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Is Port Macquarie, New South Wales worth visiting?

Sweeping views of sandy beaches. crashing waves and thick forest along Port Macquarie's coastal walk

Port Macquarie coastal walk

Halfway up the east coast of New South Wales in Australia sits the quiet coastal town of Port Macquarie. You may not have heard of this pretty town, but it is definitely worth a visit and it's location between Sydney and Brisbane makes it the perfect stop on your Australian east coast road trip.

If you're starting your Australian tour in Sydney, check out my 4 day Sydney itinerary to help plan your trip.

Port Macquarie is a quiet town, but its a great place to enjoy some downtime and fresh air and in my opinion, it is definitely worth stopping here for a visit. Here's my recommendations for some of the best things to see and do in Port Macquarie.

7 Reasons why Port Macquarie, in New South Wales, is worth visiting

1. Walk the Port Macquarie coastal path

Australia's east coast has some beautiful coastal walks and one of my favourite coastal walks is in Port Macquarie. (Another one of my favourites is the Bondi - Coogee coastal path in Sydney)

The Port Macquarie coastal walk is 9km (one way) and is one of the top things you can do in Port Macquarie, and is definitely the best free thing to do!

The best starting point is at Port Macquarie Marina, by the town green foreshore. From here, the walk winds along the coast via Town beach, Rocky beach lookout, Flynns beach, Nobbys beach and Harry’s lookout overlooking Shelly beach. The path continues to Sea Acres Forest and ends at Tacking point lighthouse.

The view from a section of the Port Macquarie coastal path in New South Wales overlooks just one of the sandy beaches.

Walking the Port Macquarie coastal path is one of the best things to do in Port Macquarie

2. Head to one of Port Macquarie's many beautiful beaches

New South Wales is blessed with gorgeous beaches and Port Macquarie is no exception

Visiting the beach in Port Macquarie is one of the best things to do and there are 17 beaches to choose from, so you’re bound to find the one for you! Here's just 4 of the beautiful beaches which you can access via the Port Macquarie coastal path.

Flynns beach is nestled between two rocky headlands and therefore is great for those who are learning to surf. Because it’s slightly shielded from the wind, it’s a great beach to soak up the sun and has a small cafe for snacks throughout the day! (If you enjoy surfing, check out some of the stunning beaches in Newcastle, just south of Port Macquarie)

Town beach is great if you don’t want to venture too far away from the convenience of the town. It also has picnic benches and a cafe.

Shelley beach is more rugged, accessed from the Port Macquarie coastal trail and is surrounded by rainforest. Shelley beach is a quieter beach with less families, so perfect if you're looking for somewhere to relax.

Lighthouse beach, although further out, is popular in the summer due to its protection from the winds and it’s white sands.

Sweeping views across the sandy Shelley beach in Port Macquarie, NSW

Shelley Beach in Port Macquarie is perfect for those who want a little bit of peace and quiet

3. Take a stroll along Port Macquarie's Town beach breakwall

If the 9km of the coastal walk is too much for you, or you;re short on time, then take a stroll along the town beach breakwall.

The breakwall is one of Port Macquarie's most popular spots. The pretty path follows the sea and is lined with colourful rocks which have been painted with messages, memories and tributes from previous visitors. There is also a play park, BBQ facilities and picnic area here.

4. Camp overnight at Port Macquarie beach campground

The best way to see all the great things to do in Port Macquarie is to stay overnight. There are many hotels, hostels and campgrounds in Port Macquarie, but the best spot in town is the breakwall campground. Here you are right on the front of the Port Macquarie breakwall, at the start of the Port Macquarie coastal walk and next to the Town beach and park. You couldn't get a better location to spend the night!

There are cabins you can rent out, but if you have your own tent or campervan, then you can hire a pitch for the night.

Town beach in Port Macquarie has several picnic areas on the grassy mound which sits behind the beach and convenient parking.

Town Beach in Port Macquarie is a popular spot

5. Visit Port Macquarie's Koala Hospital

The Port Macquarie Koala hospital is one of the most popular attractions in the town. It is open to the public and although there is no charge to visit, they rely on donations to continue looking after the koala’s. In the hospital, volunteers care for a mixture of injured and orphaned koala's, most of which are rehabilitated in order to be released back into the wild. There are a small handful of koala's who have health conditions which sadly mean that they can no longer survive in the wild, so they live permanently at the centre.

There’s also a free guided tour at 3pm each day, where the volunteers will tell you more about the hospital and also the current patients. It was great to hear how the koala’s are cared for so they can be released back into the wild.

An older, blind resident at the Koala Hospital (L) and a young orphaned koala who will be released into the wild (R)

6. Have fun at Port Macquarie's Bago Maze and winery

With over 2000m of pathways, the Bago Maze is one of the largest in the world – try not to get lost!

The cellar door overlooks the maze and vineyards, so is the perfect spot for a glass of wine, or a coffee with a meat and cheese platter.

The manicured gardens and hedged paths of Bago maze in Port Macquarie

Bago Maze

7. Go on a whale watching tour

From May – November, thousands of whales migrate along the coast and a boat trip is the best way to spot them. Unfortunately it was out of season when I visited, so I didn’t have the opportunity to do this. If you’ve not got great sea legs, apparently you can get glimpses of them from the coastal walk and from Tacking Point Lighthouse.

The fin of a whale breaks the surface of the sea from a whale watching boat in Port Macquarie

Whale watching in Port Macquarie is a must between the months of May - November

How to get to Port Macquarie?

I would recommend getting your own car or campervan for the best way to explore Port Macquarie and Australia's surrounding east coast. This will give you the flexibility to travel out of town easily and to your own schedule.

If hiring your own vehicle is not an option for you, you can catch the Greyhound bus, which runs along Australia's east coast, from Sydney to Brisbane. Just be warned that there’s only one bus in and out of Port Macquarie, which unfortunately is at 1.30am! It also gets booked up in advance, so you will need to plan ahead to secure your seat.

How many days should you spend in Port Macquarie?

Many people just visit Port Macquarie for the day and it is a great place for a day trip, or to spend a few hours, especially if you're travelling along the east coast of Australia. If you can, I would recommend stopping here overnight, that way you have time to walk the full length of Port Macquarie's beautiful coastal path and stay for a few hours at some of the beaches.

What is there to do at night in Port Macquarie?

The evening's in Port Macquarie are quiet, but there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. For couples, a moonlit stroll along the town breakwall is a great way to spend the evening.

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All links on this website are my own recommendations or sites I found useful when planning and are not affiliated. I do not receive any commission from including these links within this blog.

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