Dutchmans Beach is just one of the many scenic bays in the Port Stephens region, located around the headland from Nelson Bay. Dutchmans, or "Dutchies" as the locals call it, is popular all year round with locals and tourists swimming in the picturesque water, families having BBQs near the playground and walkers enjoying the coastal pathway behind the beach. Each summer the small bay is lined with an array of colourful beach umbrellas so that beach-goers can have some reprieve from the sun and stay all day in this scenic paradise.
Why go to Fiji or the Whitsundays to find such crystal clear water and bright, white sand, when it is all here in Port Stephens? Here are 5 things to do in this pristine pocket of paradise...
Clear water and white sparkling sand at Dutchies, Port Stephens
1/ Go Swimming or SUP'ing in the clear blue water, with shallow depths that are easy to paddle in and safe for kids to have a splash. If you are going for a swim, the best time to visit is at low tide when there is more sand at the back of the beach - however even at high tide (as in the photo above), there is still a stretch of white sand at the Nelson Bay end of the beach. If you want to get on top of the water, you can also hire a SUP (Stand Up Paddle board) from Port Stephens Surf School for approximately $30 an hour and cruise around the flat waters and take in the views. See here for details.
If you forget your swimmers, just roll up your shorts and start paddling!
2/ Have a BBQ or Picnic at one of the many tables in the reserve behind the beach and stay all day in this quiet location. The electric BBQs are free to use and are particularly popular with large groups and parents hosting children's birthday parties, as there are plenty of shady, grassy areas to have a runaround and a colourful playground, below.
3/ Have Fun in the Playground at Dutchmans Beach Reserve, located at the far end of the beach with car access from Burbong Street. There are several car parking spaces near the playground, but if it is too busy then you may need to park further away and walk back to the playground. Our daughter particularly enjoys this playground as it has three slides, a set of swings, spinning equipment and a metal "flying fox" to hang on to from one side to the other. There are also plenty of benches and sandstone blocks around the outside of the park for carers to have a rest and take in the view.
4/ Walk to Nelson Bay or Bagnalls Beach after your lunch or swim, if you feel like exploring the area by foot. There is a coastal path behind Dutchmans Beach which begins at Nelson Bay (on one side of Dutchmans Beach) and finishes at Bagnalls Beach (on the other side). This pathway is ideal if you have kids who like to ride their bikes or scooters, or if you want to see the other bays in the region. If you are after a short walk, follow the path past the playground to Bagnalls Beach and take in the views of the swans along the beachfront, feeding on the seagrass meadow under the water.
The view down to Bagnalls Beach - the black dots on the water are swans
5/ Stay at the 5 Star Amarna Luxury Beach Resort and soak up the rays from their pool which overlooks Dutchmans Beach. Holiday-makers at this boutique resort enjoy the views from their leaf-shaped loungers and live the Port Stephens lifestyle to the full. To book a room there, see here for details.
The best time to really appreciate the colours of the water at Dutchmans Beach is on a sunny, blue-sky day with not a breath of wind - although anytime is a good time to view this pretty bay. I personally enjoy visiting it on a morning walk just after sunrise, when you see the locals exercising along the coastal path, dolphins occasionally slicing through the water and the birds waking up to begin their morning routine. It is the quintessential sound of summer, to start your day with lorikeets screeching in the treetops, kookaburras laughing from above and cicadas starting up their own summer symphony.
Why would you want to start your day, any other way?
A pool with a view at Amarna Luxury Beach Resort. Image: Amarna Luxury Beach Resort Facebook