Whatever you decide, sun, sand, water and adventure are guaranteed. Part of the amazing water wonderland that is Port Stephens, Shoal Bay lies right near the mouth of the port. Scaling the headland that separates the bay from the open water at the far end of the bay is the first activity to conquer and an absolute must. Once at the top of Tomaree Headland, your efforts are always rewarded. Views stretch out over the islands in the distance, and along the shoreline in both directions for up to 50km. With 360-degree views back over the port, this is the best way to get your bearings for a holiday in Port Stephens. At the summit you’ll also discover historic World War II gun emplacements, and can catch sightings of migrating whales and dolphins diving through the crystal blue water.
If walking is your thing, then the Tomaree National Park offers more tracks to traverse in the area. But if all that water makes you want to get your feet off dry land, there are numerous cruises and whale-watching tours departing from Nelson Bay, just five minutes down the road. From the open water, you’ll get to spot marine life that doesn’t make its way into the port.
But nobody said you have to venture outside of the port to spot dolphins or enjoy the water. Even from the sandy shores of Shoal Bay you can catch sightings of the resident dolphins or visiting pods. And at two-and-a-half times the size Sydney harbour, water sports come second nature in the port. With a mixture of shops and restaurants lining the beach, refuelling and splurging on new summer fashion or necessities is just a short stroll away.
Inspired by the surroundings, there are plenty of seafood restaurants and small-scale fish and chips joints serving up the freshest local catches. If lobster, prawns and fresh fish don’t tempt you, you can be different and stray towards Asian restaurants, cafes, bar and bistro options (fishy names still abound though).
Getting around Shoal Bay is easiest on foot, and by car to get further afield. But another great way to soak up the atmosphere is to hire a bike and ride your way in and around the sights, smells and sounds of the bay. Why not hire a tandem for two? Depending on what time of year your visit, you might find yourself in the middle of the Blue Water Country Music Festival in June; the Festival of the Senses, formerly the Jazz Wine and Food Festival, in September; or the Port Stephens Outrigger Regatta in April.
Whether it’s the peak of summer or the winter whale-watching season, Shoal Bay is a beautiful beach getaway. It’s got the action as well as relaxation. There’s every reason to find out more about our Shoal Bay hotels for your next Port Stephens holiday.
Hotels in Shoal Bay start at AU$120 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.