Making the most of your fun in the sun

It’s finally time to take that getaway to Port Stephens that you’ve been dreaming of! You’ve worked out the essentials you need to pack, decided which toys the kids will want to take, and planned the perfect outfits for your holiday fun. But one question remains, what will you do once you get there?

No matter if your family is content to spend their days at the beach having fun in the sun or an action adventure is more your style, there is something for everyone in Port Stephens. Located just two hours north of Sydney and one hour’s drive from the Hunter, it is the perfect base for exploring the Hunter Vineyards, Newcastle, and Dungog.

Port Stephens is naturally diverse, sporting beaches and bushland alike, making for great exploration opportunities for all ages. The area is a well-protected natural harbour spanning 24 kilometres and makes for an excellent family escape.

Fun family escapes in the Port Stephens area.

Beaches, surf and sand

Beaches, surf and sand

If the sand and surf is what beckons you, Port Stephens offers a myriad of beachside activities for the family to enjoy. The region could be described as an aquatic playground with 26 beautiful beaches in the area for taking a dip or building a sandcastle. Zenith Beach is a popular choice with tourists and locals and is known for its great surfing conditions.

There are many places where you can hire a surfboard or paddleboard and enjoy the waves. If wild waves are not what you are after another option is Shoal Bay, more suited to young families or those looking for less tumultuous waves. Shoal Bay is also known for its exceptional fishing and diving sites.

Fans of the water will find plenty to do in the Port Stephens region with many swimming, scuba diving and snorkelling spots to be enjoyed. Port Stephens is one of the only places in NSW where you can enjoy the experience of swimming with wild dolphins. You can also scuba dive with colonies of grey nurse sharks at Broughton Island or seahorses if you are wanting to stay closer to shore. Snorkelling enthusiasts can enjoy the plentiful marine life at Fly Point, which is home to many fish, soft corals, and turtles.

Animal encounters

Animal encounters

If animals are a family favourite, there is no shortage of options for wildlife encounters in the Port Stephens area. Tilligerry Habitat Reserve in Tanilba Bay is a beautiful experience of Australian native life. Look to the trees to spot koalas sitting in amongst the branches and admire at a black cockatoo or tawny frog mouth amongst the gums, or look to the bush floor and catch a glimpse of a bearded dragon or lace monitor. The reserve has no shortage of native flora either with the bush decorated with flannel flowers, banksia trees and yellow wattle. Tilligerry Habitat Reserve makes for a great bushwalk or picnic and can make for a fun few hours or a whole day’s excursion.

Another animal encounter experience in the region is Oakvale Wildlife Park situated on 25 acres of bushland. The park is Australian-owned and -operated, and is home to a myriad of domestic farm animals, exotic animals, and native Australian fauna, with animals such as koalas, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, goats, sheep, rabbits, alligators, and ostriches. The family can get up close and personal with the animals, learn from keeper talks and hand feed the animals.

If you’re looking for a unique animal experience, the Irukandji Aquarium Centre at Anna Bay and The Shark and Ray Rescue Centre at Bobs Farm both give you the opportunity to swim and interact with sharks, rays and other marine creatures. There are lots of opportunities for you and your family to take in the amazing aquatic life of the region – go scuba diving with colonies of grey nurse sharks, nudibranchs and seahorses, and swim with wild dolphins and other marine animals, or go snorkelling and exploring through Port Stephens’ crystal-clear waters.

Adventure lovers and thrill seekers

Adventure lovers and thrill seekers

Your family of thrill seekers will not be disappointed in the region with a large variety of action-packed activities. The Stockton Bight Sand Dunes in Worimi Conservation Lands are something to behold, being the largest sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. Visitors can enjoy the opportunity to sandboard or quadbike down the dunes, enjoying both the incredible natural forms and captivating scenery. If you and the family are fans of four-wheel driving, there are also 4WD tours that can be taken around the dunes, in either your own vehicle or hire one out for your experience! If you want to try out something different, go for a camel or horse ride along the beach.

If you’re looking for adventurous family fun, check out Toboggan Hill Park. This mini theme park is a sure-fire way to keep the kids entertained. Attractions at this venue include a climbing wall, jumping castle, rides, and activities. Outside you can enjoy an adventure maze, tractor train rides, mini golf, water park and of course, the toboggan tracks. For lunch, enjoy the kiosk facilities on site or bring everything yourself and have a family picnic.

Aviation and fighter jet enthusiasts

Aviation and fighter jet enthusiasts

For those interested in aviation, Fighter World at the RAAF base in Williamtown, just 30 minutes outside of Nelson Bay, is an attraction not to be missed. A great option for family fun and an experience to learn more about aviation history. Fighter World is committed to preserving the history and legacy of fighter aircraft operations in the Royal Australian Air Force.

The experience is incredibly hands on, offering the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a Mirage Interceptor or a Machi Jet. Explore hangers full of famous aircraft including Mirage III, Avon Saber, the Gloster Meteor, the first Vampire jet built in Australia as well as the Mighty FIII. Stand on the observation deck and watch various aircraft of the premier fighter squadrons take off and land with the live feed of audio from the Williamtown Control Tower.

While you’re there enjoy the friendly service, good food and atmosphere at the Fighter Beans Cafe and stop off at the Fighter World shop where you will find a wide variety of books, souvenirs, and model planes.

Pack those bags and head to The Retreat Port Stephens!

The Port Stephens area is a great choice for an awesome fun family escape – from beaches to wildlife to quad bike adventures, there is something for absolutely everyone. If you are looking for affordable, family-friendly accommodation in the Port Stephens area, The Retreat Port Stephens offers a safe, private, and enjoyable location with plenty to keep both you and the kids entertained.

Get started on your Port Stephens family fun escape and make a booking via our online booking system. For more information check our website, or contact us today on (02) 4982 1244. Alternatively, send us an email at, or complete our online Contact form, and we’ll get back to you shortly.