Coffs Harbour: Coastal Charm & Natural Wonders

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by Hertz AU - 27 June 2018

Countless scenic beaches dotting the coastline, an abundance of wildlife, a World Heritage rainforest and the iconic ‘Big Banana’ – Coffs Harbour delivers the scenic goods in spades. A stunning subtropical climate and a diverse array of attractions makes Coffs Harbour the perfect stop-off on your East Coast road trip. 


With so much to explore along the coast and within the forests near Coffs, here are a few must-dos that will inspire your inner traveller:

The Big Banana
First built in 1964, a man named John Landi was looking for a way to stop a few customers at his roadside banana stand. He introduced the world’s largest banana to Coffs (and got more than just a few visitors to his stall). Bananas have been grown in the region since the 1880s. Now, there’s even a Big Banana Fun Park for the family to share with laser tag, ice skating, mini golf and more.

Solitary Islands Marine Park
Spanning 75km of coastline, this area is the third largest protected marine park in NSW. With more than 550 reef fish, 90 hard coral and 600 molluscs living within the park, spotting wildlife won’t be difficult. South Solitary is known for marine life such as turtles, large fish, and shelled animals while the northern estuaries are some of the most unspoiled pockets of the park. The Solitary Islands Aquarium is also open to the public on weekends for a glimpse into underwater habitats.

Forest Sky Pier
Perched at Sealy Lookout, the Forest Sky Pier boasts a top-notch view of Coffs Coast and the horizon. In Orara East State Forest, take a 10-minute drive through the banana plantations to see the surrounding coastal views. There are various walking tracks in the rainforest and picnic tables to enjoy with friends or family.

Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve
On the southern border of the Solitary Islands lies the Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve. Connected to Coffs Coast by the northern breakwater built in 1935, the island was originally known as Giidany Miirlarl (Place of the Moon) by the local Gumbaynggirr people. Embark on a few walking trails (moderate fitness level), go whale watching, or learn about the region’s rich Aboriginal culture.

North Coast Regional Botanic Garden
Lush rainforest, vibrant colours, flourishing greenhouses and stunning flora and fauna await in one of the eight subtropical gardens here. Take a deep breath of the fresh air and relax while absorbing the rejuvenating atmosphere.

Woolgoolga Art Gallery
Talented local artists contribute to the collections at this volunteer-run community gallery. Be inspired by original arts and crafts, including collections of paintings, jewellery, drawings, woodwork, photography, ceramics and more. 


Beachin’ It

Clean and uncrowded, the beaches in Coffs are calling. Scattered in between Sydney and Brisbane, the Coffs coastline is a gold mine for tranquil settings.

Sapphire Beach
Situated just north of town, this secluded slice of paradise offers stunning coastline views and public facilities that are perfect for family outings.

Emerald Beach
A 25-minute drive north takes you to a remote beach unknown to many tourists. Consider the beach busy if you spot a few beach-goers bathing along the shoreline. Bring your picnic blanket and a few snacks while you take in the scenic views.

Woolgoolga Beach
Around the corner from Emerald Beach is Woolgoolga. Known for its surfing, fishing, and whale watching, the beach stretches as far as the eye can see. Embark on a walking trail or relax on the dunes for a day well spent.

Jetty Beach
In the heart of Coffs visit Jetty Beach, close to the town marina. An ideal location for brekkie/lunch, the beach is a short walk from bustling cafes and restaurants. The beach itself is a calm, soothing location for friends and family, including a break wall making for serene swimming conditions.

Boambee Beach
South of Jetty Beach (near Corambirra Point’s Deep-Sea Fishing Club) is the popular Boambee Beach. This beach is a great spot for a morning job, jet-skiing, four-wheel driving on the beach, or letting your dog off the leash. An open shore setting for all.

Park Beach
This beach is known as one of the best spots for fishing and water sports. With striking coastal outlooks and charming sand dunes in tow, the area is ideal for camping, going for a walk, eating at a local restaurant by the sea or enjoying the local shops.

Diggers Beach
When you arrive at Diggers, you can almost guarantee there will be surfers dotting the shoreline. With an average of 1-1.5 metre swells, you’ll find some of the best waves around Coffs located here.

Sawtell Beach
Sawtell boasts one of the main surfing beaches and is safely patrolled by the Sawtell Surf Club. Great for swimming, fishing, and whale watching, you’ll also find places to grab a coffee, bite to eat, or indulge in a few boutique shops. The most exciting bit: at the south end of the beach, you’ll discover Sailors Bay. This area is protected by a small island that can only be reached at low tide. Adventure to the island to enjoy the tidal rock pools and embrace the ‘desert island’ feeling.

Red Rock Beach
Take a quick 30-minute drive north to the Red Rock Headland (part of the Solitary Islands Coastal Walk). The north and south parts of the beach boast stunning views and strong tides. Be mindful when swimming to stay on the wide low bar and tide shoals. While a bit more dangerous, the beach itself is an exquisite destination.

Moonee Beach
Voted the best beach near Coffs by just about everyone, absorb the fresh ocean breeze, relax in the tamed waves, and enjoy the finest views around. With a nearby estuary, caravan park, proper campsites, cabins and park facilities, stay the night to relish the clear blue waters and outdoor splendour – you may even see a wallaby or two.


Beyond the Harbour

Rainforests, National Parks, beaches, scenic drives. Make the most of your adventure on Coffs coast by exploring wilderness a bit further from the town’s centre.

Bellingen & Dorrigo
Just a 15-minute drive inland from the coast, the landscape reveals rolling hills and copious vegetation. Watch as the shoreline transforms into riverside abodes and secluded mountain retreats. A picturesque drive along Waterfall Way, a trip to Dorrigo National Park to view the rainforest from a bird’s eye view, or a canoeing quest in Bellingen take you on an adventure through the hillside.

Wonga Walk
Drive about one hour inland to the World Heritage listed rainforest of Dorrigo National Park. The 6.6km return walk (about 2-3 hours) is a proper trek into nature. Walk among 600-year old trees, vibrant colours of the rainforest, and an abundance of wildlife. Dorrigo National Park is also home to the Tristania and Crystal Falls.

Casuarina Falls Circuit
Hike along the ridgeline of the Dorrigo plateau in the Dorrigo National Park. This is for the more ambitious adventurer as the walk is challenging (grade 4 difficulty). Your fitness will be tested throughout the 4.8km loop which takes about 2 hours to complete. The view is worth the effort – the pinnacle of the hike opens up at the breathtaking Casuarina Falls and a sweeping panorama of the park.

Dangar Falls
If you’re a fan of waterfalls, Dangar Falls is the one to chase. Drive just 3km outside the town centre to uncover the stunning 30m waterfall. Nestled cosily within a bubble of charming farmland, unleash your inner photographer at the falls after devouring the picnic you brought along.

Dunggir National Park
Road trip 1.5 hours southwest to the Dunggir National Park. With gorgeous bushwalks, scenic driving routes, and 10 threatened animal species living within, this National Park is a peaceful destination less travelled. Drive to Bowra Sugarloaf Mountain to view the Kosekai Lookout. Explore the tall ridges of eucalypt woodland and, in contrast, the deep ravines densely inhabited by the rainforest.

Orara East State Forest
A collection of incredible rainforest hikes awaits, just a 25-minute drive outside of town. The Rainforest Loop Track, Bangalow Track, Midway Track, and Vincents Track vary in length, difficulty, and surroundings.

Another 25-minute drive from Orara East State Forest brings you to the Coramba Nature Reserve. Be sure to check out this hidden gem as it’s a preserved endangered area. The Rainforest Walk (Grade 4 trail) leads you down the Orara River a short 800m with an unrivalled rainforest environment.

Yarriabini National Park
This National Park sits one hour south of Coffs, boasting a plethora of climates and picturesque destinations. Make a day of this national park by car, bike or on foot. Drive through Way Creek Road to The Pines picnic area for a bewitching tropical setting. Don’t forget to visit the Yarriabini Lookout for a bird’s eye view of Macleay Valley and Trial Bay.

Misty Creek Lookout
Take your rental car and drive 3 hours west to Guy Fawkes River National Park. Misty Creek Lookout is for the adventurers looking for a remote location off the beaten path. Trek to the outlook (only 50m from Misty Creek Road) which isn’t far from the Chaelundi campground. Gaze upon the views over Guy Fawkes River Gorge and the ranges on the horizon.


All of the ‘Yum’

Take a stroll along the Jetty Strip near the bottom of Harbour Drive to discover the delicious collection of cafes, restaurants and good eats.

Traditional Italian delicacies, mouth-watering cuisine and a sophisticated setting – your Italian wine and food experience won’t be lacking. Italian born chef Stefano Mazzina uses produce from the best local businesses and herbs from the restaurant’s personal garden – guaranteed to make you feel connected to the Italian countryside.

Old John’s Café
A trendy space with the town’s best coffee and an array of healthy dishes. On Wednesdays, keep your evening free to see live music, sip on a cocktail and munch on some sliders. The retro décor and eclectic charm creates a laid-back atmosphere.

Stop off for a casual meal of the best Japanese in Coffs. Moderate prices, friendly service, delicious bento boxes and epic sushi bar; travellers and locals who pass through all rate this restaurant.

Emerald Beach Pizza & Pasta
If you venture towards Emerald Beach, this venue is known for their wood-fired pizzas. Voted Best Pizza on the coast, explore their lip-smacking menu, including gluten-free options.

Mana Chita
This Ethiopian restaurant in the heart of Coffs will make your taste buds dance. High-quality dishes, cultural flavours, Ethiopian décor and a relaxed atmosphere fuse together to create an excellent dining experience. Try some Ethiopian coffee to end your meal on a high note.

Fishermen’s Co-Op
Fish n’ chips for the hungry traveller. Enjoy your meal next to the fishing trawlers on the foreshore with a view of Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve. You can order fresh seafood for delivery and/or takeaway. It doesn’t get any fresher than this.

A buzzing café by day and restaurant by night, get your early morning (and drool-worthy) brekkie fix at this venue that serves locally sourced produce from home-grown businesses. Embrace a friendly, easy-going atmosphere while sipping on a cuppa (or cocktail).

Latitude 30
Indulge in a smart night out with a warm atmosphere; this proper seafood spot right on the Marina boasts stunning harbour, island, and ocean views. Treat yourself to their extensive menu of world-class dishes, including crayfish, crabs, prawns, oysters and more.

Element Bar
If you’re keen to be social in a vibrant space, Element Bar has a quirky, lively atmosphere. Craft beers on tap, edgy urban art, killer happy hour deals, an eclectic panache, and fresh cocktails – need we say more?

Café 180
To start your day off on the right foot, savour brekkie or lunch at this café. Whether you choose to sit inside or al fresco, you’ll be met with attentive service, delectable meals, yum coffee, homemade cakes and great prices. For the love of food, you have to try one of their hearty dishes.

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Article by Hertz AU

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