Nestled against Tomaree National Park is this haven of stunning beaches and coastline where dolphins are a regular sighting and humpback whales pass by.

Australia’s natural beauty is right on your doorstep in Nelson Bay, where you can hike to lookout points with spectacular views, cycle along the coastline, sail in waters home to dolphins and dive in coral reefs. Just a few hours’ drive from Sydney, this little coastal town is the perfect place to relax and enjoy lazing on the sand or surfing at one of the many beaches.

Some of the best spots for diving are at the nearby marine reserve Fly Point and Broughton Island. At Fly Point, look for the exotic pineapple and angel fish that live among the colourful coral. Adventurous fisherman can take a game fishing charter in the deeper waters to catch tuna, marlin and swordfish.

You can spot dolphins from the beach at Nelson Bay. Get out on the water for an unforgettable close-up view. In the cooler seasons you can also see majestic humpback whales. Some whale-watching tours visit the Stockton Bight Sand Dunes in the Worimi Conservation Lands, where you can sandboard down dunes as high as 40 metres (130 feet), and visit aboriginal shell middens, burial areas and camping grounds that predate European settlement.

Spend a day exploring Tomaree National Park, which surrounds Nelson Bay. Hike up Tomaree Head Summit for incredible views over the water and forested headlands. Explore World War II gun emplacements on the Fort Tomaree walk. At low tide you may have access to Fingal Island, where you can walk along the beach to the ruins of the 19th-century cottage of the Point Stephens lighthouse keeper. The lighthouse itself, built in 1862, is still standing and active.

After an adventurous day outdoors, relax with a glass of local wine and a dinner of freshly caught seafood in one of Nelson Bay or Port Stephens’ restaurants that have an oceanfront view.

Bicycle paths are everywhere in Nelson Bay. Rent a bike to explore the area. Alternatively, buy a Bay Explorer Ticket to get unlimited use of the local bus service.

Top hotels in Nelson Bay

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Oaks Lure
Oaks Lure
4 out of 5
20 Tomaree Street, Nelson Bay, NSW
AU$125
per night
17 Nov. - 18 Nov.

Located in the heart of Nelson Bay, this apartment building is within 1 mile (2 km) of d'Albora Marinas Nelson Bay, Dutchies Beach and Tomaree National Park. ...

4.1/5Very Good! (817 reviews)

"Great proximity to the local shops and cafes as well as the local marina."…"

Reviewed on 25 Aug. 2019

Oaks Lure
The Landmark Resort Nelson Bay
The Landmark Resort Nelson Bay
4 out of 5
Dowling Street, Nelson Bay, NSW
AU$162
per night
10 Dec. - 11 Dec.

Situated in Nelson Bay, this golf hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of d'Albora Marinas Nelson Bay and Fly Point Marine Reserve. Gan Gan Hill Lookout and Nelson Head ...

4.1/5Very Good! (871 reviews)

"Very nice place, accessible to everything. Easy instructions for late check ins.. Place is clean, very nice."…"

Reviewed on 20 Oct. 2019

The Landmark Resort Nelson Bay
Hotel Nelson
Hotel Nelson
4 out of 5
1 Government Road, Nelson Bay, NSW
AU$142
per night
21 Nov. - 22 Nov.

Located in the heart of Nelson Bay, this motel is within a 15-minute walk of d'Albora Marinas Nelson Bay, Nelson Bay Golf Club and Dutchies Beach. Tomaree National ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (1,061 reviews)

"Highlights of this property were the incredible staff, location and super comfy beds! The location was an excellence spot to walk to the marina and along the beach, there were loads of cafes and restaurants really close by, including the Little Nel cafe at the hotel which was incredible for breakfast. ..."…"

Reviewed on 4 Nov. 2019

Hotel Nelson

Top activities in Nelson Bay

Port Stephens Dolphin Watching Tour
Image for Port Stephens Dolphin Watching Tour

Port Stephens Dolphin Watching Tour

AU$169

One of our awesome guides will pick you up early morning and soon you'll find yourself going over the Sydney Harbour Bridge towards the mid north coast of New South Wales.

Dolphin Watch Cruise
Image for Dolphin Watch Cruise

Dolphin Watch Cruise

AU$25

Take a cruise around magnificent Port Stephens Harbour on the biggest boat in the bay. Keep an eye out for the resident Bottlenose Dolphins as you head out on the water. Take in the sights of Tomaree and Yacaaba Headlands, Shoal Bay, Nelson Bay and the Northern Harbour.

Wild Dolphin Swimming Experience in Port Stephens
Image for Wild Dolphin Swimming Experience in Port Stephens

Wild Dolphin Swimming Experience in Port Stephens

AU$70

Join our fun and caring team for this bucket list experience - the only permitted wild dolphin swim in NSW - in the bluewater wonderland of Port Stephens! Meet us bright and early to get fitted with your wetsuit, mask and snorkel before we head offshore and into the sunrise (weather permitting) on a 52' ocean-going catamaran.

Port Stephens Whale-Watching Tour
Image for Port Stephens Whale-Watching Tour

Port Stephens Whale-Watching Tour

AU$199

From June to October every year more than 5,000 extraordinary humpback whales migrate along the southeast coast of Australia. Witness this magnificent migration as you crusie out to the Tasman Sea to get close to these majestic creatures.

Whale Watching Cruise
Image for Whale Watching Cruise

Whale Watching Cruise

AU$65

Port Stephens enjoys an excellent whale season and Moonshadow - TQC Cruises offer two great Whale Watching Cruise options lasting 2.5 to 3 hours. Departing from mid May to early November from Nelson Bay, Port Stephens.

Observer
Image for Observer

Observer

AU$70

One of the best dolphin watch tours you'll ever do! Join Dolphin Swim Australia for a thrilling morning of adventure as we head offshore to take guests swimming with wild dolphins! This is a unique tour where you not only get to see beautiful oceanic

Reviews of Nelson Bay

4.6

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
206
5 - Excellent 65.18987341772151%
4 - Good
97
4 - Good 30.696202531645568%
3 - Okay
10
3 - Okay 3.1645569620253164%
2 - Disappointing
2
2 - Disappointing 0.6329113924050633%
1 - Terrible
1
1 - Terrible 0.31645569620253167%

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

31 Oct. 2019

Friendly city, cafes open early for a quick breakfast

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

25 Oct. 2019

Just a short drive from Sydney and a great place to visit for a quick retreat

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

16 Sep. 2019

Would highly recommend going on Whale/dolphin cruise or Twlight Dinner Cruise with Moonshadow Cruises. Also would highly recommend Sandpipers Resturant.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

15 Sep. 2019

Easy to navigate & walk around. Busses very accessible, Clubs close by for lovely meals. Purpose of trip was Lawn Bowls, host Club very friendly.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

5 Sep. 2019

Dining everywhere we went was great. Whale watching was awesome and the sunset cruise we will always remember. Great spot for a break away

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

12 Aug. 2019

Great whale watching location .