The WeekenderTravel

The Weekender: Travel Guide to Port Stephens, New South Wales

The Weekender Travel Guide to Port Stephens, New South Wales. Shoal Bay, Port Stephens. Image by Leah-Anne Thompson via Shutterstock.

Port Stephens is the perfect romantic or family-friendly getaway you need to visit in 2021.

The Port Stephens region is made up of a number of seaside villages and will guarantee you a good time. Whether you’re an adventurous traveller that can climb Tomaree Mountain, or a more relaxed traveller who prefers to indulge in the finest food at award-winning restaurants, Port Stephens has got you covered.

So, before you pack your bags, read ahead in our weekend travel guide to Port Stephens, New South Wales which will have everything you need for your weekend getaway.

How far is Port Stephens from Sydney?

From the CBD, Port Stephens is just over a two-hour drive north from Sydney. Stop by Newcastle or one of these six must-visit destinations on New South Wales’ Central Coast.


The Best Places to Eat in Port Stephens

The Point Restaurant

This hidden, less touristy gem is worth the visit for its award-winning food and breathtaking views – just be sure to get there in time to watch the sun set. Although The Point Restaurant is known for its seafood, it also offers a wide selection of vegetarian and meat dishes to suit everyone. The Linguini Puttanesca ($32) is known to be particularly popular. The sensory experience of tantalising your tastebuds, seeing the sun paint gorgeous hues of pink and orange in the sky and watching dolphins jump out of the serene water, all for an affordable price, makes for an unforgettable day. So you can thank us later for telling you about it.


The Point Restaurant | Soldiers Point Marina, 1 Sunset Blvd, Soldiers Point, NSW 2317


The Little Beach Boathouse

Time slows at this waterfront bar and seafood restaurant, as it’s the perfect place to have a relaxing lunch or dinner and soak in the sun, especially while eating oysters and sipping on killer cocktails. The Little Beach Boathouse boasts a family-friendly atmosphere, exceptional service and specialises in fresh, locally caught seafood. The restaurant’s menu features Port Stephens rock oysters, local king prawns and market fish of the day alongside a handful of vegetarian and gluten-free options. The bar serves unique cocktails, craft beers and local wines, along with light tapas, bar snacks. The Little Beach Boathouse is a local favourite, so it’s worth making a booking if you have limited time in Port Stephens.


The Little Beach Boathouse | 4 Victoria Pde, Nelson Bay, NSW 2315


The Poyer’s

The Poyer’s is a family-owned restaurant that’s right on the water in the heart of Port Stephens. The menu has a French influence combined with Australian cuisine, so you’ll see everything from Eggs Benedict (from $17) to Roasted Quail ($20). The French influence is also heavily present throughout the dessert menu which includes everything from Parfait Calvados ($16) to Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée ($16). The owners are very passionate about food and making their customer’s experience relaxed and worthwhile. They are also particular about where they source their food from – the coffee is ethically sourced from five single origin coffees from around the world, with each origin being “carefully roasted one by one and blended soon after to create a coffee that is exceptionally well balanced.” So with the rigour that goes into their process, chances are that even if you order a coffee and a muffin, it’s going to be a culinary masterpiece.


The Poyer’s | 42 Cook Pde, Lemon Tree Passage, NSW 2319


The Best Bars in Port Stephens

Murray’s Craft Brewing Co

Murray’s Craft Brewing Co is situated on the widely popular and beautiful estate of Bob’s Farm, also home to Port Stephens Winery (the oldest winery in the region). Explore the brewery on a world-class tour, and if you’ve got the little ones with you, drop them off at Pirate Bob’s Ultimate Scavenger Hunt – the perfect day for young and old. Although they are most famous for their beers, Murray’s Craft Brewing Co makes a pretty good BBQ, which nods to the great stereotypical Australian experience of coming together over a BBQ too. Here you’ll be enjoying a snag with a cold one all while overlooking a vineyard listening to live music. What a ripper of a day!


Murray’s Craft Brewing Co | 3443 Nelson Bay Rd, Bobs Farm, NSW 2316


Shoal Bay Country Club

With weekly live entertainment, bands every Friday and Saturday night, and a variety of ongoing competitions such as trivia, raffles, and pool competitions, Shoal Bay Country Club is a true Australian pub experience not to be missed. Having almost 80 years of history behind them, in 2016 the pub was refurbished and as a result it was given a Bondi-esque feel to it, with pastel couches and striped umbrellas showcased against the stunning waterfront. The venue is a spacious oasis, boasting sensational meals and delicious cocktails served in carafes to share with family and friends.


Shoal Bay Country Club | 35-45 Shoal Bay Rd, Shoal Bay, NSW 2315


Bannisters Port Stephens

Bannisters Port Stephens is a luxurious hotel that brings classy cocktails and Mediterranean and modern Australian dishes to Port Stephens. Guests can swim in the hotel’s infinity pool or enjoy drinks and a bite to eat. This family-friendly venue also has live music and a cute beer garden to enjoy – perfect for long lunches or an afternoon drink!


Bannisters Port Stephens | 147 Soldiers Point Rd, Soldiers Point, NSW 2317


What to do in Port Stephens

Sand Boarding and Camel Riding in Port Stephens

Let out your inner daredevil and try sand boarding! It’s a fun, unique experience that’s fit for all ages (just make sure to discuss any physical conditions with the tour agency first). Port Stephens has a range of sand dune activities, which also includes camel and horse riding. These tours take you over Birubi Point, Anna Bay, Port Stephens Beach and the dunes, which proves to be a fantastic way to explore. You can also book your tour in the evening and watch the sun set over the dunes, in the company of your family and friends. Tours are usually around $30 per person and group passes are subject to how many people it’s for.


Dolphin and Whale Watching in Port Stephens

Dolphin and whale watching cruises is a great opportunity to see Port Stephens in a short amount of time and to spot some of Australia’s beautiful sea life up close and personal.There’s also the chance to swim with dolphins, an incredible experience that you won’t forget. There are a number of cruises available with prices starting from $30 per person. If you’re keen for some whale watching, you can read through our list of the Top 10 Spots for Whale Watching around Australia.


Parasailing in Port Stephens

Time to tick parasailing off your bucket list! Unlike skydiving or paragliding, there isn’t as much fear when doing this activity, as you’re attached to a boat and not too high off the ground. It’s such an invigorating experience and not only is the view fantastic from above, but as you’re slowly parachuting down, you’ll notice dolphins swimming below you – it’s almost as if you’re one with them. Prices range from $90 as a solo flyer or $230 as a trio.


Where to Stay in Port Stephens

Hotel Nelson

Being quite central to all the happenings in Port Stephens, Hotel Nelson is a good place to stay. The rooms come as Standard, Deluxe Bayview, Family and Spa rooms, with private balconies and filtered views towards D’Albora Marina. There are also wonderful pool facilities. All rooms are air-conditioned, are equipped with a TV, Foxtel, a bar fridge, a kettle and a toaster. King sized beds, cooking facilities and corner spas are also available on request. On the bottom floor of the hotel you’ll find a much loved cafe, Little Nel Cafe, serving the goods. There you can sit indoors or outdoors with a view of the park and Marina.


Hotel Nelson | 1 Government Rd, Nelson Bay, NSW 2315


Anchorage Port Stephens

If you want a luxurious stay with your partner, look no further. The rooms at Anchorage Port Stephens are blue and white themed to reinforce the fact that you’re near the ocean, and should surrender to its calmness. The rooms come in a One Bedroom Loft Suite, Two Bedroom Loft Suite, the Captain’s Suite, Masters Suite and the Anchorage Villa all ranging from $279 per night. All rooms have balconies with a view of the marina, where you can breathe in the relaxing, salty breeze. You can also enjoy the breathtaking view from the outdoor pool, and bring your cocktail from the hotel’s bar with you. Prefer to stay in? Guests can also get a regional fresh seafood platter from The Gallery Kitchen which is perfect for a romantic dinner for two.


Anchorage Port Stephens | 26 Corlette Point Rd, Corlette, NSW 2315


Oaks Pacific Blue Resort

Taking its position as one of Port Stephens best resorts, Oaks Pacific Blue offers warm and welcoming options for families, friends and partners, including Australia’s largest swimming pool! At Oaks Pacific Blue Resort you’ll be spoilt for choice with a wide range of facilities including a day spa, gymnasium, heated spas, Japanese steam room, heated lap pool and tennis courts. The types of rooms include deluxe studios, one, two and three bedroom apartments, some with swim-out facilities, spas and private plunge pools which range from $154 per night. Oaks Pacific Blue Resort is close to Salamander Bay shopping centre, and is only a short drive to the heart of Nelson Bay and D’Albora Marina.


Oaks Pacific Blue Resort | 265 Sandy Point Rd, Salamander Bay, NSW 2317


Looking for more road trip or weekend break ideas around New South Wales? Head further south with our Weekender guides to Shoalhaven or deep dive into our tips on Nelson Bay. Alternatively, head further north from Sydney to discover the delights of Palm Beach.

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land mentioned in our article, the people of the Worimi Nation, and we recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

Feature Image by Leah-Anne Thompson via Shutterstock.
This article was first published on December 14 2018. It was updated and edited by Hunter and Bligh on June 24 2021.
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