Coffs Harbour is known for a comically large Big Banana plantation and incredible coastal weather, but it’s also surrounded by vast hinterlands of National Parks and uncrowded beaches.
If you’re basing your trip in the centre of Coffs Harbour, these places aren’t hard to travel to. Only a 20-minute car ride up or down the road and you’ll find yourself at some of the best beaches on the coast. You’ll find our guide to five of the best below.
1. Emerald Beach
Make your way to the headland of Emerald Beach with a picnic basket and rug to soak up some sunshine while taking in the panoramic views of surrounding shores. When it’s ‘busy’, you might spot a few people strolling along the sand keeping an eye out for a playful pod of dolphins.
The Look At Me Now Headland is located around this area. It’s only a short 30-minute walk (roughly) and you’ll get stunning coastal views all year round. Pack a picnic lunch and take the little ones up for a nice afternoon in the sun. You might even spot some ‘roos hopping about.
If you haven’t come prepared with lunch, Surf Street Café (the only café in town) will fix you up. Munch down on a spiced lentil patty burger with crispy chips as you gaze out onto the local wildlife as they meander on past – even the occasional wallaby or goanna.
Woopi, as the locals call it, is suitable for surfers, swimmers, fishers and divers alike. Throughout May to October, this is the prime location on the Coffs Coast for whale watching.
Just around the bend is arguably the best fish and chip shop on the east coast… maybe even Australia (the reviews on Google can vouch for such claims). White Salt has called the main street home since September 2011 and head chef Jonny Peacham will be on hand to prepare a feast of daily-caught fresh fish. Start off with the truffle and mushroom arancini with pea puree, aioli and parmesan and of course, the chilli mussels with garlic ciabatta bread is a must (when fresh is available).
3. Jetty Beach
A very family-friendly and popular beach spot is Jetty Beach. You’ll find the locals mingling with tourists while wading through the waves. The restaurant strip sits in the backstreets behind the beach and features a heap of quality feeds. Stop into the Urban Espresso Lounge for an avo and feta smash toast before you hit the sand for the day.
If you’re coming down on the train this beach is located right in front of the station for the utmost convenience. Pop down and see if you can book a spot on a whale and dolphin watching tour or just bring your own flippers and snorkels to witness some epic marine life.
The picturesque Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve is only an hour round trip and although it has some steep trails along the way they give you the advantage of being able to perch outwards over the water to see some stingrays or sea turtles down below – if you’re lucky. Once you’ve reached the finish, step back and get your cameras ready for those stunning Coffs hinterlands and city views.
4. Diggers Beach
Diggers is known as a prime surfing spot along the Coffs Coast and its located right across the road from the Big Banana. You can go for a climb along the rocks – wear proper shoes so you don’t slip! If you walk a little further up you’ll stumble across Little Diggers Beach, which is an unofficial nude beach, for when you’re feeling a little cheeky (pardon the pun).
The best scenic later afternoon or sunset walk in the area is undoubtedly from Diggers Beach to Charlesworth Bay. It will take you two hours to complete and you’ll spot some bush turkeys, walk through the rainforest at Diggers Head and past the Solitary Islands Aquarium (a perfect place to stop if you’re walking with little ones). Backtrack the way you came and stop into the SSS BBQ Barns for a juicy steak.
5. Moonee Beach
Moonee Beach is a haven for those looking for calm waves and chilled vibes. The beach has shallow waters and plenty of shaded areas, so you can either lay peacefully in the sun or catch up on that good book you’ve been carrying around. It is also dog-friendly, so bring your puppy along for the day too.
If you want to grab some of the best fish ‘n chips in the area, head on over to Rosie’s. Serving up plates of crispy calamari, beer-battered fish, potato scallops alongside crunchy salted chips. Grab it to take away and sit under the trees to enjoy your grub and one of the best views in Coffs.