15 Best Things To Do In Nelson Bay, Australia - Updated 2021

things to do in nelson bay australia

When the calendar dates show a long weekend coming up, surf the Internet and book your weekend getaway to Nelson Bay, Australia. The pretty town on the southern coastline of Port Stephens has many activities to keep your weekend busy and fun.

Nelson Bay is a tourist destination town on the southern shore of Port Stephens on the North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. It can be reached within 2.5 hours drive from Sydney, or within a 1-hour drive from Newcastle. Here are 8 great suggestions of things to do in Nelson Bay for a fun weekend.

1. Experience panoramic views of Port Stephens from Nelson Bay Lighthouse

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Established in 1872, Nelson Bay Lighthouse, also known as Nelson Head Inner Light, is located on Nelson Head. This unusual-looking lighthouse is not active anymore, but back in the days, it was used to guide the ships into the port. The first light was witnessed in 1876 from the lantern room that’s shaped like an octagon, which is attached to the house. This station overlooks Port Stephens and now features a museum within the lighthouse keeper’s cottage from the 1800s.

Nelson Bay Lighthouse

Address: 5a Lighthouse Road, Nelson Bay NSW 2315, Australia

Website: Nelson Bay Lighthouse

Opening hours: 8:30am - 3pm (daily)

2. Take in the bay views at Fly Point Park

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Do you think the temporary shared path at Fly Point should be made a permanent fixture? Have your say at...

Posted by Port Stephens Council on Tuesday, December 15, 2020

A waterfront park sitting between Little Beach and Nelson Bay, Fly Point Park offers a range of facilities including picnic areas, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, and more. This aquatic sanctuary also features kelp forests and sponge gardens that are just a few steps away from the beach. It is home to a variety of marine animals such as octopus, pineapple fish, and wobbegong sharks, to name a few. Fishing is banned here as well as collecting beautiful-looking seashells.

Fly Point Park

Address: 511 Kennard Ave, Edgewood, MD 21040

Website: Fly Point Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

3. Soak in stunning views of Nelson Bay from Gan Gan Lookout

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Situated just off Nelson Bay Road, Gan Gan Lookout is a place where you can soak in stunning views of Nelson Bay and beyond. Visitors can enjoy the 180-degree views of the town across and Port Stephens. It boasts a height of 160 meters (524 feet). Back in the days, the local indigenous Maiangal clan used the lookout as a smoke signaling location. The name of the lookout came from the Gathang language, which means white-breasted fish hawk.

Gan Gan Lookout

Address: Lily Hill Rd, Nelson Bay NSW 2315, Australia

Opening hours: Open 24 hours (daily)

4. Build sandcastles with kids at Little Beach Reserve

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

If you’re traveling to Nelson Bay with your family, don’t miss out on this destination called Little Beach Reserve. Sitting cozily between Shoal Bay Beach and Nelson Bay Beach, Little Beach Reserve is a splendid spot to have a nice, relaxing holiday. If you’d like to build a sandcastle with your kids, this place is just perfect with plenty of sand and calm waters. For picnics, there are grassy areas where you can set up barbecues, while your kids enjoy at the playground.

Little Beach Reserve

Address: Beach Rd, Nelson Bay NSW 2315, Australia

Website: Little Beach Reserve

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

5. Have some fun with your family at SPLASH Waterpark

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Clear water, blue skies and a great time with family & friends! What a great way to end the holidays

Posted by SPLASH Waterpark on Saturday, October 10, 2020

An inflatable obstacle course waterpark at Little Nelson Bay, right across from Dolphin Watch Cafe, SPLASH Waterpark is usually set up during summer, winter, and fall school holidays. Although it is set up during school holidays, adults can also take advantage of this fun obstacle course waterpark. Children and adults from ages 6 - 86 are all welcome at the park. The entire session at the waterpark lasts for about an hour, so you have plenty of time to complete an obstacle course and go over it again.

SPLASH Waterpark

Address: 40 Victoria Parade, Nelson Bay NSW 2315, Australia

Website: SPLASH Waterpark

Opening hours: 10am - 4pm (daily)

Price: 20 USD

6. Set up a mini barbecue party at Dutchmans Beach Reserve

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Located in the Port Stephens region and tucked between Bagnall Beach and Nelson Bay, Dutchman Beach Reserve is a favorite hangout place among both tourists and locals. People come to this location either for a mini barbecue party or snorkeling. There’s a vast playground near the western end of the beach, which can only be accessed if you take Burbong Street. Dutchmans Beach Reserve is a perfect spot to spend a lovely weekend either alone or with your family.

Dutchmans Beach Reserve

Address: 1 Burbong St, Nelson Bay NSW 2315, Australia

Website: Dutchmans Beach Reserve

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

7. Dine on delicious food at Bluewater Grill

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Entree - Garlic Prawns

Posted by Bluewater Grill on Sunday, November 15, 2020

Situated within Nelson Bay Golf Club, Bluewater Grill offers two of the best things: delicious food and stunning views. Overlooking the nine-hole golf course, Bluewater Grill is known for its signature dishes, including lamb fry, salt and pepper squid, and earth bowls. If you’d like to try something new, ask the restaurant staff for the ‘fish of the day’. There’s also a kid’s’ room next to the restaurant so that everyone can have an enjoyable experience.

Bluewater Grill

Address: 61 Dowling St, Nelson Bay NSW 2315, Australia

Website: Bluewater Grill

Opening hours: 10am - 8pm (daily)

8. Swimming at Nelson Bay's famous beaches

Nelson Bay
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user happysnapper 2 used under CC BY 2.0

Dutchmans Beach and Little Beach of Nelson Bay are famous for their calm waters. These beaches are safe and children friendly. It’s the cheapest way to enjoy the weekend sun at Nelson Bay.

If you want to do more aquatic activities than just swimming, you can rent a canoe and sail with your children on the calm waters. Grab a picnic bag and have a lunch picnic by the beach. You and your children will enjoy a short getaway at its best.

Dutchmans Beach

Address: 1 Burbong St, Nelson Bay NSW 2315, Australia

Little Beach

Address: Nelson Bay NSW 2315, Australia

9. Close encounter with aquatic life at Fly Point

Fly Point, Nelson Bay
Source: Photo by Flickr user Chris Baird used under CC BY 2.0

You can experience a close encounter with aquatic life at Fly Point, an aquatic reserve with prolific marine life on the east of Nelson Bay. Diving and snorkeling there are exceptional.

If you love diving, don’t miss out on diving at the “Looking Glass” dive site at Broughton Island, the signature diving site at Nelson Bay. Looking Glass is a split that runs through the middle of the Broughton Island, crowded with marine life such as grey nurse sharks.

Let's Go Adventures Dive Nelson Bay

Address: 8 Teramby Road, D'Albora Marinas, 2315 Nelson Bay Australia

Price: from 130 USD for boat dive

Opening Hours: 9 am to 5 pm.

Duration: around 5 hours required.

Access: Let’s Go Adventures Dive Nelson Bay is right at D'Albora Marinas, Teramby Road

Contact: +61 2 4981 4331

Website: Diving at Looking Glass Dive Site

10. Dine with a view at D’Albora Marinas

d'Albora Marina, Nelson Bay
Source: Photo by Flickr user Martin7d2 used under CC BY 2.0

D’Albora Marinas is a collection of seven marinas, a home to over 1,400 vessels. You can enjoy your dinner at the waterfront with a great selection of restaurant overlooking the vessels.

There are a few of Italian restaurants that serve delicious Italian food with the freshest ingredients. Check out Ormeggio at The Spit, one of the famous Italian restaurants at the marina.

Ormeggio At The Spit Restaurant

Address: D'Albora Marinas, Spit Road, Mosman, 2088 Nelson Bay Australia

Price: from 300 USD for two people

Opening Hours: 12 to 3 pm, 6 to 10 pm.

Access: Ormeggio At The Spit is right at D'Albora Marinas, Spit Road

Contact: +61 2 9969 4088

Website: Ormeggio At The Spit Restaurant

11. Greet humpback whales on a cruise

Whale Watching Hervey Bay Australia by eGuide
Source: Photo by Flickr user eGuide Travel used under CC BY 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Each year more than 3,000 humpbacks pass close to the coast of Port Stephens, migrating to warm tropical waters from late May to July, and from September to November, the whales can be seen returning to the Antarctic with their calves.

The humpback whale is a protected species and is a very energetic large whale. They are regularly observed breaching, tail slapping, leaping, and performing body rolls.

A whale-watching cruise is an experience not to be missed. Whale cruises from Nelson Bay take about 3.5 hours, and your craft cruises from Nelson Bay, out through the Heads, to the Pacific Ocean.

Whale Watching Cruise

Address: 3/35 Stockton Street, 2315 Nelson Bay Australia

Price: from 56.70 USD

Opening Hours: 8 am to 5 pm.

Duration: around 3 hours required.

Access: Moonshadow Cruise is just 3 minutes’ drive from D'Albora Marinas

Contact: +61 2 4984 9388

Website: Whale Watching Cruise

12. Say hello to the dolphins in Port-Stephens Great Lakes National Park (from 50 USD)

things to do in nelson bay australia | say hello to the dolphins in port-stephens great lakes national park

Port-Stephens is blue water paradise, the permanent home of 160 bottlenose dolphins. Watch dolphins in their natural environment, and get as close as 2 meters to them (they love to ride the bow waves of a boat). They seem to play “now you see me, now you don’t.” But it can be an on-off show due to the fact that they can dive to depths of 300 m and hold their breath for about 7 minutes.

Dolphin watching cruise from Nelson Bay

Price: from 50 USD

Duration: 4 hours

13. Enjoy the sunset with the roos at Nelson Bay Golf Club

Golf Club Against Ball
Source: Photo by Flickr user Wojciech Kulicki used under CC BY 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Nelson Bay Golf Club is not just a place to play and enjoy the golf activities. It is the home of the indigenous creatures of Nelson Bay, the kangaroos.

You can walk or ride the golf cart to meet with the kangaroos and you can even interact with them. Experience, photograph, and enjoy walking or riding in a golf cart amongst wild eastern grey kangaroos and other unique Australian wildlife such as koalas.

For Kangaroo Encounter Tours, you can book the tour from Nelson Bay Golf Club website.

Kangaroo Encounter Tours

Address: 57 Dowling St, Nelson Bay NSW 2315, Australia

Price: from 15 USD per person

Opening Hours: Sunset time

Duration: around 1 to 2 hours required.

Access: Nelson Bay Golf Club is only 5 minutes’ walk from Nelson Bay CBD

Contact: +61 438 615 136 (Kangaroo Phil)

Website: Kangaroo Encounter Tours

14. Ride a bike: from Salamander Bay to Fingal Bay

Salamander Bay Nelson Bay - Australia New South Wales
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Y98 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you are big fans of bicycling like me, bicycle riding is a healthy alternative to explore the town of Nelson Bay. It offers amazing scenic views and very little traffic (since they only have single lane roads and only one set of traffic lights).

Port Stephens Council has approximately 50 km (31 mi) of shared cycleways throughout its communities. It has designated cycleways that provide safe cycling around the peninsula. These cycleways can take you from Salamander Bay right through to Fingal Bay with some spectacular water views.

Bay Bike Hire

Address: The Nelson Resort (visit Reception), 3-7 Government Road, Nelson Bay NSW 2315

Price: from 40 USD per day

Opening Hours: 9 am to 5 pm.

Access: Bay Bike Hire is open 24/7 near Port Stephens Visitor Centre

Contact: +61 2 4916 4600

Website: Bay Bike Hire

15. Sand boarding at Worimi Conservation Lands

Located only 10 minutes from the centre of Nelson Bay and just over 30 minutes from Newcastle, the Worimi Conservation Lands form the largest sand dune system in Australia, covering an area of 4,200 hectares (10,378 acres).

The mobile sand dunes can climb up to 40 m (131 ft) high and there are many ways to enjoy the area. Sand boarding is a fantastic way to enjoy the unique terrain. It’s time to get dirty.

If you are an adrenaline junky, get your heart racing with a thrilling ride on the back of a quad bike as part of a guided quad biking tour. Explore the dunes at your own pace by purchasing a beach vehicle permit and steering your way through the desert in a 4WD.

Worimi Conservation Lands does not only consist of sand dunes, it also has 32 km (19.88 mi) long beach where you can relax by the water and enjoy the magnificent coastal scenery after the activity on the sand dunes. Several crystal clear rock pools at the water’s edge are teeming with marine life. Kids can explore the shallow waters and get up close to native sea life.

Quad Bike Tours

Address: 2163 Nelson Bay Rd, Williamtown NSW 2318, Australia

Price: from 135 USD

Opening Hours: 9 am to 4 pm.

Duration: around 1.5 hours required.

Access: Sand Dune Adventures is an easy 2 ½ hour drive on the freeway from the Sydney CBD or 1 hour 45 mins from the start of the Sydney Newcastle Freeway.

Contact: +61 2 4033 8808

Website: Quad Bike Tours, Worimi Conservation Lands

Encounters with nature

From relaxing swimming to a deep encounter with marine life, and from cruise tours to sandy tours, Nelson Bay has everything that you need for your perfect weekend getaway.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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