The Solitary Islands Marine Park
hugs Coffs Coast for 75 kilometres from Coffs Harbour, north to Sandon River. This is where warm tropical waters meet and mix with cooler currents from the south.
The park encompasses estuaries, sandy beaches, rocky shore, sub-tidal reefs, open ocean and six islands in the Solitary Islands group.
It is here where over 550 reef fish species, 90 types of hard coral and 600 molluscs thrive. While most reside year round, others come and go with the seasons. Some from Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, others from as far south as Tasmania as well as the mighty Humpback whales from Antarctica. It's a real 'fish soup'.
With so many residents, the full list is too long to mention. So here are just a few: clown fish (Nemo's cousin), loggerhead and green turtles, batfish and goatfish, mantas and bull rays, blue groper and grey nurse sharks, kingfish, flying fish and surgeonfish, cowry shells and sea slugs (nudibranchs), exotic Spanish dancers and giant cuttlefish. And pods of bottlenose dolphins.
Most visitors to the park go no further than the seashore to swim, surf or fish, but adventurous visitors go snorkeling and scuba diving. From the Coffs Harbour marina it's a short boat ride to nearby Split Solitary Island and a little further to South Solitary Island. Lead by professional scuba instructors you will be taken on a journey of discovery along the sea floor beside these two rocky islands which are home to a host of colourful marine life.
If you are a little less adventurous, try a whale watch cruise from Coffs Harbour (June - October), or whale and dolphin spotting from one of the many Coffs Coast headlands, or a stroll along the estuary boardwalk at Red Rock.
And if you are an indoors person altogether, visit the National Marine Science Centre beside the Novotel Pacific Bay Resort. The Centre has aquarium displays of some of the smaller creatures of the Park. It is open on weekends 10 am - 4pm.
For more information visit the Solitary Islands Marine Park website and National Marine Science Centre website.