Relax by the water & spot dolphins from your table
The Boat Shed Café and General Store is located on a floating pontoon at the Soldiers Point Marina, in the scenic Port Stephens. If you are looking for a relaxing coffee, breakfast or lunch by the water, you can't get much closer to the bay than this popular venue. You are so close to the water that you can spot dolphins and pelicans from your table and watch cormorants bob under the water for fish down below. It is a popular café with the Soldiers Point locals, the people who live on the boats and also with guests staying at the Thou Walla Sunset Retreat nearby, as they can just walk down for a coffee or meal, every day of their holiday. Is there a more relaxing way to start the day?
The Boat Shed Café - a floating pontoon on the water
When you walk along the Soldiers Point Marina, there are two other eateries down on the water called The Deck (on the lower floor of the marina building) and The Point, which is located upstairs and has sweeping views of the bay. If you keep walking past the marina building, however, you will see the large umbrellas of the Boat Shed Café on the pontoon, as well as beautiful sculptural pieces along the Soldiers Point Marina Sculpture Walk. The sculptures are all by Australian artists and are a pleasant surprise to look for, with some interesting characters to meet at the end!
The Deck (downstairs) and The Point (upstairs), at Soldiers Point Marina
The Table of Love, by Gillie and Marc Schattner - which is a sculpture that promotes love, diversity and acceptance. It will travel the world as part of the Travel with Love Project, which encourages people to get a selfie with the sculpture and post it on social media, before it goes to its next location
When we arrived on a sunny Saturday morning, the breakfast menu was readily available on each table and was reasonably priced, with bacon and egg rolls, scrambled eggs, smashed avocado and feta, toasties and light meals to choose from. They also had a long drinks menu, with milkshakes a popular item with kids on most tables. When you have decided on what you want, a staff member will take your order and then you can sit back and watch the comings and goings of the people, boats and bird life around the pontoon.
Just near the cafe is a petrol station for boats, so you can watch a variety of boats come in and take their turns at the wharf, with their sun-tanned occupants getting ready to head out for a day on the bay. Interestingly, the marina itself was the first carbon-neutral marina in Australia, to protect the coastal waters and environment for many more years to come.
Sit back, relax and watch the local characters around the marina
When our coffees and meals arrived, after a long wait on a busy morning, they hit the spot as a relaxed breakfast by the water. As we ate, we noticed that many people were avoiding the tables in the sun, as the day was heating up, so try and nab a table in the shade if you visit in the warmer months. Another point to note is to take cash with you, as this venue is cash only and the private ATM at the marina charges $10 to get cash out.
Although our breakfast was simple but enjoyable, we have had locals tell us since that we need to go back and try the lemon meringue pies and seafood platters, which are on the lunch menu later in the day. We look forward to going back at a quieter time to savour the moment - and the flavours!
Egg and Bacon Roll ($10) and Bacon & Scrambled Eggs on Toast ($12) with delicious coffee
The Boat Shed Cafe is also a general store for boat owners and you can also hire kayaks or boats from them if you wish, after your meal. Alternatively, take a scenic stroll along Sunset Beach next to the marina and walk all the way up to the jetty that stretches out into the clear water. When you walk along, the water is so pristine that you can see a variety of fish swimming in the shallows and larger ones, the further along the jetty you walk. The best time to walk along the beach itself is at low tide, so you can take off your shoes and walk in the warm shallows and enjoy the remarkably-clear Port Stephens water.
When the water looks this good, you may want to wear your swimming costume to breakfast!
Take a walk along the scenic Sunset Beach (or go for a swim!)...
Hi Elaine, yes it's great isn't it - we're already exploring, so it's fun to write about it after! Heaps more to see and do still - it could be awhile before I'm a real local :) Thanks for reading it :)