It’s not hard to see why Terrigal is the most famous holiday spot on the Central Coast. There’s the strip of beachfront cafes, the bars and eateries, the cosmopolitan Terrigal Beach shops, the dual lagoons and stacks of beaches perfect for water activities. Oh, and of course the iconic Skillion, the steep promontory that provides panoramic views over all of Terrigal as well as the Pacific Ocean.
Avoca’s rocky headlands and towering Norfolk pine trees form a picturesque beach that attracts both locals and wealthy weekend visitors making the short trip from Sydney. Grab a coffee at the Surf Life Saving Club or at one of the cafes, paddle around the lagoon, tuck into some fish and chips on the beach, and don’t miss the lively Sunday markets.
Copacabana and Macmasters Beach
The Bouddi coast was one of the first places recorded on Captain James Cook’s 1770 adventure along the Australian east coast. You can also do your own exploration through the pristine bushland on the jaw-dropping Bouddi Coastal Walk that begins at these twin holiday towns. Head to one of the ocean lookouts during winter to witness the whale migration. But beware, the beach is as gorgeous as it is dangerous: strong ocean currents lead to plenty of rescues, so stay between the flags or stick to the ocean pool.
Families flock to this holiday hotspot at the northern end of the Central Coast, whose name refers to the entrance of the calm Tuggerah Lake that’s so popular for a swim and a picnic. Stroll along the coastal boardwalk and the open-air mall in the middle of town then tuck into lunch in one of the nature reserves on the lake. Have a dip at the well patrolled beach or the two ocean baths and don’t miss the pelican feeding in Memorial Park every afternoon at 3.30pm.
South of the Entrance sits Bateau Bay, which was known as ‘Boat Harbour’ until it was translated into French as a marketing exercise in the 1970s. Next door to Shelly Beach and boasting beautiful swimming spots of its own, Bateau Bay is also home to a network of walking tracks through the Wyrrabalong National Park. There are also great fishing spots off the craggy coastal cliffs and Crackneck Point overlooking the Pacific.
Ettalong and Umina
At the southern end of the region, these twin towns have no trouble attracting visitors to the golden sands of their pair of beaches. The long stretches of coastline are perfect for swimmers and surfers, ehile the Mount Ettalong Lookout offers panoramic vistas over the area. Umina is a great launch pad for exploring the nearby Brisbane Waters National Park, containing bushwalking trails through the rugged sandstone landscape.
Nestled within that national park is the serene seaside village of Patonga, whose name translates to ‘oyster’ in the local Indigenous language. Only 200 people are lucky enough to live on the calm banks of Brisk Bay, which includes a scenic public wharf that juts out into the water, as well as campgrounds and nature reserves on the glistening foreshore.
This laid-back fishing village enjoys the best of everything: the golden beach, the tranquil marina and the bucolic Bouddi National Park, with its spectacular coastal walk straddling the Pacific Ocean. There are also the nearby villages of Wagstaffe and Hardys Bay, plus the hidden swimming spots of Tallow Beach and Pretty Beach, to explore.