Surrounded by mountain escarpments, rainforests and more than 90km of uncrowded beaches, the Coffs Coast offers a nature-based getaway with plenty of family adventure fun.
The Big Banana Fun Park is one of the most famous attractions in Coffs Harbour. The giant fruit was built by in 1964 when John Landi, inspired by a ‘Big Pineapple’ he had heard about in Hawaii, wanted to encourage passing traffic to stop at his roadside banana stall. It is now home to the largest water park between Sydney and the Gold Coast, a laser tag arena, ice-skating rink, toboggan ride, giant slide, a Go Bananas fun zone with a toddler play area, 36-hole mini-golf course and a 4D simulator ride, as well as a café, gift and souvenir shop.
There is also a theatre where you can learn everything there is to know about bananas, and a plantation tour that includes a look inside the packing shed. The attraction is also home to the Cheesemaking Workshop, the Opal Centre and a Reptile World.
Visit TreeTop Adventure Park, where you can climb across over 100 elevated obstacles and fly along a zipline through the trees for an exhilarating bird’s eye view of the stunning bush landscape.
A gentler connection with nature, at Coffs Harbour Butterfly House, invites you to stroll amongst hundreds of Australian butterflies in an indoor subtropical rainforest setting. See them fly, court, mate, sip nectar or rest in the light showing off their pretty patterns and colours. If possible, time your visit for between 10am and 2pm, when the butterflies are at their most active. You can also see dolphins, seals, penguins and turtles at The Dolphin Marine Conservation Park, while learning first-hand about the importance of marine conservation.
Sample some sweet treats at Carobana Confectionery – take a tour of the factory, which produces carob buttons, coconut rough, rocky road, fudges, honeycomb and Easter eggs.
Coffs Harbour’s deep waterways are perfect for fishing and snorkelling around the harbour, and the protected waters of the Solitary Island Marine Park are ideal for whale watching and diving tours. Take a short walk along the break wall from Coffs Harbour Marina to the nature sanctuary, Muttonbird Island. It’s a steep hike past breeding nests for wedge-tailed shearwater birds to the lookout, but worth it for spectacular views of the coast and hinterland. The region also has some exciting mountain biking trails, while the beaches and estuaries of the Marine Park are ideal for swimming, surfing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
There’s also the Solitary Islands Coastal Walk – a string of golden beaches, rocky headlands and lush rainforest tracks along the coast. A lovely section of the walk, from Sapphire Beach to Emerald Beach, passes through the Moonee Beach Nature Reserve with the ‘Look at Me Now Headland’. The trek along the headland and sandy beaches has spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and Solitary Islands. You may spot sunbathing kangaroos on the beach, while the headlands are also a great vantage point to watch playful humpback whales on their annual migration.
Considered one of the best scenic drives in NSW, Waterfall Way takes you from Coffs Harbour through the quaint township of Bellingen, past lush green paddocks and UNESCO World Heritage-listed rainforests to Dorrigo National Park. See the Newell and Sherrard Falls cascading next to the roadway, and the spectacular Dangar Falls, just 2km from the township of Dorrigo. The 50m Skywalk at Dorrigo Rainforest Centre provides panoramic views, or venture on the bushwalking trail through the ancient Gondwana Rainforest to Crystal Shower Falls.
When it comes to places to stay, the Coffs Coast has a range of options families will love, including resorts, motels, beach houses, cottages and holiday parks. Many properties have child-friendly facilities, including pools and playgrounds, to keep the little ones further entertained.
MORE INFO: coffscoast.com.au