The Coffs Coast is home to the spectacular Solitary Islands Marine Park – a unique marine environment that can be experienced in countless ways. Spanning some 75 kilometres of glorious coastline, it encompasses estuaries, headlands, beaches, submerged reefs and five offshore islands. Here is where the warm waters of the East Australian current meet cooler waters from the south, resulting in a rich diversity of fish and coral species (over 850 fish species alone.) It’s even home to the world’s highest density of anemones and anemonefish.
Scuba diving and snorkelling
With the Solitary Islands Marine Park home to such diverse habitats, there is much to explore and discover beneath the surface. Here, species co-exist in remarkable ways and divers and snorkellers can observe tropical, sub-tropical and temperate species in the same marine environment. Sting rays, turtles, grey nurse sharks, blue gropers and giant cuttlefish are just some of the many marine creatures that divers and snorkellers see regularly. While there are locations suitable for shore dives, most divers prefer to venture offshore to experience the wondrous marine life.
Each year from June to October thousands of whales grace the coastal waters, making the Coffs Coast the ideal location for the whole family to enjoy these inquisitive giants. Humpbacks are most commonly seen but they are occasionally accompanied by their rarer relatives – Southern Right, Sperm and Minke whales. Humpbacks habitually turn on a show as they surface – slapping their fins, spy-hopping and breaching, making the annual whale migration a wonderful spectacle. Observe these amazing creatures from vantage points such as our vast headlands or better still, book a trip offshore with one of the Coffs-based operators.
Swimming with whales
It’s a thrill to see these magnificent mammals from a boat or headland, but to swim underwater with them is something for the bucket-list. Coffs Harbour’s own Jetty Dive is one of very few operators in Australia licenced to offer this activity. They were the first in NSW to deliver a sustainable, eco-focussed and non-invasive experience. Hear the unique sounds and songs of humpbacks and watch these elegant creatures up close and personal – all 40 tonnes of them. For those of you with an adventurous spirit, swimming with whales is a must!
With miles of beaches and headlands a-plenty, it’s easy to find a peaceful patch to throw in a line, but for something a little bit more action-packed, head offshore with one of the charter operators. This section of NSW is considered to have some of the best offshore fishing in the country with game species such as marlin, tuna, wahoo and mackerel targeted. Estuarine species like bream, whiting and flathead can be found at Boambee Creek, and the foreshores of Moonee are also great for young anglers. Korora and Sapphire are recommended for more experienced fishers.
SUPing / Canoeing / Kayaking
You can grab your paddleboard or hire one to explore our beautiful aquamarine waterways from a fresh perspective. This is a terrific family-friendly activity to do while you’re here. Do you own thing or seek out experts for a guided tour. Sea kayaks and canoes are recommended for those with younger kids as they offer more stability than SUPs. Coffs Creek offers lovely, calm waters with the gorgeous estuaries of Boambee, Moonee and Red Rock also popular.
Local favourite spots include Arrawarra to the north, with a long right-hand point break, great for long boarders and learners. Nearby, Emerald Beach is one of the more popular beaches for families who love to surf together and Moonee Beach is best in small south east swells. For the more accomplished surfers, Macauleys, closer to town often delivers high performance waves as does Gallows. Sawtell Island is a well-protected break to the south of Coffs. The Coffs region is also home to a number of reputable surf schools for those new to the sport or for those simply wanting to brush up on their moves.
There are many opportunities to enjoy the beaches of the Coffs Coast, getting your toes wet, building a sandcastle or paddling your boogie board. Your water-based family adventure awaits so be sure to make the most of this incredible Marine Park we’re blessed to have right on our doorstep.