35 Best Things To Do In Port Stephens NSW 2024 Guide
Discover why the best things to do in Port Stephens make it one of the most popular getaways from Sydney!
In my experience, Port Stephens has it all! Home to beautiful beaches, the famous Stockton Sand Dunes, one of the best places to see humpback whales in NSW, as well as the beautiful Salamander Bay and Shoal Bay. This list goes on! You’ll be coming back here time and time again as one of the best holiday destinations on the East Coast.
There are so many things to do in Port Stephens, so make the most of your Sydney getaway with some of my personal favourite activities.
1. Book a legendary dolphin watching cruise
You can’t come to Port Stephens in NSW and miss out on a dolphin watching cruise! This is home to one of the best places in Australia (and the world) to see dolphins as between 90-120 bottlenose dolphins living in the area.
Pre-book this Dolphin Watching Cruise which also includes slides and swimming. The 2 hour cruise is one of the most popular activities for families, friends and couples and gets booked up fast!
2. Be brave with the NEW shark cage diving & feeding experience!
Ever wanted to get up close to sharks and rays? You can now book a shark cage dive and feed experience with 50 or more shark and ray encounters! This activity is availble for anyone over the age of 10 but it also includes so much more than shark cage diving.
Expect to feed octopus, eels, sharks, rays, land turtles, learn about macaw birds and so much more. It also includes hot dog or pizza lunch, free coffee and slushys all day long!
Port Stephens sand dunes is one of the major Port Stephens attractions, because it’s the largest sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. The Stockton Bight Sand Dunes in Worimi Conservation Lands Port Stephens stretches from Anna Bay, nearly all the way back to Newcastle in NSW.
Pre-book your sandboarding tour as it’s one of the most popular activities in Port Stephens. The good news is, it’s super affordable for families which is no surprise as being one of the most popular things to do in Port Stephens, located at Stockton sand dunes next to Birubi beach.
6. Swim with sharks and stingrays in Port Stephens
Ever wanted to swim with sharks and rays? Here at the Irukandji Shark & Ray Centre in Port Stephens, you’ll find a unique and interactive aquarium which allows visitors to interact with ocean life in the water. It’s a really affordable family experience, and one of the best things to do in Port Stephens.
Make the most of the largest dunes in the Southern Hemisphere and experience beach driving at its best along the Stockton Beach and Port Stephens dunes where you’ll be able to go and see the famous Tin City!
Unless you’ve been before, we recommend jumping on this tag along 4wd sand dune tour, where you’ll follow your guide through various meadows within Tomaree National Park. Expect to explore the hidden beaches and areas of the famous sand dunes in Port Stephens.
Known as one of THE best places to go whale watching in New South Wales, put this on your best things to do in Port Stephens list. This whale watching cruise gives you the opportunity to get up close with humpback whales. If you’ve never been on a whale watching tour here, make sure you do – there is nothing quite like it. It also includes a 4wd tour along the sand dunes as well!
Port Stephens camel rides are really popular activity and it’s no wonder why. How many places around Australia can you ride a camel along sand dunes and the beach? Oakfield Ranch offer camel rides for around 20 minutes along the sand dunes and a nice one hour sunset ride as well.
10. Horse riding in Port Stephens
If you’d love to go horse riding on the beach in Australia, here’s an opportunity to do it in Port Stephens! Sahara Trails will take you on a gorgeous adventure through bush trails and sand dunes. Find out more about Horse Riding with Sahara Trails.
11. Find the best beaches in Port Stephens
There are 26 beaches in the area to explore! Head over to the stunning Salamander Bay next to the Port Stephens Harbour or Shoal Bay for calm waters. Head to Anna Bay to see the sun set over the water – a total novelty!
The first beach next to the Mount Tomaree in Tomaree National Park is Zenith beach which is easy to get to and it’s stunning with super soft sand. Just park at the Mount Tomaree car park and relax after your climb up to the Tomaree Mountain Summit! Wreck Beach and Box Beach next door are also a must visit!
Fingal Bay Beach is an amazing beach with white sand and home to Fingal Spit which where you can walk over to Fingal Island. If you’re going to walk over to the island, check the tides because you could get trapped there!
One Mile Beach is a busy one because of the people staying at the holiday park next door and also Kingsley Beach which is a bit of a hidden gem.
There may well be many hidden gems to discover, but one of the best things to do in Port Stephens is to visit the amazing Champagne Spa in Boat Harbour. This hidden rock pool has crystal clear water and is screaming for influencers to come and take their best photos.
Wondering how to get to Champagne Spa in Port Stephens? Turn left at the whale watching platform on Blanch Street in Boat Harbour and climb down the rocks to find the Champagne Spa. I wouldn’t take young children down here but it’s a great place to explore, especially if you’re staying in the nearby One Mile Beach Holiday Park.
Warning: The Champagne Spa is located on a dangerous rock shelf. Unexpected large waves can cause serious injury, which can result in drowning. Be very careful if visiting this pool.
13. Go on the Tomaree Mountain walk
You can’t visit the area and miss out on the views at the top of Tomaree Mountain out to the amazing Zenith Beach, Wreck Beach, Box Beach and Fingal Beach! The water at Shoal Bay is completely flat and you’ll see the beautiful Broughton Island out in the distance as well the Hawks Nest Peninsula and Tea Gardens as well.
The Tomaree Head Summit Walk is actually quite easy, and it took me 15 minutes of slow walking to complete the 1KM walk. It’s very easy to navigate and it’s a good path, I even saw small children walking up. It’s a steady path until you reach the stair cases. Obviously not advisable for the elderly or toddlers but should be OK for everyone else.
14. Gan Gan Lookout in Port Stephens
Check out the beautiful Gan Gan Lookout (which you can drive right up to), one of the best things to do in Port Stephens when you first arrive in the area. You’ll be able to get your bearings straight away as you’ll be able to see right across the bay.
15. Hire your own boat in Nelson Bay
We loved hiring a little tinny from Nelson Bay Boat Hire – and we always recommend this to everyone we know coming here. You don’t need a boat licence and it comes with safety gear as well. I’ve done this on three separate occasions that I’ve been in the area and absolutely loved it.
16. Go scuba diving in Port Stephens
If you’ve ever wanted to try scuba diving or do a scuba diving course in Australia then Let’s Go Adventures offers it all. Also, there’s so many shipwrecks just off the beaches so I can imagine it’s a total haven for the divers out there looking to see a lot of marine life under the water.
17. Go paddle boarding or kayaking in Port Stephens
If you’re up for an adventure, there are loads of water sports to try out. Port Stephens Paddle Sports have a guided kayak tour and a new paddle board (SUP) tour as well. Just note that they are closed in winter and open up again from September onwards.
18. Hire a bike in Port Stephens
Did you know there’s over 50KM of cycleways in Port Stephens? If you’re like me and love the freedom cycling gives you, then you’re in luck! Hire a bike from Nelson Bay Bike Hire and enjoy cruising around while doing all of the best things to do in Port Stephens.
19. Tomaree Markets
If you love to check out the local markets in Port Stephens, head over to Tomaree Markets which takes place on Sundays at Neil Carrol Park, Fly Point in Nelson Bay. Make sure you check the Facebook page first to find out if they are on during the weekend you are visiting.
20. Have fun at the Toboggan Hill Park
Did you know there’s a Toboggan Hill Park right in the middle of Nelson Bay? This is a great would spot for kids birthday parties and families looking to enjoy one of the fun things to do in the Port Stephens area.
21. Feed the animals at Oakvale Wildlife Park
Oakvale Wildlife Park in Port Stephens is an awesome interactive experience with Australia animals. Get up close to koalas, snakes, meerkats, lemurs, and various Australian birds. There’s also a splash park at Oakvale Wildlife Park as well, so you could easily spend a whole day here with the family.
22. Go Karts Go Nelson Bay
Go Karts Go in Bobs Farm, is home to the biggest 4-stroke outdoor go kart track in Nelson Bay! This is a fab family day out as they have small go karts specifically for kids from 5+ years and upwards. If you’d prefer to be a passenger, you’re in luck as there are also twin seater go karts to choose from as well.
23. Check Out Fighter World
30 minutes outside of Nelson Bay and a 20 minute drive from Newcastle will bring you to Fighter World, an aviation museum. Discover many incredible planes operated by the Royal Australian Air Force, in one of the largest Port Stephens indoor activities.
Where to Eat In Port Stephens
We’re going to share some of the best Port Stephens restaurants and cafes you need to know about.
We stopped by Negroni’s for breakfast recently and absolutely loved it. Both of our breakfasts were fantastic and I highly recommend the breakfast bruschetta! Next time we are in town, we’ll book here for dinner too.
Mermaids at Shoal Bay Country Club offers up fantastic fresh food with exceptional views overlooking the bay. This popular choice has options like Shakshuka, ricotta pancakes and a healthy brekkie bowl on the menu.
27. Two Bobs Bakery
We couldn’t believe the long lines for Two Bobs Bakery! Apparently their bread is so good, they sell out early. Join the line and see what the legendary bakery is all about.
28. The Little Nel in Nelson Bay
One of the best places to eat in Port Stephens is The Little Nel Cafe in Nelson Bay. They serve local produce that’s healthy and rivals any decent healthy cafe in Sydney.
29. Long Boat Cafe in Fingal Bay
Another fantastic healthy cafe in Port Stephens is the Long Boat Cafe in Fingal Bay. Here you’ll be able to order smoothies and beautiful salads. I ordered the fresh poke bowl and really enjoyed it. After you’ve finished eating, set up camp at Fingal Bay and enjoy this stunning beach for the day.
30. Innerlight Tea rooms
I had planned to take Stevo’s mum to the Inner Light Tearooms for Mother’s Day but unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side at the time. Just imagine having afternoon tea with some of the best views in Port Stephens?
31. Julio’s Mexican / Rick Stein at Bannisters
Looking for some beautiful Port Stephens restaurants? Let’s start with the famous British chef’s restaurant Rick Stein at Bannisters. This is a fantastic place to come for those looking for a bit of luxury! I would also recommend Julios modern Mexican restaurant at Bannisters as well for fresh food and contemporary dining.
32. The Galley Kitchen at The Anchorage
The Galley Kitchen at The Anchorage Hotel is open all day long and serves lunch options like a steak sandwich or a Caesar salad. For dinner expect a menu consisting of Pan roast chicken, and Confit of duck for example.
33. Little Beach Boat House
Little Beach Boathouse in Nelson Bay would be the perfect lunch or dinner spot for a romantic weekend from Sydney.
34. Murray’s Brewery
Located 20 minutes from Nelson Bay, Murray’s Brewing Company is a fantastic place to come for the afternoon with friends or family. Bring your dog and sit on the grass, or sit on the picnic benches next to the bar and watch live music. There’s seating inside and a shop as well. Order a burger – they are so so good!!
35. Home Interior for breakfast / lunch
The Home Interior is a beautiful homewares shop and cafe, serving up classic Aussie food like avo toast. It’s easily one of the nicest cafes in Port Stephens and we’ve been there a couple of time and loved it!
There are loads of Port Stephens accommodation options to choose from. Here’s some of the best rated hotels on Booking.com you should consider.
Luxury:The Anchorage has it all! A stunning luxury accommodation option, complete with excellent restaurants and a beautiful pool.
Midrange:Bannisters is a bit of an institution as one of the best places to stay in the area. with an infinity pool over looking the stunningly beautiful Shoal Bay, beautiful rooms with bath tubs to relax in, and of course the famous Rick Steins restaurant to eat at.
Budget:Port Stephens Motel offers free wi-fi and an outdoor swimming pool, located just 1 minute from the Nelson Bay waterfront.
Best Family resort:Ramada Resort– With multiple indoor and outdoor pools, spas, gym facilities, and free parking, it’s situated within walking distance of the main attractions at Shoal Bay. Choose between various apartments for the family stay and decide whether to cook meals or eat out at one of the three on site restaurants
More nearby travel guides to check out
Looking for more Sydney inspiration? With plenty to see and do, here’s some of our popular Sydney guides for you to check out: