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6 beachside breaks on the North Coast

Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West RocksCredit: Destination NSW

Scenic coastal views from Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West Rocks.

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6 beachside breaks on the North Coast

Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West Rocks Credit: Destination NSW

Scenic coastal views from Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West Rocks.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #feelnsw #newsouthwales

The North Coast offers every kind of beach break: find your zen at glamourous wellness retreats, sample the latest cool cafes, stay at boutique hotels, or find a quiet strip of sand to sit with a good book. Wherever you go though, you’ll return home revitalised, with a new appreciation for the stunning landscape and the creatures that call it their own.

Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West Rocks Credit: Destination NSW

Scenic aerial views overlooking Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West Rocks.

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Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West Rocks Credit: Destination NSW

Scenic aerial views overlooking Horseshoe Bay Beach, South West Rocks.

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Tallow Beach, Byron Bay Credit: Destination NSW

Sunrise over Tallow Beach, Byron Bay.

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Tallow Beach, Byron Bay Credit: Destination NSW

Sunrise over Tallow Beach, Byron Bay.

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1. In the north, the laidback town of Yamba has been tipped as the ‘next Byron Bay’, but is deserving of its own street cred as an emergence of locally run cafes, restaurants and hotels make it a must-visit holiday destination. Just 90 minutes down the coast of its more famous beachside neighbour, Yamba has long drawn surfers from far and wide to ride Angourie Point, a National Surfing Reserve ranked among the top right-hand point breaks in Australia.

New(ish) venues have made quiet nights a little more lively: The Wobbly Chook brewery pours craft micro beers, live music venue Last Rites showcases local talent and boutique hotel The Surf draws design-lovers for its relaxed coastal aesthetic and rooftop pool overlooking Main Beach.

2. Blink and you’d miss this tiny jewel of a beach, Horseshoe Bay, tucked between two creeks on the mid-north coast at South West Rocks. Shaped like its charmed name, the aquamarine cove is a favourite with families for its calm waters, rugged natural surroundings and colonial heritage. Out of the water, go for brunch at Malt & Honey and spend the night in the colourful bowling alley and bar at Social Alley. There are plenty of cool places to lay your head, too. Relax in luxury at the town’s modern beach cabins at Salt or spend the night up high in the Smoky Cape Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage.

Yamba Ocean Pool, Yamba Credit: Destination NSW

Scenic aerial overlooking Yamba Main Beach and Yamba Ocean Pool.

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Yamba Ocean Pool, Yamba Credit: Destination NSW

Scenic aerial overlooking Yamba Main Beach and Yamba Ocean Pool.

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The Surf, Yamba Credit: Elise Hassey

The Surf is Yamba’s first boutique hotel. 

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The Surf, Yamba Credit: Elise Hassey

The Surf is Yamba’s first boutique hotel. 

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3. Renowned for its world-class surf and home of the largest ocean pool in the Southern Hemisphere, Newcastle has no shortage of oceanic drawcards. But for a day on the beach away from the crowds, Dudley Beach is a serene patch of coast just a quick side-step away in Glenrock State Conservation Area neighbouring Lake Macquarie. Dudley Beach offers a long swathe of golden shore to swim in as well as rockpools for crab-watching, bubbling blowholes and even a clothes-optional section in the northern end. Newcastle’s perfect combo of beachy vibes, cultural cool and creative buzz means this seaside destination makes the perfect weekender, with a freshly renovated airport, glitzy accommodation like Crystalbrook Kingsley and QT Newcastle, and hyped eateries Cake Boi, Flotilla and Light Years.

4. The Tweed is well-endowed with its fair share of glittering coastal gems lapping the shore. The gorgeous Cabarita, or “Caba” as it’s known to locals, has heavenly scented day spas and beach-view bars, famous surf breaks and stunning viewpoints, such as Norries Headland. Revived surf motel Halcyon House has become a beacon of style since opening in 2015, the home of breezy diner Paper Daisy, where the menu is local, tight and finely executed. Just 20 minutes from the coast, visit Husk Farm Distillery to taste its refreshing rum made from local cane sugar and spread out under an umbrella on the lawn.

Newcastle Beach, Newcastle Credit: Destination NSW

Aerial view of young people playing a ball game along the water at Newcastle Beach

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Newcastle Beach, Newcastle Credit: Destination NSW

Aerial view of young people playing a ball game along the water at Newcastle Beach

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Headland Sunrise, Cabarita Beach Credit: Destination NSW

Cabarita Beach at sunrise

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Headland Sunrise, Cabarita Beach Credit: Destination NSW

Cabarita Beach at sunrise

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5. A visit to the exotic paradise of Lord Howe Island, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed paradise off the North Coast of NSW and only a two-hour flight from Sydney, is an absolute must. As one of only 400 visitors allowed on the island at any one time, enjoy days on the beach with no one else around as fish swim at your feet, you snorkel the pristine waters, tackle full-day hikes to the peak of Mount Gower and enjoy peachy sunsets with a cocktail in hand.

This crescent-shaped isle is home to the world’s most southerly coral reef, with 450 fish species and 90 species of coral, many of which only live here. Hand-feed the friendly fish at Ned’s Beach, or cruise further out on a swimming, snorkelling or diving tour. Hike the island’s twin peaks for panoramic views of the lagoon, reefs, mountains and plunging cliffs.  Stay where designer chic meets laidback beach-house style at recently renovated Capella Lodge, or rest your head at one of Australia’s oldest family-run businesses, Pinetrees Lodge, whose owners have lived on Lord Howe since 1848.

6. Blessed with beaches, Byron Bay has a stretch of sand for everyone – but The Pass is famous for being one of the most popular right-hand point breaks in Australia. Located between Clarkes Beach and Wategos, this North Coast strip caters to surfers of all levels (depending on the swell) and attracts families and out-of-towners alike to splash around in the small rockpools and to climb Fisherman’s Lookout, a timber viewing platform with incredible panoramas of the bay. If you’re looking for a different way to explore the coast, Zephyr Horses offer a sunrise or sunset tour, where you’ll follow a forest trail through the area’s diverse flora to the beach; or explore the water on a tour with Cape Byron Kayaks, meeting turtles, dolphins and whales (if you’re there between May and November) along the way. On the food front, try local produce at the popular Byron Farmers Markets, sit back at long lunches at hatted restaurants or wholefood cafes, and duck into Cape Byron Distillery to sample gin infused with native botanicals. Your lodging can be as lively as a backpacker hostel or as serene as a five-star wellness retreat, with many hideaways in the hinterlands in between.

Lagoon Beach, Lord Howe Island Credit: tom-archer.com

Man stand up paddleboarding off Lagoon Beach with views across to Mount Lidgbird.

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Lagoon Beach, Lord Howe Island Credit: tom-archer.com

Man stand up paddleboarding off Lagoon Beach with views across to Mount Lidgbird.

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Cape Byron Kayaks, Byron Bay Credit: Destination NSW

Young people enjoying a day out sea kayaking along the shores of Cape Byron.

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Cape Byron Kayaks, Byron Bay Credit: Destination NSW

Young people enjoying a day out sea kayaking along the shores of Cape Byron.

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