With the dollar diving and coronavirus spreading globally, now is the ideal time for a holiday close to home, travel editor Winsor Dobbin reports.
Right now, drought and fire-affected regions of New South Wales need help getting back on their feet, making this the perfect time to plan a regional getaway. Avoid airports, stay clear of the crowds and enjoy some of the best beaches in the world on the NSWs north coast.
Here are 10 of the best destinations as suggested by Destination NSW.
Best for surfers: The Pass, Byron Bay
This renowned stretch of water, set between Wategos and Clarkes Beaches, is one of the most popular surf destinations in Australia. The long, clear waves are ideal for longboarding and when the swell is up, you can grab a half-kilometre-long ride. If you’re new to surfing, get a lesson with Let’s Go Surfing Byron.
Best for coastal walks: Cabarita Beach
The 11-kilometre coastal walk up to Cabarita Beach is a particularly distinctive stretch of the Tweed Coast. Start at Kingscliff Beach then stroll on the sand southwards for around 2.5 hours. Once you arrive at Norries Head, at the northern end of Cabarita Beach, relax on golden-white sand fringed by tropical greenery.
Best for a tropical experience: Shelly Beach, Port Macquarie
The white sandy shores of Shelly Beach in Port Macquarie are surrounded by rainforest, making this the perfect place to enjoy NSW’s tropical side. Splash in the natural tidal lagoon keeping an eye out for the bush turkeys and goannas that are regularly spotted here. Shady spots, picnic tables and barbecue facilities allow you to set up for the day.
Best for incredible scenery: Red Rocks Beach
A headland made up of 300 million-year-old jasper – a form of red quartz – is what gave Red Rocks Beach near Coffs Harbour its name. Come here to splash in the water, explore the many rock pools and enjoy the unusual, brightly coloured rock formations.
Best for a fun atmosphere: Main Beach, Byron Bay
You can choose from more than 10 beaches in Byron Bay but for a buzzing atmosphere, head to Main Beach. Byron’s busiest strip of sand ticks plenty of boxes: it’s set conveniently by the town centre, has smaller waves suited to swimming and you can make use of facilities like playgrounds and picnic tables. Meet local dolphins on a kayak tour, which run seven days a week.
Best for families: One Mile Beach, Forster
One Mile Beach, halfway between Newcastle and Port Macquarie, has long been a popular holiday destination for family groups. The calm, lifeguard-patrolled waters make it a great place to take the kids for a splash, 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 shore, where a lookout offers 360-degree views of the area. You can also make use of the park’s barbeque and picnic facilities.
Best for getting off the beaten track: Seal Rocks
Just 150 people call Seal Rocks home. This tiny fishing town, set 90 minutes north of Newcastle, is found by turning down a dirt road off Lakes Way. Make the effort to get here and you’ll be rewarded by a dive spot, near-empty stretches of sand and waves big enough to surf. True to its name, during summer you can also see Australian fur seals lying on the rocks offshore.
Best for beginner surfers: Crescent Head
The home of annual longboarding competition the Malibu Classic, but you don’t have to be a pro to hit the water here. This mid-North Coast beach, one of Australia’s 21 declared National Surfing Reserves, has breaks that draw surfers at all skill levels. The calm waters in the bay here are great for beginners and if you want a hand catching your first wave, there’s plenty of surf schools in the region.
Best for dogs: Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head
Four-legged friends are welcome to run free at Seven Mile Beach in Lennox Head, which has retained its sleepy atmosphere despite being close to the tourism magnet 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.
Best for a barbecue: Wategos Beach, Byron Bay
If you’re looking to make a day of it, this Byron Bay hangout is a great place to settle in. Barbecue facilities and picnic tables make it suited to a relaxed lunch, while the headland protects the waters and creates calmer swimming conditions. Get lucky and you could even spot one of the bottlenose dolphins that like to frolic in the waves here.