Wonderland Port Stephens
Spectacular natural wonders, scrumptious food and wine and one-of-a-kind accommodation options make Port Stephens a must-visit destination at any time of the year.
You may be thinking of Port Stephens as a summer destination, with azure blue waters and glorious beaches. But explore the area’s natural beauty and the town’s hospitality offerings during the cooler months, and you will be in for a delightful surprise.
Get ready to take your front row seats for the spectacle of the whale migration as the giants of the deep make their way past the year-round wonderland that is Port Stephens. Moonshadow-TQC Cruises, Imagine Cruises or Aquamarine Adventurers are local operators who know exactly where to find them, so you get the best views of their pectoral slaps or body rolls.
Make sure to watch out for the local resident bottlenose dolphins, and experience those playful marine mammals in their natural environment.
There are plenty of other wildlife experiences to discover here, both on dry land and beneath the waves. If you just can’t get enough of one of Australia’s most iconic animals, visit gum-leaf-chewing cuties in their natural habitat at the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary. For unique interactions with marine life and a guided shark encounter tour, visit Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters.
Explore the dunes
Port Stephens is home to the longest moving coastal dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. More than 40,000 years old, this spectacular, otherworldly landscape stretches 32 kilometres to Newcastle and is an Instagram-worthy sight of mountainous, undulating dunes that can be explored by foot, hoof, quad bike
Experience the thrill of quad biking with Indigenous-owned tour company Sand Dune Adventures and learn about the lore and history of Worimi country from your Indigenous guide. Port Stephens 4WD Tours operates 4WD eco-tours of the dunes and, for the adrenaline-seekers, an opportunity to find sand in all sorts of places after a sand boarding session.
Plodding through the Stockton Sand Dunes on a camel is hugely popular with families. Saddle the kids to a nonchalant ship of the desert and take in the beauty of this sandy landscape at a gentle lurch with Oakfield Ranch Camel Rides.
Take a hike
A heart-pumping hike to the summit of Tomaree Head is a must. As you walk the short 2.2km-return track, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of Port Stephens and its coastline. From the top, you can absorb the beautiful Yacaaba Headland, Cabbage Tree, Fingal Island and the Point Stephens Lighthouse.
For a less strenuous outing drive up to Gan Gan Lookout or head to Tilligerry Habitat for a self-guided sensory walk to look, touch, taste, smell and listen. It’s an immersive experience of the native landscape both grown ups and young ones will enjoy.
Satisfy those cravings
Port Stephens’ coastal location yields abundance from both the sea and its fertile hinterland soils.
So it’s little surprise it is lavishly dotted with incredible eateries. You’ll discover a range of acclaimed waterfront restaurants, hip cafes, bakeries and even coffee roasters.
Read the full story in our Winter Edition of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.