Port Stephens is a sleepy peninsula with small towns and fertile bush land about a one-hour drive north from Newcastle. Travellers come here for the natural beauty, adventure activities and wildlife tours. Nelson Bay, the main town, is famous for its dolphin and whale watching excursions (best Jun–Oct for whale sightings) and great fishing. The little seaside village of Anna Bay has nothing of much interest, but is a good place to stop for lunch. One Mile Beach is a tranquil crescent of soft sand and gentle waves, while Samurai Beach is clothing optional and has great surf. The Stockton Sand Dunes are the largest moving dunes in the southern hemisphere and are an exhilarating place for a 4WD trip.
The two hostels in the area are beautiful and located in lovely bushland settings. They offer peaceful retreat-like getaways with great wildlife, and are worth a night or two. Port Stephens is a sleepy place that doesn’t get a lot of press but is well worth a short side trip – more so than its industrial neighbours, anyway.
Coming and going
Port Stephens Coaches run buses connecting Port Stephens with Newcastle that stop at Newcastle Airport, Anna Bay and Nelson Bay. They also operate express buses to Sydney.