As we’ve seen a couple of coastal towns now, I was starting to feel tired of looking at the water I couldn’t swim in (too cold). Then, we drove to Nelson Bay and my views changed. It did not disappoint. We have a friend who talked the place up so much, it didn’t sound real but after a few days of exploring, we realized he wasn’t exaggerating, “Nelson Bay is more beautiful” than most places we’ve visited.
Nelson Bay offered uncrowded and unlimited beaches and bay views. It genuinely felt unlimited as in every turn, we would discover something new; a new pocket of beach; other bodies of water, both rough and calm; a quiet marina on one side, high-end commercial beachfront on the other side. There were so many options.
There were unlimited options for water viewing or activities but most of them shared the same crystal-clear water attribute. We just needed to walk to see the abundance of sea creatures. We didn’t even need to snorkel.
In Numbacca Heads and Ballina, we weren’t expecting to see dolphins close to the shore but we did with luck. In Nelson Bay, we saw a lot of them almost every time we were in Fingal Bay or Little Beach.
It’s also a perfect place for whale-watching. We saw so many from some lookouts like Birubi or Boat Harbour Lookout. We went for the paid whale-watching tour with the hopes of seeing the migrating whales closer, but I was a little underwhelmed with that because it was different from what I expected. Anyway, if you intend to whale watch, migration happens May-Oct annually, and don’t forget to get yourself binoculars.
My favourite parts of Nelson Bay were both Gan Gan Lookout and Tomaree Head Summit. Gan Gan Lookout offered a perfect view of the sunset and its surrounding islands and bodies of water (so many). Tomaree summit offered the perfect view of the two opposing atmospheres of Nelson Bay. (1) calm bay + dolphins (2) rough ocean + whales; and the town. Both sides have their own charming charisma. Their tourism booklet described the view on top Tomaree Head Summit as unparalleled. We described it as one of the best views we’ve seen throughout this trip. The view, as a reward, was unexpectedly grand for the small effort we exerted to climb it.
You can drive up to Gan Gan Lookout, while Tomaree Head Summit is 161m above Port Stephen entrance. It was a steep but easy, and approx 2.2km return walk.
So far, I have to admit, I loved Nelson Bay. If you are around the area, pay this town a visit. To live there? I would love to, but property prices are exorbitant…massages too 🤣 and I didn’t manage to find roads/tracks I could safely run continuously on. Still, I think, Nelson Bay was indeed a paradise!
Where did we stay?
Ingenia Middle Rock: Quiet caravan park when we were there. Friendly Staff. They’ve got a winter special so we got paid less. They have got a swimming pool and basic amenities. My favourite part of the park was that they are close to the beach and their fast internet connection.