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Published January 14th 2019
Water so clear, you will want to dive straight in
Fingal Bay is a suburb of Port Stephens, located 10 minutes from the popular Nelson Bay. The beach is the heart of the suburb and is popular all year round, with the swimming area between the flags particularly busy during the summer months, with visitors from all over the globe. Although it is a little off the beaten path at the end of the coastal road, it is worth the drive to get there to experience its beauty and unique, natural attractions. Here are the Top 5 Things to do at Fingal Bay along the beachfront - starting with admiring the clear, pristine view.
View from the flags up to Fingal Spit, at the end of the beach
1/ Fingal Spit is a 900 metre long sand "bridge" that is exposed at low tide, between the main Fingal Beach and Shark Island at the end of the beach. The ocean comes in on both sides of the spit and when it is high tide, the two sides meet to completely cut off the island. It is one of the most photographed scenic attractions in Port Stephens, often photographed by drones as the two tides meet. Sadly, people have died on Fingal Spit at high tide, so there is a large sign near the spit to warn people of the dangers.
If you visit at low tide, it is worth walking to this particularly scenic venue to admire the clear blue water and white sand, as well as the view around the corner. The spit was made famous in the 2006 advertisement for Tourism Australia, where Lara Bingle walked out of the water at Fingal Spit and asked the camera "So where the bloody hell are you?" Do you remember it? See below for a flashback, supplied by YouTube and Tourism Australia USA.
2/ Swimming is an obvious addition to this list, with crystal-clear water just inviting you to dive straight in. The Fingal Bay Surf Club is one of the largest in the area, with an extensive crew of lifeguards watching the people between the flags. On our last visit to the beach, there was a long grey mat rolled along the sand from the surf club down to near the water, so that the floating beach wheelchairs could easily be pushed down to the waterside. Beach wheelchairs and access ramps are available at Fingal Bay, Little Beach and Nelson Bay and are free to use. They are a welcome addition to the beach to make it accessible for everyone. See here for details.
Access ramp for beach wheelchairs, making the beach accessible for everyone
3/ Longboat Café is located at the surf club and is one of the most popular cafes in the area. It has various areas to sit, mostly in the shade so customers can stay out of the sun after a hot day at the beach. The long and delicious menu has vegetarian and gluten-free options and the cafe is open at 7:30am - 8am every morning, for early birds to pick up their coffee or have breakfast before the day gets too hot. There is also a small kiosk on the side, if you just want to buy takeaway coffees or an ice cream to take over to the beach. This café is particularly popular with families, before or after a trip to the playground nearby. See here for details.
4/ Fingal Bay Parkrun is a free, timed 5 kilometre run or walk every Saturday morning, starting outside the Longboat Café at 8am. Parkrun is a fitness activity that is held all around Australia and is a popular way to exercise each week and improve your time. It isn't a race, you just race yourself and the clock. See here to find out more, with over 100 participants every week.
5/ Beach Fishing is particularly popular along the beach on calm days, where you can clearly see schools of fish swimming where the waves curl over. On a high tide and calm day, you will see numerous fishermen and women with large beach rods on the beach - some with plastic pipes inserted into the sand so they can have four or more rods out at once. Anyone who fishes in NSW needs a fishing licence and people who fish in the Port Stephens region need to be aware of the Sanctuary Zones. See here for details.
Fingal Bay is the ideal place to slow down, breathe in that salty air and soak up that holiday feeling - or you could simply relax on the sand and wait for the fish to bite...and they will.