Four Action-Packed North Coast NSW Itineraries That Will Have You Booking a Flight, Stat
Looking for an escape? We've got you sorted with the best spots to stay, stop and dine.
June 08, 2022
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With its golden beaches, lush rainforests and abundant green valleys, North Coast NSW has all the tools to recharge the weariest of souls — or those just in dire need of a holiday. It's also home to some of the state's most renowned producers, who are busily pumping out wine, beer and spirits — which you can sample at cellar doors aplenty — as well as award-winning eateries serving up excellent local produce in stunning locales.
So you can make the most out of your next North Coast NSW trip, we've done the hard yards and planned out four adventure-packed holidays. And right now, you can score $100 off select North Coast NSW accommodation when you book through Trip.com.
FLY INTO PORT MACQUARIE TO MEET WILDLIFE AND RIDE WAVES
When you're in Port Macquarie, whichever direction you point your compass towards you'll find entrancing rainforests and beaches backing onto sprawling national parks. After touchdown at the city's conveniently located airport, secure a rental vehicle and scoot over to the coast to explore the rainforest canopy and sheltered coastline of Sea Acres National Park. You're bound to spot an ark of critters including goannas, diamond pythons, brush turkeys and even a koala or two. Then, take a free self-guided tour of the Koala Hospital for more cuddly sightings and greater insight into the lives of these beloved marsupials.
Motor an hour up the coast to find a marine menagerie in Hat Head National Park. Korogoro Creek is a pristine snorkelling spot where you can spy hermit crabs, flat head, mullet and octopus below the water line, while whales and dolphins might occasionally surface through the waves, too. You'll find excellent surf breaks for experienced riders just south at Crescent Head. And if you're a beginner? Learn to tackle the region's famous tubes with On Point Surf School. After a day on the water, you'll likely need to refuel — venture inland to Bago Maze and Winery to enjoy a wine tasting paired with local cheese and charcuterie before meandering through the venue's carefully sculpted lilly pilly hedge maze.
A stay on the Hastings River at Rydges Port Macquarie provides plush interiors with water views, as well as easy access to some of the city's best dining options. Tuck into fresh seafood at The Stunned Mullet or Bills Fishhouse and Bar, which both showcase seasonal local produce. Ensure you leave enough room for dessert, with the creamy artisan scoops at Blue Cow Gelato a tip-top option.
FLY INTO COFFS HARBOUR TO EXPLORE ANCIENT RAINFORESTS AND REMOTE COASTLINES
Alight the plane at Coffs Harbour Airport with your adventure shoes at the ready. In classic Aussie family holiday tradition, you'll need to kick things off with a choccy-covered banana and a quick round of laser tag at the Big Banana. Then, unwind in the spacious suites at Opal Cove Resort. This expansive seaside venue provides everything you need to relax and recharge, from a sauna and spa to a fully equipped gym and an arcade games room.
Start your grand expedition into the great outdoors by ambling through national parks and nature reserves along the Solitary Islands coastal walk. Those tackling the full 60-kilometre trail will move from windswept headlands to undisturbed beaches and lush rainforest paths over three or four days of hiking and camping (depending on your pace). There are also plenty of day-trip opportunities, with spots for ocean fishing, swimming and picnicking.
For even loftier views, head to Sealy Lookout (Niigi Niigi) and walk along the Forest Sky Pier which dramatically juts out over the canopy of Orara East State Forest. To put the stunning view into historical context, join a Giingan Gumbaynggirr Cultural Experience tour and learn about the cultural practices and stories of Traditional Owners, the Gumbaynggirr people.
If that's still not enough nature for you, head an hour out of Coffs to the otherworldly Dorrigo National Park, where you can walk among 600-year-old trees in the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest. The small township of Bellingen is a perfect pit stop on the scenic drive here along Waterfall Way. Savour a lunch of shared plates in the artfully restored church that houses Cedar Bar & Kitchen, or stop in at Black Bear Cafe for a quick coffee in the heart of town.
FLY INTO BALLINA FOR A SURFING AND PADDLING SAFARI
Flights landing at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport are often packed with holidaymakers headed for Byron Bay's star-studded beaches. But if you're keen to take the road (slightly) less travelled — that offer equally glorious seaside adventures — head 90 minutes south to the relaxed township of Yamba.
Along the route, stop in at Razorback Lookout in Evans Head for spectacular sightlines up the coast before exploring the varied landscapes of Bundjalung National Park. Pack a hiking lunch and walk the ten-kilometre Jerusalem Creek loop, or book a rejuvenating forest bathing tour, which involves Japanese-inspired mindfulness movements honouring different natural elements, with Iluka Nature and Soul at Woody Head campground.
Make Yamba Sun Motel your base once you reach town. The comfortable rooms come in a number of configurations and can accommodate both couples and larger families. The Sun also places you in the heart of this close-knit community, with beaches, friendly cafes and local attractions all within walking distance. Start your day with an Allpress Espresso coffee from eclectic local fave Yum Yum Angourie Cafe and General Store, or tuck into a hearty Turkish-inspired breakfast at the charming Beachwood Cafe.
Get active on the water with a Yamba Kayak tour, and paddle around the islands and mangrove mazes of the Clarence River. Or, wetsuit up and tackle the Angourie Point surf break. Even if you're not confident on a board, you'd be remiss not to catch the dramatic right-handers roll in at this renowned spot from the safety of the sand.
FLY INTO THE GOLD COAST AND HEAD SOUTH TO CHASE WATERFALLS AND LOCAL FEASTS
After touchdown, find yourself some wheels and scoot over the border to explore the nearby NSW coastline.
Head southward and you'll immediately hit the Tweed Shire. Here, you'll find fine-dining spots hidden among rolling green valleys, myriad beaches to suit towel-snoozers and wave-riders alike, picturesque cruises along the Tweed River and plenty of cultural experiences to fill up your holiday itinerary.
Be sure not to miss the Tweed Regional Gallery and Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre, before visiting the seemingly never-ending sandy expanse of Dreamtime Beach. For liquid sustenance, head to the cellar door at Husk Distillers, home of the chameleon-like Ink Gin. Then enjoy the hearty fare served up at Potager — much of what you taste in your miso pumpkin and potato gnocchi with coconut ricotta and warrigal greens has been plucked directly from the onsite garden.
Less than an hour on the road and you'll be in the heart of Byron Bay. Set yourself up at the glamorously renovated Byron Springs beach house, tucked away on a palm-lined cul-de-sac with easy access to sprawling Tallow Beach and Arakwal National Park. If you can tear yourself away from the hotel's sun-drenched therapy pool, book a tour with Trip.com to uncover natural gems and native refreshments. The Chasing Waterfalls tour will ferry you between glistening cascades, quiet bushlands and rarely visited swimming holes, while the Afternoon Brewery and Distillery session will introduce you to locally concocted craft beers and fragrant spirits.
With $100 off select North Coast NSW accommodation via Trip.com until June 21, now is the ideal time to explore all that the region has to offer.
Top images: Destination NSW