Coffs Harbour

Located on the east coast between Sydney and Brisbane, Coffs Harbour has become famed for its diving, bananas and beaches. Its unique positioning of where the mountains of the Great Dividing Range meet the sea have provided it with a stunning topography, which can also be used for many of its adrenaline filled activities. The town grew thanks to the harbour becoming a busy port used mainly for timber. Later, sugar and banana plantations took over as the main sources of income, but today tourism is the main breadwinner and the town has responded to this. Coffs has rapidly expanded since the 1920's and today, with winter temperatures of only 18C and summer temperatures reaching 26C, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New South Wales.


Muttonbird Island is joined to Coffs Harbour by a breakwater boardwalk, and makes an ideal position for whale spotting between June-July and September-November. The island is sacred to the region’s Aborigines, and in the past adolescent males would swim out to the island and undertake several weeks initiation into adulthood.

There are four main beaches which line the coast at Coffs Harbour. The most popular of these is Park Beach, which is located immediately north of the marina and has the largest stretch of sand of the four. Although this is an open beach which makes it perfect for surfing, there are a few protected points which are patrolled to allow safe swimming. Jetty Beach is located next to Coffs’ famous jetty and is protected on the other side by the marina, making it a sheltered beach suitable for swimmers. The jetty also has barbeque facilities which means that this beach becomes awash with families at weekends and holidays. The best surfing can be found at Diggers Beach which is located to the north of Park Beach, the other side of Macauleys Headland. Boambee Beach is south of the Cabarita Point on the jetty, and again is an open beach suitable for surfing.

At eleven metres long and five metres high, [ the big banana] is one of the most photographed sites in Australia. You can visit the plantation and learn about banana cultivation methods, or just climb the Big Banana Skywalk for a view of the plantation or access to the Coffs Coast Lookout. For those looking for a more active visit, there is also a toboggan ride, trike rides and an ice rink.

Whales swim north past Coffs Harbour between June and July, and again from September to November and, if you are lucky enough to be in the area during these times, a [ whale-watching cruise] is highly recommended. These run from the Marina and last for about two to two and a half hours.

The Solitary Islands Marine Reserve stretches for nearly one hundred thousand hectares off the coast at Coffs Harbour and offers some of the best diving in the country. Due to its temperate waters and the mix of waters from the north and south, the reserve has some of the most spectacular and diverse marine life, creating a magical underwater world. Species typical to the Great Barrier Reef mingle with those specific to Tasmania. Coffs Harbour has two shops in the town that rent equipment and run trips to the reserve plus one shop that runs diving courses. Details of these can be found in the Visitors Information Centre.

Two hours west of Coffs Harbour is the Nymboida River. With rapids at mostly grades 3 to 4 passing through dense rainforests, this if one of the most popular places to raft in the area. The Goolang River is a man-made river which offers rapids at a steady grade three and thus is a perfect kayaking course. Coffs has a great deal of companies offering trips to the rivers, and the Visitors Information Centre has details on them all.


The best shopping to be found in Coffs is at its markets. Every Sunday the Jetty Market and Uptown Market are filled with vendors selling crafts and gifts. The Coffs Coast Growers Market, every Thursday, has local fresh produce, as do local community markets in the surrounding towns. Coffs also has a few retail malls, as well as surf shops and marine shops.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Although there are a great deal of restaurants in Coffs Harbour, none of these are particularly spectacular. Near the harbour is a row of popular restaurants with great views (although not famed for their food). Seafood can be found in abundance. The best eatery has to be The Fisherman’s Co-op which is located at the end of Marina Drive and serves hot seafood straight off the boat, or you can dine at the next door Tide and Pilot which also serves its seafood.

The majority of Coffs nightlife is based around Grafton Street, although the hostel bars are often the most packed in town. The nightlife here is not as busy as the daylife and the majority of clubs cater for the tons of backpackers that pour into the town. The carnival at Christmas and New Year on the jetty at Coffs is one of the town’s best highlights.

Tourist Information

  • Coffs Harbour Visitors Information Centre, Mclean Street & Pacific Highway, Coffs Harbour 2450, Australia
  • Tel: +61 02 6652 1522
  • Website: []


The airport at Coffs Harbour is one of the busiest in New South Wales. Located on Airport Drive, it is only fifteen minutes drive into the centre of town. Flight connections are available to all major cities in Australia through Qantas, Virgin Blue and Sunshine Express.

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