There’s nothing worse than escaping to the coast for some much needed R&R, only to be left feeling like you need another holiday. Whether it’s the crowded towel-to-sand ratio at the beach, the 45-minute waitlist for a table at breakfast or running into pretty much everyone you know from back home, sometimes escapes can be anything but.
This is why we thought it was about time we uncovered the off-the-grid coastal gem that is Port Macquarie. We’re convinced it’s the answer to all of your coastal getaway dreams. The best part? You can get there and back for just $199 direct from Brisbane in just over an hour. Talk about an affordable micro escape.
Food, Glorious Food
Obviously, no holiday is complete without a lineup of drool-worthy feeds and we’re here to tell you Port Macquarie is an underrated culinary hot spot.
If you’re in search of a good coffee, make a beeline for Salty Crew Kiosk and savour your soy latte while soaking up uninterrupted views of the beach—it’s pure bliss. They’ve also got an impressive array of smoothies, cold press juices and acai bowls so you can fill up on something more substantial if you’re a little on the hungry side. If you’re keen to mix up your holiday coffee routine, schedule a visit to Breakwall HQ coffee shop. Perched perfectly by the water’s edge, you can enjoy a soul-awakening start to your day with some of the region’s best coffee.
When it comes to sussing out the local goodies, LV’s on Clarence is a must-visit. A gorgeous family farm and restaurant run by a charming, local husband and wife duo, LV’s serve up a carefully-crafted menu brimming with fresh seafood, award-winning jams and condiments, pasture-raised eggs, and crispy baked sourdough. You’ll undoubtedly leave satisfied yet yearning for more.
Not too far from LV’s is another delicious dining experience that's well worth the pit stop, Drury Lane Eatery. Celebrating the joy of breaking bread with loved ones, the casual eatery sources produce from local farmers, provedores and even backyard gardeners, and their ever-changing menu is designed to share with friends and family. But if you’re really after a dish with wow factor, you simply can’t go past Stunned Mullet. As the only hatted restaurant in Port Macquarie, it’s too big of a deal to pass up. Mixing fresh, local produce from the Hastings region with innovative, international flavours, it’s no wonder their food rakes in the awards. Our hot tip? Be sure to order the rare Toothfish—you won’t regret it. If you're still up for more, Bill's Fishouse and Bar is an institution in Port Macquarie, serving up simple, uncomplicated and insanely delicious fare. Perfect for a casual sunset drink with friends or a seafood feast with family, this place is the definition of the perfect coastal dining experience.
When it comes to resting your weary head after a long day of eating and sightseeing (life’s tough), there are endless options for all budgets.
As the newest 4.5-star waterfront resort, Sails Port Macquarie is, naturally, our pick of the pack. Having recently received a knockout refurbishment (much to our delight), the resort alone is worth an escape. Boasting a brand new bayside restaurant and bar serving up a mouth-watering menu and extensive wine list, Sails is seriously the perfect place to relish those out-of-office feels. Consider us checked in.
Mother Nature’s Best
Of course, our wrap-up is not complete without calling out Mother Nature herself. The famed Port Macquarie coastal walk is certainly one to tick off the list. Nine kilometres long in one direction, the walk is brimming with historic monuments, stunning coastal scenery and lush rainforest, but don’t worry, you don’t have to complete the whole thing; make a day of it and stroll along toward the lighthouse. And if you’re in search of an epic vantage point, be sure head to Three Brother’s, made up of (you guessed it) three mountains (North, Middle and South). Conquer the North Brother Mountain and explore Dooragan Park, enjoy the panoramic views on the East Coast of Australia, picnic facilities and walking trails for all fitness levels, it’s an idyllic way to enjoy the outdoors.
It would be a crime not to check out Port Macquarie’s stunning Lighthouse, and, in our opinion, soaking it up by camelback is the best—and most unique—way to do it. From here, you can admire the picturesque Lighthouse Beach and listen to stories, eye-opening facts and rich history about the area, and potentially even spot some dolphins or whales in the distance.
In case you didn’t get the memo, there’s plenty of homegrown talent to discover (and devour) in Port Macquarie. One noteworthy destination is Peak Coffee, the first coffee roasting business to be located on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. Roasting for local, regional and even interstate cafe owners and wholesalers, there’s no denying this coffee is in high demand, and for good reason.
If you’re in search of something rewarding, you’ll be thrilled to know you can pick your very own juicy strawberries at Ricardoes Tomato and Strawberries. Explore the white, igloo-style greenhouses, pick red-ripe tomatoes on towering vines and taste Ricardoes’ award-winning jams and condiments on your own private tour.
Top it all off with a visit to Black Duck Brewery. A must-visit for beer enthusiasts, the brewery boasts eight ever-changing beers and hearty smorgasbords. Taste their full range of house beers while learning about their brewing methods—it’s a beer drinker’s dream. But if wine is more your jam, never fear, as Port Macquarie is also home to Bago Vineyards, a laid-back yet unique garden where you can taste delicious local wine and sample cheese and meats while chilling out on a picnic rug—now that’s our kind of afternoon. Oh, and if you get tired of chilling, you can always conquer the two-metre-high hedge maze, if you dare.
No matter what your coastal getaway style is, there’s plenty happening in Port Macquarie to keep you doing as much or as little as you’d like. Head here [link] to suss flights and get on your way in next to no time (and no money), at all.
Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by Port Macquarie and proudly endorsed by Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.