Port Stephens is one of the best family-friendly areas on the map and how lucky are we to have it just up the road? Whether you’re taking the family away for a well-needed long weekend or just planning a day trip, be sure to pack the bikes in the car because there are plenty of awesome tracks and paths ready to explore! My family and I test-rode two favourites and everyone agreed it was one of the best ways to see this beautiful area!
Day Trip 1: Bike ride between Shoal Bay to Fingal Bay
A hidden gem amongst the eucalypts is the beautiful Shoal to Fingal Bay bike track – a terrific way for the whole family to spend the morning with plenty of rewards along the way! It’s approximately 2.9km route.
Whilst staying at Shoal Bay, we packed our swimming gear in a backpack, along with water bottles and sunscreen and set off by bike for a refreshing dip at Fingal Bay via the well maintained and flat bike trail, which all but connects the two picturesque holiday spots.
From the Shoal Bay main street, take a right into Messinines Street, just off Government Road. Then turn onto Horace Street. Take care with the little ones here as this is a shared road with cars, but it is usually very quiet, taking you through a backstreet of Shoal Bay, which then connects onto the Marine Drive cycleway. Here’s where the real fun begins!
This track winds through the beautiful gum trees along a flat and easy to ride cycle track. We passed a bunch of other bikes and dog walkers, but largely had the path to ourselves which the kids just loved. After a short ride, we popped out at Fingal Bay!
We cycled past the surf club and along the path to the beach at Fingal Point at the far end of Fingal Bay, parked the bikes and hit the sand for a swim.
What a spot! It really is like heaven on earth, with clear aqua water and soft gentle waves. We even spotted a turtle in the shallows, which the kids thought was magical.
After our cool down and a quick shower and dry off (there are showers just near the walkway to the beach), we jumped back on the bikes and made our way back along the bike track for a coffee and milkshake stop at Longboat Café, which is right near the Fingal Bay Surf Club and Fingal Bay Playground.
Takeaway is a great option, then the kids can run and play at the fun playground that has a flying fox, slides and mini-bike track around the outside.
There is a bubbler and toilets too, so it’s the perfect stop to refuel and have some fun before tackling the ride back.
Following the cycle way and returning back through the streets of Shoal Bay and the whole family agreed it was a unique and special way to see the area, get some exercise and have some fun! The cycle-way is flat and isn’t very long so even the younger riders will enjoy this adventure. Don’t have bikes? No worries! There is a bicycle hire shop right on the foreshore of Shoal Bay with plenty of options available!
Day Trip 2: Bike ride between Shoal Bay and Nelson Bay
Another scenic, flat and safe family-friendly bike ride which is lovely to try whilst out at The Bay is between Shoal Bay and Nelson Bay marina. It’s approximately 3.5km ride. We again packed the swimming gear for a splash along the way but this ride is pleasant all year round and the perfect way to see the area with fresh eyes.
Backpacks on and filled with morning tea, water bottles and our swimming supplies, we planned to set off early, stop for a swim and then reach Nelson Bay for a bite to eat for lunch. The cycleway begins behind the Shoal Bay caravan park – the kids will want to stop for a quick play at the lovely fenced playground on Government Road, and once they’re done, jump back on the bikes and hit the easy concrete path which runs behind the caravan park and pops out Gowrie Avenue.
Take care here to cross the road, as it can get really busy on this corner. We rode down Gowrie Avenue until you come across a sneaky bike path which cuts through behind the houses and units, near Norburn Avenue. This will take you straight out to Little Bay!
Little Bay is the perfect stop to have a swim, grab a coffee at the nearby caravan park café or have a play at the little playground right on the waterfront. With million-dollar views and toilets and bubblers too, there is everything you need to soak in the beauty of the Port Stephens area.
After our dip, we got back on the bikes and followed the main road back to meet at the corner of Dixon Road and Shoal Bay Road. Here, jump back on the well-maintained cycle path which will take you past the local skate bowl at Neil Carol Park.
Keep the legs turning as you follow the bike bath around the Bay and foreshore of Little Nelson Bay, and finally along to the Nelson Bay Foreshore to the d’Albora Marina. You’ve made it!!
Now you’re here, you’re spoilt for choice with a bunch of delicious cafes and takeaway options for lunch or a snack, Nelson Bay Playground if the kids still have energy to burn and toilet facilities. Or just pull up under a tree and watch the boats in the harbour and the activities of the busy foreshore.
This ride is suitable for slightly older children (around six plus depending on riding abilities) and needs adult supervision for the two road crossings. But it is well worth the effort, and there is plenty to see along the way.
If you’re feeling extra energised, the ride back from Nelson Bay, all the way to Fingal Bay is a lazy 8km, so fuel the kids up and tackle the homeward stretch! Or like us, stop off at Shoal Bay for a giant gelato at Giannis!
There are cycleways that connect all the way through to Salamander Bay from Fingal Bay and even out to Raymond Terrace, with Port Stephens boasting around 50km worth of shared cycleways throughout the community. Check out the Port Stephens Council website for all the details on their cycleways.
There’s never been a better time to grab the bikes and try a new riding path with the family – it’s a great weekend activity or mini-break at the Bay idea!
Want more ideas for family bike rides? Check out our list of bike trails around Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter.
When Odette Tonkin isn’t writing, she’s chasing after her four kids on their Newcastle urban acreage, surrounded by her veggie garden, chooks and bees! Odette has worked as a newsreader, public relations officer and spent over ten years as a writer and editor at Pacific Magazines, writing for a bunch of magazines including TV Hits, Girlfriend, K-Zone, Total Girl, New Idea and Famous.