Port Stephens in New South Wales was our first getaway since we arrived in Australia in September. Located just a short two and a half hours’ north of Sydney or one hour north of Newcastle, we had no idea we would find such a paradise so close to Sydney. Port Stephens is a large harbour of more than 100 km2, more than twice the size of Sydney Harbour, with 26 white beaches and crystal clear turquoise water full of dolphins. Its stunning volcanic landscape combined with its national parks and tropical rainforests forms a surreal peninsula. We absolutely loved it! We were fascinated by the spectacular beauty and diversity of Port Stephens. We can’t believe some travel guides don’t even mention this place. You should add this complete gem to your must-visit list of places in New South Wales.
STOCKTON SAND DUNES
The largest Moving Dunes in the Southern Hemisphere
The “Worimi Conservation Lands” parks in Port Stephens are home to the largest moving dunes in the Southern hemisphere. The beach stretches for 32 kilometres. We would have thought we were in the middle of the Sahara, with its endless sand and dunes. Even parts of Mad Max and other movies have been filmed here. There is something to appeal to everyone in the Dunes! You can try the unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience of sandboarding (surfing on the dunes), quad biking or you could even buy a permit to drive on the Dunes with your own 4WD! And for those seeking relaxation rather than adventure, there is also camel rides, horse rides, or you can also simply watch the picturesque sunset from anywhere on the dunes.
TOMAREE HEAD SUMMIT
A Hike in Paradise
The hike to the summit of Tomaree Mountain is my favourite thing to do in Port Stephens. The walk to the summit is really steep (a lot of stairs at the end of the walk) but a short one of 30 minutes. The walk up to the lookout isn’t spectacular in itself but once you reach the summit, you have amazing 360 views on the stunning beaches, the islands and Port Stephens. These are the most stunning views I have ever seen with the lookout in Koh Phi Phi in Thaïland.
PRISTINE WHITE BEACHES
Farniente and white beaches
Port Stephens is home to more than 26 pristine white beaches. Some of them are easily accessible by car while others might be more difficult to find but then completely deserted, even during the peak season (we visited Port Stephens during Christmas Holidays). There are two types of beaches in Port Stephens: the ones that face the Ocean have huge waves and might be dangerous while the ones located inside the Bay are extremely calm.
Zenith Beach (on the right) is my favourite of all time: wild, deserted and nestling between mountains and virgin forests. Just next to it, Wreck Beach et Box Beach are similar beaches but accessible by foot only. They face the Ocean.
Fingal Bay is also worth a visit since it is linked to Fingal Island at low tide (also known as Shark Island by locals).
Shoal Bay is my favourite when it comes to calm waters and swimming.
Camping in Port Stephens
We visited Port Stephens during peak season (Christmas holidays) and everything was fully booked (really!). By chance, just before we gave up, we found this nice family-owned camping which was well-maintained and it even has a beautiful pool (really clean). It was such a nice stay, just next to the Stockton Dunes! We highly recommend it.
Emerald Tikki Village
4296 Nelson Bay Rd,
Anna Bay NSW 2316
Peak season: 25$/adult for an unpowered tent site (expensive but it is the same price everywhere in Port Stephens).