Looking for things to do in Port Stephens, NSW?
Boasting some truly beautiful stretches of coast and waterways without the crowds or over-commercialisation that many of the larger and more famous holiday spots encounter perhaps chief amongst these is Port Stephens, a haven for beach-goers and marine enthusiasts as well as a quality getaway for families. Only 2.5 hours north of Sydney, an hour from Newcastle and 20 minutes from Newcastle Airport.
Renowned for its vast sand dunes and expansive main harbour/bay area brimming with marine life, the Port Stephens area hangs its hat on a combination of great overall weather and outdoor-oriented focus that make it an excellent choice for those looking to unwind from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
Add to all of this the ability to indulge in numerous adventures both on and off the water – including high quality wineries inland, famously fresh and reasonably priced seafood, and a range of walks and drives that lead to wonderfully scenic outlooks comprising a myriad of colours – and you've got a spot that is just begging to be experienced before its popularity explodes.
To ensure you get the most out of your trip to this sunny spot on the NSW east coast, here's our list of the Top 10 Things to do in Port Stephens & surrounds.
1. Visit Gan Gan Lookout
Location: Lily Hill Rd, Nelson Bay
Gan Gan Lookout is a 160m-high viewing area on the outskirts of Nelson's Bay offering a commanding panorama of Port Stephens all the way through to Newcastle. Gan Gan Lookout makes for an ideal first port of call for first-time visitors to Port Stephens as it provides a wonderful overview of the region's overall layout, which can help visitors to get their bearings on where each significant surrounding point is located.
2. Go sand boarding
Location: Anna Bay
If there's any single activity that sums up typical Port Stephens family fun, sandboarding would likely be it. Port Stephens' Stockton Sand Dunes are the site where this activity is conducted, having featured prominently on this list, and with good cause, as they're the largest moving dunes in the Southern Hemisphere and are a paradise for sand boarders and fun seekers from all over.
3. Dolphin Cruises and Swims
Location: Various locations
Port Stephens is renowned Australia-wide for its dolphins, boasting one of Australia's highest populations of resident Bottlenose dolphins numbering roughly 140. Visitors to Port Stephens wanting to get up close with these intelligent and beautiful creatures have a variety of choices for getting an encounter, both on top of, and in, the water.
4. Snorkelling at Fly Point
Location: 8 Teramby Rd, Nelson Bay
Renowned for its great degree of visibility and clear blue/aqua coloured water that's generally protected from winds, Fly Point offers calm waters even on blustery days that snorkellers and divers even of younger ages can enjoy, and Let's Go Adventures provide a solid guided overview of the area ideal for newcomers.
5. Try your hand at Surfing with Port Stephens Surf School
Location: Hannah Parade, One Mile
Home to over 30 kilometres worth of beachfront that offers the potential for some surf adventures and this number of spots to choose from comes with a range of difficulty levels to appease surfers of all kinds. Regardless of if you're looking to take your first steps to acquiring this enjoyable life-long skill or are a more seasoned surfer looking to refine your abilities further, Port Stephens Surf School offers a high standard of lessons across the board that all ages are welcome to participate in.
6. Go quad biking with Sand Dune Adventures
Location: 2163 Nelson Bay Rd, Williamtown
Local operator Sand Dune Adventures run quad bike tours that allow for a far less strenuous way to reach the top of the dunes, with the vehicles great at navigating soft sand at high speeds while still being renowned for their level of stability. These tours provide access to the largest and most open part of Port Stephens' dunes at Nelson's Bay and have become one of the region's most easily-identifiable adventures and a true must-do due to their blend of sightseeing, thrills, group-oriented nature and local insight.
7. Visit Fighter World
Location: 49 Medowie Rd, Williamtown RAAF
Fighter World attraction has been set up to serve as an entertaining and educational facility for those with a passion for aviation or who just want to see some truly impressive aircraft up close. Fighter World is an attraction centred around two large hangers that are spacious and contain plenty of history within, boasting an extensive collection of fighter aircraft from various periods of history.
8. Go on a camel ride
Location: James Paterson St, Anna Bay
Operated by Oakfield Ranch these tours provide a unique spin on the standard look-and-see tour and can be done as either a brief sightseeing trip or an extended 1-hour ride to soak in the area's characteristically beautiful sunsets on the water. With two people per camel, first-time riders don't have to be overly concerned about safety as helmets provided for an extra dose of reassurance.
9. Visit Toboggan Hill Park
Location: 16 Aquatic Cl, Nelson Bay
A kind of miniature amusement park, Toboggan Hill provides visitors with the chance to take part in a range of additional activities in addition to its signature toboggans themselves, although these remain the undoubted highlight of the attraction. A kind of miniature amusement park, Toboggan Hill provides visitors with the chance to take part in a range of additional activities in addition to its signature toboggans themselves, although these remain the undoubted highlight of the attraction.
10. Cycling and Walking
Location: Various locations
Port Stephens is very much a travel destination where getting out and enjoying the fresh air and scenery is a key focus, and there are few better and more natural ways to do so than by bike. The town is one of NSW's top spots for cyclists and is home to a range of varied cycling tracks that provide a number of outstanding viewpoints in return for relatively little effort.