Stand-up paddle boarding, or SUP, is a reasonably new activity (or sport, if you’re really into it) that has quickly become very popular around Australia. It’s really catching on here on the Coffs Coast, too.
I remember the first time I saw people standing up on a board with a long paddle in their hands – and that was only a few years ago. At that time, you couldn’t hire SUPs anywhere in Coffs Harbour.
How things have changed. At the time I’m writing this (January 2014) there are at least 3 SUP hire businesses in and around Coffs Harbour.
I’ve been very keen to give SUP a try, and I’m glad I finally did. I loved it!
Because I’m not that confident in the ocean, and wasn’t sure how difficult stand-up paddleboarding would be, I decided to start my adventure in easy conditions close to my home: on Coffs Creek.
Did you know you can go ice skating in subtropical Coffs Harbour? And if you knew, have you ever tried it? I’ve known there was an indoor ice rink at The Big Banana ever since I moved here, and I’ve always been keen to try it out, but for some reason I’ve only recently put on those skates – and I loved it.
Ice skating at The Big Banana ice rink, Coffs Harbour: fun for the whole family
(You’ll also find a short VIDEO at the bottom of this post)
I was afraid it would be a tiny ice rink but it was actually bigger than expected. I’ve been to an indoor ice skating rink before where you all you could do was go around in tiny circles, but at the Coffs Harbour ice rink, you can actually pick up some decent speed on the straight stretches before having to turn the corner.
Raining in Coffs Harbour? Stuck for things to do? In this blog post, I’ll list a bunch of wet weather ideas for the Coffs Harbour region.
The Coffs Coast is a subtropical region and we do get our fair share of rain throughout the year. If you’d rather not tackle outdoor activities when it rains, or when it threatens to rain, don’t worry – Coffs Harbour has plenty of things to do on a rainy day.
For a great walk in the rainforest only 5km from Coffs Harbour, you have to visit Bruxner Park Flora Reserve. In addition to several signposted walking trails, there is also a fantastic lookout point over all of Coffs Harbour – Sealy Lookout – at 310 metres above sea level.
The walking tracks at Bruxner Park are only a 10-minute drive from the CBD, which make them the closest rainforest walks to the Coffs Harbour city centre.
Immerse yourself in a rainforest experience just 10mins from Coffs Harbour
These bushwalks are so near and so easily accessible that you’ll have no excuse not to go there at least once. It’s amazing how many Coffs Harbour residents have never actually walked along these forest trails.
Do you dive? If not, you can see what the underwater world of the Solitary Islands Marine Park looks like at the Solitary IslandsAquarium (formerly the National Marine Science Centre Aquarium) in Coffs Harbour.
Find out more about Coffs Coast fish and other sea creatures at the Coffs Aquarium
The Aquarium is normally open on Saturday and Sunday only, however it opens daily during NSW school holidays. It makes a nice brief outing for a rainy day on the weekend. Treat yourself and have lunch or coffee at Pacific Bay Resort afterwards – the aquarium is located right beside the resort, after all.
I love whale-watching season in Coffs Harbour! It makes all those walks over Muttonbird Island and any other headland and coastal lookout point that much more exciting!
Will we see whales today? If so, how many? And will they merely spout some spray into the air to alert us to their presence, will we see their backs glide gently out of and back into the water, will there be some tails up in the air or are they putting on a full-on breaching and tail-flapping show for us?
Watching mighty humpback whales in the ocean off Coffs Harbour
No matter how many times you’ve seen whales, because they’re so mighty and so unpredictable, every time you see one it’s exciting again. And it unites people, pointing them out to those who haven’t spotted them yet and going “oh” and “ah” and “wow” in unison.
Cycling is becoming increasingly popular in and around Coffs Harbour. There are at least four bicycle shops in Coffs Harbour alone, various cycle groups and clubs and regular community rides and events.
One popular cycle route is the cycle path along Hogbin Drive between Coffs Harbour and the neighbouring village of Sawtell. The cycleway is separated from the road by a nature strip so it’s a safe and relaxing ride. And Sawtell makes a fun destination.
Just the stretch along Hogbin Drive is 6km, but if you go from the centre of Coffs Harbour to the centre of Sawtell it’s 10km. That’s a distance you can easily do in one hour (i.e. going a very leisurely 10km/hr).
A tree-lined section of the Hogbin Drive cycleway, Coffs Harbour - Sawtell
We enjoy meeting up with friends early on Sunday morning at the start of Hogbin Drive and riding to Sawtell to have breakfast before making our way back.
This post gives people who want to travel from Sydney to Coffs Harbour a quick overview of their travel options.
I’ll go over the various ways to get to Coffs Harbour from Sydney – by car, bus, coach via the Pacific Highway; by plane with Virgin Australia, Tiger Airways or Qantas flights; or by train with Countrylink.
LATEST UPDATE: All prices are as found online on 25 March 2013 and may vary. They apply when pre-purchased, and are for one-way travel.
Personally, I prefer flying. It’s quick and you can get good deals on air tickets if you keep an eye out for sales, that seem to be on almost all the time. I subscribe to Virgin Australia V-mail and Qantas Red as well as Tiger Latest Deals email newsletters that alert me when there’s a sale on.
Coffs Harbour and surrounding towns have lots of great regular markets, but my favourite one, and the one I would recommend to anyone visiting Coffs Harbour, is the weekly outdoor market held on the foreshores between the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club and the Jetty every Sunday morning.
They’re called the Harbourside Markets. Not to be confused with the Jetty Markets, which are held indoors underneath the Jetty Village Shopping Centre.
The Harbourside market stalls are set up underneath the trees and the atmosphere is really laid-back. It’s the perfect way to start your Sunday.
There's a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere at the Harbourside Markets
Sometimes you feel like a walk on the beach, but other times you like to go somewhere where there are more trees, more birds and there’s more shade. But you don’t always want to make a daytrip out of it by driving to a National Park somewhere. At those times, the Coffs Creek Walk is ideal!
The Coffs Creek Walk is right in town but nicely hidden away between the trees, and I can guarantee you’ll feel far away from it all. It’s a real bushwalk through the forested fringes of Coffs Creek, with several boardwalk sections across wetland areas and mangroves.
The Coffs Creek Walk is a real bush walk right in the middle of Coffs
Reasons to do the Coffs Creek Walk – or sections of it:
There’s always something happening in and around Coffs Harbour, but I thought it would be good to give an overview of just the biggest Coffs Harbour events and festivals – the most popular ones that are held every year.
For more information on any of these, click on the link to go to the relevant website.
Overview of the main annual Coffs Harbour events and Coffs Harbour festivals:
Coffs Harbour’s historic Jetty (1892) is a great destination any time of day or year, but the atmosphere can be especially magical around sunset. Not to mention when there’s a full moon as well, rising from behind Muttonbird Island.
I dare say that the Jetty at sunset is the top choice for local couples to have their bridal pictures taken, and you’ll see at least one bride and groom there most Saturday afternoons or early evening.
The Coffs Harbour Jetty and Muttonbird Island at dusk and with a full moon
The Coffs Harbour Jetty (which is heritage protected) juts out into the harbour and you’ll get a good look, from many angles depending on where you stop to enjoy the view, at:
If you’ve got an hour or two to kill and perhaps it’s raining or it’s too hot to be walking around outside, I recommend you pay a visit to Coffs Harbour’s quirky Bunker Cartoon Gallery.
The World War II Bunker has been turned into a fabulous gallery space
It’s a unique and funky little art gallery housed in an authentic, underground WWII bunker. It’s also Australia’s first and only dedicated cartoon gallery and has the largest collection of contemporary cartoons in the Southern Hemisphere (22,000 works and counting).
All cartoons, caricatures and comic strips have been catalogued and are available in folders and as a digital, interactive display for viewing at your leisure.
Exhibitions – both from the gallery’s own collection and other artists – change regularly and include the Bald Archy Prize and Marnie Yeates’ Nature Photography exhibitions.
One activity that is a typical Coffs Harbour thing to do, doesn’t cost any money and NEVER gets boring, is to go for a walk along the North Wall (the northern breakwall along the Coffs Harbour International Marina) and up onto and over Muttonbird Island (and back, of course).
View from the top of Muttonbird Island over Coffs Harbour
Muttonbird Island is unique because:
although it’s an island, you can walk to it because it’s attached to the mainland via the northern breakwall, so it’s very accessible;
it’s a seabird rookery and is home to thousands of muttonbirds (wedge-tailed shearwaters, is what they’re called officially) between August and April;
there’s a paved path over the top to the other side (1km return), giving you unsurpassed 360-degree views from the top back over Coffs Harbour, along the coast, the beaches and the ocean;
there’s a viewing platform at the end from where you can watch for passing humpback whales between May and November;
it’s a Nature Reserve and the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service has put up interpretive signs with interesting information about the shearwaters/muttonbirds and marine life such as the whales.
I live in Coffs Harbour and I love it. I also write web content for a living. I’ve decided to start a website in blog format to write about life in Coffs Harbour and all the great things you can do there.
I’ve only put this site up today (5 Jan 09) so there’s nothing much there yet, but I will be adding lots of content over the next weeks, months and hopefully years.
There’s so much to do in and around Coffs Harbour that nobody around here (or visiting here) should ever have any excuse to say “I’m bored”!
So bear with me while I populate this website with ideas for activities and postings about my own (mostly outdoor) experiences. If you want to be kept up to date with new posts, subscribe to my RSS feed!