Central Coast Travel Guide Central Coast Travel Guide

The Ultimate Travel Guide to theCentral Coast

Hop from one laidback coastal town to the next on the beautiful Central Coast of NSW. From Terrigal, Avoca, Copacabana and Macmasters Beach to Bateau Bay, The Entrance, Ettalong, Umina, Patonga and Killcare. No matter what end of the coast you visit, you’ll find golden-sand beaches to explore, nature walks to traverse, buzzing cafés for brunch, rooftop bars with craft beers and views, and one-of-a-kind treasures at weekend markets and inside boutique shops – and myriad accommodation options to suit all budgets and tastes.

Top things to do on the Central Coast

Nature & beaches

Immerse yourself in nature on one of the many walks and hikes that can be found from the coastline to the hinterland of the Central Coast. Highlights include the eight-kilometre Bouddi Coastal Walk within Bouddi National Park. It wraps around the coast to reveal dramatic cliff top views, winds its way into bushland and descends down into idyllic sandy bays and swimming spots. Walk through lush rainforest and swim under a waterfall in Brisbane Water National Park at Somersby Falls – there are also barbeques and picnic tables for use. Visit Crackneck Point lookout in Wyrrabalong National Park, Mount Olive lookout in Popran National Park and Captain Cook lookout at Copacabana for the views.

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to the sheer number of beaches to visit on the Central Coast. Surfers should head to Shelly Beach, Avoca Beach, Soldiers Beach or Tallow Beach. Toowoon Bay and Terrigal Beach are both great options for families in search of a patrolled beach or take the kids to Wamberal Lagoon or the Entrance Baths to avoid the waves altogether. And if you’re after a secluded spot, try Bateau Bay Beach or Spoon Bay.

Finding the perfect spot on the Central Coast for a picnic is easy with so many picturesque parks and reserves to choose from. Head to one of the reserves at Pearl Beach, Umina Beach or Ettalong Beach; the southern end of Terrigal Beach at Terrigal Haven; or try Swadling Park at the top of Toowoon Bay Beach. Each of these options also offers barbeque facilities for use.

Attractions & activities

Families will find an impressive range of things to do with kids on the Central Coast. Head to the Australian Reptile Park to entertain them with a look at venomous spiders, deadly reptiles, and a whole host of native Australian animals. Follow it up with a visit to Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park on Darkinjung and Guringai land that blends native animal experiences with Aboriginal culture, education and ancient rock engravings. Make your way to The Entrance for the famous pelican feeding at Memorial Park. Try horse riding, abseiling and quad biking in Glenworth Valley; or tackle the obstacle courses and zip lines at Treetops Adventure Park at Ourimbah.

Hunt for treasures in the many boutique shops scattered around the Central Coast, or time your visit to the rotating roster of weekend markets selling arts and craft or fresh produce and delicacies at the numerous farmer’s markets held all over the region – including Gosford City Farmers Markets, The Entrance Market, Wyee Markets, Terrigal Beach Markets, Avoca Beachside Markets and Long Jetty Markets.

Stop by for a tipple at the boutique cellar door of Distillery Botanica at Erina in the Fragrant Gardens to taste their award-winning spirits and liqueurs. The three acres of lush gardens serve as the inspiration behind the distillery’s creations. Settle in for a refreshing gin cocktail, Mr Goaty Gelato or select from the daily menu for fresh, seasonal meals at on-site restaurant Bar Botanica.

If you’re still looking for ways to fill your days on the Central Coast, read our ultimate summer itinerary, our guide to where to eat, stay and play and the five Central Coast villages you need to visit.

Central Coast accommodation

Motels & hotels

The ocean-facing Crowne Plaza Terrigal Pacific is home to 199 guest rooms and suites with either a deluxe king bed or two queen beds and furnished balconies to linger on throughout your stay – and don’t miss the ocean views from the outdoor heated pool. It’s also a dining hotspot within its own right; order the seafood platter at Seasalt, book high tea or sip cocktails in the Lord Ashley Bar & Lounge, or settle in for a Sunday session at the beer garden of the Florida Beach Bar.

Oaks The Entrance is the perfect family-friendly Central Coast accommodation option for a holiday by the sea. The waterfront property overlooks Tuggerah Lakes and offers studio apartments, one and two-bedroom luxury loft apartments and executive one and two-bedroom apartments. Facilities include an on-site gym, heated pool and children’s wading pool. A collection of pubs, restaurants, cafés and shops are all within easy walking distance.

Pullman Magenta Shores Resort boasts luxurious studio accommodation and one, two and three-bedroom villas with open plan living areas, fully equipped kitchens, laundry facilities and exclusive access to your own courtyard or balcony. Swim in the resort’s 25-metre indoor heated lap pool, rock pools and lagoon pool – with seasonal pool bar. Book a treatment at the award-winning Vie Spa and work on your swing at the Ross Watson 18 hole Championship Magenta Shores Golf and Country Club.

Luxury & romantic accommodation

The Central Coast has an impressive range of boutique accommodation to choose from, including Billabong Retreat, find it hidden within 12 acres of bushland, surrounded by two billabongs in the rugged and beautiful Wollemi National Park; and Pretty Beach House, one of Australia’s most exclusive luxury lodges tucked away on the Bouddi Peninsula set high above Pretty Beach. Here, you can stay in one of the five luxurious pavilions surrounded by nature and hidden away from the rest of the world. Spend your days curled up by the open fireplace in the main house with a book from the guest library in the cooler months, followed by an indulgent treatment at the private day spa, or swim laps of the outdoor infinity pool and make use of the outdoor pizza oven for a romantic al-fresco dinner under the stars. There is also an open plan kitchen, dining room, open bar and wine cellar for guests to access throughout their stay.

Alternatively, Bells at Killcare delivers a stylish New York Hamptons inspired stay – think classic pale blue and white colour scheme, driftwood walls, wicker hampers, rattan lounges, elegant striped awnings – inside their boutique collection of cottages, suites and villas. Soak in the deep freestanding bath, sit on your private veranda to enjoy the serene garden setting, and venture further afield to explore the nearby coastal bushwalks. Dine at the multi-award-winning restaurant and don’t leave before treating yourself at the luxurious Bells Day Spa.

Caravan & holiday parks

Set yourself alongside Ocean Beach in Umina at NRMA Ocean Beach Holiday on one of the powered or unpowered camping and caravan sites, or opt for a villa, cabin or luxury glamping safari-style tent. Facilities include a splash park, tennis courts, playground, barbeque areas and camp kitchen.

Stay at Norah Head Holiday Park to explore the best of the outdoors – including Lakes Beach, Soldiers Head, Norah Head Lighthouse and numerous coastal walks. Accommodation options include seven different types of cabins (with Foxtel), caravan and camping sites. Make use of the resort-style swimming pool, playgrounds and camp kitchen.

Where to eat & drink on the Central Coast

Brunch is practically a local pastime on the Central Coast thanks to the wide range of delectable café options. Try The Fat Goose in Hardy’s Bay, Bellyfish Café across the road from Terrigal Beach, Cove Café in The Haven, The Point Café or Like Minds in Avoca, BOX on the Water at Ettalong, Oomph Café in East Gosford and The Glass Onion Society in Long Jetty. Glee Coffee Roasters is a local institution – stop by the Erina Heights or Wyong café for freshly-roasted coffee served alongside breakfast or lunch.

Find an impressive line-up of casual and fine dining options. Start with the Chef’s Tasting Menu and pair it with matched wines at Bells at Killcare Wildflower Bar & Dining restaurant. The Bon Pavilion in Gosford is a dining destination in itself – settle in for a drink at the Bon Bar, pick up your baked goods at Bon Bakery, try freshly shucked oysters at the Bonfire dining room, or indulge in a bottomless brunch at the Bon Bon. For waterfront options, head to The Boathouse Hotel Patonga to get your fill at the Fish & Chip shop or Hotel restaurant, or Woy Woy Fishermen’s Wharf for the best seafood in the region.

You won’t be short of bars and breweries to visit on the Central Coast. Sample the region’s best craft brews at the taproom of Six Strings Brewery, Block ‘n Tackle Brewery, and Bay Rd Brewing. If you’d rather sip on a cocktail or swirl a vino, try Rhonda’s or Mumbo Jumbos in Terrigal, Frankie’s Rooftop in Woy Woy, Margarita Daze in Umina, or The Savoy in Long Jetty.

Getting to the Central Coast

The Central Coast is located halfway between Sydney and Newcastle, just over an hour’s drive north from Sydney or south from Newcastle. You can travel via train on the Central Coast & Newcastle Line from Sydney or Newcastle. Regular bus services, taxis and Ubers are available across the region if you are visiting without a car.

Tours & packages for the Central Coast

Go mountain bike riding through the region’s national parks with Central Coast Mountain Bike Tours. Learn to surf with Central Coast Surf School at Umina, Terrigal or Avoca Beach; or book with Central Coast Surf Academy for a variety of surfing lessons for all ages and stages to get you out riding a wave for the very first time or improving your skills on the board at Avoca, Terrigal, Wamberal, Macmasters, Copacabana and Ocean Beach.

For less action and more flavour, turn your attention to the Mr Black Distillery Experience at Distillery Botanica on the grounds of the Fragrant Gardens. The coffee liqueur experience takes you on an exclusive tour of the roastery and distillery, a sensory walk through the grounds and gardens, as well as a cocktail-making lesson and a stop at the Caffeine Caravan for a full tasting of Mr Black Spirits. It is also the first stop along the new ‘Coffee Cocktail Trail’ presented by Mr Black. The next stop along the trail for bean lovers is at the Bon Pavilion in Gosford to select from the eight-strong espresso martini menu, followed by wood-fired pizzas and a coffee negroni at Rhonda’s in Terrigal, and South End Social the next morning for a caffeine fix.

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