Port Stephens travel guide


Port Stephens, NSW travel and accommodation guide

About Port Stephens

Port Stephens, NSW, stretches from either side of the Pacific Highway from the river towns of Raymond Terrace and Karuah out to one of the most picturesque and amazing peninsulas you have ever seen. It's easy to see why Port Stephens is such a popular holiday destination for Australian and international visitors alike.

26 beaches of sheltered bays and stunning surf breaks, resident dolphins, visiting whales, sand dunes, nature at its best and all the fun or relaxation you could want.


Read our Port Stephens travel and accommodation guide to discover the best things to do and see, and the best places to stay.

Food and Drink: Tempt Your Tastebuds

With wineries, breweries and local farmgate producers, freshly caught seafood, oyster farms, macadamias, olives and figs to modern Australian and Asian fusion menus and a host of delicious eateries, Port Stephens is a foodies paradise…dine alfresco on the waterside, try high tea by the water, enjoy a moonlit dinner cruise round the bay, or simply watch the sun sink into the water with a glass of wine as nature settles around a leafy bush camp.

port stephens food drink

Things to do: Experience and Adventure  

Nothing beats the thrill of the ride and if excitement is your thing, Port Stephens knows how to turn it on. The adventure includes parasailing, diving, jet-boating, wave-jumping surfing, snorkeling and 32 miles of sighing sand dunes – The Worimi Conservation Lands are the largest shifting sand system in southern hemisphere, with dunes over 40m high just begging to be conquered by board, bike or four-wheel drive.

port stephens activities

Wildlife: Go Wild With Nature 

2 ½ times the size of Sydney Harbour, Port Stephens is an area of outstanding natural diversity comprised of a marine park, national parks and countless reserves open year-round. Home to pods of bottlenose dolphins, a lively koala habitat, a Little Penguin breeding colony and a rich array of natural wildlife. Delight in a camel ride along the sand, bushwalk through unspoiled natural habitats, meet the whales as they cruise by the best whale watching destination in NSW or take a bushtucker tour along heritage walking trails and reconnect with an incredible natural environment. 

 Whale watching port stephens

 Port Stephens: Top 10 Things to See and Do 

1. Get out on the water

With a bay that is two and a half times the size of Sydney Harbour, there are a number of activities to suit everyone, such as parasailing, diving, surfing or snorkeling. Port Stephens is also rightly regarded as the dolphin capital of Australia. With over 70 bottlenose dolphins calling Port Stephens home, it’s no wonder they’re sighted so often. From late May to early November, the waters off Port Stephens are host to the magnificent acrobatic displays of migrating humpback whales, some weighing up to 48 tonnes. Whale-watching cruises departing from Nelson Bay provide a ringside seat, but the shoreline around Fingal Bay and Anna Bay, just south of Nelson Bay, are also great viewing spots.

2. Experience Worimi Conservation Lands
The Worimi Conservation Lands (Stockton Bight Sand Dunes) are truly one of nature’s masterpieces, stretching for 32 kilometres. Whatever your level of adventure is, the dunes offer something for everyone. You can explore by foot, in your own 4WD, ride a quad bike or join a 4WD tour and sandboard down thirty metre high dunes. You can also join a tag-along tour to master 4WD techniques.

3. Snorkeling at Fly Point
Fly Point Park is located on the headland between Nelson Bay and Little Beach. Enjoy a picnic, then hit the water to explore the marine life this area has to offer. Discover the underwater world with sea caves, sponge gardens and shipwrecks.

4. Visit the Nelson Head Heritage Lighthouse and Reserve
Explore this spectacular site with panoramic views of the entrance to Port Stephens. The museum houses various artefacts from its previous use as a lighthouse. Afterwards take in the panoramic views from the Inner Light Tea House while enjoying an afternoon tea or a light lunch.

5. Tomaree Headland Lookout
Walk to the top of the Tomaree Headland Lookout to enjoy striking views of Port Stephens and the offshore islands. It will take you approximately 30 minutes to walk to the top, depending on your fitness level, but it is well worth the effort!

6. Gan Gan Lookout
Drive to the top of this magnificent lookout, taking in 360 degree views. Keep your eyes open for koalas, rare native birds and other wildlife and enjoy the impressive wildflower display, including giant Gymea lilies and native orchids in season.

7. Catch a boat to Tea Gardens
Take one of the water vessels and explore the other side of the Port. Once there you can wander around the shops at Tea Gardens and enjoy lunch on the banks of the Myall River.

8. Try our local produce
Pick up home made products at the local roadside stalls. Try out local oysters, seafood, macadamias, figs, olives, wines and brews.

9. Visiting surrounding islands
Take a day trip to Broughton Island or visit the local seal colony at Cabbage Tree Island. The reefs which surround Broughton Island are famous for snapper and jewfish. Broughton Island is located approximately eight nautical miles North East of Port Stephens and is a part of the Myall Lakes National Park. There is a diverse range of marine life that can be spotted diving around the islands. Spot a grey nurse shark family, wobbegong and Port Jackson sharks, crayfish, large cod, schools of baitfish and extensive sponge gardens.

10. Bushwalkers Paradise

The untouched Tomaree National Park is blessed with many interesting landscapes and has excellent walking tracks. Walking along the banks of the Tilligerry Creek almost guarantees a koala sighting. Remember to buy your “Bushwalks around Port Stephens” booklet from the Visitor Information Centre.

Whale Watching in Port Stephens 

From late May to mid-November, you can share in the epic adventure of Australia's largest long distance swimmers as they pass close by Port Stephens on their extraordinary annual migration. More than 12,000 whales, mostly humpbacks, pass within a few miles of our spectacular coastline over winter and spring and a whale watching cruise in Port Stephens, set against the backdrop of national park, volcanic islands and pristine beaches is a truly unforgettable experience.

Whale watching vessels in run twice a day from d'Albora Marina at Nelson Bay. The beaches, bays and bushland in and around Port Stephens also offer heaps of great land based viewing spots to catch these magnificent mammals on their way past.

7 reasons why we think Port Stephens is the best whale watching destination in NSW 

  1. Port Stephens is home to the largest Marine Park in NSW with 98,200 hectares of protected waterways...a perfect home for our local dolphins, native marine life and visiting whales. Port Stephens also has unique features like Cabbage Tree Island which attracts a large colony of seals and provides a nesting ground for the very rare Goulds Petrel.
  2. Whale watching in Port Stephens runs for six months of the year!  Yes, six months!  It includes the Northern Migration from mid May to August and the Southern Migration from August to Mid November.
  3. You are almost guaranteed a sighting...Over 13,000 Humpback Whales are expected to migrate along the East Coast of NSW in 2013 making the odds of experiencing a close encounter pretty good! 
  4. All whale watching cruises in Port Stephens include a dolphin watch cruise too!  In fact, you spend the first half hour of your whale watching experience cruising through the home of our local bottlenose dolphins!
  5. Eight species of whales can be seen in the Port Stephens - Great Lakes Marine Park.  The Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, Southern Right Wales, False Killer Whales, Sei Whales, Pilot Whales, Brydes Whale, Fin Whale and Orcas!
  6. We have a huge choice of land based whale watching locations from the majestic views at the top of Mount Tomaree to the up, close and personal at Boat Harbour, Fingal Bay and Anna Bay.  At some of our best locations, you can sometimes hear the woosh as these big guys and girls head past the headlands on their way North.
  7. Only takes a short cruise time to reach the whales.