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Published December 11th 2018
The question at the top of this article has many answers, as all of the bays around Nelson Bay are family friendly - with safe, calm waters and pure white sand to make sandcastles on. There are so many to choose from, the only question is - which one do you think is the best?
Our family have taken this question very seriously and spent our weekends, after school and school holidays researching this matter thoroughly! We have found that the bays that don't have as much sand (such as Dutchies Beach) are better at low tide, when you can walk out further into the sandy shallows and there is more sand on the shoreline. We often pack up the car with boogie boards, flippers, goggles and the beach umbrella and drive to our favourite bays to see which one looks the best in the current tide. These are our family's top picks from our "research" - where is your favourite family-friendly swimming bay? Please leave a comment at the top of this article with the one(s) your kids love the best. I can almost guarantee that they will love them all!
Idyllic, family friendly swimming at Little Nelson Bay
Little Nelson Bay on Victoria Parade is the most obvious choice as it is close to all the major accommodation centres and families can easily load up the bags and walk to the bay. This pristine beach has water that changes from teal to light blue as the water gets shallower and the sun moves higher in the sky. There are two bays to swim at in Nelson Bay - the bay itself (above) and also the stretch of sand inside the marina near the playground (below). The bay inside the marina has BBQ areas and plenty of shade along the walking path if you wish to take a picnic. Whichever one you decide to lay your towels down on, will be a winner!
Other popular family-friendly bays nearby include Little Beach, Shoal Bay and Dutchmans Beach - all of which have safe, shallow areas to play. These are the busiest bays during tourist season, so get there earlier in the day if you can.
Swimming bay inside the marina, with playground and BBQ areas nearby
Roy Wood Reserve is a grassy reserve and swimming bay in Corlette and is a popular venue for a refreshing swim at low tide, with shallow water that stretches out for a long way - making it perfect for the littlies to have a splash and play. Older kids also enjoy this area, with snorkelling into the reeds and boogie-board fun in the shallows. Our family enjoy visiting this swimming bay at both low tide and high tide - there is always a strip of clear, shallow water to swim in and enough sand on the beach to lay out the towels. Roy Wood Reserve itself is popular with locals for large family BBQs and get-togethers, with toilet facilities nearby. See here for details.
Boat Harbour is a suburb that is located on the ocean side of Nelson Bay, a short drive from Anna Bay. The suburb has a safe swimming bay that is popular with families as the clear waters are shallow and there is a playground and toilet facilities nearby. We have visited this scenic bay on weekends and found the local nippers practicing their board skills in the water, while families splash in the shallows. It is a stunning bay that is used by locals to unload their fishing boats off the boat ramp and the rest of the bay is perfect for kids - it is a local gem worth discovering!
Sunset Beach is located further away from Nelson Bay, just off Sunset Boulevard near the end of Soldiers Point. If you visit this tucked away bay at low tide, you can play in the warm shallows and have plenty of sand to put up a beach umbrella. There is also a small playground, picnic area and a long jetty to walk along to look for fish down below. As this protected bay is on the other side of Soldiers Point, it is often calm when all the other bays are a little rough, if there is an afternoon wind on the bay. If you would like a takeaway coffee or drink to take back to your towel, it is just a short walk to Boat Shed Café at the end of the Soldiers Point Marina.
Sunset Beach - ideal at low tide and if it is too windy at the other bays on the opposite side of the peninsula
These are our family's favourite places to go for a swim, however there are more stunning, secluded bays to be found around every bend of the bay. Which one is your favourite? Please leave a comment at the top of this article and share your top tips. Although kids will enjoy every bay you take them to, it is handy to hear what other parents recommend and why.
Lastly, it is worth investing in a boogie board or snorkelling gear to play with at both the surf beaches and in the quiet bays, for some summer fun that the whole family can enjoy. The only problem is trying to get the kids out the water at the end of the day!
Snorkelling and boogie-boarding at the swimming area at Ray Wood Reserve!