The Central Coast is a sprawling region comprising of pristine beaches, leafy hinterland, and quaint and cool coastal towns. It’s the perfect place for a summer road trip, so we’ve done the work and planned the itinerary for you. Here, seven sunny days on the Central Coast.
Day 1: Central Coast Hinterland
While the Central Coast is epitomised by its beaches, it also has beautiful rural suburbs, sprawling bushland and pockets of lush rainforest. Your first stop is Saddles at Mount White for morning tea (around 50 minutes north of Sydney). Set on an 11-hectare property, Saddles is a beautifully designed restaurant set in bushland. The menu includes bakery-inspired items such as sausage rolls and lamingtons, cooked with ingredients from the kitchen garden and plated in style.
Continue to Glenworth Valley, a privately owned 1214-hectare wilderness in the Central Coast hinterland, and home to a range of adventure activities such as horse riding, quad biking, abseiling, kayaking and laser skirmish. Consider staying overnight at one of the secluded and contemporary eco cabins here.
Day 2: Patonga, Umina and Ettalong
Take the 40-minute drive to the quiet beachside village of Patonga for brunch at The Boathouse Hotel. Perfect for summer dining, it has that classic style synonymous with The Boathouse Group, as well as three ultra-chic apartments available for guests to stay.
Be sure to do the short walk to spectacular Warrah Lookout just 10 minutes down the road before continuing to Ettalong Beach. It’s a great family destination with a beautiful waterfront reserve, kids’ playgrounds, calm swimming spots and a walkway that leads to Umina Beach. Mantra Ettalong is an ideal accommodation option here, with views of Brisbane Water and Broken Bay.
Enjoy lunch at The Box on the Water, which has panoramic views of the water, followed by some shopping at nearby florist and homewares store Salmon and Co, vintage bolthole Tiki La La and exotic lifestyle store Jachavela. For dinner tonight, book a table at Osteria Il Coccia, a cosy Italian restaurant helmed by Nicola and Alexandra Coccia, whose previous restaurant Bistro Officina in Bowral was twice-awarded a chef’s hat.
Day 3: Bouddi Coastal Walk and Killcare
Take your breakfast at Lords of Pour, ensconced within its skulls-and-pink-neon theme, and enjoy incredible coffee with a variety of blends from across the world.
Fuelled up, it’s time to traverse the spectacular Bouddi Coastal Walk. Stretching from Putty Beach to MacMasters Beach, the eight-kilometre walk traces the rugged coast with breathtaking views of the ocean, past quiet beaches and through rainforest. It’s relatively easy but the entire track can take up to four hours one-way. Pack your swimmers!
Time to tuck into some fabulous South East Asian street eats at The Lucky Bee in Hardy’s Bay. This quirky and colourful restaurant is from Matty Bennett and Rupert Noffs, the guys behind the uber-popular New York restaurant of the same name, and has views out to Brisbane Water. (Note: lunch is available Friday to Sunday; dinner every day except Tuesday.)
Stay overnight at the luxurious Hamptons-style retreat Bells at Killcare, and enjoy dinner at the lauded on-site restaurant, which serves fine Italian cuisine.
Day 4: McMasters, Copacabana, Avoca and Terrigal
Spend the morning at either MacMasters or Copacabana, which are both good surfing spots. ‘Macs’, as the locals call it, has a great rockpool for kids, while ‘Copa’ is also home to bright and cheery Cabana Café.
Arrive in Avoca for a casual lunch at Avoca Surfhouse, whose front-row beach views allow you to sit on the balcony under umbrellas and watch as the waves roll into shore. If you’re in Avoca on the fourth Sunday of the month, browse the stalls at Avoca Beachside Markets. Pick up some local produce, quality arts and handmade products, or just enjoy the live music and food trucks.
Continue to Terrigal, stopping at La Boheme on the way to browse its beautiful bohemian fashion and homewares, and bunker down for the next couple of nights at the beachfront Crowne Plaza Terrigal Pacific. (Note: If you prefer just one accommodation for the week, Terrigal is a good central base from which to explore, within 40 minutes drive of most places.)
This afternoon, take a walk around The Haven, which has a small kid-friendly beach and dog park, as well as The Skillion, an imposing headland that you can climb. Terrigal Ocean Tours leave from the boat ramp here and, during summer, they offer a scenic cruise with dolphin watching, led by a marine biologist.
Dine tonight at Yellowtail, a relaxed but refined restaurant with a modern Australian menu featuring Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Asian flavours. Afterwards, head to rooftop bar Mumbo Jumbo’s for a cocktail in a fun Caribbean Island-style setting.
Day 5: Wamberal, Erina and Gosford
Breakfast at Bellyfish is a must. Set across the road from the beach, this buzzy cafe serves a delicious all-day brunch and the best coffee in town. Wander up to neighbouring Wamberal Beach afterwards for a swim; it’s a beautiful spot that’s usually less crowded.
Beer aficionados should take a drive to Six Strings Brewing at Erina, which was the Coast’s first craft brewery and now offers tastings of its award-winning beers. While you’re out and about, take the 10-minute drive to Gosford for lunch at The Bon Pavilion. Headed by celebrated chef and restaurateur Sean Connolly, The Bon is home to an ultra-chic cafe, steakhouse and bar and worthy of a visit.
This afternoon browse Terrigal’s collection of boutique stores, including premium fashion at Antigua Collective, sleek surf shop and coffee bar Ocean Haus, luxe lifestyle store Zafirah on Church, and cute-as-a-button Zarlak Kids.
If a casual dinner is on the cards, Chop N Grind makes some of the best burgers on the Coast. Otherwise, hightail it to The Joker and Thief, an uber-cool mid-century-styled restaurant and bar with a Mediterranean-inspired menu and views over Terrigal Beach.
Day 6: Long Jetty
Spend the morning exploring the Newtown of the Central Coast. This hip hood of Long Jetty has an urban aesthetic with a laid-back coastal vibe. Enjoy breakfast at The Glass Onion Society and browse stores such as Shadow Bang apothecary and supply, Plain Janes for casual but cool fashion, and Tiny Folk Co for the little people in your life. Vintage lovers are also in luck, with a host of pre-loved fashion and furniture stores in the area. Be sure to take a walk along the town’s namesake, a 351-metre jetty that juts out into Tuggerah Lake.
Grab a quick bite to eat in the nearby tiny township of Toowoon Bay from Flour & Co, known for its good coffee and delicious baked goods, then while away the rest of the afternoon at Toowoon Bay Beach, which is a good snorkelling spot with calm, pristine water.
Check in to your next stay, Pullman Magenta Shores, a sprawling resort with a golf course and a white-sand beach accessed by a walking track; the spa here is also incredible if you have time for some R&R. For dinner tonight, head to The Savoy, a 1956-built movie theatre repurposed into a bar and restaurant in Long Jetty. There are grazing platters and pizzas to share in the cinema where films are regularly played on the big screen.
Day 7: Norah Head
If you’re up to it, wake early this morning to catch the sunrise at Norah Head Lighthouse, just 10 minutes from the resort. Nearby Soldiers Beach is a beautiful spot to spend the morning with white sands and cerulean waters; it’s also popular with surfers.
Break up the journey home with a short detour to Brisbane Water National Park, about 20 minutes off the M1. The park is home to a number of Aboriginal engraving sites and beautiful Somersby Falls, which are nestled in lush rainforest and easily accessible by a walking track – a pretty and tranquil spot to end your summer road trip along the Central Coast.