A weekend trip to Nelson Bay and Port Stephens

The state of New South Wales (NSW) is so blessed. It has everything, ranging from the spectacular coast line to the Outback. Port Stephens and Nelson Bay are another two interesting places in NSW that are totally worth visiting. I have been to both these places many a times, with friends, solo travel, road trips, bus tours and via public transport.

For fun big things to see on the way, read 11 big things to see in NSW.

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About Port Stephens & Nelson Bay

Port Stephens

Known for its beautiful beaches, sand dunes and spectacular coastal line, Port Stephens is in the Hunter region of New South Wales (NSW).

Nelson Bay

Nelson Bay is a beautiful town in the Hunter Region of New South Wales (NSW). Both the township and the bay are with the same name as Nelson Bay.

Nelson Bay

How to get to Port Stephens?

Road trip from Sydney

Nelson Bay is about 155 kilometres and Port Stephens is around 150 kilometres from Sydney Central Business District (CBD). Port Stephens is just 5 kilometres from Nelsons Bay. A road trip from Sydney covers both these places. The road trip to these places are a relaxed and easy 2.5 hours of drive from Sydney.

Public transportation

Port Stephens is accessible via public transport. There are trains between Central in Sydney and Hamilton train station. And then take a bus from Maitland Road to Sandy Point Road in Port Stephens. Up-to-date information can be found on the Transport for NSW.

One day bus tours from Sydney

There are one day bus tours that run between Port Stephens and Sydney. The tours take visitors around different places in Port Stephens and Nelson Bay. It also includes the dolphin cruises. The pick up and drop is from Sydney Central Business District (CBD). The first time I visited Port Stephens and Nelson Bay, I went on a bus tour with APT day tours.

Watch out for bus tour deals on Groupon website.

Things to do

Tomaree Head Summit Walk

Tomaree Head Summit walk provides breathtaking views of Port Stephens and the north coast. The summit is about 160 meters high. The views are spectacular and I can bet that each view is an amazing picture of its own. The Tomaree Head Summit walk has a paved track and has the World War II Gun emplacements that were built in the year 1941.

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A weekend trip to Nelson Bay and Port Stephens
Tomaree Head Summit Walk


  • Starting and finishing point: Zenith Beach car park.
  • Distance: 2.2 kilometres return.
  • Grade: Moderate (steep path).
  • Time taken: Approx. 2 hours.
  • There is no entry fee to do the hike.
A weekend trip to Nelson Bay and Port Stephens
Views on Nelson Bay

Unfortunately, there are no public transport from Nelson Bay to Zenith Beach car park. The drive to the car park from the city takes about 1 hour.

Gan Gan Hill lookout

The Gan Gan Hill lookout is the highest and accessible lookout in Nelson Bay. The lookout provides 360 degrees panoramic views of the bay.

  • There are plenty of parking spaces and the lookout is just a short few minutes walk from the parking.
  • There is no entry ticket.
Road trip to Nelson Bay and Port Stephens
Gan Gan Hill lookout

Fighter World museum

The Fighter World museum is an aviation museum dedicated to RAAF fighter aircraft. It is an awesome place to see the real fighter jet planes.

  • The museum is open between 10 AM and 4 PM everyday.
  • There is an entry ticket of AUD 16 per adult.
Fighter World Port Stephens
Fighter World museum

Scuba diving

There are plenty of pretty scuba diving sites in Nelson Bay. The marine life at these sites are abundant. There are turtles, jellyfishes, sharks, corals and many more. Unfortunately, I have not dived here till now but I do have it on my bucket list and would love to dive there someday.

Sand boarding

Port Stephens is famous for its sand dunes. And one can go for sand boarding on these sand dunes. The sand boarding is a lot of fun. The best time to go for sand boarding is when the days are cool and pleasant. Also, it is best to wear full pants and long sleeved shirt to protect the skin.

Sand Boarding at Port Stephens
Sand boarding

Quad biking

Another way to enjoy an adventure on sand dunes is to Quad bike. The adventure is usually around 1 hour 30 minutes. This can also be combined with a 4 wheel drive safari.

Nelson Bay Inner lighthouse

The Nelson Bay lighthouse, also known as Nelson Head Inner light, is a museum in a lighthouse keeper’s cottage. The keeper’s cottage was built in the 1800s.

  • The lighthouse is open between 8:30 AM and 3 PM everyday.
Nelson Bay Lighthouse
Nelson Bay Inner lighthouse

Dolphin cruises

As I mentioned, Port Stephens is awesome for coastal line and its pristine waters. And a cruise to go watch the dolphins is the most amazing thing to do when in Port Stephens.

Dolphins at Port Stephens
Dolphins in Nelson Bay

Fingal Bay Beach

Fingal Bay Beach is a white sand beach in Port Stephens. The beach is a surf beach which is patrolled. The waves are usually less than 0.5 metres in height.

Fingal Bay beach Nelson Bay
Fingal Bay Beach

Is it safe for solo female travelers?

Absolutely yes. Nelson Bay and Port Stephens are very safe for solo female travelers. I have been to both these places many times and I have never had any issue whatsoever. However, like any other place, be cautious and know your surroundings, especially at nights.

A weekend trip to Nelson Bay and Port Stephens
On the way to Tomaree Head Summit Walk

Closing Notes

As I mentioned, I have been to both Nelson Bay and Port Stephens many times and I have loved traveling to these places. They make a perfect weekend getaways. The road trip can easily be done over a day or weekend.

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PIN for later reference - A weekend trip to Nelson Bay and Port Stephens
PIN for later reference – A weekend trip to Nelson Bay and Port Stephens

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