The Coffs Coast
A leisurely 2.5 to 3 hour drive (240km) south of Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour offers a myriad of attractions for visitors and has plenty to keep families entertained. The Coffs Coast is popular with surfers, offering great surf breaks right along its coast, with warm Pacific Ocean waters and a chilled out vibe. The region is also dotted with quaint little holiday towns offering art trails, markets and cafe culture. Just to the north of Coffs Harbour itself you'll find the resorts area (including Sapphire Beach), where big hotels sit on the water, offering the total beach holiday experience. There are 11 golf courses in the region, including the impressive Bonville Golf Resort, frequently regarded as one of Australia's best golf courses.
Coffs boasts a peaceful marina and the town looks out over the Solitary Islands Marine Park (one of Autralia's top ten diving spots where over 500 different underwater species can be found). Just past the marina beyond the breakwater you can take one of the area's most popular walks to Mutton Bird Island Nature Park (named for the wedgetailed shearwater birds that come to breed here). It's a short and steep 500 metre climb, but well worth the effort. At the top you'll be rewarded with 360 degree views of the town, the coast, the verdant hinterland and the Solitary Islands. Simply stunning. As well as its diving, the Coffs Coast is also a hub for deep sea fishing.
The Pet Porpoise Pool is a Tourism Australia award winning attraction. You can get up close and personal with some of your favourite marine mammals, and you might even get a kiss from a dolphin or a seal. Daily Marine Magic presentations are both educational and fun, and a great way to learn about the underwater world and some of its creatures.
The Big Banana is an iconic Coffs Harbour sight, providing a great day out for kids and adults alike. There's a cafe, nursery, gallery and gift shop (where you can buy all manner of banana related goodies). Take a banana plantation tour, hit the water slides, or you can even go ice skating!
A 10 minute drive down the coast from Coffs Harbour is the cruisy heritage village of Sawtell. Like much of the NSW North Coast, it's a popular spot for surfies. Coupled with the laid back beach vibe, the village also has a certain elegance, with its tree lined main street offering a garden of large shady fig trees. It has a great cafe culture going on and a smattering of boutiques. Add to this a restored art deco cinema from the 1950s and you've got yourself a great little holiday place! It's been endearingly named "Sunny Sawtell" and when you visit it's easy to see why.