Step onto Emerald Beach around sunrise or sunset and you are guaranteed to spot the resident kangaroos. The mob are pretty friendly and used to being the centre of attention. However, they are wild and it's best not to touch them or get too close for comfort. If you can't find them on the beach, they may have wandered up Look At Me Now Headland (what a great name) or further onto Moonee Beach.
Apart from the kangaroos, we really enjoyed Emerald Beach itself, which is a protected part of The Solitary Islands Marine Park. You can easily see South Solitary Island and its lighthouse from the beach, and there is a brilliant view up and down the Coffs Coast from the headland. The southern end of Emerald Beach is a popular surf break, and an excellent spot for swimming. Look out for the unusual Memorial Thong Tree located about half way along the beach, where you too can leave your beloved thongs when they have done their time.
You can easily wander along Emerald Beach or even ride a bike at low tide, which is also a great opportunity for exploring the pristine rock pools. While we visited, the kids were so excited to discover starfish, sea anemones, and cunjevois and we all enjoyed following tiny crabs and fish into their hidden caves.
We stayed at The Big 4 Emerald Beach, which is located right on the beach and an ideal spot for families with children. Onsite, you will find a popular jumping pillow and playground, a volleyball court, basketball court, tennis court, sauna, heated outdoor pool, and Solitary Island Surf School.
There are several dining options in Emerald Beach, including Saltwater Cafe and Restaurant, which has a great location overlooking the water and park. Further along Fiddaman Road there are delicious burgers to be eaten at Emerald Beach Take Away, and after a big day on the beach, it would be hard to go past Emerald Beach Woodfire Pizzas. Our family favourite dining option was La Hacienda 101, a colorful Mexican Restaurant which more than satisfied young and old. Make sure you try their morish chocolate nachos.
We decided Emerald Beach was the ideal place to stop off for a driver reviver or overnight break, as it lies two minutes drive from the Pacific Highway, just north of Coffs Harbour and about five hours south of Brisbane. It is a very low key beach town, yet it lies within driving distance to many excellent Coffs Harbour tourist attractions, such as The Big Banana and Dolphin Marine Magic. I hope you can visit sometime.