Are you going for a holiday with the kids to Nelson Bay, but you're not sure what to do, or where to go? There are hundreds of things to do in the Nelson Bay region, from as simple as building sandcastles down at the beach to spending the day at the local zoo or splash park. These are just 40 of the top things to do in the area, however, if you discover more on your holidays, or you are a local who has more ideas, please leave a comment at the bottom of this article and extend the list even more. You can never have too many options!
A holiday at Nelson Bay means that the whole family will spend almost the entire time outdoors enjoying the beauty of the region, so check the weather forecast
, pack plenty of sun cream and start counting the sleeps until you can pack up your car and go. Your family holiday in the sun awaits!
Summer fun at Oakvale Wildlife Park. Image: Oakvale Facebook
Adventure & Fun
1/ Oakvale Wildlife Park
is located in Salt Ash and is a popular wildlife park for families all year around, however, if you visit in summer they also have a Splash Bay to cool off in - so take your swimmers! See here
2/ Waterworld Central
is a temporary inflatable waterpark that is located on the road to Oakvale Wildlife Park, which is open for a month in the summer holidays. See here
3/ SPLASH Waterpark
a temporary inflatable waterpark that is open during the summer months, literally in the water at Nelson Bay. See here
4/ Toboggan Hill Park
is a rustic family entertainment venue with downhill toboggan rides, mini golf, indoor hot ice-skating, tractor rides, indoor rock climbing and a range of activities for the littlies. See here
5/ Sand Boarding
is a fun activity for thrill-seekers at Birubi Beach, Anna Bay
. The sand dunes are part of the 32km Stockton Beach and Worimi Conservation Lands, which are the largest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. Take a 4WD bus out to the sand boarding area and then fly down the hills! Check out the websites for Sand Dune Safaris
, Port Stephens 4WD
and 4WD Tours R Us
6/ Quad Bike
Hit the slopes at Birubi Beach! Image: Port Stephens 4WD Tours Facebook
hire and tours are also available at the dunes, for kids over the age of 7 who go on a slow tour with Sand Dune Adventures
and for over 8's with Quad Bike King
(Sand Pit only - all other tours are for over 12's).
7/ Camel Rides
can also be enjoyed over the sand dunes at Birubi Beach for ages 2 years and over. See here
8/ Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters
offer families the chance to get hands-on and take a tour to learn more about stingrays, jellyfish and marine animals. See here
9/ David Grahams Golf Complex
offers a host of family activities which include a mini golf course
, a driving range, baseball batting cage and Frisbee golf. See here
10/ Super Strike Bowling Alley
is located next to Salamander Square shopping centre and is the perfect wet weather or hot weather activity for all ages. As well as the modern 10 lanes
, it also has arcade games and air hockey to play afterwards. See here
11/ Spirited - A Creative Play Centre
Super Strike Bowling Alley - perfect for a hot or rainy day
is an indoor play centre for all ages, located at Taylors Beach on the road to Salamander Bay. See here
12/ Fighter World
is located at Williamtown next to the RAAF base, where they train fighter pilots for the defence force. Look around the museum, sit in a cockpit and watch the planes take off - small children may want to cover their ears! See here
13/ Go Karts Go
is an outdoor go-kart track which has double karts for adults and kids over 5 to ride together, as well as Junior Karts for kids aged 8 and over. See here
14/ Nelson Bay Cinema
is a small cinema with all the latest release school holiday movies. See here
15/ d'Albora Marinas
in Nelson Bay has a high-bouncing bungy trampoline set up each school holidays, where kids are strapped into a harness and can flip and do tricks. See here
16/ Sahara Trails Horse Riding
offer horse riding packages for along bush tracks, along the beach or over the dunes. See here
Get Out on the Water
17/ Kayak Hire
Family horse riding at Sahara Trails. Image: Sahara Trails Facebook
is available from Nude Kayaks
at Bagnalls Beach, Port Stephens Paddlesports
in Shoal Bay and Nelson Bay and Soldiers Point Boat Hire
, to name a few. Get out on the water and spot some dolphins!
18/ Go on a Dolphin Watching Cruise
with Moonshadow TQC Cruises and meet some of the resident dolphins who live in the bay. See here
19/ Nelson Bay Jet Ski Hire
is available for kids over the age of 8, if they ride tandem with an adult. See here
is a favourite activity for all ages, with Fly Point
a popular spot to snorkel, which can be accessed from Victoria Parade on the way to Little Beach
. Alternatively, smaller kids will enjoy snorkelling off any of the family friendly bays
in the region.
21/ Go Boogie Boarding
at the surf beaches
just a short distance from Nelson Bay, which have lifeguards and flags.
22/ Port Stephens Surf School
is a popular way for families to learn to surf together whilst on holidays, all year around. See here
23/ Tomaree Aquatic Centre
is a popular venue for families, as it has an undercover toddler pool and a large slide for the older kids. See here
Free, Cheap or Cheerful
Slides and shade at Tomaree Aquatic Centre, Nelson Bay
is a favourite past-time for all ages in the Port Stephens region, with many local families seen on the rocks at Nelson Bay Breakwater
early each day, pulling in bream and larger fish. Although there are numerous bayside options to fish from, see here
for some ideas of where to go fishing with kids.
25/ Gan Gan Lookout
is a popular lookout in Nelson Bay
to visit, with sweeping views over the entire Port Stephens. See if the kids can spot where they are staying, or where they have been. If you visit between May and November, also visit the other lookouts
in the area and look for whales.
26/ Go for an Ice-cream
at d'Albora Marinas or at Nero's Gelato Café in Nelson Bay, to cool the whole family down on a hot summers day. See here
27/ Tomaree Head Summit Walk
is a hard walk for many adults, however if you have older kids or teenagers who are used to hiking or uphill walking, then put on your comfy shoes and experience the best views in the region. See here
are located all around the Nelson Bay region, with the biggest and best (in my daughter's opinion!) located at Nelson Bay, Fingal Bay and Dutchman's Beach - see here
for details. Also check out the beachside playground at Boat Harbour
, for a play and a swim.
29/ Shoal Bay Country Club
A playground with water views at Nelson Bay Playground
is a large café
, bar and club located opposite Shoal Bay
, which had a spectacular $6 million dollar make-over in 2018. At the time of writing, they host free kids activities each Sunday and all week during the school holidays. See here
30/ Run Over the Sand Dunes
at Birubi Beach if you want your kids to sleep well at night! The dunes stretch for 32 kilometres, so it feels like you are running through a desert. I would recommend they keep their shoes on however, as broken glass is sometimes unearthed on a windy day. See here
31/ Go to Little Beach
, just around the corner from Nelson Bay, and have a swim, play in the playground, buy an ice-block, fish off the jetty, go snorkelling and join other holiday-makers enjoy this "little" touch of paradise. See here
32/ Go Exploring
around the Port Stephens region, with Lemontree Passage an easy 30 minute
drive away. This small coastal town at the end of a peninsula has a large undercover playground and cute cafes by the water. On the way back, stop in at Tillgerry Habitat
and look for koalas in the wild.
33/ Buy some Prawns
from the seafood shops
at Nelson Bay wharf and sit on the rocks along the Breakwater and enjoy them with a view. The Breakwater is an interesting rock jetty to walk out onto, to watch people fishing and look for wildlife.
34/ Go For a Bike Ride
Take a walk up the Breakwater and watch people fishing. Don't forget to look for dolphins!
along the Nelson Bay coastal path
all the way to Little Beach. If you need to hire bikes, check out Nelson Bay Bike Hire
and Boomerang Bikes
35/ Visit the Swans at Bagnalls Beach
who spend their day feeding on the underwater seagrass meadow, a short distance from the shoreline. See here
36/ Tomaree Markets
are held on the 2nd and 4th Sunday every month at the Tomaree Sports Complex and have a variety of stalls to explore. Kids will enjoy a sausage sizzle and spending their pocket money on a lucky dip. See here
for details. Also check out Sacred Tree Markets
, which is a popular market along the Nelson Bay Foreshore in the summer months.
37/ Go to the Local Op Shop
and pick up some cheap books or toys for the holidays! When you have finished with them, donate them back for more kids to enjoy. See here
38/ Go to Fingal Bay
and walk along the water's edge to Fingal Spit, which is a sand bridge to Shark Island that is revealed at low tide and then disappears at high tide
. Ensure that you take heed of the warning signs and don't cross when high tide is approaching.
39/ Soldiers Point Bowling Club
Go for a walk along the beach to the entrance of Fingal Spit and take in the views. Back at the surf club, there is a playground to play on afterwards - if they have any energy left!
is popular with families due to its family friendly bistro
and playground. See here
for details. Also check out Nelson Bay Golf Club
, Nelson Bay Bowling Club
and Wests Nelson Bay
for modern clubs with kids meals and activities.
40/ Cafes and Restaurants
around Nelson Bay cater for families all year round, such as Nice Cafe
(with a toy corner and books to read), Hogs Breath
, The Wood Oven
, Harbour Bay Cafe
and Bub's Famous Fish and Chips
, to name a few. If Mum and Dad are craving a good coffee and healthy breakfast, follow the locals to Little Nel café
or In House Kitchen Café
. If you are looking for a family friendly pub, then check out Salamander Tavern
(with a toddler playground) and Murrays Brewing Co
just a short drive out of town - ensure you download the Pirate Bob's Scavenger Hunt
app on your phone before you go!
Have you found enough things to do? You may not get through this list on your first
trip to Nelson Bay, but that's OK - it's a good excuse to come again and do the rest!
Enjoy your holiday!
* If you have more ideas on fun things to do in the region, please leave a comment at the bottom of this article and share your own top tips!
Enjoy a family night out at Soldiers Point Bowling Club, 15 minutes from Nelson Bay