15 Days of Coastal Bliss: Exploring New South Wales' Legendary Pacific Coast from Sydney to Byron Bay
Embark on an unforgettable journey through the quintessential Australian landscapes of New South Wales. This awe-inspiring Pacific Coast drive takes you from the vibrant and cosmopolitan capital of Sydney to the Tweed region, where you'll discover some of the country's most spectacular natural attractions. Bask in the sun on famous beaches, explore dreamy coastal walks, and marvel at lush hinterland and stunning national parks. From World Heritage sites to abundant wildlife and rich culture, this easy drive promises a truly unforgettable experience that will leave you breathless. So come along for the ride and let New South Wales captivate your senses!
Days 1 - 4: Sydney
Sydney is one of Australia's most well-known and iconic cities. Home to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, as well as countless other amazing attractions, this vibrant metropolis is full of life and personality.
Circular QuayCircular Quay, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
And when it comes to beaches, Bondi Beach is just the tip of the iceberg! There are over 100 beaches located along Sydney's picturesque coastline, so no matter what you're looking for, you're sure to find the perfect spot. Explore the city's waterways with a harbour cruise for an unforgettable experience.
Bondi BeachBondi Beach NSW 2026, Australia
Taronga Zoo is a must-see for any animal lover visiting Sydney. This world-renowned zoo is home to over 5,000 animals, including Australian natives such as the koala, kangaroo, bilby, and platypus. The lucky animals here have some of the best views in town, with the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge as their backdrop. For a truly unique experience, visitors can even spend the night at the zoo!
Choose between the elegant Wildlife Retreat, a designer hotel nestled among the zoo’s natural landscape, or the Roar and Snore safari tent accommodation, an unforgettable experience that includes intimate animal encounters and fascinating zookeeper talks.
Taronga Zoo SydneyBradleys Head Rd, Mosman NSW 2088, Australia
Sydney is a foodie paradise, with high-end restaurants serving up fresh, local fare scattered throughout the city. Seafood is a particular speciality here – thanks to the coastal location – but you'll also find exceptional French, Italian, Indian, Greek, Thai and just about any other cuisine your appetite desires. However, don't let the lure of five-star dining pigeonhole you – casual dining is also a forte in this city. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy fish and chips on the beach. A thriving café scene and sophisticated bar offerings further enhance the city’s culinary appeal.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll along some of Sydney’s most picturesque areas – the beautiful Royal Botanic Garden, the bustling Barangaroo precinct or The Rocks – a genuine must-see bolstered by historic laneways and harbour views. Even better, turn that walk into a ‘walkabout’ with help from an Aboriginal guide. Discover the most ancient culture in the world, while uncovering the authentic history of this Great Southern Land and its custodians.
Royal Botanic Garden SydneyMrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
The RocksThe Rocks NSW 2000, Australia
Days 4 – 6: Port Stephens
2 hours and 40 minutes from Sydney
Next is Port Stephens, an idyllic seaside region and dolphin capital of New South Wales. There are no less than 26 impressive beaches and bays to explore, while whale- and dolphin-watching cruises will boost the wow factor on this delightful stop. Not satisfied with the role of spectator? Dolphin Swim Australia can help. The state’s only licenced dolphin swim operator, Dolphin Swim Australia will put you so close to these majestic creatures that you will feel like part of the pod. It truly is the experience of a lifetime.
Port StephensPort Stephens NSW 2319, Australia
Get your sea legs moving with a hike to the summit of Mount Tomaree in Tomaree National Park, where you will be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views along the spectacular north coast. It’s also a great vantage point for whale watching between May and November when these incredible animals embark on their annual migration. For a little help spotting these majestic creatures, there are a number of great whale-watching cruises available. The national park includes a myriad of picturesque walks, pristine beaches and stunning swimming holes to choose from. In spring, the Morna Point walk comes alive with glorious wildflowers.
Tomaree MountainShoal Bay NSW 2315, Australia
Stockton Bight Sand Dunes
Port Stephens is also home to the largest moving coastal sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. They are a sight to behold and the team at Sand Dune Adventures in the Worimi Conservation Lands can help you navigate this natural wonder. Join one of the Aboriginal guides for invaluable insight and a spot of quad-biking or sandboarding in the Stockton Bight Sand Dunes.
Stockton BeachStockton Beach, New South Wales, Australia
Waterfront dining is a must in Port Stephens, and Rick Stein at Bannisters and The Wild Herring at The Anchorage Hotel & Spa are two of the best. Indulge in the freshest seafood while taking in the glistening Pacific Ocean. Now that’s the Australian way.
There are countless detours worth considering along this stretch of the New South Wales coast. If you’re up for the three-hour drive inland, Aussie Ark in Barrington Tops is certainly one of them. Here, you’ll experience the wildlife conservation efforts and rehabilitation of Tasmanian devils and other Australian wildlife. Tours are available four times a month and private tours are also available. Whichever way you go, be sure to book. Roads within Barrington Tops are gravel but are suitable for two-wheel drive vehicles.
Get up close with koalas as you indulge in deluxe glamping at Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary. Rooms, suites and motorhome accommodations are also available
Add a little extra decadence to your trip with a visit to Spa Lucca, part of The Anchorage Hotel. Using sustainably made, ethically produced Australian products, the seaside spa is your ticket to bliss. Indulge in a relaxing massage, rejuvenating facial, heavenly bathing ritual or all of the above!
Days 6 – 8: Port Macquarie
2 hours and 42 minutes from Port Stephens
From one port to the next, Port Macquarie is the vibrant coastal city at the heart of the Greater Port Macquarie area. Pre-book your visit to the Koala Hospital where you can see the native marsupials in exhibit enclosures and rehabilitation yards. The hospital’s Adopt a Wild Koala program is a special way to get involved. It helps with the rescue and treatment of sick and injured koalas. The animal encounters continue at the multiple award-winning Billabong Zoo, where you can get up close to Australian and exotic wildlife.
Koala HospitalLord St, Port Macquarie NSW 2444, Australia
Feel the wind in your hair with a speedboat ride along Lighthouse Beach, courtesy of Port Jet Cruises or, set a different pace with a whale-watching cruise instead (May to November). Bid the perfect farewell with wine tasting and hand-made chocolates at Bago Maze and Winery. Don’t get lost! With 2000 metres of pathways, the hedge maze is one of the largest in the world.
Before hitting your next stop, pop in at South West Rocks for a UNKYA Cultural Eco Tour. Aboriginal-owned and operated, UNKYA tours offer an insight into the Gumbaynggirr people’s deep, spiritual connection to the place.
Book your motorhome for a stay at Discovery Parks in either Harrington Beach or Forster. Just north of Port Macquarie, Telegraph Retreat Cottages provide a beautiful stay, surrounded by lush hinterland.
Days 8 – 10: Coffs Harbour
1 hour and 40 minutes from Port Macquarie
Land and sea come together in the most spectacular way on the Coffs Coast, a region lined by pristine beaches and marine reserves, plus incredible heritage rainforests. Make the most of the location with a spot of snorkelling and diving at Solitary Islands Marine Park. Extending along 47 miles (75 kilometres) of the coast, the park is home to a huge diversity of marine life, with tropical, temperate and sub-tropical species of fish, coral and algae. If stand-up paddle boarding is more your scene, Wajaana Yaam Adventure Tours will arrange an Aboriginal guide to help you find your footing and your bearings. A rich catalogue of cultural stories, as well as traditional bush tucker, will be shared on the tour.
Coffs HarbourCoffs Harbour NSW, Australia
Small but mighty, subtropical rainforest Dorrigo National Park features a network of gorgeous walking trails to guide you through the towering sassafras, red cedar, coachwood and yellow carabeen trees. From Forest Sky Pier, enjoy spectacular views of the charming township of Dorrigo right through to the coastline. As you can imagine, hikers are in for a treat with dozens of incredible coastal and bush walks to be found in and around Coffs Harbour. Just north of ‘Coffs’, as the locals call it, Emerald Beach will delight with its resident kangaroos – a very friendly bunch.
Dorrigo National ParkDorrigo NSW 2453, Australia
Looking for a place to park a motorhome? Discovery Parks Emerald Beach is a beachside gem. With 30 rooms and award-winning dining, Bonville Golf Resort is another lovely stay, with 18 holes to enjoy.
Days 10 – 13: Byron Bay
2 hours and 27 minutes from Coffs Harbour
Photo by Delphine Ducaruge on Unsplash
Byron BayByron Bay NSW 2481, Australia
One of the most popular destinations on Australia’s east coast, Byron Bay oozes sunshine, surf and sophistication. Located in northern New South Wales, Byron Bay is a bona fide paradise, whether you’re lured by the surf, the dining, the shopping, or the genuine bohemian vibe.
Start by watching the sun rise at Cape Byron, the most easterly point on Australia’s mainland, and you’ll soon understand the magic.
Photo by Szabolcs Toth on Unsplash
Cape ByronCape Byron, Byron Bay NSW 2481, Australia
For surfers and stand-up paddle boarders – or those willing to give it a go – Let’s Go Surfing can arrange an instructor, not to mention an incredible experience riding local waves. Kayaking is a year-round thrill, but from May to November the stakes are raised with dolphins, sea turtles and whales likely to pop up and say hello. Alternatively, go skydiving or hot air ballooning and take in the spectacular bird’s eye views above Byron and its scenic hinterland. Byron’s main stretch is peppered with independent fashion and homewares boutiques, making shopping a treat, and the same can be said for some of the nearby hinterland towns, such as charming Bangalow.
BangalowBangalow NSW 2479, Australia
The epicurean experience is also key in this part of the country. Enjoy farm-to-plate dining at The Farm, a beautifully considered site sprawled over 80 acres with pasture-fed animals, a market garden, a nursery and a florist. Alternatively, taste local beers at Stone & Wood Brewing Co. or pick up fresh organic produce at one of the many wonderful markets in the region.
The Farm Byron Bay11 Ewingsdale Rd, Ewingsdale NSW 2481, Australia
Byron Bay offers the gamut of accommodation options from luxury rainforest retreats such as Crystalbrook Byron (formerly Byron at Byron) and on-trend resorts such as Elements of Byron Bay, to the motorhome-accessible Discovery Parks in both Byron Bay and Ballina.
The Byron Bay hinterland was carved out by a volcanic eruption about 20 million years ago. Today, it is an Eden of World Heritage-listed rainforests, spectacular waterfalls and historical hinterland towns. Explore this incredible attraction with Byron Bay Adventure Tours.
The market scene is booming in Byron Bay and its gorgeous surroundings with fresh local produce, and arts and crafts are key to the trade. Yogis will fare well here, too. The region is renowned for its wellness vibe and sunrise yoga at Cape Byron Lighthouse or a session at Crystal Castle are two particularly zen options.
Days 13 – 15: Tweed Heads
48 minutes from Byron Bay
Tweed HeadsTweed Heads NSW, Australia
The beautiful Tweed region demands attention. A relaxed vibe awaits in this part of the Far North Coast, as does the world-heritage rainforest, fantastic surf beaches and moreish local produce.
Admire the works of an array of regional, national and international artists at the Tweed Regional Gallery, or embark on an adventure with Tweed Eco Cruises, which offers unique seafood-catching tours on the Tweed River, on a beautiful wooden river ferry built in 1972, no less.
Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre2 Mistral Rd, South Murwillumbah NSW 2484
Enjoy the thrill of the chase, and the flavour of the haul, on a Catch A Crab tour; taste local gins at Husk Distillers, famous for their Ink Gin; and nibble your way around local farms, where delicious macadamia nuts, cheeses, teas and honeys are among the spoils. Meanwhile, Wollumbin National Park is full of walking trails and picnic spots, and is rich in plant, bird and animal life.
Wollumbin National ParkMount Warning NSW 2484, Australia
Round out your journey in absolute luxury with a stay at Halcyon House. Located on Cabarita Beach, the chic boutique hotel is a long-time favourite, and the multi-award-winning in-house restaurant, Paper Daisy, is an added treat.
With its kaleidoscope of local and international fruits, Tropical Fruit World is a colourful attraction and a hit with visitors young and old. The award-winning tourist park is also a café, tree nursery and produce store.
Tropical Fruit World29 Duranbah Rd, Duranbah NSW 2487, Australia
From the Tweed, it’s a hop, skip and jump to Queensland, where the cities of Gold Coast and Brisbane both have international airports. It’s a 20-minute drive to the Gold Coast Airport and just over an hour to Brisbane. Alternatively, keep driving. The entire east coast of Australia delivers on scenic coastal drives, premium beaches, and abundant nature, adventure and wildlife. The perfect launchpad to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, in Far North Queensland, also has an international airport.
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