Attractions and Things to Do in Port Stephens, Australia
The views from Mount Tomaree are some of Port Stephens' best | © Tannachy Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
With rippled sand dunes, cyan seas packed with dolphins and 26 beaches to choose from, Port Stephens
promises a wet and wild weekend of adventure. Here are some local tips to inspire your itinerary – just don’t forget your surfboard.
You’ll see whispers of the sea sneaking between ashen trees as you plod towards Mount Tomaree’s topmost bulge, but nothing prepares you for the views when you reach it. To your right, Shoal Bay’s lego-like white apartments sidestep neatly into its navy lagoon; on your left, tree-tufted hills shrug into the fizzing waves at Zenith Beach. Snap the required arms-outstretched photograph (as inspired by every Port Stephens tourist brochure) and consider returning at sunrise to see the entire scene through a spectacular orange filter. Recommended by local insider Angharad Jones
Dolphin Swim Australia
Of all the locals in Port Stephens, by far the most popular are the wild dolphins. Over 120 of the sleek grey mammals call these waters home, and this is also the only place in NSW where you can introduce yourself to them on a wild dolphin swim. You’ll be attached to a boat by a bungee rope and towed along past pods of the inquisitive animals, but those who’d rather stay dry can take a dolphin-watching boat tour instead. Recommended by local insider Angharad Jones
Mere metres from Victoria Parade’s unassuming tarmac lies a watery metropolis only visible via snorkel. Pairs of seahorses on their way to aptly named Seahorse Garden bob around decorator crabs that have decked themselves out as sea sponges and rocks, and the ocean floor is carpeted with a blanket of wobbegong sharks that occasionally slurp up neon-toned fish. Buy a tide table and only snorkel at high tide to avoid the strong currents that will drag a mist of sand over the site and unwitting snorkellers out to sea in one foul swoop. Recommended by local insider Angharad Jones
Oakvale Wildlife Park
There are more kangaroos in Australia than people, and you can exchange a few ’roo-embossed dollar coins to hand-feed the bouncing natives at Oakvale Wildlife Park. Lunch date complete, roam the rest of the park to encounter a handful of other bucket-list Aussie animals including koalas, Tasmanian devils, dingos and quokkas. On a hot day, kids won’t want to forget their swimmers as the on-site water park is ideally placed for cooling off after an afternoon of animal spotting. Recommended by local insider Susanna Smith
Port Stephens Surf School
Surfing and Australia go hand in hand, and this beachside school offers lessons that cater for everyone, from first-time boarders to high-performance experts. It’s also the place to go for surf yoga, where you can (try to) live out your dreams of holding a downward facing dog while delicately balanced on a wave. Alternatively, swap the gym for the water with a SUP fit class, which will see you performing wave-top planks and press ups. Whichever activity you choose, one thing’s guaranteed: glorious views of Port Stephens’s magnificent coastlines. Recommended by local insider Susanna Smith
Sand Dune Adventures
The Worimi people have been the guardians of Port Stephens’s land for thousands of years, and have many tales about the culture and heritage infused into its paradisiacal landscapes. The most exhilarating way to hear these stories is on a quad bike tour led by the Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council. You’ll rocket over 4,200 hectares (10,378 acres) of the largest coastal sand dunes in the southern hemisphere while learning about the traditional history. Plus, with the powdery slopes reaching heights of 60m (197ft), it’s also the perfect spot for sand boarding. Recommended by local insider Susanna Smith
These recommendations were updated on July 30, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.