Where the Hastings River meets the sea in New South Wales, Australia, you’ll find the charming town of Port Macquarie. This beautiful seaside escape is best known for its stunning beaches, great surf, and laid-back atmosphere. It was one of our favourite stops on our Brisbane to Sydney road trip!
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Most visitors to Port Macquarie are looking to relax and get away, and the Port Macquarie beaches offer the perfect environment to do just that.
Port Macquarie Coastal Walk
If you’re up for a stroll, you can check out the 9km Port Macquarie beach walk from Town Green Foreshore down to Tacking Point Lighthouse. We recommend starting at the Port Macquarie Marina, right by the Town Green Foreshore. From there, the path meanders along the coastline.
Along the way, you’ll come across several beaches, scenic lookouts, some cool historical spots, and even a bit of rainforest! Of course, if you’re looking for something a bit shorter, you can always tackle just a portion of it.
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Top Port Macquarie Beaches
1. Town Beach
Town Beach is one of the best Macquarie Beaches for surfing. Although protected from strong winds, the waves at Town Beach are perfect for riding into shore, and in the south section of the beach, there is a small walking trail leading up to a lookout spot called Flagstaff Point.
If you want to be active at the beach but don’t like to surf, try out the skate park or the outdoor gym. In addition, on the northern side of the beach, you’ll find a large breakwater full of colourfully painted rocks where visitors love to take pictures.
Town Beach is a fantastic choice to kick off your Port Macquarie Coastal Walking Trail journey along the coast, especially if you prefer staying close to town. It offers the convenience you need, with the added perks of picnic benches and shops nearby.
Amenities at Town Beach
If the 9 km coastal walk is too long or you’re in a hurry, consider a leisurely stroll along the Town Beach breakwall.
The breakwall is a hotspot in Port Macquarie. This lovely path runs along the coast and is filled with colourful rocks painted with messages and tributes from past visitors. You’ll also find a playground, BBQ facilities, and picnic areas here.
Right next to the beach, you’ll find the Maritime Museum and a park area where you can barbeque if you like. It’s a great beach for families and has toilets, showers, a cafe, and a parking lot right nearby.
2. Flynns Beach
Flynns Beach is an awesome all-around beach perfect for families, couples, or solo travellers. The beach is about half a kilometre long and sandwiched between two different rock formations to the north and south.
Flynns Beach offers gentle waves ideal for beginner surfers. It’s also a nice spot to catch some sun, thanks to a bit of wind protection, and there’s a handy little cafe nearby for snacks all day long.
It is also a top spot for brunch with stunning views. You can find off-street parking nearby, but be aware that with its close proximity to hotels, it can get crowded on weekends and during school holidays due to its popularity with locals and tourists.
Amenities at Flynns Beach
Popular activities here include swimming, barbequing, or eating at one of the many picnic tables in the grove of trees right behind the beach. There are toilets, a snack bar, and a lifeguard on duty, and it is easily accessible to those with disabilities.
Perhaps the best thing to do at Flynns Beach is to surf. If you don’t know how there’s a surf club right nearby where you can take lessons.
3. North Beach
If you want to get away from the crowds and have the place to yourself, then head to North Beach. Although not technically inside the town limits, it is still considered one of the best Port Macquarie Beaches, being particularly well-known for surfing and fishing and for being one of the only beaches that allow dogs on the sand.
To get to North Beach, you’ll have to cross the Hastings River via the Settlement Point Ferry. From there, it’s just a few minutes’ walk to the beach. However, it is best explored with a car since you are allowed to drive a 4WD on this beach and can venture into Limeburners Creek National Park to the north.
Amenities at North Beach
North Shore Beach stretches 13 km to Pelican Point. You can drive to this beach via Queens Head, which has a car park and a picnic area with a great view of the beach. Keep in mind there aren’t public showers available. Your best bet for getting sand-free is to use the taps at a nearby cafe or public restroom.
The beach faces southeast and usually has waves around 1.6 metres high, forming a distinct double bar system. While it’s a popular fishing spot because of its proximity to the deep river channel and strong currents, be very careful as swimming here can be dangerous.
4. Lighthouse Beach
Another perfect surfing beach is Lighthouse Beach in the southernmost part of Port Macquarie. Currents here are strong, and the waves are powerful, so it is recommended for surfers at the intermediate level and higher. This is the longest beach in town, offering visitors plenty of space to take a nice long walk.
Port Macquarie is the perfect spot for a camel ride, and the Camel Safaris on Lighthouse Beach is an amazing experience. This beach is beautifully secluded, with only a few tourists, and the camels are incredibly well-trained. We chose Port Macquarie Camel Safaris for our adventure on Lighthouse Beach.
During your camel ride along the coast, you’ll have the chance to spot dolphins and humpback whales. These camel rides are available daily from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm. We recommend that you bring cash because these camel rides don’t accept credit cards.
On the north end of the beach, make sure not to miss the Tacking Point Lighthouse, a historic building constructed in 1879. Just to the south, visit the Watonga Rocks and explore the rest of the beach that stretches beyond.
Amenities at Lighthouse Beach
Lighthouse Beach, although a bit farther out, is a popular spot in summer because it’s sheltered from the wind with soft white sands.
You’ll find plenty of surf clubs and cafes nearby, perfect for a post-beach shower to wash off that sand. During school holidays, you’ll find lifeguards patrolling the northern end near the surf club and cafe. This beach is also a prime whale-watching spot from May to November.
If you have a four-legged companion, head south of Watonga Rocks for some playtime. There, you can unleash your furry friend, but be sure to check the beach signage for leash rules first.
5. Shelly Beach
Shelly Beach is an idyllic stretch of white sand backed by a tall, sloping cliff. It’s one of the most peaceful and secluded Port Macquarie beaches, and it’s perfect for those who want to get away from it all. Swimming at this beach is very good, but currents can get quite strong, so it is best to use caution.
Nobby Head is on the northernmost point of this beach, and just to the south of that is John Downes Park, a lovely little nature reserve with walking trails. The southern part of Shelly Beach is also a great place to explore nature, with Harry’s Lookout offering stunning views over the sea.
Keep walking farther south, and you’ll enter the Flora and Fauna Reserve as well as Sea Acres National Park, two places definitely worth a visit.
Port Macquarie’s unique charm is its quick transition from beach to forest in just a 5-minute drive away! For a serene forest stroll with your thoughts, check out the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre. The highlight here is a 1.3 km loop walk above the rainforest floor with benches and interesting wooden carvings along the way. After your walk, explore the Spirit of the Land art exhibition or grab a meal at the Rainforest Cafe.
Amenities at Shelly Beach
Shelly Beach now offers updated amenities as of August 2023. Both men’s and women’s areas have renovated shower cubicles, and you’ll find additional external showers. Families can make use of a convenient change room with a shower, toilet, and hand basin. Plus, there are bench seating for relaxation in the sun.
Other Port Macquarie Beaches
6. Oxley Beach
Just to the south of Town Beach is Oxley Beach, a calm and secluded stretch of sand. This is one of the best Port Macquarie beaches for those who want some peace and quiet, and there is a short nature walk trail right behind the beach.
You’ll find amenities like bathrooms, picnic tables, and barbecue facilities at Oxley Beach. Please keep in mind that there are no lifeguards on duty, so exercise caution when swimming. Additionally, dogs are not permitted on the beach.
7. Rocky Beach
Rocky Beach certainly lives up to its name with tidal rock pools and golden sands. If you love climbing over beach rocks, make sure not to miss this one. Not as many people come here to spend the day due to its terrain, but it makes for some awesome climbing, walking, and exploring around large and small rock formations.
For stunning views of the beach down below, make sure to hike up to the Rocky Beach lookout point. It’s one of the best views from all of the Port Macquarie beaches. This small, less-visited beach doesn’t have any amenities.
8. Nobbys Beach
The most dog-friendly beach in Port Macquarie is definitely Nobbys Beach. Even if you don’t have a dog yourself, it might be worth it to visit this beach just to watch the dogs playing in the surf and sand.
The beach is very beautiful and secluded, offering a lot of peace and quiet. Be sure to walk all the way to the south end of the beach to Nobby Head, a massive rock formation that you can climb up to see the Henry Gardiner monument.
Nobbys Beach is unique because of Nobby Head, a tree-covered rock formation that extends into the ocean. It’s best to drive there and head down to the beach.
However, please note that it’s an unpatrolled beach. Swimming is possible when the sea is calm, but be very cautious. You can also enjoy views of Nobbys Beach from the lookout at John Downes Park, located at the southern end of the beach.
9. Miners Beach
Miners Beach is another secluded beach with nature trails that offer stunning views of the sea. Just south of Shelly Beach, Miners can be visited and explored in half a day, and is also connected to Sea Acres National Park.
The beach provides amenities such as bathrooms and a picnic area. Just remember, there are no lifeguards on duty, so please be cautious while swimming.
This Port Macquarie Beach is one of the least visited because, in order to access it, you must hike in from Lighthouse Road, which runs parallel to the beach.
All things considered, there really aren’t any bad Port Macquarie beaches. Each one of them is beautiful in its own way and has something different to offer. Choosing which ones to visit depends mainly on what you want to do there and your personal preferences.
Day Trips from Port Macquarie
10. Grants Beach
Grants Beach in North Haven has a 3.5km stretch of patrolled sandy shoreline. At the end of the beach, there’s a break wall where you can catch excellent right-hand waves when conditions are right. You can go swimming, surfing, or fishing, as this beach has something for everyone.
To make the most of your visit, we recommend the Grants Beach Coastal Walk, which begins at North Haven near the Camden Haven River mouth and finishes at the cliffs of Grants Headland in Bonny Hills. It takes you through diverse landscapes, including heathland with vibrant wildflowers in late winter and early spring.
You might also encounter melaleuca swamp, littoral, and eucalypt forests. Birdwatchers will enjoy spotting various species, from honeyeaters and thornbills to glossy black cockatoos and white-bellied sea eagles along the trail.
11. Rainbow Beach
Rainbow Beach stretches southwest for 2.5 kilometres, starting at Middle Rock Point’s dolerite rocks and ending at Bonny Hills’ sedimentary rocks.
You can spot a foredune behind the beach, followed by Duchess Gully Creek, which extends for two kilometres and eventually merges with a smaller creek known as Little Vinegar Creek at the southern end of the beach.
However, the beach provides no amenities. You can head over to nearby Bonny Hills to access amenities such as showers, a park, a picnic area, a surf club, and two caravan parks. Rainbow Beach is patrolled during school holidays from October to April.
12. North Haven Beach
The charming North Haven town is located at the Camden Haven Inlet’s mouth, just 30 minutes south of Port Macquarie. It’s an ideal spot for a day of swimming, fishing, and boating.
This beach is also popular for kids! Families will especially enjoy the tranquil waters for kids to play, and it’s a popular destination for windsurfing. You can spot koalas and dolphins, explore nearby national parks, and enjoy watersports on sparkling Queens Lake. There’s even a koala hospital nearby.
The beach provides many amenities, including lifeguards, restrooms, showers, and picnic areas.
Places to Eat Near Port Macquarie Beaches
There’s a wave of restaurants popping up all over Port Macquarie’s beaches, serving up dishes that highlight fermented meats, fresh seafood, local ingredients, and the occasional migratory seabird. We’ve personally tried some of the best, and others come highly recommended by the locals we’ve met during our travels.
Sandbox is a popular beachside cafe by Flynns Beach. Consider starting your day with a beachfront breakfast in Port Macquarie. You can catch the sunrise and enjoy the rolling waves while savouring some fantastic food with unique twists on local ingredients and coffee.
Salty Crew Kiosk
Salty Crew Kiosk has healthy options and great views of Town Beach. Popular with the locals, this cosy coffee spot is right by the beach. Find a spot outside, and enjoy the view as the waves roll in. The menu changes with the seasons but guarantees a memorable meal. Don’t miss the cruffins, they’re a must-try.
If you’re up early, you’ll likely run into the Sunrise Swimmers, a friendly bunch enjoying their coffee on the front deck after their morning swim. You’ll also encounter plenty of Port Macquarie locals who start their day at Salty Crew Kiosk, grabbing a healthy snack as the sun rises.
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