Looking for things to do in Nambucca Heads NSW? If you’re heading up to the Mid-North Coast on holiday and looking for the natural beauty of a relaxed seaside town, look no further! Aussie local Casey Anderson is sharing her favourite things to in Nambucca Heads.
Having visited a whopping 42 countries by the age of 26, Casey is making the most of the pandemic by travelling around Australia in her van. You can follow her on Instagram at @casey.jra (go support her as her previous account got hacked!) and on Tik Tok. Here’s her awesome guide for exploring this Mid-North Coast hidden gem.
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What makes Nambucca Heads special?
Nambucca Heads is a relaxed, friendly beach town is located on the East Coast of Australia, where the Nambucca River and South Pacific Ocean meet. The meandering Nambucca River, postcard-perfect beaches, scenic walks and an array of dining options provide something for everyone.
Water activities on the river and oceanfront are great for those seeking a more adventure-packed holiday. Shady beaches, beautiful lookouts and cocktail bars provide plenty of opportunities to relax and unwind.
Four days is enough time to explore Nambucca Heads; however, it is easy to spend much longer here, especially if you enjoy relaxing on the beach with a cocktail in one hand and a book in the other.
How To Get To Nambucca Heads
Nambucca is located on the East Coast of Australia, about halfway between Sydney and Brisbane on the Mid-North Coast.
It takes just over 5 hours from Sydney by car, following the A1. From Sydney, Nambucca Heads is also reachable by bus or train. It is 40 mins South of Coffs Harbour and a 1h20min drive from Port Macquarie.
Things to do in Nambucca Heads
Here are my favourite things to do in Nambucca Heads.
1. Kayak the Nambucca River
One of the most exciting ways to explore the Nambucca River is by jumping on a water vessel. The river offers 80km of waterways and opens up into the lagoon which is a popular swimming spot for families.
If you don’t have your own canoe or kayak, the Boat Shed Cafe rent single and double kayaks as well as stand up paddle boards and boats. You can even download a canoe and kayak trail guide from the Nambucca Valley website.
2. Take a walk along the famous v-wall
The 500-metre break wall at the entrance of the Nambucca River has been lovingly painted by visitors and locals alike, who have left stunning artworks, holiday memories and inspirational messages.
Better yet, pick up some paint and a paintbrush and paint one of your own rocks, to add to the interesting outdoor gallery.
3. Swim at Main Beach
Located north of the river mouth, Nambucca’s beautiful Main Beach is a drawcard for swimmers, surfers and fishermen alike. The water is exceptionally warm and as it is a patrolled beach, it is a great option for families.
4. Watch the sunrise at Shelley Beach
It’s definitely worth the early wake-up, to witness the sunrise over Shelley beach in Nambucca Heads. It is one of the best sunrises I have seen on the East Coast of Australia.
5. Take a leisurely walk along Nyambagga Walking Trail
An easy, short coastal walk from Shelley beach to Nambucca River opening, at the end of the v-wall. There are great signage boards along the walk, providing information about the vegetation and animals.
6. Explore Nambucca River on a boat cruise
Another great way to see the beautiful Nambucca River and some of its native wildlife, is to explore the waterways on a river cruise. Every Wednesday Osprey river cruises offer a two hour, morning tea cruise. What better way to see the river, than enjoying some scones and tea at the same time? If you’re a seafood fan, they also offer three hour dinner cruises with an array of fresh seafood.
7. Lions Riverfront Walk and boardwalk
The foreshore walk starts at the entrance of Nambucca River and follows the river towards Gordon Park. It even features boardwalks that meander through the mangroves, where you may even be lucky enough to spot a turtle or sting Ray.
8. Try your hand at surfing at Shelley beach
This more sheltered beach is a perfect spot for a swim, or to learn to surf. The gentle break, warm, crystal blue water and shady trees make this beach super inviting for those wanting to relax as well as those who would like to surfers or bodyboard.
If you don’t have your own board, you can hire a bodyboard or surfboard at Coastal Curves, the surf shop in town’s Main Street.
9. Take a stroll through Gordon Park Rainforest walk
Gordon Park is a beautiful rainforest with extensive flora and fauna and birdlife. There are thousands of flying foxes, which are beautiful to watch at sunset.
10. Explore rock pools at Wellington Rocks
Wellington Rocks is at the beach, at the end of the v-wall. Not only may you find starfish and crabs in some of the rock pools, but you can see great views of the ocean, atop of Wellington Rocks. You don’t want to miss this one if you are a photography buff.
11. Rotary Point Lookout
Overlooking the v-wall and the mouth of the river, Rotary Point Lookout is a great vantage point to watch where the river head meets the ocean. Keep an eye out for whales migrating up the coast.
12. Captain Cook’s Lookout
Just above Shelley beach, Captain Cook’s Lookout provides the best views of the Nambucca River entrance. You may even be lucky and spot a dolphin!
13. Have a hit of gold at one of the most picturesque golf courses in Australia
Nambucca Heads Island Golf Club on Stuart Island is completely surrounded by the gorgeous Nambucca River. Watch ocean and bird life fly past whilst playing an 18 hole round of golf at one of the most beautiful gold courses in the Australia!
14. Visit Valla Beach
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to spot dolphins playing in the waves, at Valla Beach in New South Wales. It’s a short bus ride from Nambucca Heads or just a 3km walk from Nambucca Beach to reach one of the best beaches in New South Wales. You could easily spend an entire day relaxing at this pristine piece of East Coast coastline.
15. Admire Nambucca Heads Mosaic Sculptures
The impressive Heads Mosaic Sculptures is an ocean scene with dolphins, octopus is situated near the police station, right next to the bus stop.It’s a must visit when you’re in town!
16. Visit Stringer Art Gallery
The Stinger Art Gallery is a quaint art gallery showcasing an array of works from local artists on ridge street. It is open Wednesday to Friday.
Places To Visit Nearby
Just 30 minutes up the road from Nambucca Heads will bring you to the gorgeous town of Bellingen which sits on the entrance to the incredibly beautiful Dorrigo National Park and Waterfall Way road.
With plenty of things to do in Bellingen, explore swimming holes and waterfalls, especially Dangar Falls which has a beautifully refreshing swimming hole and taking a dip in Never Never River, is a must!
Don’t forget to wander the Bellingen Main Street and check out the quirky shops and galleries and stop in at the Old Buttery Factory Co-Op. Hyde is an excellent coffee shop and Black Bear is a must for breakfast.
An hour South of Nambucca is South West Rocks, one of the most beautiful coastal towns on the East Coast and a perfect stop if you are travelling to Nambucca from Sydney. South West Rocks is known for its beautiful beach, Horseshoe Bay, and surf break.
Don’t miss a visit to Trial Bay Gaol and a swim in the picturesque rock pools. You won’t come across many places like this slice of paradise between Sydney to Coffs Harbour, trust me!
Port Macquarie is a really popular touristy spot for local family holidays. Make sure you visit the famous Koala Hospital, check out the many incredible beaches, go for a camel ride on the beach and so much more!
Looking for some of the best places to eat in Nambucca Heads? Here’s my top picks!
19. Good Time Charlie’s Cafe for the best coffee in town
Good Time Charlie’s Cafe in Nambucca Heads on the main street of town is the perfect place for breakfast or brunch! It is a great spot to cool down and relax after a morning beach walk with delicious ice coffee and smoothie options. Don’t miss one of their tasty, authentic New York-style bagels, they are excellent!
20. V-wall Tavern for a classic pub meal with a beach view
V-wall Tavern is situated right at the riverfront and overlooks the famous painted v-wall gallery. An outdoor deck boasting ocean views is the perfect place to treat yourself with a sunset cocktail or enjoy your favourite pub meal for dinner.
Where to stay in Nambucca Heads
1. Ingenia Holidays White Albatross has options for every type of traveller. Whether you’re after a camping site, caravan park, budget cabin or waterfront cabin, they have it all. But the best part about Ingenia is it’s location, as it is just a short walk from the riverfront, tidal lagoon and surf beach!