Whether you are looking to catch the perfect wave or just want to go for a relaxing beach walk, the North Coast of New South Wales has something for everyone.
Catch a wave at an iconic surfing beach
If you only paddle out at one spot in the far North Coast beach town of Byron Bay, make it The Pass. This renowned point break is a right-hander perfect for longboarding — when conditions are optimal, you can enjoy a half-kilometre-long ride. If you're new to surfing, sign up for a lesson with the likes of Lets Go Surfing Byron Bay, Mojosurf or Black Dog Surfing. If the line-up at The Pass is a little busy for you, try Angourie Beach, 90 minutes' drive south of Byron, which also has an excellent right-hand point break.
Unwind on a relaxing beach walk
When only a long, peaceful beach walk will do, the unspoiled, uncrowded beaches of the Tweed Coast at the northern tip of NSW have you covered. Bliss out to the soundtrack of waves lapping at the shoreline as you stroll the 11km stretch of sand connecting Kingscliff Beach to Cabarita Beach to the south. At the southern end of Cabarita Beach lies Norries Head where you can enjoy views back along the beach before heading down to pretty Norries Cove for a refreshing swim.
Soak up incredible scenery
The small town of Red Rock, 30 minutes' drive north of Coffs Harbour, was named for the 300 million-year-old hunk of jasper – a form of red quartz – that forms a dramatic headland bookending two lovely beaches. Head to tiny Little Beach on the northern side to splash in rockpool at the mouth of the Corindi River, or enjoy the long, wild stretch of sand known as Red Rock Beach to the south, marvelling at the beautifully coloured rock formation is between.
Refuel with a beach picnic
Pretty Shelly Beach in Port Macquarie is surrounded by rainforest, with shady spots, picnic tables and barbecues making it a perfect spot for a leisurely beach picnic. Just be sure to keep your lunch out of reach of the brush turkeys and goannas that are regularly spotted here while you have a splash in the beach's natural tidal lagoon.
Make memories with the family
One Mile Beach at Forster, halfway between Newcastle and Port Macquarie, has long been a popular holiday destination for families. The calm, lifeguard-patrolled waters make it a great place to take the kids for a paddle and little ones will love the playground in the park that borders the beach. If you're feeling adventurous, take a walk up to Bennett's Head, at the northern end of the beach, where a lookout offers 360-degree views of the area. You can also make use of the park's barbecue and picnic facilities.
Discover an iconic point break
The relaxed mid-North Coast town of Crescent Head is best known among surfers for its epic point break, but you don't need to be a pro to hit the waves in this National Surfing Reserve, one of 24 declared around the country. The calm waters in the bay here are great for beginners, and if you want a hand catching your first wave, book a lesson with On Point Surf School.
Get off the beaten track
The tiny fishing town of Seal Rocks, 90 minutes' drive north of Newcastle, is surrounded by Myall Lakes National Park, giving it a glorious sense of isolation. Named for the Australian fur seals that can sometimes be seen hanging out on the rocks offshore (particularly during the summer months), Seal Rocks is home to a clutch of idyllic beaches (try Number One Beach for swimming and Blueys Beach for surfing), and several notable dive spots.
Bring your pooch
Four-legged beachgoers are welcome to run free at Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head, a low-key coastal town just 20 minutes' drive south of Byron Bay. The dog-friendly section of the beach runs north from Lake Ainsworth and is clearly signposted, so you'll know when your pooch needs to go back on the leash. At the southern end of the beach, surfers will find a right-hand point break.
Source: Destination NSW