The Hunter Coast & Port Stephens areas of New South Wales are not exactly secret spots to Australians, but they rarely get the rave overseas reviews they deserve. This is probably because they are not as glamorous or developed as some other coastal areas. What these regions lack in development, though, they more than make up for in hospitality, outdoor activities and natural beauty. Once you have taken the time to visit the beautiful Hunter Coast and Port Stephens area, it will be on your list of favourite NSW vacation spots forever.
Port Stephens has a European heritage that extends back to the 18th century and, like the rest of Australia, an indigenous history that goes back 20,000 years or more. The first European to spot the entrance to Port Stephens was Captain Cook, who first cited its location on May 11, 1770 and named it after the then Secretary of the British Admiralty. It wasn’t until 1791, though, that a ship entered the waters of Port Stephens. By the early 1800s, Port Stephens had become an important shipping centre for the Australian timber industry and stopping point for the whalers who sailed up and down the coast from Sydney to the North Coast of NSW.
Today, a different type of whaling vessel has become one of the major attractions of the Port Stephens area. Between the months of May and June and again between September and November, great humpback whales make their yearly migrations south and north. Port Stephens is home to so many dolphins; it is often called the "Dolphin Capital of Australia." During the whale migration months, dolphin watchers get a double thrill when they come across migrating humpbacks. Since 2005, all of the Hunter Coast & Port Stephens area has been declared a protected Marine Park. This includes the Karuah and Myall Rivers and all other tide-affected waterways throughout the Hunter Coast from Stockton Beach in Newcastle to Forster.
The Hunter Coast is a water sports lover’s paradise. The beaches along the Tasman Sea in this region are ideal for surfers. While some of them are sheltered and perfect for learners and families with children, others are more exposed to the open sea and become havens for more experienced surfers when the big southerlies roll in throughout the winter months. Jet skiers, water skiers, kite surfers and water sports lovers of all persuasions find the Great Lakes region of the Hunter Coast, with its extensive inland waterways, has more than enough to offer them a lifetime of adventure.
The Hunter Coast & Port Stephens area is so extensive and has so much to offer, you can’t possibly even get a taste of it in just a day. Fortunately, you can find a Port Stephens accommodation to suit any budget or preference. Imagine being invited into a sumptuous home and being treated to a gourmet breakfast every morning. This is easily accomplished in a Nelson Bay or Port Stephens Bed & Breakfast. If sleeping under the stars within the sound of the crashing waves is more to your liking, you’ll find plenty of campgrounds dotted throughout the region. Put an "X" on the map at Port Stephens and the Hunter Coast next time you’re traveling north from Sydney or Newcastle. You won’t need to travel any further.