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Travel Guide: Best things to do with kids in Port Stephens

Explore rock pools
Explore rock pools

Want to know the best things to do with kids in Port Stephens? With stunning natural beaches and bushland, a plethora of fun activities to do with kids of all ages, and just a two hour drive from the North Shore, it’s no surprise that Port Stephens is a popular destination for a weekend away or holiday escape for many North Shore families. We’ve compiled our list of fab things to do with kids in Port Stephens, so get out there and have some fun!

Animal Encounters around Port Stephens

Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters

If you’re looking for things to do with kids in Port Stephens that involves animals, then a visit to the Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters centre is a ‘must do’. Here, you get the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with sting rays, rays and sharks! Each tour lasts about one hour, and you’re taken into various pools by your knowledgeable (and friendly!) guide to touch and feed the sea creatures. You can choose to either get into the pools (if so, pack swimmers and a towel, and you’ll be provided with a wet suit), or you can watch from the side of the pool. Although it can be a little scary at first, we were assured that in their whole time of operation, nobody has EVER been stung by a sting ray. They love humans, and love being touched and fed by us. We highly recommend!
  • Location: 2 Jessie Road, Anna Bay
  • Price: Entry & Shallows Encounter – Child (4-16 years) $22 | Adult $38 | Family (2 adults, 2 kids) $115. More.
  • Open: 9am – 5pm every day (except Christmas Day)
  • Website: sharkencounters.com.au

Oakvale Farm & Fauna World

Set on 25 acres, Oakvale Farm & Fauna World has an endless menagerie of Australian native, domestic farm and exotic animals such as koalas, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, goats, sheep, rabbits, alligators and ostriches. They have different shows throughout the day, animal feeding, a playground and tractor rides too. Hours of fun!

  • Where: 3 Oakvale Drive, Salt Ash
  • Price: Child $17.50, Adult $29.50, Family (2 adults, 2 kids) $84
  • Open: 10am – 5pm every day (except Christmas Day & Anzac Day)
  • Website: oakvalefarm.com.au

Ride a camel

Oakfield Ranch run Camel Rides, which depart from Birubi Point, the northernmost point of the 32 kilometres of Stockton Beach, the largest moving coastal sand mass in the southern hemisphere. You can book either a standard 20-minute camel ride or an hour-long sunset ride. A NSM says, ‘It was a great adventurous fun day. It feels like you’re in the Egypt riding the camels’.

  • Where: Birubi Point Public Carpark, Anna Bay, Port Stephens
  • Price: $35 Adults | $30 Children (20 minute ride)
  • Open: Weekends, Public Holidays & NSW School Holidays
  • Website: www.oakfieldranch.com.au

Koala Sanctuary

Port Stephens Council in partnership with Port Stephens Koalas has created a Koala Sanctuary to ensure first-class care to sick, injured and orphaned koalas. Now opened daily, the Koala Sanctuary offers visitors a unique opportunity to see koalas in their natural habitat. A visit to the Sanctuary also supports their long-term rehabilitation, preservation and conservation in the wild. 

  • Where: 562 Gan Gan Rd, One Mile
  • Price: $25 Adults | $14 Children (4-13 years)
  • Open: Daily, 9am – 5pm. Last entry 3.30pm.
  • Website: portstephenskoalasanctuary.com.au

Dolphin & Whale Watching

You can book a Dolphin Watching Cruise at any time throughout the year (most guarantee a 99% sighting success rate), whilst Humpback Whales can only be seen between May through November each year. Book either a morning or afternoon cruise!

Otherwise, head to a vantage point to see them from land. Boat Harbour is an excellent spot, or the Barry Park whale-watching platform, at the southern end of lovely Fingal Bay Beach.

Another option it to combine it with a ferry trip (1 hour each way) from Nelson Bay to Tea Gardens, with a spot of lunch and exploring in between. There’s a good chance you’ll see dolphins!

Family Fun in Port Stephens

Toboggan Hill Park

Toboggan Hill Park is set amongst natural bush just off Salamander Way at Nelson Bay. It’s suitable for all the family as each toboggan is equipped with brakes so that you control the speed of descent, slow to thrilling! There’s a maze, tractor rides and a luge (which an adult can ride with little kids). If it’s raining, head indoors and try hot ice skating (on a synthetic rink), indoor rock climbing, jumping castle, plaster model painting and kiddie karz.

  • Where: 16 Aquatic Close, Nelson Bay
  • Price: Nippers Pass (4-7 years) = $20/4 activities| 8+ years old $27/4 activities, $39/6 activities, $42/7 activities
  • Open: 9am – 5pm every day (except Christmas Day)
  • Website: tobogganhillpark.com

Fighter World 

Fighter World is dedicated to preserving the proud history of fighter aircraft operations in the Royal Australian Air Force.

Fighter World is a totally ‘hands on’ experience. Exhibited in two hangars, visitors can walk-around, touch and look into the cockpits of such famous aircraft as the Mirage III, the Avon Sabre, the Gloster Meteor, the first Vampire jet built in Australia and new in 2013 the mighty F-111. There is a Russian designed MiG-21 jet fighter, Hawker Hunter, WWII Spitfire replica, a Messerschmitt replica and much more. Fighter World also offers the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a Mirage interceptor and Macchi jet trainer and experience first-hand what it’s like to be one of Australia’s ‘Top Gun’ pilots in today’s hi-tech world.

  • Where: 49 Medowie Road, 2318 Williamtown
  • Price: Adult $18 | Child (5-17) $10 | Family (2 Adults + Kids under 18) $40
  • Open: 10am – 5pm every day (except Christmas Day)
  • Website: fighterworld.com.au

Tomaree Aquatic Centre

If you’re looking for things to do with kids in Port Stephens on a hot summer’s day, The Tomaree Aquatic Centre is a great option when you’re all beached out and in need of some poolside action and a few thrills. It features a shaded heated kids pool, shaded wading pool, spiral waterslide, large open lawned areas, free BBQ’s, volleyball greens, a 50m outdoor heated pool (with up to 8 swimming lanes) and a kiosk.

  • Where: 3 Aquatic Close, Nelson Bay
  • Price: Single Entry $5.80, Under 3 free
  • Open: 9am – 5pm every day (except Christmas Day)
  • Website: tomareeac.com.au

Go bike riding!

Bike riding Port Stephens

Port Stephens is great for bike riding, offering amazing views and very little traffic. From Salamander Bay right through to Fingal Bay… with some spectacular water views as you pass from Bagnalls Beach to Dutchies Beach to Nelson Bay, some shaded riding through bush, reserves and plenty of parks, playgrounds and cafes along the way. If you can’t fit your own bikes in the car, you can hire them from Shoal Bay Bike Hire or Nelson Bay Bike Hire.

Tomaree Head Summit Walk

Take a the walk along Tomaree Head Summit walk, absorbing views of Port Stephens and the north coast. When you reach the summit, enjoy a relaxing lunch on the bench by the lookout. As you hike the track, you’ll enjoy unparalleled views of idyllic Port Stephens and its coastline. From the top, you can even see as far as Cabbage Tree and Boondelbah islands – these nature reserves are the world’s only nesting sites for the endangered Gould’s petrel. It’s about 2.2 km return, so allow 1.5 hours to do it at a steady pace with kids.

Just go slow with the kiddies. You won’t regret it‘ – Kate.

Family-Friendly Beaches

One Mile Beach

There are so many beautiful beaches to explore around Port Stephens! Here are some of our favourites to visit with kids:

  • One Mile Beach – beautiful beach with lots of sand dunes to explore
  • Fingal Bay  – great beach, really long paved path along the beach good for bikes and scooters, cafe and playground.
  • Dutchmans Beach – ‘Duchies Beach is lovely. Playground down one end, toilets up the other. Good for little kids.’
  • Little Beach (Nelson Bay) – ‘is lovely for littlies for a paddle’
  • Zenith Beach – ‘breathtaking’
  • Birubi Beach – visit the Linden Browne Rock pools at low tide at the north end of Birubi Beach

Child-friendly Dining

Soldiers Point Bowling Club

Wondering where to eat with kids? Here are just a few fabulous child-friendly options, as suggested by North Shore Mums:

  • Soldiers Point Bowling Club – serves classic pub food in a family-friendly setting. Kids can run around on the grass or play on the shaded outdoor playground.
  • Gianni’s (Shoal Bay) – Pizza & Pasta
  • Inner Light Tea Rooms (Little Beach, Nelson Bay) – Amazing views. Devonshire tea. Pancakes etc.
  • Little Nel Cafe (Nelson Bay) – ‘Fabulous and usually busy’, ‘The food is amazing!’
  • Crest (Birubi Beach) – cafe with spectacular views of the sand dunes, camel riding and even whale spotting!
  • Murray’s Brewery (Bob’s Farm) – ‘Fab! Very relaxing atmosphere. There is a shady outdoor grassy area for kids’
  • Red Neds Gourmet Pies (Nelson Bay)

Best Parks & Playgrounds in Port Stephens

Kids need to climb, swing and slide? Visit one of these fabulous playgrounds, as recommended by other North Shore Mums:

  • Nelson Bay D’albora Marina
  • The Anchorage (near Corlette) – a Pirate Ship playground
  • Fingal Beach – fabulous playground with flying fox, paved track along the beach for bike riding and scooter and cafe.
  • Dutchies Beach

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