Newcastle is our home. You don’t have to go far to find empty beaches and explore the nature here. With lots of surf breaks and great selection of yoga, it’s a perfect place for a weekend city escape or a longer stop on your journey thru Australia.
In this article, we feature not only Newcastle but also its surroundings – area from Catherine Hill Bay up to Newcastle (it is about 30min drive). You will find here the most popular surf breaks, a couple of yoga studios and small selection of places to eat. As Newcastle is fairly big town, there are of course many more places to eat out than what’s featured. We just want to give you an idea of what’s around and share our favourite spots!
It is a big, beautiful and diverse country. Definitely worth visiting more than once or planning a longer stay to be able to explore more what it has to offer. Australians are super chilled and welcoming. They love their small talk (especially in the quiet coastal towns) and it is normal to say “hello” to a stranger that you walk past.
In these peaceful places along the coast, you may have problems with finding free WiFi outside your accommodation. So it’s wise to buy a sim card if you want to stay connected while on the road.
The best time to visit Australia is during summer and early autumn, anytime from November till March. During this time the weather is amazing, surf can be small but still fun. And there are some random swells that happen during summer. You may need spring suits if you visit during spring or the beginning of summer. Around December water gets warm enough to surf in a bikini/board shorts.
If you’re after big waves, then winter is your time, but it is cold, often windy and rainy.
Our recommendation would be to come around March-April. It’s not high season anymore, so prices will be cheaper, weather is still nice and water is warm. You may even score some early winter swells.
All of the featured spots are patrolled beaches. Some of them have lifeguards on duty all year-round, others only during summer time.
Most places are perfect for experienced surfers. If you haven’t surfed before or have little experience, we would recommend you taking at least couple lessons at the beginning. You will learn surf etiquette, how to read the ocean and be safe in the water. When you gain confidence to go without an instructor, stick with patrolled beaches or go out with experienced surfers.
Catherine Hill Bay – all levels. Beach break with right and left peaks.
Caves Beach – all levels, long stretch of beach with couple of right and left breaks. Patrolled area is good for beginners and that’s where surf schools often run their lessons.
Blacksmiths Beach – all levels, beach break. Works better during bigger swells.
Redhead – intermediate to advanced. Beach break right and left with strong currents and rips.
Merewether to Bar Beach – intermediate to advanced. Right and left-hand peaks all the way from Merewether to Bar Beach. Gets crowded.
Newcastle City Beach – intermediate to advanced. Right and left-hand peaks. Usually quite busy.
Nobbys Beach – all levels, beach break with right and left peaks. Longer stretch of white wash where you can practice your pop up.
Our selection of places worth visiting, each has its unique climate and different classes on offer. Check their website to see what’s on and choose depending on what you like. Most of featured places have an additional wellness offer, check it out if you’re after a retreat experience.
The Yoga Place Blacksmiths – walking distance from Blacksmith’s Beach. This small studio has a great, friendly vibe and is a perfect choice if you really want to disconnect from the city. Also, there is cafe with wholesome vegetarian & vegan food – yum!
The Open Mind Space – it’s a beautiful and welcoming space, with great selection of classes. From Basic through heated Vinyasa to Yin and Meditation, The OM Space has it all. It’s located 10min drive from Newcastle Beach (or 16mins by bus) and it’s definitely worth visiting.
Yoga for All – the only pay as you go studio in the area – each class costs $10 (or pay more if you’re keen). There is a good variety of classes running throughout the day.
There are a few options depending on how you travel and personal preferences.
Camping – it’s usually our first choice.
Blacksmiths Beachside Holiday Park – across the road from the beach. Offers powered and unpowered sites as well as cabins.
AirBnb – lots of little cozy places to choose from close to the beach. If you want to be close to the surf and away from the city, look at Catherine Hill Bay & Caves Beach. If you prefer staying in Newcastle, you can choose from variety of places along the coast line, from Merewether to Nobbys.
Newcastle Beach YHA – offers dorm rooms as well as private rooms. Best value for price, walking distance to Newcastle City Beach and yoga studios.
Eating out can make your holiday expenses bigger, and as much as it’s nice not have to cook or clean after meals, you can save up lots if you minimise eating out.
Below are some of our favourite places to eat, if you’re not concerned about your budget enjoy it! But if you prefer to save some money do your shopping and cook! Most popular shop chains are Woolworths and Coles, you can get there all you need. Remember to take shopping bags with you to avoid using single use plastic bags.
The Yoga Place Cafe – perfect to refuel after your morning yoga session, or really at any time. Vegetarian and vegan with homemade cashew milk and other yummy ingredients. Our fave is definitely Snickers smoothie bowl – super filling healthy treat!
Seed Cafe – for breakfast or lunch, you will satisfy all your cravings there.
Blue Door – grab something on the way from your surf or coffee during your dawn patrol. On summer days definitely try a CocoWhip!
Mai Thai – great little Thai place to dine in or take away. Our favourite – red curry!
Lakshmi Indian take away – without a doubt, best Indian take away.
Antojitos – real Californian Mexican street food, served in relaxed atmosphere
Beach is the best place to hangout – always! During the day or in the evening. Although you won’t see the sun going down, you can grab some food, drinks, something to sit on and soak up the tranquillity.
Caves Coastal Bar – great spot for an evening chill, grab a drink and enjoy the ocean views.
Merewether Surfhouse – chill while sipping a beer at the top cocktail bar or grab lunch at the cafe downstairs. If you haven’t organised anything for your beach sunset session, grab a pizza from the Kiosk and enjoy the view.
Things to do
What we love about Newcastle area is how close to the nature you are. With so many beautiful beaches, rock pools, bush walks and Lake Macquarie, a salt water lake, you will have plenty of places to explore in your free time.
Pinnies Beach walk – start your walk at Caves Beach, walk through bush tracks overlooking the coastline to finally make it to Pinnies – a beautifully nestled beach. Remember to have plenty of water with you and be sun safe (sunscreen +hat).
Caves Beach caves – during low tide, explore the caves on the right hand side of the beach.
Coon Island – a picturesque spot down the lake, great for a chilled afternoon. You can also rent a kayak/SUP and explore little sandy islands on the lake.
Yuelarbah walking track – a scenic track through the coastal rainforest along the creek. You will pass two waterfalls, a lookout point and finish at Glenrock Beach. Have plenty of water and sun protection with you
Bogey Hole – a historical rock pool. Watch the waves crashing, spot some marine life, have a morning dip before it gets busy.
Bathers Way – walk from Nobbys to Merewether Beach. You can start at any beach along the way or do it all. Remember to have plenty of water and sunscreen.
All depends on how you travel and where you stay. If you keep away from the city, you will definitely need a car. If you stay in Newcastle, you can come here by train from Sydney, or by plane from any other place in Australia. You can depend on public transport then, also lots of spots are within walking distance. You can still rent a car for a day or two to explore the surroundings and less crowded beaches.
Money & Visa
Currency is Australian Dollar (AUD), you should be able to exchange the money before you travel. If you decide to exchange once you’re in Australia, you can do it at the airport (not the best rates) or look for an Exchange Office near where you stay. In Newcastle, there are a couple located at Kotara Shopping Center. You can always withdraw the money from an ATM, and you will be able to pay by card pretty much everywhere.
Citizens of most European countries are eligible for a free eVisitor visa, which allows you to stay in Australia for up to 3 months. If you don’t hold a European passport or want to stay longer, you can check other available options through the Australian Department of Home Affairs website.
Take 3 for the sea (or 5, 12 or 30) – always! If you find rubbish down the beach, just pick it up and throw in the bin. There is not much effort needed to make positive impact while traveling!
Remember about your reusable water bottle and coffee cup. You can drink tap water here so refilling your bottle is not a biggie. Also, if you like take away coffee (and who doesn’t) have your takeaway cup with you, all the places here will happily accept it.
Reduce car emission – plan your trip so you stay close to the spots you want to enjoy. It’s hard to give up on a car completely, especially if you are away from the city, but try to minimise as much as you can. Staying in Newcastle, you can always hire a push bike from one of the Swipe & Ride stations.