  • Plaster model painting
  • Kiddy Karz
  • Gyro extreme ride

Open daily from 10.00 am.

Street Art in Nelson Bay – a fun Port Stephens attraction in Nelson Bay

Street art Nelson Bay
Street Art Nelson Bay

For local street art head to 91 Magnus Street, next to the Naked Alley Cafe, in Nelson Bay.

where to Eat In Port Stephens

Murrays Craft Brewing Co

Murrays Craft Brewery
Murrays Craft Brewery

Not only can you enjoy their craft beers but you will also enjoy their triple distilled Vodka, Savorous Gin and liqueurs. The 35-acre setting of manicured green lawns, vines and eucalypts is a relaxing place for all with plenty of space for the kids to run around.

Murrays Craft Brewery
Murrays Craft Brewery

Enjoy their pizzas and BBQ platters and purchase some of their huge range of gourmet deli products from their shop.

Lemon Tree Passage Distilling – Craft Distillery and Bar

Address: 7/44 Cook Parade Lemon Tree Passage

On the waterfront at Albatross Marina with river views. Try their locally distilled gin and vodka with native and local botanicals, local wines and cocktails.

Restaurants in Port Stephens

Nelson Bay Restaurants

Nelson Bay Restaurants
Nelson Bay Restaurants

In House Kitchen

Address: 41 Donald St, Nelson Bay

In House Kitchen
Brunch at In House Kitchen

Set inside a The Home Interior boutique the In House Kitchen is a popular venue and open daily from 07.30 am to 3.00 pm (kitchen closes at 2.00 pm).

The Little Nel

Another brunch favourite is The Little Nel located at 3/7 Government Rd, Nelson Bay.

The Little Nel
Brunch at The Little Nel

Opening hours: Breakfast Monday to Friday 7.00 am to 11.30 am and Saturday and Sunday from 7.30 am to 11.30 am

Lunch Tuesday to Sunday 12.00 to 2.30 pm

Mavericks on the Bay

Mavericks on the Bay
Mavericks on the Bay

For local fresh seafood, local produce, cocktails, craft beer and a great wine list you can’t beat Mavericks on the Bay with what must be the best view in town overlooking the Port Stephens Marina.

Address: d’Albora Marina, Teramby Rd, Nelson Bay NSW 2315

Port Stephens Wineries

Wonganella Estate Winery located at 3439a Nelson Bay Road Bobs Farm

Tynan Wine – cellar door at 3/141 George Street Salamander Bay

Accommodation in Port Stephens

Port Stephens has a range of accommodations to suit all budgets. There is luxury accommodation in Port Stephens such as the Anchorage Port Stephens.

We stayed at the Oaks Pacific Blue Resort in Salamander Bay, a favourite of ours in the Port Stephens region – you can read our review here.

Hotels in Port Stephens

Booking.com

Getting In – Port Stephens

Distances:

Sydney to Port Stephens via the M1 – 207km

Newcastle via B63 Nelson Bay Road – 60 km

Hunter Valley via B63 Nelson Bay Road – 104 km

Port Macquarie via Pacific Highway B84 – 250km

Dubbo via Golden Highway B84 – 416 km

Tamworth via New England Highway – 321 km

Brisbane via Pacific Highway A1 – 778 km

Flights to Port Stephens

Newcastle Airport is located 33 km away from Nelson Bay.

For the latest airfare deals from your home departure point click here

Buses to Port Stephens

Port Stephens Coaches has daily departures from Sydney. Website

Rail to Port Stephens

Trainlink has services to and from Newcastle – more information can be found here

Car Rental

Car rental can be organised at Newcastle Airport or in Nelson Bay. To find the latest deals click here.

Campervan Rental

To travel around the Port Stephens region you may want to consider hiring a campervan. For full details on hiring and prices click here.

Travel Insurance

Do you need to take out travel insurance? For a quote and details on the policy click here.

Port Stephens Weather

When is the best time to visit Port Stephens NSW?

Whale watching is a popular time to visit Port Stephens. The months are from May to August.

Spring and autumn are great times to visit, the peak season of Summer can be very busy.

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Conclusion

We hope you have enjoyed our article on Port Stephens – things to do. As you can there is so much to do and see in Port Stephens in NSW. If you have visited we would love to hear from you about your favourite things to do. Feel free to share with family and friends.

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Related reading:

Things to do in Port Macquarie

Hotel Review Ibis Styles Port Macquarie

Things to do in Yamba

NSW Travel Guide

NSW Accommodation Guide

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