Soak up the winter rays in this Port Stephens paradise
As the temperatures start to drop in winter, many people close the curtains, stay glued to their couches and spend the weekend deciding what Netflix movie to watch next. Although this sounds tempting, there is a whole world out there to explore in the winter months - especially with all the stunning scenery that Nelson Bay has to offer.
Many adventure-seekers visit the area to go sandboarding, quad biking, horse riding, camel riding and try their luck deep sea fishing, which is a fun weekend for anyone. Although all of these options sound like a perfect way to spend a winter weekend, this list below is my personal top 10 ways to enjoy winter in the Nelson Bay region. If you have more ideas, then please leave a comment at the bottom of this article and share your winter loves. So throw off that fluffy blanket, extract your feet out of those slippers and get out of your front door this weekend. You can always flop back on the couch afterwards!
1/ Get a Good Coffee or Hot Chocolate to warm yourself up from the inside on a chilly morning in Nelson Bay. Popular places to pick up a takeaway coffee and sit in the sun include The Little Nel at Nelson Bay and Mermaids Cafe at Shoal Bay Country Club. Both of these cafes offer views and scenic walks nearby, so you can stroll along with your hot beverage and soak up the morning sun.
2/ Bushwalking in the cooler months is much more enjoyable as you don't get as hot, sunburnt or as exhausted! The best walk to do around Nelson Bay is the Tomaree Summit Walk, which starts from Shoal Bay. If you are going to put some effort into a walk, then this is the one to put your energy into. The views from the top are particularly spectacular, with sweeping views all up and down the coastline and back into Port Stephens. Take your camera, a large bottle of water and allow plenty of time at the top. Other bushwalking options include Wreck Beach and Tilgerry Habitat - look up for koalas!.
Scenic views on the way up to the top on the Tomaree Summit Walk
3/ Whale Watching is another favourite winter past-time, with over 20,000 whales travelling past Port Stephens between May and November every year. You can hop on a whale watching cruise to get a closer look, or walk to one of the whale watching viewing areas along the coastline to see if you spot their tell-tale water spout, or even a full breech. Whale watching is enjoyed by tourists and locals every year and is a moving experience to see such large animals in the wild. It is worth getting off the couch for!
Whale watching viewing area at Boat Harbour North Headland, a short drive from Nelson Bay
4/ Walk Along A Beach and appreciate the beauty of this region in the winter sun. If you are looking for a long beach to walk along, check out Birubi Beach (32 kilometres long) and Fingal Bay. Both of these beaches have cafes near the car park so you can finish your walk with lunch or a hot drink. If you are looking for a dog walking beach, then check out Bagnalls Beach in Corlette - the range of happy pooches you see will make your day.
5/ Enjoy Fish & Chips by the Water - without the flies! The best places to pick up fish and chips are Bay Harbour Cafe and Bub's Famous Fish and Chips at the end of Teramby Road in Nelson Bay. You can eat your meal at the venues or take it to the breakwater rock wall nearby to enjoy your feast with a view. Watch out for the seagulls wanting to steal your chips! If you would prefer to sit with fresh prawns or oysters, then see here for details.
Fresh fish and chips by the water at Bay Harbour Cafe
6/ Toboganning at Toboggan Hill Park is a lot of fun for all ages - you don't need to be a kid! The track at Toboggan Hill is 1 kilometre long and costs $8 per ride (children under 8 ride free with an adult). Our family love this activity and winter is a good time to give it a try for the first time, as it isn't as busy as the summer school holidays. Feel the need for speed this weekend!
7/ Murray's Brewery is a popular venue all year around, however in the winter months you can sit outside on the deck and feel the sun on your back, without feeling too hot. Listen to live music on the weekends, watch the kids run around on the grass, try a variety of Murray's beers and share a steaming hot pizza. Sit outside and enjoy the view of the winery vines and soak up that winter vibe. Murray's Brewery is the place to be this winter.
Catch some winter sun on the deck at Murray's Brewery
8/ Pamper Yourself and book into a facial to put some moisture back in your dry, winter skin! Although there are many day spas to choose from around town, why not get the 5 star treatment at Spa Lucca at The Anchorage hotel in Corlette, for a relaxing winter pick-me-up.
9/ Day Trips are a fun way to explore the region and follow the winter sun. The Hunter Valley is 1.5 - 2 hours away, to taste test wines or find a restaurant amongst the vines. Our family's favourite short day trip is to drive to the Stockton Ferry near Newcastle for our daughter to play at the new playground, then catch the ferry to Queen's Wharf and then go for a scooter/ walk along the Newcastle Foreshore. There is a lot to see along the foreshore, whichever direction you take. We often walk inland along the river and pick up a takeaway coffee from Lynch's Hub, visit the Newcastle Museum and explore the funky Honeysuckle Precinct. You can also catch a tram in the other direction to the beach, for some winter fun on the sand.
Kids will love a play at Stockton Playground, before hopping on the ferry to Newcastle
10/ Visit a Local Gym and get fit this winter! On a personal note, I find myself to be unmotivated to exercise outside as the weather gets cooler, so the gym is a popular indoor winter activity - whatever your age. Exercise is also proven to keep you healthier to ward off the winter lurgies. Also check out Tomaree Aquatic Centre, which is still open in winter, for laps and aqua fitness classes all year around.
Have you found some ideas of things to do this winter, in the Nelson Bay region? This scenic stretch of paradise has so many outdoor activities to try, that staying indoors during winter is a waste of some of the best months of the year.
Which activity will you be diving into this weekend?
Raise some sweat and do some laps at Tomaree Aquatic Centre - it's not just for summer!