During my stay in Australia, I spent a month in Coffs Harbour. Many Aussie’s laugh at me for wanting to stay in Coffs Harbour for that long, but actually I really loved being there and I was also visiting friends. For the other two months I was in Bundaberg, Brisbane and the Gold Coast which I will write about in other posts. My time in Australia wasn’t necessarily to backpack around, but more a time of rest from all the trainings I did in Bali and also to meet up with friends again. Which is why I didn’t go to many places, I do not regret this choice, I know I can go back if I want to for a trip that is more adventurous in the future.
This is a lovely sleepy seaside town with pockets of bohemia within its local communities. Situated between the ocean and national parks that make you feel like you are in New Zealand, this place is actually really lovely. I stayed with a good friend who lived a five minute walk from the beach and a two minute walk to a river with woodland footpath. I was in Coffs for May 2019 which was during the end of Australia’s Autumn season. The nights and early mornings were slightly cold but during the day, most days were bright and sunny with warm temperatures, so much so that its common practice for Aussies to walk into their local super markets totally barefoot. I felt like I was in heaven as I really don’t like wearing shoes.
For the majority of travellers though I will suggest thinking of Coffs Harbour as a base to visit nearby areas, as really there isn’t much to do here, even though the drive to Coffs is pretty. It’s a very quiet town. The locals here don’t have many prospects or opportunities either. Some people are starting up bohemian and alternative buisnesses, this includes yoga related retreats and workshops. But it is slow, and many people who were born here, never leave. So it has this forgotten town vibe to it. That being said, it is a safe place to visit and if you are passing through, I do highly recommend spending a day here. There is enough to see for about a day or two.
You can take a short walk up Mutton Bird Island. The views are beautiful.
The walk to the top gives you incredible views up and down the coast and over the mountains. It’s the perfect spot to sit and watch the sunset over the Marina.
Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve is also great for bird lovers, being one of the only easily-accessible places in NSW where the migratory wedge-tailed shearwater nests.
If you like boats and towns with a marina and jetty, Coffs has a really nice one. At the entrance to the jetty precinct on Harbour Drive there’s a collection of cafes and restaurants and on Sunday’s is the jetty markets.
The Marina Village also has cafes, restaurants a fish co-op and an ice creamery. Latitude 30 and the Sailing Club are good spots to have a wine and beer and watch the surfers and the sun go down.
The Marina is also where the whale watching boats depart from in season (June to November).
Check out Diggers Beach (located across from the Big Banana) and we’re glad they did.
It’s a great family-friendly beach being sheltered and wide making it a nice place for our kids to swim and play on the sand. It’s also a popular surfing spot for the locals or for a wind-free beach walk.
Belligen is a super laid-back town in the valley just a 30-minute drive from Coffs Harbour on the Waterfall Way. It has a lovely tree lined street and river running through town, and has an artistic feel and lively cafe scene (we recommend Black Bear Cafe).
But on our recent visit to Bellingen the thing we liked most was visiting the Bellingen Markets which are one of the biggest and best regional markets in Australia.
The markets are only on every third Saturday of the month so you have to time your visit, but if you can they’re definitely worth it.
Dangar Falls/Dorrigo National Park
For a great day trip from Coffs Harbour, Dorrigo is only 65km (1 hour by car).
Continue on past Bellingen and up the Waterfall Way and you’ll get to the town of Dorrigo. Drop in for a coffee and then visit nearby Dangar Falls.
This town is also the gateway to Dorrigo National Park where you can enjoy waterfalls and rainforest walks – including an elevated Tree Top walk starting at the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre.
I also recommend the walk to Crystal Shower Falls (you can walk behind the falls) and the Glade Picnic area is a nice spot for lunch.
Korara Bay & Botanical Garden
Korora Bay is a small town located to the North of Coffs Harbour. It is home to a stretch of beaches, from Hills Beach in the north to Charlesworth Bay at the southern end. It is a very beautiful place I highly recommend you stop at for a few hours before heading to the Coffs Harbour Botanical Gardens for the afternoon. The North Coast Regional Botanic Garden is a 20 hectare garden located at the corner of Coffs and Hardacre Streets, a kilometre from the centre of Coffs Harbour in the Mid North Coast region of New South Wales, Australia. The gardens are open from 9 am to 5 pm every day of the year.
The North Coast Regional Botanic Garden is renowned for its natural bushland as well as exotic species.
Wheelchair accessible paths and board walks lead to garden sections featuring rare and endangered species, naturally occurring mangroves, rainforest, native flora and exotic plantings.
Glasshouses contain rare displays of bromeliads, orchids, cacti and tropical species. The sensory garden adjacent to the glasshouses is a showcase for roses, herbs, and other plants that ‘tickle the senses’.
Over all, Coffs Harbour is a pleasant pitstop as you travel up the NSW coast but it can also be a lovely mini break too. Whilst not my favourite place to visit in the world, I will say with its laid back, seaside vibes and its close proximity to nature reserves, I could live here. I could imagine myself teaching yoga and holistic workshops on the beach or woodland area or perhaps opening up my own studio near the harbour. Coffs Harbour surprisingly stole my heart.