Wassup in Port Stephens? Sunnyside, Surf, SUP & So On!

Arthur Morgan-style horse riding on the beach, sandboarding down gigantic sand dunes, cruising alongside breaching humpbacks, and surfing in style at sunset – Port Stephens is all about those exotic coastal vibes. Only a hop, skip, and a jump away from Sydney, this a nature adventurer’s dreamscape.

In this blog, we’re cruising through the best activities in Port Stephens, where you can soak up some rays, catch a wave & paddle your way through an epic day in paradise.

The ‘Sunnyside’ of Port Stephens

Port Stephens is all about the beaches baby! If you’re itching for a tan, some sand between your toes, and the gentle lapping of waves, then you’re in the right place. Squint hard enough and you’re in Wineglass Bay, yet you’re in Fingal Bay, a crescent-shaped coastal haven with gentle waves and fewer people.

Take a quick hike to Fingal Spit – it’s like a sandy bridge connecting the mainland to Fingal island. You’ll be rewarded with panoramic views; just be sure to check the tides beforehand, we don’t want you stuck on the island! Don’t forget your sunnies!

Surf’s up dude!

surfing in port stephens

Port Stephens is a famed surf spot. While Fingal Bay is the tranquil alternative to all the other Port Stephens beaches, you can still gear up for some adventure here. And when it comes to the best surfing spots in Port Stephens, Fingal Bay is perfect with its exposed point break, consistent swells, and chill crowds. The patrolled beach with a number of onshore facilities makes it a hit among families.

Both pros and novices come to play and lap up the waves in Port Stephens. The east facing beaches along the coast of the mainland makes it extremely popular among surfers and those who are willing to give it a go. The famous One Mile Beach, along with its neighbour, Samurai Beach, are other top surf spots in Port Stephens with their medium-sized waves. Plsu, they’ve got great surf schools that will train you up and get you ready to catch your first wave.

Nelson Bay: The beating heart of Port Stephens

A classic Port Stephens move? Having brunch by the beach when the sun is in its element. Imagine you’re lounging at a cosy seaside cafe, salt-kissed breeze in your hair, sipping on your morning brew, and chowing down the perfect ‘sunny side’ up. You can find such spots in Nelson Bay, where they serve the best breakfasts with views.

It's the bustling hub of Port Stephens and the Central business District of Tomaree. The thriving D’Albora Marinas is where the tourists flock to, offering an incredible array of shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and a shopping precinct. Overlooking the moored yachts and cruise ships, these docks are where you should be at for your dolphin or whale watching adventures.

Humpback whale watching from nelson bay

Hear us out: If you’re visiting during the months of May-November, then hop on one of the popular Port Stephens cruises for some whale watching fun. This is the time when the massive Humpback Whales make their annual migration, and a cruise is your best friend when it comes to spotting them in their natural habitat! The best whale watching tours depart from Nelson Bay; be sure to book them ahead!

Kayak your way through paradise

kayaking in Port Stephens

Alright, let’s talk about kayaking. If gliding through sparkling waterways, sneaking into hidden coves, and uncovering those hidden spots is on your itinerary, then kayaking is what you should do! Kayaking in Port Stephens lets you team up with local guides who know the waterways like the back of their hand, and will show you the most exquisite spots around.

Mangrove Bay is a real winner when it comes to kayaking, with those super calm waters and lush mangrove forests – it’s like a serene escape. And for the thrill seekers, Jimmy’s Beach is where you can catch a wave with your kayak, and maybe even challenge your mate to a friendly race!

A SUP-er paddle experience in Shoal Bay

Stand-up paddleboarding in Shoal Bay

If you’re a strong advocate of ‘go with the flow’ philosophy, then SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) is your go-to aqua adventure. Shoal Bay boasts shallow and crystal-clear waters, making it incredibly welcoming for beginners. Glide along calm bays, find hidden bays and coves, and enjoy the sweet views of the surroundings. There are plenty of local SUP joints to hook you up with boards and even lessons, if you need them.

Shoal Bay is also home to a mellow beach which is perfect for sun worshippers and beach bums alike. So, after you’ve had your fill of stand-up paddleboarding, you can flop on the sands, enjoy a sundowner, and give into those laid back vibes.

We’re not even close to finishing up the number of things to do in Port Stephens, that’s simply impossible for just one blog. Nevertheless, here’s a couple more must-do activities if you ever find yourself moseying along the sandy shores of Port Stephens.

Your own dolphin documentary awaits

bottlenose dolphins in port stephens

Port Stephens is home to playful pods of bottlenose dolphins (more than 140 of them, actually) and a bucket-list worthy experience you can do here is swimming alongside them! Yep, it's like ‘Dolphin Tale’, but you’ll be surrounded by more than one heroic dolphin!

There are a bunch of dolphin watching cruise operators that can set you up with a dolphin-swimming experience of a lifetime. They’re all about making sure you hang out with these interesting characters in a way that’s safe and respectful. They’ll make you feel like you’re part of the pod!

Sand here, sand there, sand everywhere

 beaches at port stephens

Stockton Beach embodies what Port Stephens is all about. This is not your average beach. Here, you can rip through sands on a 4x4, conquer epic dunes and ride them, or simply kick back and enjoy the coastal beauty. The colossal sand dunes here stretch as far as your eyes can see and they’re your ticket to a high-octane 4WD experience. Oh, and then there’s sandboarding, the cooler, beachy cousin of snowboarding.

Birubi is another must-visit beach in Port Stephens that has it all – from world-class cafes to the longest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. And if you’ve been hankering to ride a horse ever since you played ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’, this is the place to be.

To sum it up

Port Stephens is an Aussie-favourite holiday destination where you can fit in – exploring the hefty sand dunes of ‘Mad Max’ (the 1979 one), riding a wave straight from the beach, kayaking through secret bays, and finally, enjoying a sunset drink in Nelson Bay – into one action-packed itinerary. So, slather on some sunscreen, pack your bags, and gear up for a sun-soaked adventure in Port Stephens.