"Awww yeah, Aanuka I reckon". That's the common response by cabbies when I ask where the best place to stay is in Coffs. So on my tenth visit, I'm skipping the usual stay at a motel in town, and I'm checking out this enigmatic Aanuka (pronounced "An-oo-ka").
Coffs Harbour is an unusual spot because it's so spread out. You can either stay in town where all the shops and businesses are or about 25 minutes' walk away there's the jetty with lots of restaurant action. The other option is to stay at one of the secluded beach resorts a few kilometres up and down the coast. These beach resorts are nestled far away from the Pacific Highway so they're very private. Unless you actually visit one, you don't know they are there.
As we turn off from the highway towards Aanuka, suddenly I'm surrounded by greenery. Abundant palms, banana leaves, hibiscus and lush green grass really create a tropical feel. Aanuka's only two kilometres north of Coffs Harbour town centre, but it already feels remote and serene.
While checking-in, I'm already liking this low key ambiance. There's only bure style accommodation and a two level restaurant and reception area. The Assistant Front Office Manager Richard tells me that the resort is styled to feel Balinese, and that all of the carved wooden decorations are imported from Indonesia.
When I spot the resort bar/restaurant set above a beautiful lawn which heads out to Digger's beach, I ask Richard what time of day is best to admire the beach views. Since 5 or 6 AM is definitely off-limits to me, (yet recommended by Richard), I decide to head off for an evening happy hour beverage to catch the sunset. The view is not disappointing and it's great not hear the sound of one car.
After a nice glass of SB, I'm heading along the pathway which winds back to my bure. The property is set on 15 hectares of bushland, so you really feel back to nature. Soon I spy a little furry animal, it looks like a rabbit, but could it be? "Yes", the General Manager Graham says, "there are two living here" as well hundreds of cheeky water dragons which I soon discover. I even find a father and his kids admiring three eels slinking through one of the ponds.
Speaking of kids, Aanuka is paradise for them. With three pool areas, one specifically designed for kids, what more do the munchkins need? Not only does the kid's pool have a tunnel slide and is heated year-round, it's also designed to blend in with the rustic backdrop so they feel like they're swimming in a natural lagoon.
Back to the seclusion of the place, my initial concern was that I would feel cut off from the shops and restaurants. I'm quickly realising that this is not the case because if you leave the property from the southern end by foot, a pathway leads straight down to Park Beach Plaza just 20 minutes' walk over the hill. Plus a number of nearby taverns, including the Coffs Servicemen's Club in town, do a free shuttle service.
I'm considering hopping on one of these shuttles buses to pop back into town for my usual window shopping routine. But then I decide nah, just enjoy the serenity. So I'm grabbing my beach towel and heading down for a swim at private Diggers Beach instead. Another break in the routine and a good choice.