Bushwalking and wildlife
One of the most awe-inspiring hikes on the North Coast is found in Dorrigo, close to Coffs Harbour and past the charming artist hub of Bellingen. The drive to the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre is an experience in itself, cutting a steep path beneath mysterious shade-covered roads, finally opening up to hyper-green pastures at the peak of the climb. Once at the centre, sign up for a guided walk through the lush ancient forest towards the impressive Crystal Shower Falls. Or if you’re time-poor simply step out onto the Skywalk, which offers uninterrupted views down across the rainforest towards the sea and an excellent opportunity to spot birdlife.
Kayaking and snorkelling
There are never-ending opportunities to stop and swim on route along the North Coast, however, those keen to stretch their kayak skills should make a stop of Lake Macquarie, a natural saltwater reserve and perfect calm waters to row upon. Lake Mac Kayak and Bike Hire are a completely mobile hire company that delivers kayaks and stand up paddleboards wherever they’re needed in the local area.
If you prefer to delve a little deeper then Solitary Islands Marine Park in Coffs Harbour is a haven for avid scuba divers and snorkelers. However, this is just one of the many beautiful and largely untouched nature reserves along the North Coast. Be sure to also put Julian Rocks in Byron Bay, Cook Island Aquatic Reserve near Tweed Heads, and Fly Point-Halifax Aquatic Reserve in Port Stephens on your radar.
First things first, pack your sunscreen because you’re going to be spending some serious time on the sand. Mereweather Beach near Newcastle is an early highlight thanks to its bluer-than-blue ocean baths. Here swimmers calmly swim laps as ways crash and spray dramatically along the adjacent rocks.
Once you arrive in Port Stephens though you’ll have some 26 stunning beaches to choose from. Shoal Bay is famous with holidaymakers for its white sands, abundant koalas and regular whale watching sights. The calm waters also make it a favourite with kayakers and paddle-boarders. Romance lovers will adore the azure blues of Bennetts Beach in Hawks Nest, a secluded 14km stretch of sand between Seal Rocks and Yacaaba Headland.