Coffs Harbour is on the Mid North Coast of NSW, about 540 km north of Sydney, and 390 km south of Brisbane.
With just about all of my in-laws now living in Coffs Harbour, it has become a family tradition to make an annual pilgrimage north up the Pacific Highway.
Whenever we visit there’s a nice mix of family bonding time and holiday exploration. And all of the kids love to reunite with their cousins… They may only see each other once a year but they instantly click back together.
Coffs Harbour is home to many beautiful beaches. It is great to have family living in such a lovely part of the world, and its handy that we can rely on my sister-in-law’s local knowledge so we know the best things to see and do.
We are gradually getting to experience all of the highlights and this is my list (so far) of the best places to visit in Coffs Harbour with kids.
Coffs Harbour with kids
The Big Banana fun park
A trip to Coffs Harbour with kids is simply not complete without a trip to the Big Banana, one of the first “big things” to see in Australia. The Big Banana offers more than just a cheesy photo opp: There’s Laser Tag, mini golf, ice skating… However all of these activities seem a bit out of place to me, so we chose to ride the old school toboggan (heaps of fun!) and then let the kids loose in the water park. There is more than enough to keep the kids’ adrenalin pumping for an hour or so in the water park which also includes a toddler splash park but beware – when the big bucket of water tips it will scare the life out of any little ones or unsuspecting parents standing in its way!
The Butterfly House
While it may not seem like much, we managed to spend a good few hours in the Butterfly House getting up close and personal with literally hundreds of Australian butterflies. The kids delighted in having butterflies land on their fingers, their hats, their feet. And I spent my time trying to get the perfect photo and kicking myself for letting the batteries run out on my good camera.
There is a nice, reasonably priced cafe, a sweet gift shop plus an outdoor maze where the kids can run wild.
Apparently the best viewing time is during the heat of the day from 10-2pm. A family pass is $50, $6 for an extra child (4-16 years old).
Boambee Creek Reserve
Boambee Creek Reserve is a pretty beach, ideal for families. Its sheltered with lots of shade, and lots of shallow water for littles ones to splash about in. We walked across the rail bridge towards the ocean and the kids took their bodyboards out into the surf. You need to pay $5 per car to drive in, but once you are there you can stay most of the day. Pack a picnic, kick back and chill.
I think Moonee Creek was my favourite place to take the kids. There is a mix of sandbanks and shallow pools perfect for little ones, plus deeper channels where the older kids can ride their bodyboards.
Bongil Bongil National Park
We went off the beaten track a little to explore Bongil Bongil National Park, and had a gorgeous surf beach all to ourselves. It was quite amazing to have so much space to ourselves, especially in the summer school holidays. Only in Australia can you get so much beautiful beach all to yourself!
There are a number of bushwalking tracks, but we only went on one short walk as it was a really hot day and the kids wanted to stay by the water. We did spot a koala sleeping in a tree which was a bit special.
Sawtell and Bonville Headland
Sawtell is a lovely beach town about 10km south of Coffs Harbour. It has a nice shady shopping strip with some funky shops to explore, and is a nice place to stop for lunch or a milkshake. We took all of the kids to the surf club on the beach for brunch. We had to wait a little for tables, but it was well worth it – great food and a fab view!
Afterwards we drove up to Bonville Headleand, at the south end of Sawtell Beach and the kids went for a swim in the rock pool and then Bonville Creek. There are lots of little wading nooks to explore between the rocks.
Eating with kids: The Greenhouse Tavern
The beauty of the Greenhouse Tavern is that the dining area is adjacent to a kids’ play area with a mini kids’ cinema and jumping castle. The food is fine, but we liked best was being able to kick back and have some grown up conversation as the kids were all entertained within reach.
There is still much for us to explore in Coffs Harbour with kids, but we’re saving it for next time.
Have you been to Coffs Harbour with kids? What would be your top picks of things to see and do?