Luxury Escapes Guide to Port Macquarie
With its beautiful beaches, friendly locals and laidback, welcoming vibe, Port Macquarie embodies coastal town charm.
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Discover Port Macquarie
Things to see and do
Discover nature at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre
Uncover the natural wonder of Sea Acres National Park and its aboriginal roots at the spectacular Rainforest Centre, less than 10 minutes’ drive from Port Macquarie. Eco-displays teach you about Aboriginal culture and the surrounding rainforest, with exhibitions from local artists a regular feature. Take a bush tucker tour or treetop walk through the canopies and then sit back and enjoy the scenery with a cup of coffee and a bite to eat at the Rainforest Café.
Visit the Koala Hospital
No one can resist the fluffy charms of Australia’s favourite animal. This unique hospital has been nursing sick and injured koalas back to health since 1973. The hospital employs just four paid staff, relying on donations and an incredible roster of around 140 volunteers. Visitors are more than welcome to wander around at leisure or enjoy the complimentary guided tour every day at 3pm, conveniently coinciding with koala feeding time. Entry is free but gold coin donations are much appreciated, as this incredible hospital relies on the support of visitors.
Hit the waves
Surfers flock to Port Macquarie for good reason – the beaches here are ideal for catching waves. Town Beach is one of the most popular, located within easy walking distance of the CBD and boasting waves of up to 2.5 metres, plus parking and showers. Other popular surf beaches include Lighthouse Beach (although beware of strong rips and currents) and Rainbow Beach, with waves of up to three metres. For a helping hand, contact Port Macquarie Surf School, which offers private and group lessons for all ages and abilities.
It’s not all about the surf of course – Port Macquarie’s beaches have multiple charms. Flynns Beach is one of the most iconic and ticks all the boxes as a perfect family option: it’s patrolled and boasts shaded picnic areas and a kiosk. If you’re seeking serenity, Oxley Beach and Shelly Beach are picturesque and far less crowded, while Nobbys Beach is a dog-friendly option for those with fur-babies in tow. Nature lovers will feel at home at Wash House Beach in the Camden Haven, where rock pools tempt the curious and majestic sea eagles soar overhead.
A-Maze yourself at Bago Maze
Bago Maze and Winery is a charming rustic hinterland winery with a surprising 2,000 metres of winding pathways and lookouts, making it one of the largest hedge mazes in the world. Test your navigation skills and then reward your effort with a wine tasting and cheese platter overlooking the vineyard. Look out for the regular Monthly Music in the Vineyards on the second Sunday of every month. Don’t forget to visit the Baba Lila Chocolate Shop (modelled on a traditional Russian caravan) while you're there and pick up hand-made chocolates made on-site. The Baba & Bago wine and chocolate paddles are paired to perfection.
Enjoy on-water adventures
Port Macquarie offers miles of waterways and ocean to explore. Dial up the adrenaline in Port Jet Cruise Adventures' Wave Rider Jet Boat (with whales aplenty between May and November), or relax on a more sedate twilight river cruise. Play captain by hiring your own BBQ Boat (a fantastic option for groups), bring a picnic to enjoy on board or cast a fishing line and cook what you catch. Other on-water adventure options include hiring a kayak, stand-up paddleboard or jet-ski.
Get to know the area’s history in the Heritage and Culture Precinct
Originally established as a British penal settlement in 1821, Port Macquarie has a colourful history. To get a feel for Port Macquarie’s past, take a stroll through the town’s Heritage and Culture Precinct, which includes the regional gallery, Port Macquarie Museum and historic courthouse. For a dose of culture, visit the Glasshouse, an entertainment venue home to a 588-seat theatre, an international-standard regional gallery and a performance studio. The gallery supports local artists with up to 25 exhibits each year, featuring everything from indigenous art to contemporary sculptural pieces.
Spend a day at Billabong Zoo
This multi-award-winning zoo is a must-visit for animal lovers. Get up close and personal with native and exotic wildlife, discovering more than 80 species of mammals, reptiles and birds across 10 acres of park. Zoo talks are free throughout the day and include penguins, lions and monkeys – pay a little extra and enjoy personal animal encounters with meerkats, snow leopards, red pandas and more. You can support their koala breeding program by adopting one of your own — you’ll leave with a photo and bio, certificate of adoption and a paw print of your chosen fur-child.
Go walking, biking or hiking
Port Macquarie is surrounded by national parks and rainforest, making it an ideal spot for outdoor activities. There are countless walking and cycling tracks to discover but a favourite is the stunning Coastal Walk, winding its way from the CBD along 9km of coastal trail and beaches to Tacking Point Lighthouse in the south (with plenty of cafés along the way). A scenic walk all year round, it’s particularly great for whale spotting between May and November. Other popular walks include Diamond Head Loop Walk – which is a perfect introduction to Crowdy Bay National Park, and Grants Beach Coastal Walk, which starts at North Haven and ends at the cliffs of Grants Headland and Bonny Hills. These are just three of many spectacular trails – we encourage you to get out there and explore as many as possible.
Visit Port Macquarie’s craft breweries
There is a thriving craft beer scene in Port Macquarie, so be sure to sample the product at its source. Visit Black Duck Brewery, and you’ll find Al the ‘brew master’ and often live music and hot food. Meanwhile, award-winning Wicked Elf, acknowledged as a world-class producer of craft beer, offers tastings at their cellar door. Moorebeer Brewing Co. started crafting ales in their garage but today, their brewery, tucked away in the industrial estate, is a local institution, hosting live music and food trucks on weekends. Can’t decide between beer and wine? Hops and Tales is a brewery smuggled into a winery, located in the beautiful grounds of Cassegrain estate.
Top places to eat and drink
Bills Fishhouse + Bar
Ranking among the top restaurants in Port Macquarie, this beautiful fish house and bar has become somewhat of an institution. A sea-to-plate philosophy and an East-meets-West twist combine to offer an eclectic menu of fresh fish and delicious accompaniments. The seafood share platter is a great place to start if you can’t choose one dish (not an uncommon problem here!) and features everything from BBQ prawns to snapper, depending on the catch of the day.
Black Market Bagels
Find ‘the best bagels this side of New York’ at this friendly little spot in Port Macquarie. Black Market Bagels have been perfecting their bakes since 2015, offering preservative and additive-free bagels. Toppings are extensive and include savoury options such as cheese, pizza and ‘everything’, and sweet treats such as blueberry, choc chip and cinnamon raisin. For breakfast, you can’t go past the mocha bagel with Belgian chocolate and cold-drip coffee mixed into the dough.
LV’s on Clarence
This beautiful paddock-to-plate café, overlooking Hastings River, began with a burning passion to support local farmers. Inspired by the region’s incredible produce, owners Todd and Lisa Richardson started their own farm, producing premium quality, pasture-raised pork and eggs just 25 minutes from their café. As a result, the breakfast and lunch menu offer everything from good ol’ bacon and eggs, house-made sourdough and corn and zucchini fritters to handmade king prawn pasta and a tempura pork burger. An inspiring, wholesome story and delicious food to match – what’s not to love?
A favourite with the locals, this is the place to go if you’re serious about coffee — they proudly serve Rumble Coffee Roaster’s Shadow Boxer blend seven days a week. Alongside perfect brews, this friendly café offers an all-day menu of light dishes, including bagels and seasonal salads. Visit before midday and you’ll be able to pick from the popular breakfast menu – the vegan French toast is a must-try, not just for those on a plant-based diet.
Meg & Me
Tucked away inside a boutique clothing and gift store, this ‘little slice of Melbourne’ is one of Port Macquarie’s best-kept secrets. Locals line up for the excellent Holy Goat Coffee, with many claiming it’s the best in town – but we’ll let you decide that for yourself. The attached boutique offers a bespoke collection of clothing from Australian and European designers, plus leather goods, accessories and knick-knacks. We highly recommend having a browse either before or after hitting the espresso bar.
Proclaimed the #1 café in Port Macquarie on TripAdvisor, this is the perfect spot for a lazy brunch. The coffee is fantastic and the food is beautifully presented, utilising fresh, local ingredients. Try a classic smashed avo or a hearty scotch-fillet steak roll paired with The Story house blend, containing beans from Ethiopia, Sumatra, Colombia and Rwanda. It gets busy, so we recommend booking ahead or getting in early to secure a spot.
An abundance of fresh seafood in this coastal town makes Port Macquarie the perfect place for fresh sushi. Modern Japanese restaurant MakiMoto serves delicate sashimi and a generous assortment of delicious sushi rolls, from grilled salmon to tuna avo and vegetable tempura. Place an order to take away or grab a seat at the bar and sip a cocktail as you watch skilled chefs hand-prepare your delicate dishes.
Established in 1971, Whalebone Wharf is a treasure on Port Macquarie’s waterfront. Overlooking the banks of Hastings River, this is a fabulous lunch or dinner spot serving fresh seafood, including lobster and sharing platters. Local produce and suppliers are key, with most items on the menu sourced directly from producers in Port Macquarie — in fact, the restaurant’s own Whalebone Garden supplies herbs, edible flowers and seasonal products. The Seafood Tasting for Two is unmissable and includes rock oysters, house-cured salmon, mussels, calamari and more.
This laidback Asian restaurant, somewhat hidden on the first floor of a side street near Flynns Beach, is the perfect choice for families, offering a huge menu with plenty of kids’ options. Take a seat on the large balcony (dogs welcome) or head inside to the spacious restaurant and tuck into everything from classic pad Thai and Japanese karaage chicken to Taiwanese beef rolls and salt and pepper calamari. The low prices, great food and friendly service ensure locals come back time and time again.
Discover a taste of France at Cassegrain Wines
The Cassegrain family began making wines in France in 1643, eventually bringing their expertise and heritage to Australia. Here, French grape-growing and winemaking traditions meet Australian technology to produce a range of authentic, full-flavoured wines with soft, elegant notes. Enjoy delectable food overlooking the vines at TwoTripleFour, the winery’s on-site restaurant. Celebrating its love of all things local, Cassegrain offers a menu of seasonal paddock-to-plate produce. The in-depth winery tour and tasting is fascinating and a must-do for wine lovers. Don’t forget to make time for a stop at the cellar door to pick up some bottles to take home.