The best activities for families and kids in Port Stephens

Could holiday fun together get any better than a beachside getaway making life-long memories with the kids at Port Stephens. Enjoy calm bays and coastal cycleways, thrilling wildlife encounters and running free in nature and adventurous activities.

  • Oakvale Wildlife Park - head along with the family and explore the free-roaming animals, keeper talks, feeding shows, playground, BBQ facilities as well as an onsite café. If you visit in summer, they also have a Splash Bay to cool off in - so take your swimmers!
  • Toboggan Hill Park - take on the challenge of the 1km Toboggan Run reaching speeds up to 50km per hour. With lots of other activities available at the centre; mini golf, tractor rides and indoor rock climbing you can spend a whole day there
  • SPLASH Waterpark an inflatable waterpark that is open during the school holidays and summer months, literally in the water at Nelson Bay.
  • Sand Boarding is a fun activity for thrill-seekers at Birubi Beach, Anna Bay. The sand dunes are part of the 32km Stockton Beach and Worimi Conservation Lands, which are the largest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. Take a 4WD bus out to the sand boarding area and then fly down the hills.
  • Quad Bike tours are also available at the dunes, Sand Dune Adventures have a 1 hour tour or a 1.5 hour which includes Aboriginal culture and sandboarding (ages 16+ to ride solo, child under 16 may double with parent: min 130cm tall). Quad Bike King offer a Sandpit tour for 12+ yrs (min 130cm tall) – all other tours available for 16+ years.
  • Camel Rides can also be enjoyed over the sand dunes at Birubi Beach for ages 2 years and over.
  • Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters - explore the large lagoons with sandy shores, rocky reefs, caves, crevices, shark and ray feeding - an experience like no other. The Irukandji Shark & Ray Centre in Anna Bay is one of the best family-friendly experiences and ideal for the school holidays.
  • David Grahams Golf Complex offers a host of family activities which include a mini golf course, a driving range, baseball batting cage and Frisbee golf.
  • Fighter World is located at Williamtown next to the RAAF base, where they train fighter pilots for the defence force. Look around the museum, sit in a cockpit and watch the planes take off.
  • Go Karts Go is an outdoor go-kart track which has double karts for adults and kids over 5 to ride together, as well as Junior Karts for kids aged 8 and over.
  • Nelson Bay Cinema located in the heart of Nelson Bay. Grab some tickets, a snack from the Candy Bar; old fashioned choc-tops and warm buttery popcorn, and settle into one of our 3 cinemas and enjoy a movie.
  • Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary is unique opportunity to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. The Sanctuary Story Walk is an immersive educational pathway and the Newcastle Airport SKYwalk viewing platform offers a unique ‘tree top’ perspective.
  • Kayak Hire is available from Port Stephens Paddlesports in front of the shopping village in Shoal Bay. Clear kayaks are ideal to watch the marine life below available at Shoal Bay SUP while the calm of the Myall Lakes is where you will encounter serenity and nature with Lazy Paddles.
  • Snorkelling is a favourite activity for all ages, with Fly Point a popular spot to snorkel, which can be accessed from Victoria Parade on the way to Little Beach. Alternatively, smaller kids will enjoy snorkelling off any of the family friendly bays in the region. Those a little more experienced will enjoy guided tours to the outer islands.
  • Port Stephens Surf School is a popular way for families to learn to surf together whilst on holidays. Learn to surf and experience one of the most exciting & popular recreational activities. Learn to stand up and catch the white-water waves at one of 3 beautiful locations; One Mile Beach, Birubi Beach and Fingal Bay Beach for SUP.
  • Tomaree Aquatic Centre is a popular venue for families, as it has an undercover toddler pool and a large slide for the older kids.
  • Fishing is a favourite past-time for all ages in Port Stephens, with many local families seen on the rocks at Nelson Bay Breakwater early each day, pulling in fish. There are numerous bayside options to fish from, see here for some ideas of where to go fishing with kids or join the professionals for the catch of the day.
  • Gan Gan Lookout is a popular lookout in Nelson Bay, with sweeping views over the entire Port Stephens. See if the kids can spot where they are staying, or where they have been. If you visit between May and November, also visit the other lookouts in the area to spot the whales.
  • Port Stephens iconic Tomaree Head Summit Walk located at the end of Shoal Bay Road, near the Zenith Beach car park. A spectacular walking trail ideal for those wanting to experience Port Stephens from above.
  • Playgrounds are located all around the region, with the biggest and best located at Nelson Bay, Fingal Bay and Dutchies Beach. See here for a complete guide.
  • Shoal Bay Country Club host free kid’s activities during the school holidays. Wildlife shows, sand art, face painting, pony rides and more.
  • Go exploring around the Port Stephens region, with Tanilba Bay and Lemon Tree Passage an easy 30 minute drive away. This small coastal town at the end of a peninsula has a large undercover playground and cute cafes by the water.
  • Tilligerry Habitat. Grab a map from the office and set off exploring. There are gravel tracks and boardwalks that’ll lead you through swamp mahogany paperbark forest and woodland and over freshwater streams. Keep an eye out for the koalas.
  • At Zone Out amusement centre in Nelson Bay, you’ll find 40 arcade games for kids of all ages, indoor virtual reality golf and Zone in VR, the ultimate free-roam virtual experience.
  • Hellfire Paintball. Has it been a while since you really felt a rush? Live on the edge and experience adrenaline-charged excitement with Hellfire Paintball, the home of paintball and skirmish games with 4 awesome fields.
  • The Lolly Bug is the first stop on your holiday list. Chocolates to childhood favourites there is something to satisfy the sweet tooth.
  • Skate and BMX Parks are located around Port Stephens featuring ramps, grind rails, fun boxes, and transition wedges.


Contributions towards this article are courtesy of Sue W. Weekend Notes

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