Nelson Bay in Port Stephens is the perfect family-friendly destination with calm waters, quiet sandy bays and small ripples of water that roll onto the shores. The swimming bays are protected from the open sea, so the water remains calm and it is safe for kids to have a splash in the shallows and for adults to lie on blow-up pool toys and relax in the sunshine.
If you would like to mix things up on your summer holidays however, and feel the thrill of racing down a wave on a boogie board, there are surf beaches with flags less than 15 minutes from the calm waters of Nelson Bay. Keep reading for 3 unspoilt and scenic surf beaches to check out this weekend, which have flags and lifeguards in the warmer months and dolphins who surf the waves, all year around. So why not shake out the beach towels, wedge the boogie board into the boot and hit the beach? You won't regret it!
Birubi Beach, Anna Bay - 32 kilometres of beach and sand dunes
Birubi Beach is the most popular beach in the Nelson Bay area, as it has a stunning coastline, the largest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere, a popular cafe with water views and it is the main access to all the camel rides, quad bike adventures and sandboarding tours in the sand dunes. It is the place to be this summer!
The beach itself is popular with all ages, with a long walk down to the water (wear your thongs on hot days!) and then you can cool off in the clear water, with a refreshing water temperature all year around. As the beach stretches for 32 kilometres to Stockton Beach in Newcastle, there is plenty of sand to spread out on - however ensure you only swim in between the flags where the lifeguards can see you. When you feel like lunch, walk up to the Kiosk for a burger, or sit down at Crest Cafe and spot whales from your table (between May to November). See the article Top 5 Things to do at Birubi Beach, Anna Bay for more details.
This beach is a family favourite as it is unspoilt and natural, with small waves at low tide and the surf club directly behind the flags. On our last visit to One Mile Beach, there was an announcement over the loud speaker from the lifeguards to say there were two humpback whales breaching out by the point, which was a thrill for us to see. It is a popular beach with the locals and also visitors to the Ingenia Holidays One Mile Beach holiday park nearby.
This naturally beautiful beach has toilets and a takeaway shop near the car park, before you walk up the track to the beach. Be aware of snakes as you walk along, as brown snakes have been spotted there in the past. When you walk to the end of the track and take in the view that unfolds at the surf club, you will never want to leave!
* Point of interest - When you sit on One Mile Beach and look to the far end, you may notice lines of 4WD vehicles parked on the beach around the next headland. This is Sumurai Beach and it is popular with 4WD owners, fishermen, campers and also nudists!
View of the family friendly One Mile Beach and the flags from the Surf Club
Fingal Bay is another popular beach with a large surf club, cafe, restaurant, playground and a well-patrolled swimming area with lifeguards out on the sand. Every time we have visited Fingal Bay it has been particularly windy, so we have often seen people kiteboarding along the waves and flipping high up into the air. Although the beach is beautiful in its own right, it is the Fingal Spit that many people visit the region for - located at the far end of the beach.
The Fingal Spit is a bridge of sand which leads out onto Shark Island and you can only walk over it at low tide. As the tide rises, however, the water on both sides of the point meet together and the sandy path disappears under the water. Photographers enjoy taking aerial shots of the natural occurrence and tourists come to see the spot which became famous in 2006 when Lara Bingle asked "Where the bloody hell are you?" in an ad for Tourism Australia.
Life guards on the sand at at Fingal Bay, as kite boarders fly up in the air
It is easy to see why the Port Stephens region is visited by millions of tourists every year. It has dolphin watching, whale watching, kayaking, sailing, swimming, fishing, snorkelling and SUP'ing in the calm waters inside the bay, as well as surfing, kiteboarding, sand boarding, quad biking and even camel riding at the beaches outside the bay.
From dawn to dusk there is always something new to discover...