Things to do in Nelson Bay

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What to do in Nelson Bay 

The stunning coastal town of Nelson Bay is a great base for exploring the best experiences Port Stephens has to offer and is well known for its incredible whale watching and dolphin cruises.  

You’ll find fun things to do here for all ages, making it a popular short break, daytrip and holiday destination from Sydney, as well as for visitors from around the state, across the nation and beyond!  

Nelson Bay is perfectly located to take advantage of Port Stephens’ famous Stockton Sand Dunes in the Worimi Conservation Lands. These stretch across an area of 32 kilometres (from Birubi Beach to Newcastle) and can reach around 40 metres in height, offering great views across the local area! 

Quad biking  

One of the best ways to explore Stockton Sand Dunes is on a quad bike tour. Riding up and down the largest moving coastal dunes in the southern hemisphere is sure to get your heart racing. Quad bikes are easy to use and expert guides are on hand to share interesting information about this unique area’s history.  

Whale watching  

Get out on to the water and enjoy an experience that might just stick with you for a lifetime. Whale watching is undoubtedly one the best things to do in Nelson Bay, with thousands of majestic humpbacks passing along this coastline on their annual migration. Tours run from May to November.  

Dolphin cruises and swim with dolphins 

More than 100 dolphins live in the waters here, so it’s a great place to see these stunning creatures in their natural habitat. One of the best ways to see them is by jumping on one of the dolphin cruises that run from Nelson Bay marina. You can make it even more memorable by hopping on a swim with dolphins tour. 

Sandboarding and 4WD tour 

Take a ride in a 4WD bus across this challenging terrain to the heart of the dunes – the perfect location for sandboarding. After some quick instruction you’ll be given a board to take on the dunes! Try it sitting down or standing up and feel the rush of speeding down mountainous dunes. A great activity the whole family can enjoy. 

Helicopter ride 

For the best views of Port Stephens and beyond you can’t beat a helicopter flight. The coastline here is incredible and these scenic flights will take you soaring high with bird’s eye views of Mount Tomaree National Park, Fingal Lighthouse, Hawks Nest, Anna Bay and more. Look out for the sand dunes, Tin City and the remains of a shipwreck, plus there’s always a chance of seeing dolphins, whales and other marine life from above.  

Shark feeding 

Get up close and personal with sharks and sting rays at the ever-popular Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters, Port Stephens. This great family-friendly attraction is a great day out, giving you chance to pet and feed sting rays and sharks and check out all the amazing marine life in the aquarium. 

Where is Nelson Bay? 

Nelson Bay is the largest town in the Port Stephens area of New South Wales. It’s around 60 kilometres north of Newcastle and 220 kilometres north of Sydney.  

Getting from Sydney to Nelson Bay 

The journey from Sydney to Nelson Bay takes around two hours 30 minutes by road. Those travelling by public transport can take a train to Newcastle and change there for buses to the Port Stephens region.