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Published January 4th 2019
Clear water swimming in the heart of Nelson Bay
Little Nelson Bay is located in Port Stephens, just a short walk along the foreshore from the town of Nelson Bay. It is one of the most popular swimming bays with tourists to the town, as they can simply walk across the road from their accommodation and dive straight in. Although it is sometimes called a "beach", there are no waves at this popular bayside swimming area, so you can leisurely walk in, submerge your body and float your cares away.
View of Little Nelson Bay, from the end closest to town
If you are driving to the beach, it is located along Victoria Parade in Nelson Bay, with paid parking along the roadside during the summer months. This popular beach has a relaxed, summer holiday vibe about it, with kayakers cruising by, families playing in the shallows and friends relaxing on their blow-up flamingo pool toys.
I personally walk on the coastal path between Nelson Bay and Little Beach a few times a week, and during the peak months in summer there can be beach-goers setting up their beach umbrellas as early as 7am. The temperature gauge can often be creeping up to 30 degrees by then, so it pays to get there early for a refreshing dip before the hottest part of the day. The water temperature in summer is a balmy 23 degrees, so you don't have that "cringe" moment when you dip your toes in for the first time. See here for the water temperature, all year around.
In the summer months, you will find Port Stephens Paddlesports meeting visitors on the beach, for kayak tours to spot wildlife out on the bay. A little further up the road, at Fly Point snorkelling and scuba diving area, you will also see beginners and experienced divers getting ready to walk down the stairs and straight into the water. This protected Sanctuary Zone is a highlight for many people visiting the area, with a wide array of fish seen through your mask as soon as you get in the water. The best time to snorkel or scuba dive is when high tide is approaching, so you can see a wide variety of fish feeding on the extensive sponge gardens - some of the biggest on the eastern coastline. See here for details.
If you are visiting for the day, then take an esky and cook up a barbie for lunch at Fly Point Park, behind the beach and snorkelling area. There is plenty of space to lay down the towels and relax after a morning in the water, with shade under the picnic table areas to cool down. If you are at the other end of Little Nelson Bay however, closer to town, then set up your picnic at one of the many modern BBQ facilities along the foreshore, which all have large areas of shade. Alternatively, the Dolphin Watch Café is nearby, for fish and chips down on the sand.
Little Nelson Bay is in a convenient location close to accommodation, parking, BBQs and snorkelling areas, so you could easily spend all day appreciating every aspect of this scenic holiday destination. As you sit on the sand, you may also see more people arriving by different means. Many people spend their summer holidays cruising Port Stephens on their catamaran, yacht or cruiser, so they often anchor their boats a short way from the beach, and dive right in. There really isn't a more perfect way to start the day, than a swim through the crystal clear waters of Little Nelson Bay.
Holiday-makers swimming from their boat to the shore, at Little Nelson Bay