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Published March 15th 2019
Family friendly swimming at this local favourite
Boat Harbour is the name of a suburb in Port Stephens, less than 15 minutes from Nelson Bay. It is a suburb located along the ocean, with rocky headlands which jut out into the water and modern, architectural houses which overlook the stunning coastline.
In the centre of the suburb is the Boat Harbour itself, which is a small sandy bay that is protected from the elements and has little or no waves. It has a boat ramp which is popular with locals - to reverse their boats down to the water and then leave their trailers along the side of the bay, waiting for their return. For those who don't have a boat however, the bay still offers something unique for everyone. These are our family's Top 5 Things to do at Boat Harbour - what are yours?
View of Boat Harbour from the headland looking north...
1/ Fishing is one of the most popular attractions of Boat Harbour - both rod fishing and spear fishing off the rocks. Every day, locals are seen with their beach rods walking to the end of the southern headland, looking for their favourite spot around the rocky platforms. Spearfishing is also popular off the beach, with people in full-length wetsuits taking their spearfishing equipment out along the rock platforms at the northern side of the bay. If you haven't fished in the Port Stephens region before, ensure you get a NSW fishing license and be aware of the Port Stephens Marine Park zoned areas.
2/ Swimming is popular with the locals and families in particular, as the boat harbour is protected from the open ocean and has little waves. Each time our family has visited there has been seaweed, however, you can always find a section without weed and you can relax in the clear, sparkling water. Many people take to the beach blow-up inflatable pool toys, kayaks, SUPs and boogie boards to float on.
Family friendly swimming for a quick dip, however please note that there are no flags or lifeguards
3/ Boat Harbour Playground is found on the grassy hill above the boat ramp and has a sweeping view of the beach below. This playground is popular with all ages, with a slide, climbing frame and monkey bars. It is also located near the toilets and free BBQs, so you could easily spend the day at Boat Harbour and have a BBQ, play and swim.
4/ Boat Harbour Park Walking & Whale Watching Path is located at the southern end of the beach, accessible from a car park with toilet facilities. Look for the small metal plaque at the beginning of the walk and follow the path through the trees and up towards the headland. There are posts along the way with pictures of whales on them, for you to follow.
When you reach the rocky platform at the headland, you can choose from a number of paths leading in different directions away from the whale watching path, which the locals use to get to their favourite fishing spots. Look for whales between May to November, from any spot along the rocky outcrop. If you follow the whale signs, they will take you back to the car park, or you can turn left and continue through the reserve to the next whale watching headland at Morna Shoals.
See below for the plaque and click on "large image" to see a closer look of the walking path.
5/ The Cairn is not a tourist attraction, but it is a moving and interesting feature of the Boat Harbour headland, along the whale watching walk. The Cairn is a tower of rocks, which is a memorial to a local man, Stephen Rogers, who passed away in 2007. The plaque at the bottom of the Cairn encourages anyone who finds it to "place a rock and say a prayer".
Boat Harbour is a local secret that you can enjoy all year around. It is popular all summer long for swimming, fishing, kayaking and snorkelling and then in the cooler months, the headlands are busy with whale watchers and bushwalkers, who come to enjoy the rugged views. It is only a short drive from both One Mile Beach and Birubi Beach in Anna Bay, and offers a more family-friendly beach experience, without many waves.
Why don't you pack up the car and visit Boat Harbour this weekend?
The Cairn memorial, at the end of the southern headland