Nelson Bay Guide- A Weekend Holiday
Located just 3 hours north of Sydney, Nelson Bay is the hub of Port Stephens. It is known for its beautiful beaches and perfectly sheltered bays. An idyllic beach getaway, my partner and I, with our puppy, choose the small beach of Fingal Bay(just a few minutes from Nelson Bay) to celebrate our 6 year anniversary.
With its buzzing marina, just minutes away from the local set of shops, Nelson Bay has everything you can want in a mini getaway. Unwind from the chaos of the city with nature walks, local wineries and beachside cafes. Nelson Bay and its surrounds is perfect for couples, families and nature lovers.
Explore the endless coast, take a walk up Tomaree Mountain, go Dolphin watching or hit the famous Worimi sand dunes for some thrill seeking adrenaline.
Related: The Great Ocean Road Day Trip
Things you should know about Nelson Bay
The easiest and quickest way to get to Nelson Bay is by car and is the perfect place to stop on your Australia road trip! It’s around a 3-hour drive north from Sydney, 2 hours from Central Coast and just 1 hour from Newcastle. This is the option we choose as we were travelling with our little puppy Jada. It also is worth it to have the car whilst you are there to get around to all the little beaches!
Port Stephen organise private coaches. Alternatively, you could catch the train into Newcastle and get a bus into Nelson bay from there.
When to visit: July, August and December are classed as the peak season. Dec-March are the wet season. My favourite would be anytime 🙂 During the wet season the prices are down but the rubbish on the beaches rise!
Getting Around: Although Bali is not huge, there are a lot of locations to visit and several ways you can reach them! Hiring a motorbike is an option – although I am never game. I usually get around by organising a local driver for day trips or for going longer distances. For shorter distances, I either walk or use “Blue Bird” taxis.
Related: 10 Tips for Travelling to Asia
Where to stay in Nelson Bay
There are lots of Pet-Friendly options in the Port Stephens area. We choose a lovely newly renovated flat located on the main street in Fingal Bay. I love staying in AirBnbs, they have that homely aspect and is perfect when we bring Jada on our trips.
Sea Songs Pet-Friendly Accom is walking distance to the beach, dog leash free park, local shops and the lovely Long Boat Cafe.
The flat itself was great, with plenty of room, free wifi, kitchen and laundry facilities, a fenced area for Jay and a welcome hamper with a great selection of breaky foods and snacks!
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Oasis at One Mile beach is a great pet-friendly alternative. Located just 1 km from One Mile Beach, this eco retreat is set on 5 acres of landscaped gardens and ponds, it features free Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool and day spa services.
Editors Tip: If you loved Nelson Bay, be sure to check out other amazing small towns in Australia.
Where to eat in Nelson Bay
In House Kitchen | 41 Donald Street, Nelson Bay 2315 | Instagram
A white stylish cafe set in the heart of Nelson Bay. On arrival, just by looking at the decor I could tell we were in for a treat. I got the spicy scrambled eggs which were very tasty. Their coffee is top notch as well!
Mavericks on the Bay | d’Albora Marina, Teramby Rd Nelson Bay 2315 | Instagram
Located right on the water’s edge at the Marina, Mavericks on the Bay is an award-winning dining and cocktail bar. Serving up incredible seafood dishes and cocktails.
Cellar Cafe | 12 Market St, Fingal Bay 2315
A bottle shop turned cafe, this cute little cafe is a great spot to get your morning coffee. We also ordered a vegetarian takeaway pizza as an afternoon snack which was delicious!
Mod Thai | 3/57 Shoal Bay Rd, Shoal Bay |
Sushi Gogoro | 3 Stockton Street, Ground floor, Nelson Bay 2315
Almond Cappuccino at In-House Kitchen
Carrot and Leek Fritters at Long Beach Cafe
What do in Nelson Bay
Discover the Beaches
Port Stephens is famous for its 26 coastal bays and home to over 150 bottlenose dolphins making this the dolphin-watching capital of Australia. My top picks Zenith Beach, Fingal Bay, One Mile Beach and Birubi Beach.
Tomaree Head Walk
This was a highlight of our trip and something I would definitely recommend! The walk starts at Shoal Bay, with a 2.2km hike up to the Mt. Tomaree summit. It isn’t too difficult but there are some steep stairs towards the top. As you reach the peak you are rewarded with 360-degree panoramic coastal views, overlooking both Shoal Bay and surrounding beaches. Don’t forget to check out the historic gun emplacements, part of Fort Tomaree that was built in 1941 as part of Australia’s World War II east coast defence system.
Explore Nelson Bay Town
The main town has a beautiful marina that showcases amazing seafood restaurants. Walk into down for a shop at the little boutiques and brunch at one of the many cafes.
Dolphin/ Whale Watching Cruise
Imagine Cruises run regular whale-watching tours during the season from the Nelson Bay Marina. Alternatively, you might get lucky like we did and spot a school of Dolphins at Zenith Beach when we were on the Tomaree Head Hike.
Have a Picnic
Grab some wine and your favourite nibbles and set up camp at one of the stunning secluded bays.
Worimi Conservation Lands
10 minutes from the centre of Nelson Bay you will find the amazingWorimi Conservation Lands. The sand dunes stretch for more than 30km to the northern outskirts of Newcastle, covering an area of 4,200 hectares. Explore the ever-shifting golden dunes by 4WD, quad bike, or perhaps a camel ride into the ocean?
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