Looking for all the best things to do in Coffs Harbour, NSW? Check out our options for tours, activities and attractions & book online here.
Looking for all the best things to do in Coffs Harbour, NSW? Check out our options for tours, activities and attractions & book online here.
Long popular as a fairly central “stopover point” for those making the drive between Brisbane (or the Gold Coast) and Sydney, Coffs Harbour is a quality coastal destination in its own right, with excellent overall weather and a number of family-friendly attractions that make for a balanced and enjoyable visit.
The city is continually growing due to these factors – it’s become something of a hotspot for Aussie retirees, in particular – and offers an environment with a mixture of lush hinterland, picturesque scenic drives and a signature gorgeous coastline to boot.
Add to it a certain, country-wide famous icon, and you’ve got a NSW city with enough individuality and character to more than warrant a visit.
For those planning to drop by “Coffs”, we highlight 10 of the top things to do in Coffs Harbour (and surrounds) in detail here.
Enjoy the great outdoors and blast through the treetops at the Treetop Adventure Park in Coffs Harbour. With over 100 high ropes obstacles and zip lines plus four junior courses for kids, this is a great activity for the whole family.
Dorigo National Park is a serene location to get away from it all on the New South Wales coast. Enjoy the tranquil rainforest walks and waterfalls on this Dorigo National Park day tour from Coffs Harbour.
No matter your age, a segway tour in Coffs Harbour is a fun way to view the scenery. These fun machines are easy to use and with a little bit of instruction, you'll be on your way in no time.
Make the most of the spacious deck with 360-degree views as you search for humpback whales. This two-hour whale-watching cruise in Coffs Harbour is a great way to spot the annual whale migration.
Location: Pacific Highway, Coffs Harbour, NSW
Easily the most well-known of Australia’s unusual series of “big” inanimate landmarks (avocado, guitar, prawn, et al), the Big Banana has become synonymous with everything “Coffs Harbour” since its construction back in 1964.
The combination of the sheer size and conspicuousness of the landmark, as well as its location right on the highway, has led to many an impulsive roadside travel-selfie for the unaware international traveller – and is something that has become a rite of passage for Aussies making the east-coast-capitals road trip as well.
Originally built in order to draw roadside traffic to a local banana stall, the Big Banana complex has since expanded significantly to include a surrounding plantation, shop, cafe, and even a hybrid amusement/water park in the modern day.
This mixture of sub-attractions in the one hub makes it an ideal hub to visit for those with families, as much of it is suited specifically for children; kids can take part in the likes of tobogganing, ice skating, mini golf, laser tag and more.
There’s enough variety for children of ages from toddlers up to teenagers, and its water activity offerings in particular make it an easy-to-recommend attraction during the steamy summer months.
Paying for activities at the Big Banana can be combined in a number of different packages to ensure you only pay for what you plan on using, with the ability to scale your amount of time and money dedicated to a stop here accordingly.
As one might expect, the bananas here aren’t simply for looking at, either; its on-site cafe specialises in serving all kinds of banana-y goodness ranging from banana smoothies, to banana splits, to its signature chocolate-coated bananas that have been a mainstay for decades.
However, despite all its diversity, without a doubt the most bucket-list-worthy drawcard for the majority of visitors is simply grabbing a snapshot in front of the 12-metre-long fruity icon.
Locals may roll their eyes, however for the traveller if you haven’t “done” the Big Banana, you haven’t truly “done” Coffs Harbour.
Location: Bruxner Park Road, Coffs Harbour, NSW
Nearly every city – both capital and regional – has a single outstanding lookout point, and Coffs Harbour’s answer to this is the excellent (and entirely free) Forest Sky Pier that extends out from Sealy Lookout.
If you’re looking for the ultimate “been there, done that” photo of Coffs Harbour, the view from Forest Sky Pier ranks up there as a must-do for first-time visitors to the Coffs region.
Part of the Orara East State Forest, the lookout point is just a short drive from central Coffs Harbour and offers an outstanding aspect overlooking the city of Coffs Harbour and extending outwards to the open ocean.
The platform stands at an elevation of 310m above sea level and as such requires a fairly steep and winding drive to reach, however, the mixture of rainforest-meets-sea scenery makes the effort of driving here well worth the effort.
The “pier” itself extends out from Sealy Lookout to a tune of 21m, providing a vantage point uninhibited by the surrounding trees and clear, 180° views. It’s not just merely a look-and-leave prospect at Sealy Lookout, either; the nearby area offers multiple walking tracks that cut their way through the rainforest and allow for the chance to glimpse some of the local flora and fauna up close.
Picnic tables and toilet amenities are also available here, so it’s a good idea to bring along a packed lunch and enjoy a bite to eat in the wonderful surroundings before taking a walk or heading back into town.
Reaching the lookout is easily done via a short 15-minute drive from the centre of the city, however, due to the windy nature of the trip, taking your time and admiring the surrounding plantations along the way comes recommended.
Plenty of parking is provided, too, however, it’s gated off when the views are arguably at their most spectacular – during sunrise and sunset – and thus a short walk is required after parking outside beforehand.
There’s no better way with your two feet still on the ground to get an overall view of the beautiful physical location of Coffs Harbour, its rainforest and coastline all in the one panorama – and it makes for one of New South Wales’ most picturesque lookout points.
Location: Orlando Street, Coffs Harbour, NSW
The Dolphin Conservation Park is a long-running attraction in the Coffs Harbour region that has drawn countless visitors from all over the country and has a focus on interactive aquatic experiences with nature's cutest marine dwellers.
Originally established in the 1970s, the park offers safe haven for marine animals that have been injured or otherwise made incapable of returning to the wild, and now houses dozens of aquatic mammals and other varieties including Little Penguins, sea lions, green sea turtles, and most famously, its handful of Bottlenose Dolphins which serve as the star attraction.
The park is currently home to five of these dolphins which can be encountered by visitors attending in a variety of ways.
Two discovery presentation shows are held at 10:00 am and 1:00 pm, respectively, in which guests sit and observe an interactive marine show put on that introduces both the dolphins and seals and highlights facts about their life cycles and habits – as well as showing off some remarkable feats of agility.
It offers the chance to get up close with a variety of some of nature’s cutest marine dwellers.
Perhaps the park’s most iconic experience, however, occurs just beforehand – guests can line up to receive a “kiss” from one of the animals, with the obligation-free option of purchasing a photo afterwards.
It’s an ever-popular hit with the kids, and the photos are professionally taken and reasonably priced given their uniqueness.
Those with deeper wallets can also opt for a range of personal encounters in which to engage with the dolphins and seals further, including entering the water alongside them and playing, patting and otherwise revelling in the company of these intelligent creatures.
A focus is also put on education and understanding of the dolphins and marine conservation in general, which when combined with the interactive elements (including fish and penguin feeding as well as other activities and demonstrations) makes for a comprehensive cross-section of the aquatic realm.
Dolphin Marine Magic is also compact and thus easy to navigate with children in tow while offering plenty of shade and shelter for both protection from the sun, or additional cover on rainy days.
If you’ve ever wanted to come face to face with some of nature’s most engaging creatures without the excess crowds of some larger attractions, or are travelling to Coffs Harbour with kids in general, this is one attraction that makes for an essential stop on your itinerary.
Location: Marina Drive, Coffs Harbour, NSW
Enjoyable both as a focal point to visit and explore itself, as well as a lookout location to take in another excellent Coffs Harbour panorama, Muttonbird Island is one of the region’s most significant natural features.
Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve is a rookery of importance for bird life, which can be accessed via an interconnected jetty from the main wharf – no boat required – and is an essential visit in Coffs Harbour providing a gorgeous return for minimal effort, with views out to the Solitary Islands and beyond.
Some outstanding birdwatching is made all the more impressive by the wonderful surroundings that border each side of the wildlife-rich island which serves as home to a cavalcade of bird life – particularly the species from which it derives its name – as well as several wedge-tailed shearwaters.
It’s one of the Coffs Coast region’s most accessible walks, and although ascending to the top of the island requires walking up a fairly steep slope, the resulting lookout encompasses views of its signature colony of muttonbirds and their nesting spots.
Whales can also often be spotted plying their trade in the waters surrounding Muttonbird Island during their annual migratory period between June and October, with the occasional pod of frolicking dolphins thrown in for good measure.
Add to this the panorama of the town of Coffs Harbour, its pristine beachfront, and the fringing mountain ranges in the distance, and it’s another excellent angle from which to admire the region’s beauty.
Visitors need to ensure they stick to the island’s assigned paths when heading to the summit to avoid the accidental trampling of any of the many muttonbird nests, and while it isn’t a long walk it is certainly a steep one.
Seats await at the top for those who’ve put in the effort to relax and catch their breath while admiring the view, with a true 360-degree aspect that stretches a long way down the coastline on clear days.
As with most other viewing points, Muttonbird Island particularly shines at sunrise, so early risers or aspiring photographers will want to head out at dawn to see the view at its best.
Location:Jordan Esplanade, Coffs Harbour, NSW
One doesn’t need to travel to such far-flung reaches of Australia such as Broome or the Northern Territory’s outback in order to take a sandy trek on the humps of a quirky camel – this “bucket list” level experience can also be done right on the straight, long shores of Coffs Harbour’s Boambee Beach.
Camels may typically be associated with negotiating deserts, however the ability to enjoy such a ride without the associated sweltering heat and potentially dangerous sandstorms – and instead take in some great ocean views – makes for a far more enjoyable location in which to partake.
Hop on the back of one of these typically docile creatures for a 30-minute ride or pony up a little more for a magical 1-hour sunset ride in which to soak in a beautiful evening sky right on the water.
One doesn’t need to travel to such far-flung reaches of Australia such as Broome or the Northern Territory’s outback in order to take a sandy trek on the humps of a quirky camel.
Camels are ridden in two-person-per-camel denominations (making things ideal for those bringing skittish kids along for the ride), while the camels themselves are calm, docile and easy to mount so that first-time riders need not be concerned with safety.
The “cameleers” (the official term for those who guide a camel) themselves serve as knowledgeable and friendly guides who are able to offer plenty of information on the Coffs region in general as well as the habits of the camels, making for a “tour with a difference” for getting acquainted with the region.
Despite the relatively short time of the journey, you’ll no doubt form a bond with the camel you are assigned to as their generally laid-back natures makes them highly approachable creatures.
Given that the beach is often largely empty, the camelback journey is accompanied by a surprising feeling of seclusion as well, which helps round out the overall escapist atmosphere of the experience.
Riders are given time to take photos with their camels and the surrounding scenery as well, which makes for a great keepsake during your time spent in the region.
Location: Aviation Drive, Coffs Harbour, NSW
A trip to Coffs Harbour doesn’t have to be all seaside relaxation; in terms of scenic destinations in which to instead embrace one of life’s ultimate plunges, the east coast of Australia is hard to top, and Coffs is as viable a location as any to face your fears and jump out of a perfectly good airplane.
Offering unmatched views of both greenery and golden beaches (assuming you can keep your eyes open), Coffs Harbour’s coastline forms a wonderful backdrop for a jaw-dropping skydive.
Local operator Coffs Skydivers have been taking adventure junkies on free-falls over the Coffs Coast region for over 20 years, and thus have plenty of experience and reassurance to go along with it.
They’ve also got a knack for making first-time skydivers feel safe (an understandable concern for newbies) while going the extra mile to add a sense of personalisation to the experience that many other skydives lack.
Skydiving groups here are limited to far smaller group numbers than the average skydive, for example, and this higher instructor-to-customer ratio provides more personal attention in which skydivers can get to know their tandem buddies along the way.
It’s a process that’s far less rushed than that of many other skydiving establishments, conducted at an easier pace rather than merely trying to maximise customer volume, and it shows.
Of course, the skydive itself is still the obvious highlight, and aspiring participants have the option to embark on jumps ranging anywhere from a brisk 6,000 feet up to 15,000 feet (the maximum allowable height in Australia), which allows an extended 70 seconds worth of free-fall in return for a larger monetary investment.
Coffs Skydivers are located at Aviation Drive alongside Coffs Harbour Airport, less than a 10-minute drive outside the city centre, so if you’ve ever considered ticking an item off your bucket list you won’t have to travel far to do so.