Port Stephens (New South Wales)
- Nelson Bay - a town popular for vacation goers.
The area is very popular for its breathtaking coastal scenery, protected waters at the bay, good fishing, and the opportunity to watch whales during the migration season and the resident dolphins.
The most convenient means of transport in and around the area is by car.
- Stockton Sand Dunes. Miles of sand which is easy to explore on foot but watch out for 4x4s racing around some areas. This is where Mad Max and parts of that ubiquitous Aussie anthem 'Down Under' were filmed.
- One Mile Beach. Named after the town One Mile rather than the other way around, is a stunning place to visit whether you surf or not. Atmospheric views down the peninsular and dramatic swells abound here. There's a car park just off the beach and a small store that sells refreshments.
- Tomaree. The south head of the Port Stephens bay offers a steep bushwalk on a paved track and metallic steps that lead to the top of Tomaree Hill. The top of the hill has beautiful views of the bay and nearby ocean islands. Another walk leads to the sites of WW2 artillery guns that were never fired to an enemy.
Whale watching cruises leave from Nelson Bay and are well worth it in the seasons that humpbacks pass by (May to November). You may also see dolphins and penguins. There is a variety of vessels and price ranges to choose from at the marina.
- Moonshadow Cruises, Shop 3, 35 Stockon Street, Nelson Bay, ☎ +61 2 4984 9388. Specialises in dolphin and whale watching. The whale watching cruise runs at 10:00 and 13:30 for 2.5 hours. And if you don't get to see whales, they offer a second whale-watching trip for free within the following 6 months. $60.
- Imagine Cruises, Nelson Bay, ☎ +61 2 4984 9000. The whale watching cruise operates at 10:30 and 14:00 and lasts for 3 to 3.5 hours. If no whales are sighted they offer a second free trip. $60.
There is a colony of resident dolphins that can be seen from the beaches or from the popular cruises that leave from Nelson Bay. The best season to watch dolphins is from the end of November to May.
Nelson Bay has some of the best shore dives in NSW and attracts scuba divers keen to photograph the varied macro sea life at the sites of Fly Point and Halifax. The following dive shops offer gear rental, tank refill, and diving courses.
- Feet First Dive, 17/34 Stockon St, Nelson Bay (Near the parking at the town centre), ☎ +61 2 4984 2092.
- Pro Dive (At the Marina), ☎ +61 2 4981 4331.
Camel rides are available on the vast dunes of Port Stephens.
- Sienna's Pizzeria Bar and Restaurant, 1 Trafalgar Street, Nelson Bay, ☎ +61 2 4984 4900. Excellent Italian food. The site is licensed and BYO with $5 corkage. $30.
- Red Neds, Stockton Street, Nelson Bay (Look for the statue of Ned Kelly). A popular place for its gourmet pies.
- Melaleuca Backpackers, 2 Koala Place, One Mile Beach (Formerly 33 Eucalyptus Drive), ☎ +61 2 4981 9422. Quirky backpackers hostel with lots of character and lovely owners. Dorms $28-35.
- Botaba Bed and Breakfast (B&B Accommodation in Port Stephens Boat Harbour), 32 Andrew Close, Boat Harbour NSW 2316, ☎ +61 2 4981 9018. Botaba Bed and Breakfast is surrounded by native bushland. 'Adults Only' with 2 rooms, each with private ensuite facilities and direct access to the garden. Fluffy bathrobes and natural body products are provided . Cooked breakfast each morning.
- Samurai Beach Bungalows - Port Stephens YHA, Cnr Frost Rd and Robert Connell Close Anna Bay NSW 2316, ☎ +61 2 4982 1921. Check-in: 1pm, check-out: 10am. A beautiful little hostel with a pool, bikes, unique bush kitchen and wifi available. Has the feeling of being in asia with lovely statues scattered around the garden. They have a few different room styles from dorm rooms to privates with both shared or private bathroom. Located about 5km out from Nelson bay in a peaceful garden setting. $30 to $170.